Before you all close up shop here, I want to take advantage of your hospitality one more time. I need a place to put in words what I’m feeling and thinking about my marriage right now.
I’m thinking that you can’t change anyone. Nor can anyone change you. I would like for my spouse to be more communicative, to share ideas and perceptions with me, to share feelings and inner struggles. But as I’m able to look at him more objectively, now that the ruckus from our recent uproar has died down, I see that he’s never been like that. He’s never been much of a talker. He does think about things, he’s very bright, he has definite opinions. But he doesn’t thrive on verbal interchange the way I do now.
For me, it has become like nourishment. I crave that kind of connection. I wish I could have it in my marriage, but I just can’t. So, now what do I do? Accept it, be glad for the good stuff I have, find connection somewhere else? Probably, at least for now. The kids need us both. There are other good things in the marriage.
I’ve tried to draw inspiration from some of the words I’ve read here about marriage and how it’s “designed” to help people mature. That is surely right. On the other hand, where does one draw the line? I mean, is it a maturing exercise to stay in an unhappy marriage, where only one of you seems interested in deepening the relationship? Or is that just an exercise in futility?
Anyway, where I am today is acceptance, focussing on the present, reminding myself not to get hung up on tomorrow or yesterday. Acceptance with questions, obviously. Like ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Thanks for listening
I may be deleting this web log in a couple of weeks. I may be integrating it with yzed.wordpress.com . If there are reasons why I shouldn't do this, please let me know.
Went out to a dinner party tonight. It was a great evening, but sometime during the conversation we talked about the decline of Western Civilization and the ascendant of China, India and South-East Asia.
This is not the first time that I've had this conversation at dinner parties and other social events. People seem to be talking about it more, and in particular about a potential war between China/Islam and the West.
2012 seems to be the date that is bandied about the most. There seems to be a parallel between the German 1938 Olympics and the Chinese Olympics of 2010. A year after the first olympics, war broke out. Will war break out two years after the second? Time will tell.
In any event, it seems that the consensus is that the West, led by America, is in 'managed decline' like Great Britain was after the First World War. What do you all think? I'd be interested in knowing whether these intuitions resonate with you.
The Brothers Goncourt were originally artists who turned to writing and are today remembered for the Prix Goncourt, France's most influential literary award. Their journals are a lively, irreverent record of 45 years of their lives and opinions, beginning on the day of Napoleon III's coup de'etat in 1851 and ending with Edmond's (Goncourt) death in 1896. Their journals capture the manners of France in particular and Europe in general.
May 5, 1863
Aubryet told us the other day that a little girl in the street had offered him her sister, a child of fourteen. Her job was to breathe on the windows of the carriage so that the police could not see inside.
April 21, 2006
In a small strip mall up the block from where I work, a man, with his young son in tow, took a base-ball bat to the head of a cabbie. There was profuse bleeding, the trauma to the son was great, the RCMP were diligent, and despite the fact that I work with profound trauma in the clients who seek my help, despite my insight into the source of this violence, despite the thousands of stories like this one that have been vented across the space of my groups, despite all of this, I still shake my head and wonder what in the heck this man was doing – not to himself, not to the cabbie, but to his son.
There is an explanation. But no matter how well the dynamics and the historical triggers for this behaviour can be explained, there is still no excuse for it. An unhappy childhood is no excuse for poor behaviour.
We have become a society of adult children: no restraint, little sense of what is 'right and wrong' as opposed to what is pragmatic – a culture of highly educated, intelligent barbarians. The development of character, dignity, integrity, duty, social responsibility, and a moral education have been overshadowed by the tyranny of one opinion being as good as any other. We are a civilization untied from its moorings, embodying clearly the prophesy W.B. Yates foresaw in his poem The Second Coming.
Last night he told me he “cared for me a lot”. This was supposed to reassure me. Instead it sank into me like a heavy stone into a pond. It’s been settling deeper into the muck all day. I respect his honesty. I yearn for love.
April 17, 2006
I promised myself that I wouldn’t give up on this marriage until I knew I had done everything I could to help us recover and grow. We’ve had some really painful stuff to go through in the past six years. Out of 24 years of marriage. We’ve done a lot of recovering, but you can’t undo the damage. Just hope to heal some and move on. Lately I find myself asking, how do I know when I’ve done all I can do?
