- Post Title: Scenes from a Marriage: January Kill
- Post Date: January 24, 2012
I remember twenty-four. I remember young. I feel my husband’s mouth over mine, the kissing penetrating the light, the day, the night, the lonely so lonely childhood we walked through to find one another. I remember hours of alone together, and we were drunk and slow and in love. These are our roots. The hours, days, months, even years before we had to pay dues.
Lately, I have moments where I miss that thing we were so impotently, so swiftly and so painfully that it arrives in a physical, chemical blow: in the second brain, they call it, in our guts, where our immune system and our hormones churn. Complications, the doctors say; we were almost there, but there were complications. Baby complications. Hospitalization. Money. Moving. Teenagers. And now, January complications.
I want the mean slow freeze of January to release my husband. January is hard for him. Which makes it hard for me. I watch his angry, frustrated face, tired of being exhausted and struggling against himself. Sometimes, I want to throw something at him, at his arm, where it would hurt but not kill, hard enough to make him furious, to break the ice and bring the entire river to a boil and release us from winter. During a quietly furious ten-minute argument I am horrified to find myself thinking I hate you I hate you I hate you. I want to run away. I want to say something so final and so hurtful we could never recover from it. I am resentful and furious and cannot stop the potent adjectives hammering my brain: stupid miserable fucked up. I think of how happy I have been alone, before. How easy it is to make your own happiness alone. It all feels so forever.
I am confused. Why does one hard month feel completely unacceptable and undoable? Then I am ashamed. Why can’t I wait just a fucking MINUTE? Why do I have to be so demanding, so greedy with happiness? But pain and struggle and distance make me feel like a failure. Like our marriage is a failure.
My husband sweeps the kitchen floor with a face so exhausted and shoulders so bent he could be Robert Parker’s protagonist: world-weary and eagle-eyed and fighting demons inside. He reaches out and touches our daughter’s head as she toddles by, and I suddenly see him as he is so often: lit from within with his quiet way of loving, eyes connecting, shoulders straight and strong from manual labor. And I am suddenly gripped with a ferocious loyalty, and a panic that I could ever, even in my unasked for thoughts, consider hating or leaving this man who is only fighting his own demons along side me, a thing I agreed to do when we took hands on the beach in La Jolla nine years ago. Suddenly, I am simply a wife longing for her husband, instead of one bent on destruction. It’s just so hard sometimes. Because it’s not just about him and his demons — of course not. It’s me. It’s my own. And when he is struggling like this, I have to struggle too.
I have no illusions of perfection or forever. I know we could lose our marriage. In our best moments, I am most afraid of the specter of divorce: when I am so in love and so enthralled that I cannot imagine life on this planet without him. In our worst moments, like now, something wounded, angry and afraid inside of me wants to label us with every rotten branch down the tree. I want our marriage to be wonderful, and when it’s not, I want our problems to be acceptable, things you can joke about over lunch at work: Haha he’s such an ass, he wouldn’t watch the baby while I worked out, not Sometimes we get mentally fucked up and one of us can barely do family life and goes through the motions while the other one tries to wait it out.
I lean forward into silence. I wait quietly for him to come back to me. I work my resentments like tight muscles. I try to be better.
[Post was edited from original version]