Love and Marriage
This post was originally published on MidLife Collage here.
I never sleep. Well, that is; most nights, I drift in and out of sleep. In the last twenty-four hours, I drift in and out of love.
Last night, I could not stop coughing.
We lie down to sleep around 10:30 p.m. and I joke, “I’m not sick.” And as if the cough says, “Joke’s on you,” the tickle at the back of my throat refuses to subside. I can’t fall asleep more than two seconds without interruption. Coughing into my pillow only muffles the sound.
And you, Hubby, are now awake. And annoyed. “You know I’m on call tomorrow.”
Typical response. It’s all about me. Poor me. If I don’t get enough sleep because of your darn cough, my tomorrow will be worse when I lose more sleep taking care of my patients. Then you act like it’s my problem. Which it is, but the words bite. “Can you do something already?”
Oh, like get up and take care of myself while I’m not feeling so hot. Thanks for the compassion. Thanks for the “in sickness and in health” expression of love.
“Do you have (cough cough) a (cough) suggestion?” I ask.
“Try drinking warm orange juice with honey.”
Great idea! Thanks for the million dollar cure to your interrupted sleep. So thoughtful, I’m getting goose bumps. Oh wait. That might be a fever coming on.
“Do you want to get it for me?” Sad that I have to even ask. And then the blow: “You’re the one who said you weren’t sleepy. Plus I need my sleep if I’m gonna be up all night tomorrow.”
In other words, get it yourself. Followed by the stab: silence. Just a flip over with your back to me and heavy breathing. You’re snoring now? You’re asleep?
Now let me just cough louder and clear my throat all night so I can wake you up from your peaceful slumber. Since I can’t have the fairy tale husband who nurses me back to health with some chicken-soup loving, at least I can bother.
My ladder of failure started at the top rung of sadness. When you told me to what to do to make it better. Stepped down to disappointment. When you flipped over and fell asleep. Slip down three more to disbelief, anger, and jealousy.
When you tell me to take care of myself.
Vengeance and unforgiveness cuff each ankle on the bottom rung. I’ve already decided I want revenge. And I’ve made up my mind that no matter what happens, I will not let this one go.
I’m in an ugly place right now. If I was a color, I’d be red. And anyone who enters my space right now will get burned. I’m so consumed by my failed expectations, I just want to punch something. Someone. You to be exact. I want to punch you. I’ll settle for pouring the orange juice over your head. But then I’d have to clean it up.
I fall asleep angry. So much for not letting the sun go down on your anger. The sun went down and rose again. Between my coughing and the anger, I barely slept a wink.
I wake up angry. So when, first thing in the morning, you ask me, “How are you feeling? How did you sleep?” I want to kick you in the mouth or throw some solid object at your chest. Unbelievable.
Instead, I pull at something inside me that doesn’t always surface, but I’m willing to try. Maybe because time has put some space between last night and this morning. Maybe because we promised each other we’d try. I don’t know why grace comes through for me when I’ve already decided I don’t want to forgive you for last night. For letting me down. For not loving me. Bottom line. For making me feel alone when I was not alone. And yet, with all my murderous thoughts, grace is not done with me. Or us.
So I phrase and rephrase and rephrase a few more times till I take out all the curse words, blaming words, and hateful words. Until I can hear it in my head with a tone that sounds calm, not screaming, wailing, or sarcastic.
“So, when you asked me last night to do something about my cough and you told me to take some warm orange juice with honey, but you didn’t get up and get it for me. That really hurt. I thought we were supposed to take care of each other.” Exhale.
“I’m sorry. I should have gotten up. I should have brought you some orange juice.” I want to scream, “Nooo!”
It seems so unfair. You’re done your part. You’re sorry. You confessed. And you acknowledged you failed. I want this thing to drag on a little longer. For the long night of agony you put me through, I want you to suffer a little longer. I don’t want to let you off the hook so quickly. I want to jab a little. I want you to beg a little. More.
Bottom line. I’m not ready to let it go. To give you the grace card and move on.
“I was really disappointed.” I need two more seconds. “I just wanted someone to take care of me last night. I hardly ever get sick. Last night… was really hard for me.”
I want to say more, but I’d just be repeating myself. I want to spill my pain like discarded broken glass, because it makes me feel better. Unfortunately, when I spill my broken heart, the pieces of pain don’t just fly off into thin air. They land on you.
The space between us is full of broken glass. And now you choose each word carefully, because it hurts to talk when you’re bleeding.
Again you say, “I’m sorry. I should have gotten up. Sorry I disappointed you.” Say it, I tell myself. Say it, I scream at myself, inside my head. Just say it. I demand that my pride sit down. SAY IT ALREADY! Sigh. Okay.
“It’s okay.” I forgive you. I’m still mad. But I won’t hold you prisoner any longer. I’ll let it go. And even as I free you, I begin to free me. I can breathe again and each breath holds less anger than the last. The pain slowly subsides.
And now I can see you. When I woke up, all I could see was you through me. You were my mirror. And all I could think were thoughts of you from a reference of me.
You hurt me.
You disappoint me.
You fail me.
You don’t love me. Perfectly.
And now I see you. Just you.
You feel bad.
You disappointed yourself.
You failed yourself.
You let yourself down.
You can’t love me. Perfectly.
You’re not . . . perfect.
And you’re sorry.
I see you. I believe you. I forgive you.
More About the Author:
Rajdeep Paulus is the author of Swimming Through Clouds, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic.
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