Monday, March 18, 2019

A charge to marriage

One dozen years as Mr. and Mrs. Crozier! Remember our special day? How it poured down rain the entire day? (But why wouldn’t it? It was the middle of March, after all).

Remember how you beamed at me, when you turned around saw me for the very first time? If that wasn’t the look of deep smit, then I don’t know what is. 

We were kids, Graham, weren’t we? Kids dressing up all fancy-like and playing adult. Just look at how young we are!

Remember how one of my coworkers (who you had not yet met) was in the sanctuary helping with the flower arrangements before the ceremony? And she wondered who the kid was, beating out his nervous energy on the drum set. That “kid” was you, my love. 

When I think back to our special day, one thing that stands out to me is how I never second guessed. As a generally-anxious person, this is striking. You were the one for me and I had zero doubts about it.

I often try to find the words to describe our life together and always come up lacking. We have weathered some painful hardships. Like waves of a storm, our challenges have threatened to crush us as they crash against the side of our boat. We’ve rocked and thrashed around in the mess, some years wilder than others. We've blown a few holes and our vessel has undergone some damage. But do you know what makes me so, so proud? What causes me to fall more madly and deeply in love with you with each passing day? Instead of pretending the squall isn’t there, blasting through life as if nothing is wrong, we’ve acknowledged our storm and called for help. 

Could two people possibly be more different?

It's not every guy who can live with a sometimes-anal-retentive neat freak who thrives in extremely orderly environments, plans everything ahead, and who has no taste for the unknown. But you do. Your go-with-the-flow attitude remains (mostly) unperturbed by my complicated ways. You loosen me up and help me live outside the box. Life is so much more fun with you.

And not every girl could live with a guy who regularly loses things, lives wholly in the moment, and can’t keep track of time. But I do. My knack for organization provides stability and structure that helps you keep track of your belongings and gets you where you need to be on time. Life isn’t so chaotic having me around. 

There have been times where I’ve wondered how a girl with anxiety and OCD tendencies lands herself with a guy with ADHD (and vice versa). How do we not drive each other absolutely insane? In truth, we do, sometimes. Like the time a few years ago when I left for a few hours to take a much needed “sanity break” from the kids. I needed some quiet to relax and gather my thoughts. You and your dad were in “project mode,” gearing up to install board and batten in our entryway in my absence. Imagine my surprise when I came home to find construction dust everywhere, the hall only partially finished, and a new gaping hole in the wall of family room. I will never know what exactly went down that day, but partway through the board and batten project, you lost interest and decided to spontaneously remove the brick fireplace that you loathed instead, an endeavor we had neither discussed nor budgeted for. Needless to say, all the restorative relaxation that had occurred while I was away that afternoon vanished instantaneously.

Then there was the time when two of our towering arborvitae bushes that border the neighbor’s house began falling over, their roots unable to hold themselves vertically any longer in the swamp-like conditions that was our backyard. Again, I was out of the house “relaxing” and returned to find that not only had you removed the 2 plants that were leaning, you’d also assisted in felling the remaining 5 bushes that made up the only privacy barrier between our yard and the neighbor’s. Now we had a prime view of his gnarly mess of overgrown blackberries and unkempt backyard. Oy vey! Those were some rougher days that at least I can look back at and laugh about now.

You were in for a lot of surprises too. Being married to me must’ve felt at times like you were standing 8 feet from the end of a fire hose, tasked with the impossible job of collecting every last drop of liquid blasting toward you at full force. But the substance rushing out of the hose wasn’t just water, it was tears. Every time something in my life didn’t go according to plan, I struggled. Some of the time my upset was directed toward you. Some of the time it was directed toward someone or something else. But all of the time, you found it bewildering. I possessed So. Much. Emotion. And what was most baffling to you was that my level of emotion never seemed to fit the “crime.” It was hard for you to fathom how your arriving home late and neglecting to tell me or forgetting to take out the trash like you said you would should land you with a sobbing wife. 

From my end, these little “missed” interactions began to have a cumulative effect. It was really hard for me not to take these behaviors personally. I couldn’t reconcile how things were playing out. If I asked for something from you and you agreed to it, and then neglected to follow through, what did this mean? The only way I knew to categorize these confusing exchanges was to determine that you must not love me or you must not care. I couldn’t figure out why else this would keep happening. It was extremely painful.

From your end, you were trying so hard. There were so many expectations for you to keep up with and it overwhelmed you. You were not ignoring my requests intentionally. You adored me and so desperately wanted to please me. But it felt like an uphill battle. Keeping track of things was always something you struggled with. If there wasn't a reminder right in front of you, you would forget. You grew tired of being told you failed again and you withdrew. Who wouldn’t, when told perpetually the ways they don’t measure up? 

I didn't always want to have to remind you. It felt like it didn't "count." I wanted you to show forethought, that you were thinking of me and my needs. This became our vicious, awful cycle - you feeling overwhelmed and like you could never be good enough, me feeling unloved and unseen and confused as to why you couldn’t just remember to do the things we’d agreed upon. 

Oh my gosh did things ever get messy. There was so much hurt, so much confusion, so much defeat and sadness for both of us before we realized what was happening. It took us nearly a decade of marriage before we finally recognized and accepted the dynamics that were operating between us. Our brains are wired differently and we have a couple legitimate third parties operating in our marriage relationship. Symptoms of ADHD and OCD/anxiety constantly threaten to sabotage the bond that we’ve built. But now that we know to call out these symptoms and behaviors and name them for what they are? Oh the relief! We can get on the same team and fight against the symptoms, and no longer against each other.

The work that we've done in our marriage has been such a long process, one that we are far from being perfect at. But we're getting better, quicker at recognizing when we have fallen into our "cycle." It has taken two committed participants, each willing to step into the mess, flip over the rocks and expose the nasty critters hiding in the darkness beneath. We've fought a lot, cried a lot, and clung to each other even more. We drive each other mad sometimes but oh how desperately we need each other, to round out our sharp edges and find a middle ground.  

I am so, so proud of us. But we remain afloat. We have ridden our waves, clinging to the promise of hope for new mercies again in the morning. There is no one I’d rather have in this raft other than you, Graham. Happy 12 years!

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posted by kelsie