Someone recently told me over the phone that they wished they had a perfect life like mine.
I about choked and aspirated on the glug of water I was taking at the time. I didn't know whether to be horrified or to double over in laughter. Wait, was that a joke? No joke.
She said that on my blog everything always seems so happy and perfect. Smiling people.
I told her that I tried to only focus on the positive on my blog, you know, not make it a dumping ground for all the garbage that I deal with. People don't really want to see pictures of crying and stewing and slamming doors and loneliness and anger and frustration, and praying people shouting, "Why me, Lord?" Do they?
And then I realized with no small degree of embarrassment, that I do.
Does that make me sick? No, it makes me not want to be all alone. It means that I read blogs to fulfill all kinds of needs. I want to laugh; I want to be inspired. I want to learn things, and nod my head knowingly with a "I gotcha, sister!" But a big part of me also wants camaraderie in the trials I'm facing too. I don't want to be the only one burning in the fires of life. But I realize that I've been more of a taker than a giver as far as my blog goes, as is apparent when someone tells me that they want a 'perfect' life like mine.
I do try to focus on the positive. Very true. Not just on my blog, but in life. Those positives include my children, for sure. I am proud of my mothering. In my darkest days, I can at least thank God that (so far!) I have really outstanding children who love and honor me as their mother. Positives would also include my opportunity to go back to school, which I am so grateful for, despite how it tests every fiber of my determination and will at times. My positives would include my unfailing, abiding testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the personal relationship I have with my Savior. My positives would include books I've read, food storage I'm accumulating, health I'm building, and of course, the absolute best friends in the world.
My positives do not include my marriage. This is sad to me. Heartrending, even. A mystery sometimes. And often a black secret that I hate to keep.
But I don't keep it in the name of pretense. I'm not in denial, and I'm not trying to be anything I'm not. I keep it because I hope it will change, and I work very, very hard in that vein. I keep it because I know members of my husband's family lurk in the background of my blog, and I never want to dishonor them, or make them ashamed of me. I don't want to let them down.
Having said that, I am sure that I am not the only one with a failing marriage. I have stumbled across a few blogs whose authors have written with such poignant honesty about their lack of marital bliss. Those posts have resonated with me to depths I am sometimes afraid to admit. I appreciate that kind of honesty, and I have felt such gratitude for the risks they took in sharing such personal information. It gives me perspective, makes me feel like we're in this together, gives me hope even. I would like to be brave enough to be that kind of honest, without being offensive or hurting sensitive feelings. I would like to do for someone else what has been done for me when I have read and felt, "Oh my goodness sake. That's exactly what it's like for me too."
I guess the truth is that I am failing at unconditional love in marriage. The truth is that this marriage has been excruciatingly difficult from Day 1. We've had every possible obstacle to overcome, and yes, we're still here, but neither one of us is standing. He's over there, I'm over here, and we both have our arms folded across our chests with our backs to each other. Wondering is now the right time to throw in the towel? Have we done enough? Aren't we both bloodied and bruised to the point that the final match bell should be ringing any minute now? We know about forgiveness. We know about service. We're learning tolerance. But I have to think that not everyone has their marriage on their mind every blinking minute of every single day. Don't some people just get to be married and enjoy it, and not always have to fight to stay married? Yes, I know it's work. I'm willing to work. But work is supposed to pay dividends, and we're both over here with depleted bank accounts.
There are small bits of happiness. I always try to mention those on my blog. The great new blender he bought me. The beautiful flowers on Mother's Day. He tries in his sphere, I try in mine, but mostly the fact is that we're just in different spheres.
The bishop told me, "Just try to focus on your children and your own spirituality." And I replied, "But, Bishop, something tells me that learning to love my husband is my own spirituality." How can I separate the two? But then again, we learn from failure too.
Sometimes I feel like a happiness hog. I have happiness and success in so many other areas, but I really want to feel safe and cherished by my husband. I want a happy (though imperfect) marriage. And then I feel like I just want it all, and c'mon, Nobody has it all, Jenna. But I'm such a believer in marriage, despite my bad experiences. I want to be married. I can't give up hope in happy marriages, even if I don't get to have one myself.
This isn't supposed to be a depressing post. And this isn't supposed to be an anti-husband post. My husband is a good man. There are many things I love about him. There are many qualities he has that I just don't and wish I did. He can have the kindest, most tender love ooze from his eyes that just melts me. He has the sweetest touch. He has a sensitive heart. He tells a great story. He is a visionary when it comes to his writing and his artistic ventures. He's a dreamer. He loves God. He's happy when I'm happy. But we all have our 'stuff' in life, and sometimes missing puzzle pieces can show up, but end up being from two different puzzles. And that's where we are. Still trying to make them fit. And edges are getting all bent up.
So, let there be no mistake. Mine is not a perfect life. I'm really trying to do the spiritual work necessary to figure it all out. To find the reason in my trials, to learn the lessons. I know of a handful of really, extraordinarily enviable marriages, and sometimes I do catch myself in envy. But I have other blessings, and other things to learn that require the opposition I face. In the end, I have a feeling, it will all make a lot more sense than it does right now.
I'm banking on it. And I'm hoping that I'm okay, even though I'm far from perfect.