Tag Archives: marriage

Things are good…..

I have a pinched nerve.  Sciatic, I believe.  Literal pain in the ass, as well as all the way down my leg and into my foot and up and across my lower back, depending on the day.  No, it’s not age-related – shut your dirty mouth.  

Full disclosure.

I was dancing.

Like I hadn’t done in years.

There’s this song I love, Stay a Little Longer, by a country duo called The Brothers Osborne.  I  downloaded it and was working out to it when something came over me and I thought – I don’t know – I was 17 again……I’d been chosen randomly for  Dancing With The Stars.  Normal stuff.  It just felt so damn good to be able to move my body like that.  Uninhibited, free, flexible, abundant.  However, at the time I hadn’t felt up to par in a few days and was fighting whatever had infiltrated my system with a ton of water, vitamin C and powering the hell through it.  I was achey and my right hip and glute were stiff and if I moved wrong I’d produce a sharp pain in one or the other.  I kept telling Mark it felt like when my great-grandmother would say she had a cold that had settled into her hip.  Which of course freaked me out because of who said it and how ancient she was at the time, which made me think I had to prove myself to The Universe in an age will never get me down sort of way because I’m slightly stupid.  

So, I was working out and the endorphins were flowing and I felt like I could dance all night or at least four minutes until the song ended.  I called it good at that point because I was done with yoga anyway and that dance off with the guys on the Bandstand wore me the hell out.  I noticed a few hours later that my hip was acting up.  I popped a couple Advil and figured it’d be okay by morning.  It was worse, but moving around helped until I got to work and had to open the gate at the front of the store.  It’s metal, it’s 30 years old and weighs approximately ten hundred million pounds.  Something twisted, something popped and I was done.

Three chiropractor appointments, two massages, countless salt baths, more ibuprofen than my kidneys care to count and ten days later I’m still in rough shape but it’s getting better.  Along the way I aggravated my left elbow that has somehow developed a tennis affliction in spite of the fact that I don’t play.  I was able to take a couple days off work and that helped.  I’m no longer dying.  The pain is sort of chronic and subsiding a little at a time but it’s not fatal…..

Saturday I left work a little early so I could get a jump start on resting/recovering as I had Sunday off.  On the way home I had what I refer to as a “stomach attack.”  I’ve had them sporadically for years and have been under a doctor’s care, trying to figure out what is causing them and what I can do to prevent them.  I’ve only experienced one thing that hurts as badly as these episodes and that’s full on, bring me all the drugs you’ve got, labor contractions.  I thought, on Saturday, I could make it home so kept driving.  <insert eye roll here>  About half a mile from my house I pulled over because all the strength left my arms and legs.  As soon as I had the car in park I blacked out.  <insert second eye roll here> “Luckily” the pain brought me around fast and I managed to call Mark.  He and #3 came and got me and brought me home, where I finished that round of pain in a record 2 hours.  I was exhausted after, as usual, and pretty much slept for the rest of the day.

On Sunday I limped around, feeling pretty good in spite of my intestines and appendages and decided to hose down the patio furniture that had taken quite a beating during recent dust storms.  An hour later I noticed pain in my right lower leg to the right of the shin bone.  There was a huge rash from fire ants that my bug man is going to answer for as soon as I get hold of him.  Those little bastards bite quickly and the rash is painful and goes away slowly.  Just like me.  As my bug man will tell you after I’m done speaking with him today. 

To recap:  I have a pinched nerve, am terrified to eat anything but applesauce and gluten-free crackers, have a bum elbow and a rash on my shin that makes people back up a step and say ‘ew.’  I smell like Icy Hot and Benadryl topical ointment and it hurts to sit, stand, walk and lay down.  I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday for a complete physical because she said she won’t “put people down,” as the medical community frowns upon it.  One daughter wants me to try The Whole 30 – a cleansing diet that sounds more like The Hell 30.  Another daughter is encouraging me to let go of stuff and do more energy clearing and healing.  Both are valid approaches and I’ll get to them when I can stay awake long enough to get started.  Chronic pain is exhausting.   

