I think you all think – because I have led you to believe it perhaps – that I am living my happily ever after. It’s all the pictures on Facebook of me with my husband, smiling and happy. And it’s all the sweet words I’ve written about my sweet husband, how he prays with me and reads a devotional with me and how he plants flowers for me and how he builds me up about my writing and my work, and how he is, you know, genuinely kind to me almost all of the time. And that is all true.
But it’s so much more.
And I haven’t been sharing because it’s too personal and too painful and too real and too right-now, and it has the potential to steal some of your hope, which I hate. (I desperately want to be a hope-dispenser for all of you; heads up: this post might not be that.)
Because the truth is that most of our emotional energy – most of our life together – so far, is spent (or feels like is spent) untangling the knots from our past. Even with going through a Bible study on freedom and a book study on preparing for a second marriage and weeks and weeks of in-depth premarital counseling BEFORE WE EVEN GOT ENGAGED, I hugely underestimated the weight of this going in.
We have yet to be able to truly begin to carve out who we are as a couple and who we are now as a family, five-plus months into our marriage. We are treading water in our collective pasts.
And I have been trying to pretend we are not doing so, trying to pretend we are not in a transition of enormous change, trying to pretend we are not in limbo. I have been desperately trying to pretend that we are a regular married couple…that we have few to no problems, let alone large ones.
But in reality…
We are newlyweds.
Who don’t live together full-time yet.
With no end in sight.
With little we can do about it but wait and pray and hope someone will find favor with us and change our circumstances for us.
Who are spread too thin.
With five children between us.
With two ex-spouses.
With two failed marriages in our rearview mirrors.
With long histories with other partners.
With ingrained ways of relating to other people.
With both true and false accusations being hurled at us.
With disappointments and guilt and mistakes and pain that could fill a hot-air balloon and make it fly away.
(Before anyone thinks I’m simply whining about adjusting to a new marriage (oh, boo-hoo, Beth); I’m not. I can’t say any of the most horrible things that have gone on the past few months here on the blog. So you’re just going to have to trust me…it’s been very bad.)
And I am desperately trying to rush through this season and put it behind us all the while knowing there is no rushing.
And every single day I am keenly aware that I am disappointing at least one – if not multiple – people who I care about, my husband included. Every single day. That I am not loving the people in my world well. That emotional things are falling through emotional cracks on a regular basis. That I am not enough, no matter what I do. Lose-lose-lose.
And in the midst of all this loss and change and uncertainty, I am struggling with insecurity and attacks on my marriage and attacks on my character that leave me second-guessing my every genuine attempt at kindness and generosity, that leave me agreeing with things like what a hypocrite I truly am. And I am struggling with loneliness and isolation whispering to me, with a sadness and an anger that are just below the surface of most of my thoughts and interactions. And my body is revolting against all this unresolved conflict and all these loose ends and is practically shutting down on me with a loss of appetite, continual upset stomach, sleepless nights, and back pain. And I am struggling with trying to fix everything…and I mean e-ver-y-thing that is wrong in my life, in our lives…trying to fix everything with racing thoughts, while knowing deep down that there is next to nothing I can do about almost all of it, that we just have to somehow keep living our lives with so many unresolved issues.
It has been such a painful way to start a marriage, such a painful stretch for both of us. More pain and much harder than we both anticipated, and we are both so very weary.
And I’m sorry; I’m so sorry. You have no idea how desperately I wanted to give each one of you a perfect, shiny, second-marriage, redemption story to hold up in front of you and run towards. I feel like I’ve let each one of you down. I know you wanted everything to work out just right for me. I know you wanted a happily-ever-after for me. (I did too.) (He did too.)
But life is messy.
Our life is messy.
We are praying for healing and mercy and wisdom and strength, for simultaneous protected and softened hearts, for the shards of pain to be removed. And sometimes we forget to pray. And sometimes we hurt each other and our children.
So, today, this is all I really know to be true:
We are trying to make good choices.
We are trying to do good work.
We are trying to love God (and we are trusting that he loves us).
We are trying to love each other.
We are trying to love our children.
We are trying to love our friends and families.
(Despite how it all appears.)
We are failing at some of this.
But, and I’m so sorry, sometimes love isn’t enough. And at the same time, sometimes it has to be. // Christ have mercy. We need you.
A week later…
The day after I wrote this, I finally asked myself the question that I had been asking my MarriageMentor and DivorceMentor mentorees lately: how is your life working for you? And I realized mine wasn’t. My life – in its current form – isn’t working for me and it isn’t working for my husband, and I/we can’t keep doing things the same way. Something…some things…have to change.
But the truth is, I am declaring that my joy has been robbed. And I have done all I usually do when walking through a hard time, when being spiritually and personally attacked – extra time with Jesus, trying to eat even better even though I’m not hungry, drinking more water and tea, upping my Vitamin D intake, walks and bike rides and yoga, circling the wagons with extra time with close friends, doing fun things, playing worship music throughout the day, extra journaling, taking naps – and it hasn’t been helping. I dumped out my bag of tricks and I came up empty.
So, I got myself into my counselor’s office, and then a few days later, I got myself into my doctor’s office, and then the next day, I began taking an anti-depressant again, something I haven’t done since my separation.
I will keep doing all I know to do, and I will wait in expectation for healing to come and joy to return. (It always does and it always has.)
And my expectations – and your expectations – of happily ever after will just have to be transformed to something closer to reality:
Two people doing the best they can who totally mess up but know that they’re loved.
And that I’ve got. Because, to be crystal clear, this marriage is nothing like my first marriage, I would marry Richard again in a heartbeat, and I am grateful every single day for his great love for me, especially in the middle of our mess. And I am trusting that it won’t always feel like this, that one day our past will be just that…our past. And that our present and our future will be front and center, where they rightfully belong. Until then, Jesus…
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