Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Was It ALWAYS Supposed To Be Like This?

First, a little business to get out of the way: the answer to last post's quiz was (trumpet blast) The Greater Evil!! A.K.A. Bretten. I know, I know, y'all are quite surprised. Not! Now for the real post:

I have been rolling this blog topic around in my head for several weeks now, and I hope I can do it justice. It’s about expectations, and not missing what you never knew you didn’t have, and stuff like that.

Let me just start by saying that I hate to always rag about my marriage. It seems like a lifetime ago, and I am in such a better place now, emotionally, mentally, physically – just about every "ly" you can think of! – that it seems a shame to keep bitching about it. However, it does make for an easy target...LOL!! In all reality, though, I have learned so much in the last year and a half or so, that I almost, almost feel like I owe the Ex a debt of gratitude. I look back now and I can't believe I stayed married for as long as I did. Not that it was all bad, all the time, because it wasn't...well, horrible, I guess...and if I hadn't, I wouldn't have my kids (although there are days when that’s not exactly working in its favor!). But the point I am trying to make is that the more I get to know Kirk, the more I begin to realize that the way my marriage was, wasn't necessarily the way a marriage should've - or could've - been, anyway.

Some examples:

Number 1: I had to go to an Army “family conference” meeting in LA over the weekend a few weeks ago. The only time I ever liked the Army was when I worked there, 23 years ago. I do like many individual soldiers, and support and appreciate them, 100%. After all, there is a definite need they fulfill, and I am glad somebody is willing to step up and do it. But the Army as an institution leaves something – a great, big, steaming pile of something! – to be desired, at least by me, personally. I just don't have the type of personality that can do the military scene without seriously chafing at not only the restrictions, but also the “jump first and ask questions later” mentality.

So here I am at this meeting, not only seething at the whole military structure of the thing, but also just gagging on all the flag-waving and self-congratulating that was going on. I honestly thought some arms were going to break from the contortions people were going through, just to pat themselves on the back for being such “heroes.” I’m sorry – I thought you actually had to do something to earn the title of hero, not marry it or claim it because it came with your beret or something.

I listened to Army spouse after Army spouse talk about the honesty and commitment and integrity of “their” soldiers, and contrasted it in my mind with the experiences I had with “my” soldier over the years. It was tough – and more than once I just wanted to stand up and scream that they were wrong – they had no idea how many of these so-called heroes just played the game to get out of it whatever they could for their own personal gain, how many of them spouted integrity in one direction and turned around and cheated every other way, and so on. And more than once I was brought to tears with the frustration of not being able to correct what felt like a horribly biased and one-sided portrayal.

I had done plenty of bitching and moaning about having to attend the conference before I went, and had even vented to Kirk periodically throughout the day. The conference was supposed to be finished about 5:00 PM, and I was doing some serious clock-watching and fidgeting, watching that last hour just d-r-a-g. At about 4:10 or so, I received a text from Kirk, unbidden and totally unexpected. “Almost done, baby,” it said. “Hang in there. I love you.”

How thoughtful is that? How sweet, how utterly charming? I was blown away by the consideration. Is that what it’s supposed to be like? Forgive me for not knowing the answer – stuff like that never happened to me before.

Number 2: I’ve blogged before about my inability to sleep with any type of predictability or regularity, and my need to attend remedial sleep training or something. I’ve been this way, off and on, for about the last ten to twelve years or so. I’ve followed all the things conventional wisdom recommends, as best as I am able: no TV or computers or other light sources right before bed, develop a routine and stick to it, no caffeine, etc. I have also tried the not so conventional remedies: valerian, lavender, melatonin. And the medical remedies: Ambien, Lunesta, Trazadone. Basically, everything but the prescriptions are good for about two to four hours of sleep – but at least they don’t give me a hangover! The prescriptions are good for more like eight hours of sleep, but then I have the wicked drags the next morning...it seems you cannot have your cake, and eat it, too, as they say.

Anyway, right now I am in a period of not sleeping very well. My mom has suggested that I go down to the sleep clinic at the U, but I have been dragging my feet. I don’t want to take the leave from work, I don’t want to do the driving back and forth, I don’t want to add yet another doctor to my arsenal of health care providers I’ve been racking up over the years, etc. I may eventually do it, I don’t know.

But almost every night, as we finish our nightly telephone conversation, Kirk says to me, “And please, get some sleep, baby.” Which makes me feel very...cared for. And the other night, he said, “I’m gonna have to get with your mom and get you into one of those programs at the U....”

I joked and, kind of smart-assedly, said, “OK...Dad,” because whenever I tell him something like that, that is good for him, he teasingly tells me, “Whatever, Mother!” So I was being flippant, too.

But then he said, with all seriousness, “I’m just looking out for you. You know I just have your welfare at heart.”

