It’s my belief that there are certain bridges you do not cross. Chalk it up to my upbringing, my faith in some power greater than ourselves, or maybe good ‘ole stubbornness, but I’ve set up some guidelines for myself that I always thought I would abide by. I was always kind to my family (mostly). I was always respectful to my elders (mostly). I’ve never been cruel to animals. I’ve never taken liberties with the truth. I’ve never been duplicitous and conniving. I’ve always done what I thought was right at the moment I thought it was right to make that decision. I’ve never shirked a duty I was given or I took upon myself. I’ve always tried to be friendly, trustworthy, and, for the most part, part of the solution and not part of the problem. Those are the immutable laws of Breanne, the laws that would never and can never be broken.
Most of all, I’ve always believe in some sanctity of marriage. I always looked to my parents, how much they got it right, and I’ve always thought it would be an easy task to emulate their every step. I never thought of the commitment and dedication to making a relationship work as being something I would ever be lacking. I just didn’t. There’s always been an attitude of “get the fire going or freeze to death,” as my daddy likes to say, about how I approached making all my relationships work. I never had it in me to put the blame on somebody else when there was still time and room enough to fix a problem. That’s part of the reason I settled on Greg in the first place. He had this way about him that clued me in on the fact that I would always be the one wearing the trousers in the tent. It was never a matter of who would solve the problems in our marriage, only a matter of how I would accomplish it. It was never a question if we’d stay together, only how I would accomplish it.
For you see, that was always one of my firmly held tenets of existence. You don’t get divorced. Divorce to me equated to giving up. Divorce was only a solution for the weak-minded and people who were too dumb to get at the real problems.
I never thought I would ever be someone who would consider divorce.
We were both seated on the couch in the living room. How we had ended up there is beyond me. For most of the fight we had been standing, cursing at one another while we stalked around the room, neither of us able to get a firm location from which to launch into our respective offenses. We were two tigers, each trying to get the upper hand, but never settling on who exactly was the weaker of the two. Then, suddenly, the storm had abated. Suddenly, all we were left with was the “storm after the storm,” as my daddy likes to say. All we were left with was the mess we had made for ourselves and the arduous business of cleaning it up.
Looking at Greg, I saw all the reasons why I loved him, all the reasons I had fallen in love with him. It was there in his bespectacled countenance—all the graciousness, all the malleability, all the features of his personality that usually made him such an easy person to live with. He tried to hide a frown from me in his folded arms. I saw through it, though. Like everything else, I saw through these positive attributes and saw all the reasons that had built up to make it such a chore to live with him as well.
“It’s not a big deal. We weren’t even close to signing anyway. They’ll be other times, sugar,” I tried telling him.
“But we had agreed that this was something we wanted to do. You agreed, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I had, but the timing wasn’t nearly where it was supposed to be,” I explained.
I think there’s an art to telling somebody bad news that I just never picked up. I was born without the gene to breaking it gently to someone news that could ruin their day. Oh sure, I’m fairly skilled at picking up the pieces afterwards, but when it comes to telling somebody news that’s sure to upset them, I’m fairly blunt. Again, I can only be Breanne—no more, no less. I’ve always thought that if news of the severity and condition of bad news truly were that bad, I’d want to build told in as few uncertain terms as possible. But that’s just me. I’ve always thought of myself as being rather strong, of being able to accept the burden and weight of bad news of any type.
Greg, wasn’t built the same way, I’m afraid.
It was true. I had agreed.
But it was also true that I had changed my mind.
It was true that I no longer wanted to adopt a child to call our own anymore.
That story, though, wasn’t as easily wrapped up as most stories involving hurt feelings and complicated relationships never are. I don’t know anybody who has ever had it completely easy in a relationship or a marriage they thought was worth fighting for. Why should I be any different?
“I just don’t get it. I don’t get why?”
“You know why, Greg. You’ve known why for awhile now.”
“No, I don’t, Breanne. I really don’t.”
“Because of us. We’re not in that place anymore.”
That, more than the baby news, was the sad truth that I thought Greg really needed to hear. The whole adoption decision I had arrived at was merely an outcome of what was really struggling between us. It was a symptom of a larger disease. The real problem was that we had stopped being anything new. It wasn’t that we were growing apart or drifted in different directions. If that had been the case, I could have righted the ship. I would have nudged us in the right direction until my nose bled. Nope, the real problem was we had ceased thinking about the two of us as something exciting and vibrant. We had grown complacent and had settled for something less than what I wanted—what we both wanted, I guess.
