I like to use my blog to get my thoughts out of my head, it’s like a talking therapy for me without opening my mouth. I do see a counselor but we have specific objectives and topics which meet those objectives and so my general thoughts find their way out through my blog.
Sometimes I write and never post, just getting something off my chest and reading it back helps. Sometimes I talk to my loved ones about things and don’t need to write them and sometimes I talk to my loved ones and feel even more compelled to write them and sometimes I can only talk to loved ones after writing my thoughts. Whichever way I do it, it helps me to make sense of me.
I’ve had some radical changes of heart following pouring it all out onto a virtual document. Sometimes that change of heart comes instantly that I read it back and realise how ridiculous I am or sometimes it comes a little later after I’ve read a few comments and digested things a little more. Whatever, it helps me and works for me and I don’t know how I managed without it.
A few nights ago I blogged about marriage, a kind of potted history of 40 odd years of thoughts and experience on marriage and I concluded that I couldn’t get married again ever. Within minutes of reading my thoughts back I received a comment which was very poignant and which began to fan a little spark of something I’d felt after I’d read back my own thoughts. I’d begun to think, “Why not?”. Marriage is something I always wanted, that seemed right to me, as a kid, in spite of my parents’ protracted unhappiness, in spite of my experiences with psychopath, in spite of my views on other people’s approaches to marriage, one thing had held fast, I wanted the fairy tale but somewhere more recently the fairy tale fell flat. Today I’m back to thinking I don’t want to ever marry again but I thought I need to understand where the fairy tale fell flat and find out why I’ve let that destroy what I always held as a view of long term fulfillment and happiness.
Of course my own marriage is perhaps the key. I realised it was a mistake but I really did want to make it work. I admit I went through a phase where I felt I’d just repeated what my parents had done and consigned myself to a life of not quite being happy and fulfilled with a man who was perfectly decent just not the soul mate I’d hoped to marry. I didn’t really dwell on that for long, I sucked it up as they say and got on with it and determined that my marriage would last, I would make that happen.
Unfortunately for us all involved, that wasn’t all it would take to make it endure. My husband and I had very different views on what marriage was, what roles everyone should take and communication was a real issue. We were both new to it, we’d not experienced marriage, we were very young, we were learning and if I’m honest we didn’t really get past the elementary stage. We didn’t know what to expect and we hadn’t known what to look for in each other, those essentials which would make this work and we had a whopping great cultural difference to cope with.
We were from walks of life at each end of a huge spectrum. We were from different countries, different continents, he was brought up with religion very strongly a part of his life, I wasn’t, I was working class, he was from a very privileged uber wealthy family of land and business owners, he’d had the private education in the best schools money could buy and I just hadn’t but it didn’t make me any less intelligent than he was. He’d been brought up by a team of nannies, cooks, cleaners, maids, drivers and I’d been brought up by my mum and dad, attending the estate school. Yet we found common ground, that common ground was in a number of things; music, in our zest for living, our relaxed approach to life and the way we were neither of us judgemental of anyone, we both take people as they are, for what they are and appreciate that everyone has a back story. I think I represented normality to him, I kind of grounded him in reality and gave him a sense of belonging. To me he represented sophistication, I could learn from him, I could grow from knowing him and he could learn intimacy from me, what being close to one person meant. He had never had that, never felt love for his parents just a sense of gratitude.
Even if we remove that deep stuff, we loved to dance and we just loved being together, it was so easy and relaxed and happy. Then we got married.
With marriage came certain obligations for him, pressures from his family which he didn’t want to take on and a whole set of expectations which he wasn’t ready to meet. He did want what I wanted, he wanted to just be happy and married and have a life together but very very soon after our marriage he found that the pressures of the expectations took over and now he admits that they forced him to behave towards me not as he wanted but as he was expected to. There were certain things that as a woman, wife, mother I was not expected to do, such as work. It was a sign of disrespect to my husband to work when he had wealth enough for that to not be necessary. I was expected to have staff and I refused. I didn’t want to move an army of help into the house I was sharing with my new husband, I wanted us to be alone, that was the way it was in my world. We hadn’t lived together prior to our marriage and so, given that I realised I’d made a mistake anyway I wanted us to be alone to enjoy being married and so I could get my teeth into my commitment. I wanted it to work even though I realised he was my best friend not the man who set my soul alight. I know for some people that is one and the same (for me now with Nick he is one and the same) but those roles are not inextricably bound to one person always.
