Remember how I wondered in my last post about how one takes a vacation from the continual process of fitting a chipped cog into the broken machine that is this world? I have to admit that grace has allowed me to stumble into an answer. Wednesday night, while feeling hormonally miserable and wandering around the house aimlessly waiting for Jacob to come home so we could talk about the dreaded finances, I looked into our Jacuzzi bathtub and thought, "Hmn. Why not?" I filled the tub, added Dr. Bronner's lavender soap and read Anne Lamott's Rosie until Jacob came home and climbed in with me. At that point, I was positively playful even though an undercurrent of insecurity remained.
As an aside (I'm not finished yet describing my return to being fit for human consumption), we seem to be in a new season in our marriage. I think we started with sorting out the logistics of life together combined with tapering stress-adjusted adrenals then moved into a phase where we were both sorting out our roles within the relationship and now I'm in a place where I need to be assured that this is for real. Whatever love is, right now I need to know that Jacob has something to smooth out my rough spots in his reception of me. I hate to be so cliche, but as a girl who has been left by a husband before, there is something primal within me that just needs to hear, "I will never leave." Unfortunately, we're both learning that Jacob speaks with action and I hear with words. I know, it would make sense that since my ex-husband was so good at telling me what I wanted to hear and so bad at actually following up on any of his promises, I would now be looking for a man who spoke through actions.
It would make sense.
But no one ever accused my emotions of using much sense. My choice to marry Jacob was very much a choice of the head. I love him but I have loved men before who would be terrible life partners. Slowly, I learned from my dating experiences how to discern a bad partner and when Jacob came along as the antithesis of that archetype AND I loved him, I chose to pursue marriage with him.
When I spell it out that way, our relationship seems pretty unlikely and therefore magical. He is my great exception.
But sometimes my emotions are still patterned around the men of my past, who were mostly good at making me feel better with their words. Jacob is honest, which cannot always coexist with making me feel better. So, I have to learn how to make myself feel better most of the time. That's a compromise I'm willing to work towards since the reward of never having to doubt him is so great.
But on Wednesday night, after our financial talk had worn down the protective layer of playfulness (finances are just inherently stressful for me), I was exposed again and feeling unsuccessful and I was worried that Jacob had made his decision about me like I made my decision about him: with his head. You see, if he used his head he must has been basing his decision on faulty data because who would marry someone with as many neuroses as I have and as many bad habits and character flaws that I do? (The Imp of Insecurity was working overtime whispering persuasively in my ear at that point.) And if he based his decision on faulty data, by now wouldn't he be discovering the truth and wouldn't that mean he would feel justified in terminating the contract?
I laid in the bed and he laid his weight on top of me over the covers and I babbled all of this to him with tears dripping into my ears.
And do you know what my man of action told me, "Honey, you didn't look very good on paper when I made the decision to marry you." Then, he listed all of my faults.
It was the best thing I have ever heard.
Because if he can list all of my faults and married me anyway? Then I have nothing to worry about. He can't feel deceived or resentful. He loves me just the way I am and we can move forward from there as equals in this relationship. I don't have to struggle to be the best me all the time for fear that if I slip, the scales on his eyes will be lifted and he'll leave. I can be myself, knowing that it is enough, growing at a normal speed into a better human being. Before I was feeling like I had to use fertilizer to be as impressive as possible but scared because modern farming technique aren't sustainable and deplete the soil. Now, he and I can work the farm organically.
I will slip into insecurity again and have the same feeling of relief and comfort again because that's the way life works. Things change incrementally. I'm OK with that because the next time I feel this insecure, I have a history of knowing that although Jacob speaks with actions, sometimes his actions are to use words to reassure me. I can trust in that.
When I started writing this post, I thought that I would tell you that the solution to the puzzle of how to take a break from being oneself in the world was to sleep until noon (like I did today), babysit for one's baby niece (like I'm doing right not) and get a phone call that your husband is returning early from his hiking trip and wants to spend the evening relaxing together (like I just got). But it turns out that's not the solution. I can enjoy those things because my soul is at peace but that peacefulness comes from having chosen a good partner.
How lucky am I that the answer to my problems is a choice that I made almost a year ago? The solution is now always there, I just need to remember to reach out to him.
Postcards from Boston - Phew! What a whirlwind of a wonderful weekend! We were at the (gorgeous) Cyclorama building for the first Boston Renegade Craft Fair, representing Taproot....