My first year of marriage was really fucking hard. There, I said it.
With 2 family cancer diagnoses, the loss of my beloved nan and the devastating loss of our Son, our marriage almost didn’t make it through it’s first year.
But it wasn’t just the shitty things that life threw our way that kept our marriage from thriving. Let me tell you, they most certainly didn’t help and they most certainly made things worse, but they’re not the only things to blame.
It was Sep 17th 2016 at 9:30 in the morning. We stood with our bare feet in the sand at Boat Beach, Seal Rocks on the NSW mid north coast. The scene behind us as we stood hand in hand was absolutely, I mean utterly breathtaking.
I never in my whole life, even after all my travels had EVER seen a morning, a beach, the weather or a scene so incredibly perfect.
I was 27 weeks pregnant at the time and for those few short moments when we said our vows, it’s as if no one else existed. It was just me, my husband James and our unborn baby, Linik. For a moment, time stood completely still. I forgot where we were and who was watching. The energy that surged through my soul was absolutely electrifying, unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. A feeling that can only be described as pure magic.
This description of this moment and this feeling is an accurate representation of how we really feel for each other, how much we truly understand and love each other and how deep our connection really is. But although our foundations are solid, this moment and this feeling was fleeting.
I was (back then) an extremely anxious, highly strung, overly stressed, demanding, bossy, impatient, frustrated, un-empathic (to him), emotional wreck! I wish I could blame the pregnancy hormones, but truth be told, these negative attributes have been in my backpack for a pretty, ok very long time. And depending on my environment or circumstances, some or all of them would rear their ugly heads at different levels and times throughout my life. Basically, when I sense fear, feel threatened or feel unsupported, alone, neglected or misunderstood, you’ll know doubt be well acquainted with this version of me.
Hello every relationship I've ever been in!
I grew up truly believing that I couldn’t depend or rely on anyone. Subconsciously I believed that I was unlovable & unworthy. Every time something bad happened, I would put on another layer of armour and shut my true self out of this world just that little bit more. Dimming my light each time. Suppressing my authenticity, my femininity, my confidence and my true power.
When I first met James, back in Nov 2014, like the start of every relationship, of course the aforementioned version of myself was no where to be seen. He peeled back all of my layers, took off all my armour and made me feel safe, secure, desired and so insanely empowered. Never had I been so vulnerable and open and never had I felt so accepted.
We met at a popular local pub on a typical Sunday afternoon in Spring. I remember feeling like I had outgrown this pub/club scene and didn’t quite fit in anymore. What do you the young kids wear these days? Would I even get noticed? But, you gotta be in the arena to even have a chance so I took my outdated outfit and sunburnt skinned self along anyways.
I was introduced to a friend of a friend, James. To look at, I thought, well nothing. His first impression on me went so unnoticed that he blended into the background (haha sorry babe, this confession is actually making me lol). He was heavily (based on my exposure at the time. I had one measly tattoo on my back) covered in tattoos, ripped, but kinda skinny, had a top knot (a bit hipster I thought) and wore a singlet too big that showed too much skin (told you, I was an outdated old lady). It wasn’t until we started talking that my opinion started to change.
The more we talked, the more magnetic he became. I remember taking one last judgmental (lol) look at him from afar, from head to toe recapturing his essence, albeit uncommon (to me) style and thinking to myself “well he’s not like the guys I usually go for. He could probably do with a good feed, but for some reason I am SO attracted to this guy”..
We talked some more and then some more. We, ok he, talked so much that I began to worry. “Does this guy even know I'm flirting with him?” “Is he even interested?”. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that if I wanted something to happen, I was going to have to do it myself. So mid sentence, mid word, I leaned in and kissed him. That shut him up. Lol
About 20 mins later we walked home (to his house) hand in hand. I’ll spare you the details but you all know how it goes. He swept me off my feet and I left there the next day wearing his t-shirt (the one I now wear to bed), with a bunch of kale from his garden and one of his artworks. My perfect man sent from (heaven?) out of no where at exactly the right time!!!
The day after that, me and my toothbrush and a bag of clothes arrived on his doorstep and since that day we’ve never looked back.
But although we’ve always looked forward, at times we haven’t been able to see very far ahead or very clearly.