A few years down the line if someone had offered me even a cleaner I would have snapped their hand off but you know, when we’re young we know it all and we want it our way and we know what we’re doing. I had a working class pride in providing for my own and I thought he knew that. I know now that he did know that but he also knew from his experience how useful it was to have staff, to take away the mundane so that we could enjoy the good things in life. But was I a woman who could lunch and shop and spend days beautifying myself? Not at all, that was alien to me. He wasn’t able to articulate to me that he knew I would come to enjoy these things and to see them as a way of life and to show me that this was a good way to live and there was no shame in it, there was no need to work, my life was to be a pampered princess and that was that. To me that was the most abhorrent concept in the world. I was feisty, I was hard working, intelligent, a socialist, proud of my back ground and I just didn’t get it. I felt it was insulting to me, he didn’t get it. He thought I must be insane, controlling, power mad. Looking back I think I was insane too. I guess although I wasn’t conscious of it as I hadn’t known the extent of his family’s wealth when I got to know him and agreed to marry him (another thing I liked about him, his modesty) but once I was aware I guess I worried that people would judge me as some kind of gold digger and so I determined to prove to my people and his that it was not the case. I had no idea that my people would think I had lost my mind and his family would be deeply offended by my rebuttal of the things they offered to make my life happier and easier.
It wasn’t a good time. I often think about our time together and I can actually visualise a giant rope with us tugging on either end and never managing to draw one another closer just working our way further and further apart. Stretching it like an elastic band.
Ultimately this stress took its toll and it snapped. We realised we had to do something about it and so we did. It ended temporarily at first but for good later on. He did try to keep me but it didn’t work, my mind was set I wanted relief from the pressure and I wanted to breathe and feel happy again.
OK so this all led to me not wanting to ever get married again but I’m not so sure now that it’s fair of me to have let this marriage do that to me. It wasn’t bad enough to rob me of my dream. It wasn’t the most typical of marriages, we had odds stacked against us and when I think about it I wouldn’t relent and he couldn’t relent and so it wasn’t so much another person who let me down as I’ve always viewed it, it was another person who couldn’t let me down. There is a difference there, a very important difference. My resolve to make it work at any cost was not strong enough, I didn’t appreciate what any cost was. Any cost was totally turning my back on who I was, where I had come from and what I was comfortable with and that is a huge ask. For someone who was trying to escape a working class background, for someone ashamed of it or hungry for wealth and an easy life perhaps they could have met that cost but not me, I couldn’t do it. Sometimes the costs are just too high.
Anyway, for the first time I understand what went wrong in my marriage and I see that it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not even fair of me to blame myself for not thinking it through or him for not thinking it through, we were kids, we were happy living our lives in London, being young and in love and in the city is such fun, it really is (You Tube Erik Conover to witness that). Even the hard times are fun, it’s an adventure. We were living that life, we were happy, marriage seemed like a good idea, a proposal was timely, its acceptance was timely we were naive it was only when the deed was done that the enormity of what we had done sank in … for both of us.
I realised this wasn’t my soul mate and he realised that his family were going to hit him with a list of demands and expectations as a married man, his carefree years were done. He had his masters degree, he had his wife, he was ready to be a man and take his place but only he wasn’t ready at all and I don’t think it dawned on him how fast his life was going to change. I know because he told me that he felt I was a chameleon, I could fit effortlessly into any situation and he knew his family loved me, even though I wasn’t what would have been their first choice they felt drawn to me in the same way he did and my joi de vivre was contagious. He didn’t worry that I’d not blend in with his life and because he didn’t worry he didn’t really explain what blending into his life was going to entail. We never talked about that and I didn’t check what was going to happen we were just being young and in love and in a bubble really. It was when our backgrounds came back to bite us after our marriage which destroyed it. It wasn’t our fault at all. He didn’t destroy my dream, I didn’t destroy my dream, our marriage didn’t destroy my dream. My dream just got buried under some circumstantial stuff and I became so feisty and determined and self sufficient that it stayed there.
Anyone following this blog from the beginning might remember a photo I had on the home page of a caterpillar going through it’s stages from caterpillar to butterfly and how one of my goals and one of my methods to judge my progress was going to be to assess where I felt I was on the journey to the new me by identifying with those phases of creating something free, colourful, untethered and beautiful which could spread its wings and fly, leaving the cumbersome, heavy, shackle of previous existence and transformation behind. I longed to be the butterfly one day.
In the beginning I saw my weight loss as being the ‘thing’ that would ultimately lead me to spread my wings but I think I’m there already. I think my emotional emergence from caterpillar through chrysalis to butterfly is a much more poignant and meaningful transition and I think I’m there. Thinking about this whole concept of marriage and why I feel so desperate to cling on to me, my independence my old caterpillar self makes me realise that it is that which prevented me from making my marriage work and I’m not going to let it ruin the chance of finally having my dream come true.
I know Nick is my everything and I know I’m his and this is a different time, we are evenly matched, we know what happens next and we know we have everything needed to make it because we have love and there are no surprises waiting other than those which await us both together as a couple. Sometimes our completion comes early in life, sometimes we have to wait a little longer for it. I think my waiting is over.
I still want to complete my post on blended families and mid life dating but that can wait, I’m enjoying this moment right now.