Mark has been living with this for two years due to plantar fasciitis.  I’m gonna be honest here.  There were times I may not have been entirely supportive or empathetic.  More than once I thought, seriously, it can’t be that bad.  I was wrong.  You have to deal with all the usual stuff in a day on top of the fact that you always feel unwell.  “Unwell,” is a mild term for fucking miserable and don’t talk to me or even look at me hard because I’ll throat punch you – that’s how ‘unwell’ I feel.

Though perhaps others handle it better than I.

The good news is, though my husband and I are in a bit of train wreck mode physically, we’re on our way up.  Cause we aint doin’ this shit for long.  Which is French for,  fine, we’ll do the Whole 30……….if nothing else that doesn’t involve giving up EVERY GOOD THING TO EAT AND ALCOHOL doesn’t present itself first.  Also Mark has been less grouchy because, in his words, as he watched me in pain for ten days he had to face the fact that it was like a movie of him and he wondered, out loud, to me, if he “has been that much of a pain in the a$$.”  I got the connection immediately and sort of snickered, thinking of Karma and knowing I wasn’t the only one whose butt it had been kicking.  Then acted hurt because he’d called me a pain and let him know that, yes, he’d been that big a jerk.  It’s lovely when couples can learn things together.

…….It’s a few days later now.  I’m still in pain but not as much.  The leg and back are uncomfortable but I don’t have to spend every spare moment strapped to an ice block or heating pad and I’ve cut my ibuprofen consumption down so that the kidneys will remain operative and healthy.  The fire ant rash?  No joke, folks.  It’s been over a week since those tiny little creatures feasted on my leg (and a few days since they met their maker) and while it’s healing, the skin is still inflamed and sore as heck.  I’ve had no repeat of the stomach/intestinal/gallbladder/WTF-ever related issue.  In fact, I got out of bed today remembering I have the day off, feeling free and relieved. 

Then remembered I promised everyone I’d follow through with my doctor appointment.  It’s at 2:00.  I don’t want to say I’m stubborn about minimal contact with medical professionals but as it’s my habit to cancel said appointments……..Mark made me promise I’d pick him up from work so he could go with me.

……And I’m fine.  She said so.  We ordered every test pertinent to the stomach thing.  I went back in yesterday for blood work.  You have to fast for eight hours prior, of course, so going in the morning makes sense.  I was cranky as ass by the time I got to the doctor’s office.

“Good morning!”  It was the same really sweet 20-something woman who’d greeted me the other day at 2:00pm.  How was she happy at this hour.  Duh.  Coffee.  Food.  Both of which I’d had to forego.

“I’m here for blood work.”  I wasn’t necessarily impolite, just to the point.  My mental state looked very much like neanderthal man searching for food.  Lots of grunts and points and a brow so furrowed it needed a plow.  I was in and out quickly though and if I wasn’t smiling when I left, at least I wasn’t dragging a club any longer.  There was cold brew coffee waiting for me in the car, along with a small piece of bacon Mark had wrapped up.  I’m not supposed to have a lot of bacon – pork, period (nobody is, really but I digress) – but this was really good stuff and the promise of just that little, tiny bit of fatty pleasure was worth the needles and losing a gallon of blood.

I’m just really not good at this stuff.  Is anyone?  I have been blessed with good health my entire life and have taken measures to make sure I stay well.  Does it surprise everyone when their body does something that seems like a direct betrayal?  It’s as if my body is a naughty child telling its mother to fu – uh – jump in a lake.  Like a mom I’m tempted to jump, instead, into a lecture that starts out something like, after all I’ve done for you…….

For the moment I’m good.  Everything is healing.  The rash is just a series of scabs that fascinate me because I am ten years old.  The hip/back/leg are back at the gym with me, doing “gentle” things.  I’ve started to eat again, gradually adding things back in lest I hit a wall and it knocks me down, so to mix metaphors.  

