Saturday, 19 September 2015

What About When...?

I didn’t actually start this blog with the express intention of only ever writing about parenting stuff. I actually thought that at some point I might say something about my political standpoint or my diet, but then I figured that those of you who follow my Twitter account already have a pretty comprehensive overview of those subjects and probably don’t need a blog to fill in the blanks. But in spite of everything I share about my kids and my motherhood battles, the only part of my relationship that I’ve ever really alluded to is the fact that my husband had a vasectomy in March and we very nearly got divorced in April, two completely separate things which were in no way related. So this blog is going to be about relationships and marriage, and if you don’t want to know about either then please look away now.

So, the first thing I should probably mention here is that I’ve always thought of myself as being a pretty emotionally open person. I’ve never really been afraid to tell someone that I loved them, whether it was in a romantic or platonic sense. But this week I’ve kind of realised some stuff about myself that has actually left me feeling really fucking confused. Like, I almost feel like I’m not really sure of who I am anymore. For this to make sense I have to deviate from my original point so I can lay the groundwork and bring this back around full circle. Eurgh. This is hard... I’m not actually sure why I decided to do this.

When I met my husband I was hurt. Seriously messed up hurt. I remember sitting on the steps outside my flat after our first date thinking, “Well, fuck... I don’t even know if I can do this.” I’d been in and out of this toxic thing with my ex-boyfriend for about four months by this point which basically amounted to us not actually being together, but somehow always ending up sleeping together whenever we thought it was a smart idea to see each other. Which it never fucking was. It was always a terrible idea. So I was in a bad place around the time of that first date and definitely not at my best at all. I was pretty determined to be completely emotionally unavailable, but I guess over the weeks and months, my now-husband kind of... Won me over. I mean, it wasn’t that easy. I was a total mess a lot of the time and he had to be really patient with me, but I started to figure out that you probably don’t put that much effort into a fledgling relationship unless you really, really like that person. Or, I guess, unless you enjoy hard work with little reward and like a challenge.

After about four and half months we moved in together. I think pretty much everyone thought we were crazy, but you know what? If it’s going to be a total fucking deal breaker that he leaves piles of clothes all over the house that never find their way to the washing machine without female intervention then it’s probably just as well that you figure that out quickly and don’t waste your time picking them up. On the other hand, if it’s not a deal breaker and you can laugh about how he always sings the wrong words to every single fucking song ever – with the possible exception of songs you hate – then maybe it might work out. It wasn’t easy. It really wasn’t. I have a really chequered relationship history and I’d lived with someone before so I had pretty warped expectations of what it would be like, but... We did okay. We got engaged about eight months later, and I guess the rest is history.

But even though I pretty much think I’m doing okay now and I’m probably about as “normal” as I’ll ever be, I’m still a bit less of a person than I used to be. I’ve kind of lost some pieces along the way. So when on Tuesday night we were in the pub with some friends and someone who once spectacularly shattered my heart walked in, I went into a kind of state of shock. This particular guy was somebody else’s boyfriend when we met and nothing happened for a really long time because I knew about her and I was determined not to be that person. Except that of course I ended up being that person, for which I have no excuse other than possibly the fact that I was only 19 and pretty besotted with him, and I was that person for exactly two weeks until the guilt crippled me and I walked away. But I was so hurt. I was heartbroken for months. In fact, since then I’ve only seen him in passing a handful of times until that night in the pub. And when I saw him and I felt the awkwardness of knowing that the only really sensible thing to do was not acknowledge him at all unless he made it impossible, I started to realise that maybe I’m not quite the person I thought I was.

On Thursday night, my husband and I watched a movie called “I Give It A Year”. I hope none of you were planning to watch it because I’m about to completely ruin it for you. When we went to bed that night, he cuddled up to me and said something about being really glad that our marriage isn’t messed up and how happy he is and even though I was thinking that I absolutely feel the same, I somehow felt uncomfortable about saying it. Which is when I realised that this actually happens quite a lot... Which is also when it occurred to me that maybe it’s because I still have some residual walls or defences or whatever.

Over the years, a lot of friends and family members have tried to reassure me that my husband loves me, which is something that I actually know is true, but I always respond with, “Right, but what about when...?” What About When... he figures out I’m not actually cool? Happened about six years ago when he realised that I love Dawson’s Creek, Pure Shores by All Saints and that I cry at veterinary programs. What About When... he notices that I’m a bit of an emotional train wreck? The illusion of me having my shit together was shattered pretty quickly when my aforementioned ex-boyfriend reappeared on the scene about a week after we met, causing an I-don’t-know-what-the-fuck-to-do crisis that had me calling the whole thing off. What About When... I’m sick with something and I look like shit? About a month after we moved in together I came down with swine flu and he found me crying on the kitchen floor on my third day off work because I didn’t have the strength to get up and go back to bed. Looking like shit didn’t quite cover the catastrophic state of my physical appearance that day. The point is, there are about 27million What About When...? scenarios, and we’ve probably gotten through at least 26.5million of them over the last six years. So I should really know by now that it’s okay to be emotionally open again. I do know. I know he’s not going anywhere. I know there’s not one single What About When...? that could make him think any less of me. But... knowing and accepting maybe aren’t quite the same thing.

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