Saturday, October 19, 2013

All the Wrong Turns, the Stumbles and Falls, Brought Me Here.

Marriage.  In a nation where more than 50% of couples divorce in the first 5 years, any married person can tell you it's hard! When children enter the picture, especially multiples, that 50% divorce rate significantly increases.  Somehow, through struggle, determination, and (often) stubbornness, John and I have managed to hold it together.  For more than 14 years, he's been my Mister. The boy whom offered his hand. The man I adored.
People who knew me as a teenager, really knew me, were probably shocked I married at such a young age.  I was flighty, easily bored, and, with the exception of a few friends and my very first love, wasn't able to make strong emotional connections to people.  I had too much to worry about to really involve myself in caring for other teenagers.  I imagined myself traveling around the world, not sticking to any geographical area for long, going where ever the wind took me.  I was on a mission to run.  Run far.  Run fast.  Run from home.
Then I met John. Everything changed.  He was the most amazing person I ever met.  I was crazy about him. At age 19, I promised forever to someone I really didn't know.  For a few years, life was wonderful.  We had so much fun.  Our friends were always around.  It was like living in a frat house.  Parties.  Booze.  Cigarettes.  Sex.  Lots of sex. Very few worries. An extension of the teen years. 
But we had to grow up.  Life demanded it.  Suddenly, we were living in a city away from our childhood homes.  We had no friends there. (Although we made a few keepers along the way!)  I was involved in a rigorous law school program and hated my life.  John was struggling with his was feast or famine.  We began to live as individuals; two people sharing a house.  Roommates, and then later, roommates with children.  If I thought marriage was hard before children, good god a'mighty, it was nothing compared to marriage post children.  
Two people lacking team skills make lousy parents.  When Mason was an infant, it was quickly apparent that John and I had very different ideas of how to raise her.  How did I not know that?  We had been married for 8.5 years before she was born! My solution?  I cut John out.  I made all the decisions for Mason. When the twins came, I expected John to be my partner, even though I had taken that role away from him two years before.  Our relationship deteriorated.
Most people, even some of our closest friends and nearly all of our relatives, don't know that we separated when the twins were 6 months old.  For 7 months, John lived with a friend.  He visited the kids every day and sometimes stayed over to help me with the twins. When he returned home, it wasn't because we had reconciled.  It was because his friend moved a stripper into the house and our children couldn't be around that craziness.  Oh, and the fact that it's nearly impossible to live in separate homes with only one income.  So, John came home and we lived separately in the same house.  
We went to counseling.  I don't know if it helped.  We communicated with each other while in the appointment, but it didn't seem to make much difference at home.  I got bitter.  I began to wonder how my life got this way.  Regret emerged.  Why did I give up freedom?  Why did I marry?  Go to law school?  Have children?  Why?  And I blamed John for my unhappiness.  
Then something slowly started changing in me.  Recently, I realized only I can control my happiness.  I know its cliché, but it's true.  If I'm unhappy, it's my fault.  Why am I not content with what I have?  Financial guru, Dave Ramsey says to get content in your life and you will find happiness. I'm working on finding happiness.
You know, this life is not so hard to love.  At this moment, as my children are asleep and I can hear their sweet breathing, or when Jonah laughs aloud while dreaming, or when they are awake and playing and laughter fills our home, I know those wrong turns, stumbles, and falls were worth it.  I'm starting to believe I'm the luckiest.