No, I don’t believe in that “Happy Ever After” shit.
I’m one of those people who does a lot of living behind my own eyes. I can be remarkably scatterbrained when it comes to things such as “where’s my stuff?” or “what’s that dude’s name?, ” but when I happen upon an experience or an event that I want to remember, those memories remain vivid and in living, breathing color. Believe that.
For me the garden of memory is almost more alive than the real thing, if that’s possible. Sometimes that’s not so good, especially if I am stuck on a scene of disappointment or rejection, or mourning, but some trips to the garden of memory are positively magical.
Over the past few years I’ve allowed myself to fall into the pattern of being constrained by what I see as the limitations of my circumstances. Admittedly being married to a chronic boozer who has ED and a laundry list of other physical and psychological issues is a huge downer, and not exactly good for one’s self-esteem.
Jerry enjoys his beer drinking- and isn’t compelled to do anything about it.
I’m not referring to self-esteem in the vapid sense of “feeling good about yourself,” as in the phenomenon where some people treat their kids as though they deserve a prize for remaining vertical and continuing to suck up valuable oxygen. I’m talking about self image in a realistic way: I may be scatterbrained and wired differently than most people, but I manage to function somewhat effectively. I might be plain and proportioned like a mutant troll, but fuglier people than I still manage to have relationships, and fuglier people than I still manage to get laid from time to time. So I may not be “normal,” but I’m not that screwed up, I hope.
Old, yes, but I’m really, really, really low mileage.
It’s as if his dysfunction colors my outlook, and to a degree it does. I can’t say that going years without participating in the horizontal mambo is a good thing. I didn’t ask for the celibate life, and I truly don’t care for it. Being treated as a glorified maid and gopher doesn’t do much for feeling feminine or desirable or any of that business that I would like to say doesn’t matter, but deep down on some level it does.
A big part of me feels like a failure because in the back of my mind I guilt trip- what if I’d done more? What if I’d been more perceptive, more loving, or maybe less frumpy and boring? I guilt trip because maybe I shouldn’t feel the way I do (and I don’t acknowledge my feelings all too often, and when I do, I try not to give them much credence, which is probably a good thing) and that I should just suck it up and be glad Jerry can still dress and feed himself-for now.
I don’t think I could handle the guilt trip if I just picked up and left, and that’s messed up too. I said I would stay with him, though it’s been a very long almost 20 years. I feel like the life has been sucked out of me- to the point that a mere acknowledgment from a ghost from the past left me almost euphoric yesterday. Someone still gives half a shit! A half of a drink of water in an endless desert! It’s a sad state of affairs when I get that little affirmation.
But there is life beyond my limitations. I did have a life in front of my eyes, at one time. And I did enjoy myself for a moment in the garden of a particularly sweet memory yesterday and it did lift my spirits more than it probably should have.
There was a time- and maybe this is just my own wishful thinking- that I was desired and wanted and pursued. As much as I don’t want to admit to having a need to be wanted by men or even by a man (this reminds me way too much of the fairy tale bullshit shoved down little girls’ throats as they’re growing up) even I want to be more than just the one who gets to clean up the cat puke or dog shit, (Jerry’s really good at spotting it, but apparently unable to pick it up for some unfathomable reason) or the only one to run errands because I’m the only one who’s sober. Living like that – as a sort of an indentured servant- doesn’t do much for one’s emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I’ve said it before that my marriage at best is sort of a symbiotic relationship, but at worst, is more like a parasite-host relationship, which is sad but often true. I try to regard Jerry’s indifference in context because he really does care more about beer and football and cigarettes than pretty much anything else. Therefore I need to stick to my own agenda and interests- and fantasy life if that’s all I have, if I have any hope of staying remotely sane.
I wish I had the courage to reach out to an old friend (though paramour would probably be a more accurate word) and lay it on the line. Even if I risk rejection (oh, and believe me, I do,) my heart hasn’t changed in over 20 years. I have to come clean with how I felt then and still feel today, and admit it, even though the time and the circumstances probably aren’t any more “right” than they were back then.
That sort of honesty has always seemed to me to have far more risk than reward. I am so terrible at reading the motives and behavior of others. I have enough trouble with my own motivations to try to figure out what sort of mischief is brewing in other people’s minds.