I guess, even if the issues I’ve experienced aren’t age related – I mean, anyone can get bit by fire ants – odds are, if one sticks around long enough, one will have to deal with a malady.  I’d like to think what I’m going through will make me more empathetic, more open to others who are suffering time related ailments.  So far all it’s done is make me tired and less tolerant.  My window of goodness has always been mid-morning to about 8:30 at night.   A good 12 hours peaking around noon.  Now I start to wake up, mentally, about lunch time and crash, with or without alcoholic beverage related help, at seven.  

And I know this is temporary!  Things get better every day and I’m so relieved.  I’m just trying to come out of this somewhere on the up side of well I guess it’s downhill from here without jumping on the botox train headed for a plastic surgeon’s office.

<sigh>

I was sort of in the middle of the above struggle while limping through the house with a basket of laundry to put away.  I stopped in the kitchen to water plants and feed Fade the fish when I noticed my little calendar of inspiration needed to be updated to the current day.  I changed it and read, “If you are looking for happiness and you can’t find any, maybe you are suffering from too much ‘I strain.’”

It was immediately grounding and uplifting, so, of course I told the inanimate object to fuck off.  But it was said with a grin.  My heart lifted and I felt relief as I began mentally listing all my blessings.  

Until I grabbed the basket of clothes, turned too fast and a sharp pain in my hip took me right down.  I dropped the laundry, grabbed an ice pack and crawled to the office  to sit at my desk and scroll social media till it was time to heat.  Unfortunately, for my grouchy cynicism, on the wall in front of my desk was another damn quote that would have none of my shenanigans.

It’s not about perfect.  It’s about effort.  And when you implement that effort into your life… Every single day, that’s where transformation happens.  That’s how change occurs.  Keep going.  Remember why you started.  

…..and there it is.  Transformation.  Change.  We are in this life to do just one thing.  Transform.  Willingly or unwillingly, that is what we do each and every day.  And really that is all we have.  Just that day.  Just that moment.  Nobody has to go from A to Z.  Just A to B or A to A.1, etc.  When I manage to keep that in mind I’m much less likely to lose the same.

Am I growing old?  Not yet, but I suppose as long as I’m growing, things are good.  

And things are good.

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It’s a Process

In the wake of the 30th anniversary of my marriage I thought I’d write about what makes a good marriage, but more than a month has passed since the momentous occasion and as I put hands on the keyboard in the hundredth attempt at doing so, I find I know very little. And I know everything.

Conundrum anyone?

People who’ve been married or together for decades will tell you though. The truth as they know (or don’t know) it.

Why stay together?

Love?  Yes, of course it’s love, but, really, what does love mean?

I don’t know.

But I do.

Therefore I have no advice to give and I could go on all day, giving you thousands of tips on how to formulate a lasting relationship that will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Or not.

I read once that spending a lifetime with one person goes against the natural tendencies of human nature. Taking into account some of the humans I spent time with when I was in the dating world, I totally get that, but even given the propensity of people to pick the wrong human, I disagree.

Look. We are basically alone on this carnival ride known as Life.  I, personally, have been confused about almost everything from inception. That I met someone when I was 11 years old and have loved him from the start seems like the way to go if at all possible. I mean two heads are better than one, right?

Not that there haven’t been hiccups.

There was that time when I was 13 and standing on stage with my cousin and brother, in the gym, prepping for a talent show performance. Mark came strutting in(and those who knew him back then will be able to visualize this as well as I), his arm around his girlfriend and greeted me across the room with a, “Hello beautiful.” My father, who’d been sitting facing us, heard this, stood up and turned around slowly with a murderous look on his face. (Those who knew my father will be able to visualize this as well). I thought it was all over right then.

Thanks Dad, for not killing my future husband.

There was the time when I was 15 and expressed my love for Mark via a letter and he said, “yeah, thanks but no thanks, jail bait.”

Fine. He was sweet and kind but the result was the same. My ego and my heart were shattered.

There were the weddings. Ours. To other people. Ironically, in the same year. The marriages lasted about the same amount of time as well – which is to say not long.