It wasn't long after we met that the cracks started to show. About a month into our relationship we had our first disagreement and I remember so clearly my energy shifting. A lot! I could feel myself get heavier as I placed (back) on my first comforting, protective layer of armour. It didn't take long at all before all those heavy bitches were back atop of my shoulders and I had closed myself off to James. The enemy. Duh.
My baggage, my armour is too much for most to bare. Even me. This poor guy had no idea what hit him and no idea how to deal with it.
We loved hard but we fought often.
We fought so hard and so often (especially after losing Link) that we considered calling it quits. Things got so bad that we both couldn’t bare it any longer. Something needed to change. Desperately.
It was me against him and him against me. But mainly me against him and actually, if I really faced what was really going on, it was really me against me. You remember my baggage? Yeah, well that kinda got in the way of things.
You see there’s two things I hate about marriage (alright, a few).
- No one ever seems to talk about how shit it can be and just the thought of myself talking about it and owning up to it used to make me feel a pang of shame.
2. It makes you face your ego. I mean really face it. Often.
I also hate (but secretly love and am totally grateful for) that I attracted into my life, a man that challenges me in the ways I needed to be challenged. I’m convinced that he was sent here by the universe to help me (painfully) grow. I’m convinced that his sole purpose in life (surely?) was to put a mirror up to my face and make me face my demons, my ego!!! To learn the lessons I hadn’t yet learnt. Like patience. FAAARRRRK ME, does he test my patience!!
You know what else I hate? I hate that I love this man so fucking much that I eventually (it actually takes me a lot longer than most. My ego is one stubborn mother fucker) and much to my egos dismay, choose kindness, love and understanding over the need to be right. Seriously, I hate it. *ego eye roll. I ain’t very good at it, but slowly, through many tears from me and so much patience (ha! Funny that) and strength from him, I am learning.
Another huge one I hate that I’ve had to learn is that I am actually a slow learner. I always thought I was a fast learner. I actually pride myself on it. Have been known to boast about it even. And in most situations, I really am. Give me a task and I’ll learn it quickly. But make me face my emotions and unlearn old habits and replace them with new ones….? No no no, that’s too foreign for this gal. We don't learn those types of things around ‘ere.
But realising I'm a slow learner in this way is a lesson I have learnt very recently (Thank you, James). An epiphany almost. I’ve always known that one of the ways James pushes my buttons is his lack of awareness. His lack of awareness about really simple every day things, like forgetting to close doors after he JUST walked through them, or leaving his shoes at home when we go out, or not paying attention in traffic or to the time - ever! Or walking on (and ruining) wet, freshly polished floorboards, or my personal favourite, consciously deciding to transport a single, uncooked egg in his backpack, NEXT TO HIS LAPTOP whilst riding a bike (yes, it cracked, yes it went everywhere and yes it ruined the computer… OBVIOUSLY!!!)…
All of which is completely forgivable. But give me a lil bit of reassurance that you at least have the ability to LEARN from things like this…
But he doesn’t and he never will. It’s just who he is. An uber intelligent, deep, understanding, insightful, wise, big fuckin goof ball who was sent here, like I said, to put a mirror up to my face and make me see the things about myself that I know needs to improve. Like my patience.
Ah huh! The very thing that irks me about him (slow learner who just happens to have an abundance of patience for me), is the very thing that I myself struggle with (slow emotional learner with zero patience for him). BOOM - Mind blown!!!! And lesson learnt.
I have held onto this thorn in my side and resented him for being a slow learner our whole relationship. Convinced that his slow learning was a reflection of how much he loved me. Convinced that because he wasn’t prepared to change this one thing about him, that he just didn’t love me enough. I must not be good enough. I must not be worthy. Yeah, yeah that’s it.
It’s only taken the entire first year of our marriage (almost to the day), but after so many arguments, so much loss, so much grief, so much perspective and so much soul searching, I think I've finally found the empathy he’s been desperately wishing I had for him. Because I now see myself in him. I see my flaw is his flaw. We are one in the same. How I treat him is a refection of how I treat myself. How I view him is a reflection of how I view myself.
I guess in hindsight it was so obvious. Such an easy lesson to learn. But nonetheless I think I have finally taken off my armour. I finally accept responsibly for my baggage and have finally released him from the responsibility of loving me.
Because that’s my job. Who'd of thought?