He asked me if I would. I said yes through teary eyes. With a ring on my finger, we could begin thinking of a life together. Hope burned bright. On the road to recovery, we didn’t know how much ground would be gained in my health, but we were hopeful, hopeful with the hope that only those who cannot see into the future, hold.
Ten months later, he said “I do” and I put a ring on his finger. I remember it well. Vows exchanged, we became husband and wife before God, friends and family, and barely, by the government of Canada! (Though no one confessed, somehow our marriage certificate, though left in a prominent place, had disappeared. In the nick of time, our faithful best man went diving in the out-back dumpster and returned victorious!)
I had my hopes, my ideas of the wife I wanted to be: willing to step into the fun of his world, to be game and ready for anything, to do those activities that refreshed and make him feel connected. Oh, I wasn’t as hardcore as he was! But I could enjoy belaying when he rock climbed, tackling the easier slopes myself. I could cliff jump, though not at 40 ft and certainly wouldn’t do a gainer flip from there! If kept in moderation, I could snowboard, hike, fish and hunt alongside him.
Aside from activities, I wanted to keep a clean home, cook meals, make our house a place where he could come and let down, get away from the pressures and demands of work. I wanted to be patient, to hear the hidden things on his heart, to be a friend he could trust and freely share with. I wanted to walk beside him, do life together, become better and better friends as time went by.
“I wanted my life to enrich his own, to make it better than it had been before. I wanted my life to contribute to his, to offer him something and bring joy.”
I don’t believe this desire was wrong. In fact, I believe it is given by God Himself! But I wasn’t prepared for the grief that hit me. I wasn’t prepared for the months that followed. Even now, I still experience the sting, even as recently as yesterday. I’m not the wife I wanted to be, and what is more, I CAN’T be the wife I want to be.
Its one thing to have the ability to change. Its another to sit and know you are defeated in both your own and his desire. I’m not talking about character (of course I am defected in that), but in physical and mental energies, in abilities, lightheartedness and playfulness, in laughter and bubbling joy.
I wasn’t prepared to be the millstone around someone’s neck. I wasn’t prepared for my life to drag down the very person whose love was freely given to me, the very person I wanted to give back to. I wasn’t prepared to be the cause of the empty look in his eye, to be the cause of his lack of joy. I wasn’t prepared.
He connects through doing activities with people. No, not just chit-chatting, but through this kind of stuff (that I caught him doing an indy grab is a miracle because he’s usually twisting, flipping or spinning!).
When sickness came, I had to develop and find new ways to refresh myself. But these new attempts and interests didn’t fill me as the old ones had. I felt half empty all the time. And then to suddenly have someone else feeling half empty because I couldn’t do the very things I was trying to give up…! When single, my limitations and inabilities would hit at different times and bruise me. It hurt, but it would heal. It wasn’t such a big deal after 2 years. I learned to live with it. But when thrown into marriage, everything suddenly changed. Often the cutting edge penetrates deeply.
“I can’t be the person I want to be. I can’t give to him as I would wish to give.”
My brokenness is so evident, so starkly laid out before my eyes. Sometimes, I just have to plow through.
These daggers of grief are rude and have no respect for human weakness, for fragility, for the mind exhausted from the battlefield. And too often, my strength gives way, meaning that instead of taking the hurt and processing it, I pretend it never happened. It wearies me to walk back into it…again. I deaden my disappointment until its a dull, numbing throb that takes over and slowly grates at my soul.
I harden myself. Instead of expressing that I do want to go snowshoeing up in the mountains, packing my own snowboard, I say that I don’t want to go. Sometimes, I just can’t voice my desire, only the things I must. So often there’s a part of me inside that does indeed want to go, do, be with and join in the refreshing of his life. But because of the ache that tries to rise up, because I can’t do or give as I wish, it comes across as a “no, I’m not interested,” or “no, I don’t care” or “no, I’m too busy with other things.”
I am busy, busy trying to pretend I don’t care, busily trying to be interested in a low-key activity, busy trying to pretend it doesn’t matter, busy trying to hide the hurt, not necessarily because I don’t want to acknowledge it to him, but because I don’t want to acknowledge it to myself.
It’s in these moments that the question appears: what is my worth, if I’m not contributing? What is my place, if he can’t enjoy those things with me that make him feel so connected? This, among other things, can shake a girl deeply. Empty worthlessness can hover around. And its difficult to know that if I died tomorrow, in most ways, he would lead a freer life. Its the honest truth of our situation.
Sometimes, my man can understand and helps me through. Sometimes, he can’t. He’s not a woman (though he does continually impress me with his insight), and he has never been so sick or limited as I have been.
But I do have a sure and steady friend who can understand. When I’m open to express my frustration and loss, my Father is there. When I am honest, He meets me halfway. No, my situation doesn’t necessarily change. But His presence changes my heart. There is a part to us women that only He can touch and comfort, because only He can know us intimately. You can be known, if only you will let yourself be seen.