Yet whenever I had tried to bring this to my husband’s attention it had practically fallen on deaf ears.
And I’m a person that likes to be heard.
“The place that you promised me when we got married. The place you spoke about at our wedding ‘where happiness wouldn’t be the exception, but the rule as long as you drew breath.’ Or don’t you remember that part?”
I don’t know what his definition of happy was at that moment, but what we had, what we were going through, certainly wasn’t mine. I had began to look at life as being something to measure in terms of time passed—a tally of how much I had accomplished, the restaurants he had taken me to, the anniversaries we had muddled our way through, all the nooks and crannies we could store memories in. What I had stopped thinking about was how life used to be about what more could be done, where we could go next, what distant shores lay on the horizon.
“This isn’t the life I was supposed to lead, Greg. It isn’t. I don’t need fancy, but I do need new.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“And that’s why we’re having this discussion, now isn’t it?”
It’s taken all this time to admit it to myself, but I had built a bigger pen than I had a herd, when it came to imagining what my married life would be like. I had liked that he had allowed me to make the bulk of the decisions, but what I hadn’t counted on was the fact that he was so passive that it really got tiring to be the driving force behind our relationship all the time. It got tiresome to feel like the only one who gave a damn. It was like I was the only one who had dreams and aspirations for what the two of us could be. I was dreaming for the both of us and I had begun to slowly lose the will to do that anymore. I needed him to start dreaming with me, which was something he hopefully could do for me.
Except I didn’t know how to tell him in so many words.
“This is about him, isn’t it?”
My face immediately turned beet red.
“Hell’s bells, now is not the time to bring up that particular subject.”
“Well, Breasy, you tell me when a good time would be to dig up that old chestnut and I’ll be more than happy to oblige you by asking my question then.”
“Never. It’ll never be a good time to bring it up, okay?”
Like I said, there are some bridges that you never cross and one of them is to allow a fight to devolve into listing everything fucked up under the sun about a person. I wanted to keep the discussion straight forward and limited to the topics I had consented to discussing. I would have to leave whatever other issues plaguing us for another day. You can only rope one calf at a time, after all.
“Don’t you feel it? Can’t you see unhappy I am?”
“I always thought I was being obvious.”
“Not obvious enough.”
I looked into his eyes, hoping to catch him in the lie that I mistook his answer for. That’s when I saw that he really wasn’t kidding. He had no clue as to the depth of my dissatisfaction. And there I thought I had been so forthright with him. It came as quite the shock to me when I saw that all that time he had been patently oblivious to how I was feeling. That’s when I thought that the restriction on him reading this blog could have been a mistake. Perhaps if had read a few entries I wouldn’t have had to explain so much about how I was feeling to him. I could have just referenced a particular date and time, and that would have been all the evidence I would have needed. Instead, what I thought would be a marriage-saving conceit, turned out to be yet another piece of evidence at how little we knew each other after five years of being married.
“That’s my fault. I take full responsibility. I can’t expect you to be a mind reader.”
Maybe that’s why I had taken this opportunity to clean house because some part of me already knew that there was so much of me that I was leaving unsaid. Maybe this was my subconscious alerting me it was about time I cleaned house.
I would have liked more warning, but the fight had just erupted like an open dishwasher, spilling blame and hurtful words everywhere. It hadn’t been pretty. I had let the first few outbursts light a fire underneath me and the resulting twenty minutes had probably been my finest hour of burning through a dictionary’s worth of expletives. My daddy used to say that I was never content to let the water stream. “You’re a waterfall person, not a stream person, Breanne,” he used to say. “You like the loud bang, you crave the excitement.” It’s true, I’ve always been attracted to displaying myself grandly and noticeably. I need the spotlight even if it means calling attention to the worst aspects I possess. I don’t care, as long as people don’t take me for granted.
So we had fought.
We didn’t have a winner.
We didn’t have a loser.
But there were casualties.
“I don’t know how to be any other way, Breanne. I can only treat you how I treat you.”
“I know that. All I’m asking is that you stop with me and ask yourself if a kid is really the solution to all our problems.”
“I would have loved that baby so much,” I heard him say after a short pause.
“I know you will… someday,” I said, allaying his fear that this was a decision on my part that would never be reversed.