Again, how sweet is that? How caring and thoughtful? Once again, I was...amazed, for lack of a better word, by Kirk’s consideration and...I don’t know...protectiveness? So again I ask, is that what it’s supposed to be like, what it’s supposed to have been like, all along? Because obviously it wasn’t, and the fact that it is now – with Kirk – often just leaves me shaking my head in wonder. Who knew? Not me!!

Number 3: Kirk came to visit last weekend. It was the first time he met my parents, and the first time he met my kids. I really could not have asked for anything to go better – it was all very low-key - and Kirk seemed to fit right in. It was all just perfect. My kids like him (even the Greater Evil confessed that the only reason she was trying not to like him was because she is mad at me!) and my parents like him, too. I even remembered to take some pictures this time!!

I have said before that I am a “word girl.” I love words, and I absolutely thrive on them. Actions are nice, too, of course, but I think I could go longer without the actions if I have the words, than I could go with the actions if I didn't have the words, if that makes sense. I just need the words. And Kirk can give them to me like no one ever has before. The sweet ones, the serious ones, and the funny ones, too. And when I comment on his ability to do that, he just says, "That's my job!" like it's no big deal, when it's everything to me.

Sunday, we were going to go watch football with some friends, and then he decided he’d just rather hang at the house and do nothing – which was fine by me. And he said, “When you enjoy doing absolutely nothing with someone 24/7, you’ve found your ‘one’ – and I have!” Stuff like that just makes me melt...

And later, when I had to take him to the airport, I bawled all the way home. I know I’m going to see him again at Christmas, and it’s really not that far away – only 37 days (that’s no longer apart than between when I went there in October and he came up here in November...), so I don’t know why it hurt so bad. But it did – I felt like my heart was literally breaking in two, even though at the same time I was feeling so good about the weekend and him and us and that everything was so truly worth it – and will be so truly worth it – in the long run.

But this is what The Sweetheart (yes, it absolutely deserves capitalization)sent me before he boarded his plane: “I have never felt so right about anything as I do about US. I cannot wait to see you again and am reliving every second I just spent with you. I feel like you complete me in so many ways. I love you with every fiber of my being. YOU are the absolute love of my life.”

I have asked this over and over again, I know, but how sweet is that? How thoughtful, how caring, how romantic? When he knows what I need, he gives it to me, unselfishly and with such amazing generosity. And one of the truly awe-inspiring aspects of this whole thing is that I feel like his openness and honesty and willingness to give so generously and genuinely, from his heart, have inspired some of the same things in me. Stated simply, being with him makes me a better version of me.

Was it supposed to be like this, all along? I don’t know. To tell you the truth, at this point, I really don’t care. I guess you cannot expect to have what you never really knew existed, after all. But I am so beyond happy that I know it exists now. Whether it’s always like this for everyone or not, I still don't know. But it is finally like this, for me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Easiest Quiz Ever

Here's a little quiz for you. It is very easy, as it only consists of one problem. I will present you with a scenario, and then, based on that scenario, you get to answer a single question. Anybody who misses this needs to go back to remedial "Beneath My Placid Exterior" and re-read old "My Seething Cauldron" posts!!

So, I've got the twins, a.k.a. the Greater Evil and the Lesser Evil. Based on my summary of a recent conversation, see if you can guess which one (i.e., GE or LE) I was, um, "speaking" with:

The other day, we were arguing over something stupid. I remembered something happening one way, and she remembered it happening another way. We went back and forth and back and forth.

Me: "It was when we were standing right there, and you said blah, blah, blah..."

Her: "I would never say that! I never said that!"

Me: "Why would I remember you saying that, if you didn't say it?"

Her: "I don't know! I just know I never said what you said I said!"

Etc., etc., etc.

After about 20 minutes of this, I finally conceded that neither of us was willing to give in and admit that the other person was right. In an effort to model problem-solving skills and conciliatory behavior, I therefore decided to offer a truce, of sorts. I wanted to put an end to the yelling (on both our parts, but mainly because I was getting hoarse!) and the eye-rolling (on her part, as I was half-way afraid if she rolled her eyes any harder, they would pop out of her head and roll down the stairs, collecting carpet fuzzies as they bounced down each step....).

"Well," I said, "People often remember the same situation a little bit differently from one another, according to their own perspectives. So, I can see how your memory of blah-blah-blah would be different than my memory, and I am willing to admit that your version of events is at least as valid is mine is. Can you, then, also be willing to admit that my version of events also has some validity, too?"

"NOOOOooooOOOOOooooo!" she wailed.

Totally surprised and taken aback (for I thought I had made a pretty fair offer!), I barked, "Why not?!?!"

She fairly spat her response: "Because! Your version is just based on your opinion!! My version is based on fact!!"

So yeah - guess which one said that?

Answer tomorrow, as if you were really in any doubt....