The hiccups our first few years together came rapid-fire and left us both wondering why, when we had loved each other for so long at that point, it was so difficult to meld our lives. I mean it’s not like Mark thought he knew everything and I was stubborn to a degree most commonly documented in mules. What attracted us to each other sometimes repelled us and many times in those early days the thing that held us together was the thought that if one left, the other would be alone and at the mercy of the short people we were so good at creating.

I can’t say that the hiccups ever stopped. I mean, it’s life. Somewhere in there, however, we found a groove and I can sum it up in one word. Communication. We talk and it depends on the day, month, year, millennium, moon cycle – whatever – who talks the most. I mean, you’d think it would be me simply by virtue of the fact that it’s me and, obviously, I talk a lot. Granted, some of those conversations are between me and, well, me, and the diatribe is pretty much never ending, let me tell you, but no. It’s not always me. Mark has a lot to say as well. That means one of us has to listen, which is harder. When Mark and I were first married I’d pour my heart out about a frustration, hurt, anger – basically I just needed to talk. He’d listen for a while, sum things up for me and offer a solution. Then we’d fight. I’d tell him he wasn’t listening and he’d tell me I was out of my mind because that’s all he’d done for however long we’d been sitting there. It took years of practice for him to understand the difference between problem solving and listening. It took years of me listening to him for me to understand that his intentions were good. He wasn’t trying to shut me up.

It was a classic Mars/Venus thing.

Now we set aside time for just talking and just listening. Sometimes we spend days that way. Sometimes we cobble together a few moments because our schedules keep us apart.

And that’s hard because we like being together. We’re buddies.

I remember when it dawned on me how much I love Mark. I mean, I always knew I loved him. But that all-encompassing never want to be without him ever again and can’t remember a time when it wasn’t that way thing. That you’re stuck with me now dude, so don’t even think about trying to get away, realization that had nothing to do with the five children, mortgage and car payments we’d racked up.

It was around our 15th anniversary and it came to me that almost all the memories I had were of Mark. Or if they weren’t of him, they were made within the time I knew him.

And it didn’t scare me.

I had been the one afraid of commitment in the beginning. I had been the one to run away. I had been the one who could not believe that another human being would love me just for me and that all I was required to bring to the party was – me.

I was enough and he was enough and around year 15 the realization dawned that I believed it. I guess what I saw was the difference between the beginning and the present. I slowed down long enough to pay homage to the process that was us and to acknowledge the beauty of life and this extraordinary gift of love I’d been given and was still allowed to participate in…..

…..And then a kid threw up or threw something at another kid and as quickly as the first 15 years passed, another 15 went by.

We are now entering a new phase with freedom involved that we have never experienced as a couple. It’s so new, in fact, that we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves, though we’re determined to figure it out, one adventure at a time. Nude beaches have been mentioned but the reality verses (my) fantasy has us sticking with hiking in Montana – fully clothed – and sitting on beaches where everyone is at least strategically covered.

I, personally, am so jazzed by this phase, it’s almost hard to process. I feel like a grown up – like someone who is ready to explore a part of life I didn’t think I’d ever experience.

I feel open.

Believe me, I was not even close to the neighborhood where open lives when Mark and I started out, let alone knocking on doors that might actually do just that. It’s another gift choosing to build our relationship has given me. Given us – because Mark was fairly walled of as well. We learned and earned trust that has, more than anything else, released our hearts, minds and souls and enabled us to progress together and as individuals.

It’s a process has become our watch-phrase and it is a process we cherish. It is a relationship we nurture and never, ever take for granted. We have been married for 30 years, together officially for 32, in love for 40 and friends for 44. As much as I’ve learned and as little as I know, I realize fully how special that is and how blessed Mark and I are.

So, to answer your question. Wait. There was no question. It was my proclamation of how to stay married and do it well.

I have no idea.

Or, at least I have no road map.

Honestly, it’s a process, is the best I’ve got. Let it be a process and stay in the moment thereof. It’s kept Mark and me sane. Or at least together. And if we’re together and happy, how effing important is the sanity?

I’ll let my kids write that chapter in another 30.

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