Today is/was my wedding anniversary. Since we’re separated, I’m not sure which tense to use. At my care team’s request, to help with the day and practice skills when I need them, I looked at the wedding pictures I have – the proofs – and our engagement photos, plus the memory book from courtship, engagement, wedding. The idea is to come in contact with the pain to ride its wave, open up inside to feel it, instead of fighting it so hard, a fight that is not working since the pain comes anyway. I’m just increasing the pain by fighting it.
I had already had a good cry watching “Parenthood” (Steve Martin, etc). That reminded me of watching it with him, of the times that we had experiences like those in the movie. And then the roller coaster vs carousel metaphor for life that comes out of the movie. Am I willing to experience all the highs and lows of life? I haven’t been. I’m hiding from the pain. In so doing, I’m probably missing some highs too, I expect. I’m fighting that pain really hard, so much that I look for dangerous ways to end the pain. Clearly this is not working.
So I expected wedding photos to trigger hurt, the same way memories of the day haunt me. Yesterday I had a meltdown – huge ugly cry – about the day of the rehearsal dinner and the beginnings of thinking about the wedding. But the photos didn’t do much. Those are actually good memories, and I had some warm fuzzies. I’m surprised since good memories have been causing hurt as much as painful times have been causing hurt. I wish so much that our relationship could have been more ideal in so many ways. Each day I wake up and hope things are better – together. That has been my M.O. for YEARS.
I realized this morning for the first time that I‘m not the same person who got married 17 years ago. (This triggered a good cry.) I’ve been thinking all along about myself as the same person, slightly older and slightly wiser. But it’s been nearly half my life since that day. I’ve had multiple changes in what I do, how I think, my self-image. I’ve changed. I think for the better. I’ve started to become aware in the last few months that he has changed, but I’ve blocked how much I’ve changed too. Seventeen years will do that to people. (Lump in my throat again.)
I’m not 21 anymore. I’m 38 and a great deal wiser. Life has gone on, and it has in fact been a roller coaster with mostly downhill movement to be honest. It’s been a struggle on so many levels. More so because of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. I have no right to an easy life, as no one else has either. But if something can assuage the struggle, shouldn’t I have taken it? That fact that it has brought horrendous pain and additional self-knowledge, does that negate the movement toward less struggle?
What say you?