I am pretty sure in years past that I have talked about this elephant.
We are in a purging stage, mostly influenced by the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and also because when I came back from living in Salt Lake City for a year, I realized that though Mark & the Kids have been here for 6 months on their own, things are EXACTLY how I left them last March. Only difference is that Mark & the Kids have just ADDED to it.
The house totally looked like a man and 2 children lived there. Not “dirty” but not clean. I mean, Mark was VERY proud that he could keep the dishes clean, but everything else, well it was too much for him. Mark being essentially a single parent for 6 months opened his eyes to the shit I actually did around the house. A bit of our marriage “issues” have stemmed from the fact that I SHOULD have done MORE, or I was a failure because I was unable to be a full time student/ Work full time/raise children full time/keep the house spotless full time/have dinner ready when he came home FULL time <— ALL THE TIME, At the same time. Mark saw other wives pulling it off, and if I “worked hard and organized my time efficiently” there was not reason as to why I couldn’t do all that.
Honestly it lead to much anxiety, confusion, depression over our 9 years of married life. He didnt understand, he saw only his way. Mark has worked very hard for everything he has accomplished, and thought that if he could have pulled off being an Naval Academy Grad, and Naval Officer, then there was no reason “if I worked hard enough” that I couldnt do it all.
Heavens, I tried so much. I truly did. Like “why cant I do this?”, “I am a failure.”, “I am stupid. Smart women can do this”, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”, “I’m crazy right?”. It was so hard to please him, even if I pulled off everything, he came home to an awesome meal, I worked, I cleaned house… He would still find something. Like find a pile of folded clothes at the top of the staircase then stomp around LOUDLY enough for me to know that I am making him do “EVERYTHING”, and I apparently can’t do shit.
Ugh, it sucked. Honestly I can go back through the years, and remember moments in which I was scared that he would be upset with me. Mark is not abusive, he is not a screamer, but he was good at letting you know he was clearly not impressed , and “Well you got that done, but why isn’t this done?”. I think feeling that I have let someone down, is the most upsetting thing for me. Hell, even now I tell friends “Please DO NOT expect the world from me.” only because I don’t want it thrown in my face that I let them down.
Now there would be times in which he seemed to understand when I didn’t have everything done. But still, it was like he was giving me a “get out of jail free” card. Please don’t think that my marriage has COMPLETELY stemmed around this. No, we were/are happy, but there was always an elephant in the room.
Coming back to the elephant… I found this beauty at an outdoor/indoor thrift shop in Japan. It had been outside and covered in grime. It was disgusting, but I saw the unique paint decorations on it, and knew I had to have it. Paid 5 yen for it, and I carried my dirty grimy elephant home.
Mark HATED it. He did not understand or like my love for eccentric pieces. Hell, when we got married he bought me a whole new wardrobe because he didn’t like how I dressed. I thought, “Yeah, I guess I don’t need to dress like I am 16 anymore. I’ll grow up. He will like it if I wear this.”. When I first showed him the elephant, of course he was not impressed, I was so jazzed out about it, but his reaction made me feel stupid and embarrassed. When we moved back to the states, I spray painted it gold. I “toned” it down, maybe he would like it more. I remember sharing it on Instagram and someone posted “I liked it the way it was before”… me too.
Coming back to the now… When I got back here (Jacksonville, FL) a couple of weeks ago, I of course had to do a deep scrub. There was shit everywhere, I couldn’t stand it. So once the weekend was over and Mark & the kids were at school/work, I went to town on as much as I could. Mark came home and I could just read his body language and see that it was a relief to have the house looking normal. This then lead to a big awakening on Mark’s part on what I did as a “house wife”. More like a giant smack in the face. We sat down and had a pretty big heart to heart about how I felt over the years, about how I never lived up to his expectations though I tried relentlessly to impress/make him happy. We brought up moments in the past, at times I remember most being a failure to him, and he let me know his thoughts. He admits that he has only seen things in one way, and even when he would take into consideration my way, he still believed as to what he said outranked anything I did or said.
“Babe, I just can’t do it all.”, was his reaction to not being able to efficiently work/be super awesome dad/clean house/make meals. It reminded of times I said the same thing “Baby, I promise I am trying, but I just can’t do it all”. His reaction was one of defeat, and my prior reactions were of desperation and acceptance.
Unrealistic expectations and lack of communication. Those were the 2 things we came to agree upon in our heart-to-heart. We both admit, that even if we tried talking to each other more in the past, it still would have been hard headedness on both sides. It wasn’t till we were both in the “real world” did we see each others point of view (my “awakening” in another post). The whole “walk in another person’s shoes”.
Being able to talk to him without becoming hysterical is a big deal to me. In the past I would just beg for him to understand, or try to explain how sorry I was and that I’ll do better next time (ha, I start crying NOW as I type this), he would always stare at me emotionless, “well babe…” then rant on, on how I should be more “efficient”. Now I can calmly just lay it out, another moment in realizing that I am grown up, I am my own women, and I DO NOT need to JUSTIFY my actions as a mother/wife/woman. I DO NOT need to beg for acceptance and forgiveness.
In the tidying-up book, she says to only keep things that bring us JOY. I have a shit ton of random pointless figurines in which I have decided to just donate, though evoke a memory, they are not necessarily giving me “joy”. Then I came to my elephant and sat down and was slammed with memories of why I painted over the original artwork, who I was and how I was feeling at that time in my life. This elephant does NOT bring me Joy, but awkwardly enough it brings me strength. Though we do not (should not) live in the past, the past still gives us experience & wisdom to handle our steps forward in life. For that reason I cant let it go.
Weirdly I stroke the top of the elephant “There was no need to conform you into something dull to be accepted.”
You live and learn. I now can feel at peace and thankful for the ups and downs of my life.
“You know what babe? You were such an asshole, but I have to say it brought out the best in me. Now get over yourself because I am not dealing with your shit my friend”
“Don’t think you were such an angel…”
“But still an angel right?” *wink*