I remember a time when hitch hiking was safe and popular. I did a lot of it in the sixties and early seventies. And here is an experience which brought me to a hostel in Kamploops, British Columbia (BC), Canada where I spent several days. I was 21 years old, and lost.
October 15, 1971
I have hitch hiked from Penticton [BC] to Kamloops [BC] in order that I may find a job. Kamloops is a booming city, but jobs are hard to find. I am not the only one who is in need of a job, for I am sleeping in a hostel which is packed with people searching for a job. Most of them are from the east [Canada].
Most of the places I went to for a job told me that I had too much education. Rather absurd I think.
They, the country, will never need the amount of people who have graduated from university. We, those who have degrees, are a rejected lot. We can't even get jobs which we intensely dislike.
October 16, 1971
I have seen and read the stories of many people. They all seem so sad. I have met drunks, thieves, prostitutes, the lonely, the hypocrites, the bigots, the insane, the hustlers, the executives, the priests, the religious fanactics, the businessmen, the etc. and their story is all the same. I see them all in me.
October 17, 1971
The peripatetics in this hostel are always on the verge of fighting. Yesterday, in a period of three hours, I saw four fights. Most of them have either ascended or descended beyond despair; a lot of them have lost their sense of dignity.
They are dirty, sick, homeless, broke, nervous, without purpose, loveless, mean and alone. They cough, spit, wheeze, whine, vomit and crawl with lice and bed bugs. What an ungainly lot. Most of the time many of them are drunk. But they have one thing that they seem to share – the sense that they are all the same.
If you have something, they want a part of it too.
October 21, 1971
Since I've not been able to find a job, I've decided to hitch hike out of Kamloops for Prince George [500 miles to the north]. I am going to help my parents prepare for the opening of their store.
When I look back on these entries I wonder…what on earth was I trying to prove: staying in a Salvation Army hostel for a week. Oh yes…now I know. It was all about proving my sense of independence; that I could do it on my own. From the vantage of my fifty-sixth year I look back tenderly on that young boy.
I spent last weekend with a 15 year old and a 16 year old, both young ladies. They are neighbors of a friend of mine. I told them stories, gave them advice, shared my wisdom of 25 years and the past few being filled with what most would call mistakes. I made sure they understood that they could not regret anything if they learned from it, but attempted to save them some grief by hoping they could learn from my story. Learn from all of the sadnesses and bitter moments. Learn from my lover of 5 years who left me for the woman already wed. Learn from the child born of this union. Learn from the drug binge which left me empty and alone. Learn from the education I had abandoned. Learn from the man who would do everything for me and my child, everything but truly love me. Learn from the way I learned from all of these things and changed for the better.
I hoped they would understand.
And we also laughed. They reminded me of their naivete, but they also reminded me of how nice it is to be simple at times. No complexities, just silliness and giggles. Just an afternoon spent with a board game and some grilled chicken salad that was followed with oatmeal cream pies.
I wondered why this event meant so much to me.
I suppose it was the desire in me to feel like a sister again.
A big sister.
My brothers, both grown and mature, well, they’ve always stuck together, being within a year of each other, and they are both in different states, regardless.
I know it was because I miss my younger sister, though.
It’s been 4 years now since she’s died. One year younger than I am, and a friend to everyone she met. Pregnant and engaged to be married, she was killed by a police officer who was speeding after another vehicle. He did not use his flashing lights. The rain was pouring down. He came right over the hill, into their lane, head on collision. She asked Vince if her baby was okay. Then she said I love you. And she put her head down, and was gone.
I hated them all. Every officer of the law. For quite some time. The first time I was pulled over was just 3 days afterward. I cried and screamed at the man. He followed me from a distance to make sure I got home. One month later, my son was born. Into a quiet house, something beautiful happened. Over time, my mother would rock him, hold him, love him. Over time, and life went on, as they say.
But I miss the story swaps, the catch-ups, the late night movie marathons filled with asinine laughter and shared blankets. The normal things that are taken for granted in everyday life between sisters. I still have 3 older sisters. We love one another, but none of us are as close in age. And I wonder if I was gone, would they miss the relationship they could have had with their younger sister, the way I miss the one I had with mine?
I think I may have done what I can for the sweet teenagers from this weekend past. I think it’s time I went to spend a weekend with one of my real sisters. Sometimes something small wakes you up to what you’re missing.