I will be a mother someday. That has never changed. But another unbreakable tenet I still hold is that I will be a great mother someday. I’m not going to have the relationship my mother had with me. I will be a great mother in every way imaginable. I owe him or her that much. I don’t have it in me to fail at the one thing I know I was always destined for. That includes bringing a child into a household that has no room at the moment to love him or her. Things will be perfect when we do bring a child back home with us.
This wasn’t the first time he felt like I had betrayed him. In a sense, I had repeatedly betrayed every time I had opted to change my mind. For the most part he never said anything. When I told him that I was remodeling the house a few years back he never questioned the decision, but he had the look of betrayal then. I saw it there, in his eyes, lingering like some far-off candle. Up until that point it had been “our” house, a house we had decorated together, a house we had dreamed of together. At that point I made some decisions on my own, inconsequential and small, but decisions nonetheless. I could see his view. I was taking over the one place he thought we had equal say in. I was co-opting something we were partners in. I don’t know why I didn’t consult him. I can’t say that I was intentionally trying to shut him out. I saw a few problems that needed revisions and I set about revising them.
Maybe that’s what the problem with adopting was. Maybe that’s why he had felt so hurt. I saw the problem, the tension, the waiting over the baby was causing and I thought of a solution. I called the agency, I contacted the correct authorities, and broke them the news that we had decided to go in another direction but that we would like to keep their names and numbers for the future. And that was that. Problem solved.
Yes, we had deeper issues that needed fixing and the distraction of going back and forth with this person and that person every week was a distraction. But I should have let him some kind of input, even if the end the result would have been the same. I should have done that much for him. That would have been the correct thing to do.
Wicked Breanne messes up again.
“I’m sorry, Greg. I had no call to do what I did.”
“No, you didn’t.”
That’s always been a wall between us, my acting without thinking and his thinking all the time without acting fast enough for me. It’s what my friend calls a marriage between a rock and a rolling stone.
I can’t seem to keep it straight how a partnership works. You think after five years I would have gotten the hang of it. That’s what happens when you marry younger than you should have, you make all the mistakes you would have had you remained single, except somebody else becomes affected by it, somebody else gets to share in your misery. It isn’t that I regret getting married right out of college, but I get to feeling that I missed out on so much of my life that I would have experienced had I been only thinking of myself. I would have been like the eagle with the whole country spread beneath him or even the whole world. I could have seen Australia. I could have seen my koalas in person and not behind some bars. I could have experienced what it’s like to live in another part of the country. I could have turned myself into somebody completely did. I could have had the adventures I always wrote about when I was younger.
When you marry you make a commitment. You make that commitment to somebody else to stay faithful, to stay true, to stay by their side. But what if staying by their side keeps your feet firmly planted to the ground? What then? What do you do then when your whole life has been about sticking and moving at your own pace and by your own whims? I stay because I love him and not because I love the life I have with him.
Not yet at least.
And, yes, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been like the bull charging the fences keeping him in. I’ve broken my fair share of egos in the attempt to assert my independence. Hell’s bells, I’ve even done my damnedest to drive him away one time or another. I’ve strayed, I’ve wandered, I’ve tested the waters. I have been far from perfect. Yet I remain with him because my heart tells me it’s my business to remain with him and because my mind tells me he’s the best man for me. I remain because my stubborn streak won’t let me give up on something that hasn’t completely been blown to bits.
Any bull ride you can walk away from, right?
“We’re going to work through this. It may not be perfect tomorrow or even a year from now, but we’re going to work on perfect till it’s perfect, darling.”
I heard him try to stifle a laugh.
That’s also another big reason I stay. I can’t think of too many people who can deal with all my craziness and impulsiveness and still remain optimistic about my prospects. Sometimes, admittedly, I am a handful. But I receive as good as I give. It’s the least I could do. If he can learn to stand my imperfections, then I can learn to stand his too. I know giving our marriage another shot in the arm is the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do.
I will never give up. I will never surrender. Not without one hell of a fight, at least.there are many things that I'd like to say to you
but I don't know how
I sidled up to him on the couch, hoping that he would see my desire to be closer as a sign we were working towards something rather than away from something. I wanted him to see it as a small armistice in the wake of the terrible battle we had just fought. I swung my skinny arms around him playfully. At first he resisted like a spoiled child, but he eventually got the hint. He let me move my head closer to him and slowly rest on his shoulder. From that point on I was whispering directly into his ear.
“I haven’t forgotten how to be your wife if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“But can we still work?”
“I’ll make sure of it.”
I never thought I would ever be someone who would consider divorce.
I still don’t.
Labels: committment, divorce, Greg, marriage