The night I met my husband, I had been moving all day and he offered to come over to help me set up my furniture in my new place. He helped me put the bed together and we got in it, and from that day forward we never left each other’s side. Even though I had just met him he seemed so familiar to me. Everything I said he nodded in knowing agreement. He got me, plain and simple. We both came from large families where chaos and confusion was a daily event, and we both craved calm and understanding, and we found it in each other. I couldn’t get married fast enough. I didn’t care about a big wedding, I just wanted to start a new life with him. I wanted to start over. I had been a part of the San Francisco party scene and had not been the best version of myself. I wanted to leave that person behind and start new. Shortly after we got married we moved to a new city where we didn’t know a soul. A new city, a new life, a new me. We were going to be different. We weren’t going to let life get the better of us, and take it out on each other. We were going to love each other, and always be there for each other. And we did do just that in the beginning. We were a great team. We seemed to know what the other person was thinking before they said it. When our daughter was born we realized that our parenting styles were very similar and we rarely argued about how to bring her up. We were the 3 amigos, nothing could break us apart. Nothing! My focus was always my family first, and then everything else after that. My husband and I would go on date nights, and sit close together in a booth and feel warm and connected. We would work out together, shower together, eat together. We were together. I didn’t analyze this too much, or think what the next day or the future held. We were in our own little bubble of warmth and security that nothing could pop. I had everything I wanted, everything I had been working for. But when my daughter got into high school a persistent, annoying thought kept entering my brain. ‘What about me?’ I would do my best to ignore it, and move on. But it just got stronger, ‘what about me?’ Slowly, dissatisfaction started to creep into my mind. All the boxes that I had fought so hard to check, were checked, but instead of being happy I wanted to run out the door and be by myself. It was like another person took over my body and I could no longer control my thoughts or emotions. I had the perfect marriage, the perfect family, what was wrong with me? I looked to my husband for reassurance that we were doing the right thing, and that everything was ok. Instead of reassurance he had a distant look in his eyes and he asked, ‘what about me?’. Shit! We were both lost. Normally one of us would pull the other back towards our family and each other. We looked to our teenage daughter for reassurance, and without saying a word her actions stated , ‘it’s all about me’. We became 3 roommates sharing a house instead of being a family. I would go in and out of periods of wanting to make it all work. For a month or so I would cook dinners and clean the house, and be the attentive listener and cheerleader for the family, but the next month I would barely be home. I would spend hours at the gym, go out with girlfriends, take a class, or just drive around by myself. My car became my safe haven for planning and having ‘me’ time. I would come home and feel guilty, like I was having an affair, because I knew emotionally I was drifting. And the fact was, it was about another person, but that other person was me. Disagreements and heated arguments ensued and our relationship became a power struggle. I kept saying that I just needed some time and space to sort things out and then I would be fine. But there was never enough time and space. I felt like I was suffocating. My daughter went off to college, and I thought things would settle down, but it only got worse as we both wanted to dictate what our new life was going to look like. We both were putting ourselves first, and the relationship and family second. My perfect marriage, my perfect family was disintegrating before my eyes. It completely broke my heart. It made me sad as I thought about how I started out so full of hope to beat the odds, only to arrive at the exact place I thought I would never be. How can I plan, and hope and use all my energy to avoid something, and then arrive there anyway? I was so angry and felt like all my energy over the years had been wasted. ‘What about me?’ this thought was now a constant in my brain, crowding out any other thoughts. I would cry and feel sorry for myself. I was sad, lonely, and disappointed. Had I wasted my life? Finally I had to start telling my friends that I no longer had the perfect marriage. And I was surprised to find my story was not unusual. In fact there wasn’t one person I talked to that didn’t feel some form of what I was feeling. I always thought my bond with my husband was special and beyond what other people had, so I was completely humbled when we became distant. But in talking to other women I realized that they felt exactly like me. Other women believed that they had the perfect marriage, that they had found the man of their dreams, that nothing was going to break them apart and their family would be together forever. I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. We all started out with an open heart and a desire to have an amazing connection with our husbands, and change part of the world through our children. And we did it. Our energy and intention is out in the world, our love and our desire to create a beautiful place did make a difference. When I see mothers teaching their small children with patience and love, or a couple beaming with the flush of romance, I feel their energy even if I am just walking by for a moment. What I did matters! And it will always matter. I added to the good energy of this world, and that can never be taken away. But, what I didn’t realize is that what I am going to do next also matters. All my energy that created my beautiful family is still within me and will now be expressed in a different form. The phrase ‘what about me?’ was coming into my head for a good reason, it was letting me know that it was time to shift my focus. It was preparing me to use my energy in a different way, even if I didn’t agree at the time. Letting that change happen without trying to control the outcome has been extremely difficult. I had no idea where I was going, and that was a scary feeling. My husband was also feeling the pull of redirecting his energy. And neither of us knew if we were going to end up at the same place. Would we drift apart or drift together? We were two people that met and immediately bonded, we created a beautiful life and family and so many happy memories together. Did we want to part ways and say that chapter is now over? Neither of us knew. But in our drifting somehow we would always come back to each other. No matter where our energy took us it would eventually lead back to us holding hands even if we weren’t talking. It would lead us to wondering where the other person was, even if we were mad at them. It would lead us to having long talks about our past, about our hurts, and about our hopes for the future. We have become 2 wanderers that eventually always wander back to each other. And when we do, we find opened arms, understanding and the same connection we felt the day we met. And I think that is perfect.
My husband and I moved to Portland Oregon over 20 years ago with our 3 month old daughter. We were living in San Francisco and both working full time, but after we had our baby we wanted a different lifestyle. We had often talked about moving out of the fast pace lifestyle of the Bay […]
I feel like when I write I use one side of me, and when I create art I use the other. They are in many ways opposing sides. When I am drawing I could be in the middle of a construction site and the noise wouldn’t bother me. When I am writing I need complete […]