Friday, January 05, 2007

A Wary Peace

For the first time in about a million years, I felt like throwing an impromptu party tonight. Nothing fancy, nothing huge, just a few friends over. And their kids.

Oh, yeah, and tomorrow night, too.

Finally, things are feeling normal.

I’m certain it has a lot to do with the fact that Jeanine has worked only a few hours in the last week. Having her here at dinner time, homework time, and bedtime is fabulous. Ben shrieked on Tuesday when he came home and she was here. MOM! Jake ran over and hugged her. Their moods stayed light even as the sun went down and the witching hour approached.

Her presence is more than a treat for the whole family. She is part of what makes this big configuration of moms and dads and kids work. An essential part. In my anger, I believe her absence makes her a ghost. A faint memory. But it’s not true. Her absence is a hole. A loss of part of the machine – it simply can’t function without her.

I am also certain my change in the way I respond to her has created a shift that is not simply about vacation. Every time I’ve felt like blurting out, yelling, I’ve stopped. Am I backed into a corner? I have spent so much of my life in the corner with my hands up ready to fight. It is more than a reflex. And it does not serve me well. I am taking the moment to think about it. Is this worth a fight? How can I say this in a less aggressive way? How can I separate out old rage from the current moment?

The combination has left us in a familiar but long, lost place. Where we both feel taken care of enough, loved enough, to want to share our home, each other, with the rest of the world.

It is a shift we are both wary of. I looked at her last night and asked when was she going to blast me again with her anger. You cracked the foundation of our marriage, she said to me.

I did, I said.

The foundation was not as sound as it appeared from the outside. It was built with fear of abandonment, for both of us. I only cracked the façade.

I am still angry, she said. But I also feel taken care of. When are you going to stop taking care of me?

I don’t plan on it. In fact, my effort to respond differently is a goal for me throughout my life. To realize why I feel so voiceless. And to recognize the real power I do have. My words, my feelings, do matter. I have tremendous impact on those around me. In feeling so powerless, I billow out too much steam. I burn those around me who are there because they love me. They love me, not without problems and conflict but they are not holding me to the floor.

I want to find. Not just feel, yell and act, as a friend described to me today. I want to find what I have lost. Follow the cracks left through to their finest end point. Until I do, I will continue to find myself against walls, in corners and responding from the fissures rather than my best self.

Tonight? I’m going to sit with some friends. Talk about school administrators, kids educations and a trip to the slums outside Mexico City a friend took over the break- research for a book she’s writing. Ten kids will be running around. Sorry… ten boys will be running around. One friend said she didn’t think her daughters would want to come to hang with pack of boys. I don’t blame them.

May the wary peace continue until it becomes a new foundation from which to build.


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