Life just happens

I woke up this morning feeling quite refreshed despite staying up well past my bedtime and the brutal heat of yesterday. As part of my morning meditation, I laid in bed thinking that for the first time in a long time, life feels good. Not just I am having a good moment but that for the first time in a long time, I feel balanced and not as if I am running on the damn hamster wheel. My marriage is headed in a good direction despite making choices that others might find questionable, the Spousal Unit and I are in sync, a place we really haven’t been since the pregnancy test back in late 2004 told us we were going to be welcoming a new addition to the family. Granted, I personally have been unbalanced since that fateful night in July 2003 when my mother called me on a Friday and delivered the news that the pesky cough she had been dealing with for months was actually lung cancer. Since that night, I have watched my financial, emotional and mental house slowly crumble to the ground. It has not been a fun time, but relief is here, I called the Wolf and he is delivering me.

However since late last year I have been on a journey to get back to me, sometimes in the many roles I juggle it is hard to make time for myself, to sit in the quiet still moments and really hear my soul speak to me, guide me and for me to allow myself to surrender to myself. Yet it’s happening, it’s really happening, my yoga teacher the other day told me she felt I was finally getting it and I knew what she meant.

Yet sometimes despite our desires and intentions, life just gets in the way and sometimes throws us for a loop. This morning after dropping the kidlet off at school, the man came home and informed me that the engine warning light had gone off. In just that instant I felt like all my hard work was for naught. Just a few days ago, I mentioned this piece in a post and that piece literally sprang to mind. Yep, it’s hard as fuck to get on solid financial footing when life keeps happening. See, we are finally ready to get the bankruptcy case filed (if anyone thinks filing bankruptcy is easy, they have no idea what they are talking about, add in the fact it ain’t cheap! Ironic that one is financially insolvent yet must come up with almost $2000 upfront to get protection from the courts), finally going to be able to finish the bulk of the work on my teeth and finally able to get some much needed home repairs done. Needless to say an unplanned car repair could cause my financial house of cards to crumble.

I spent the first few minutes after digesting this news in an anger fueled rage but then I remembered to just breathe. Breathe deeply and intently and let it all out. In the time that it took for me to breathe, the man remembered rather than taking the car to our mechanic first that he could take it to the auto parts place and get the diagnostic code ran. In short this process means before taking it into the mechanic and paying for their exam, we could at least get a sense of what is wrong.

Drum roll please, looks like it’s a minor issue something about the Evap system (hey we aren’t mechanics) but it’s a relatively minor issue so it looks like we are back on track. Can you say I just took another deep breathe filled with gratitude that at least this time we dodged a bullet, since if we were looking at something more serious, it would require the type of juggling that is part of life when you live with financial scarcity.

PS: Changes are underfoot here at Blackgirlinmaine, ads will be up by sometimes next week as I have been accepted into the Blogher network. There are some other good things related to my writing coming down the pike but I can’t publicly speak on those things yet. Happy Friday!

Heavy lifting…marriage restructuring project underway!

As I sit down to type this, I am not sure it will see the light of day as it is a personal issue and even I have my limits to what is appropriate for public sharing especially when it involves my life partner.

Last night I was reminded of why marriages fail, because we spend so much time looking for a wedding and thinking we will ride on into the sunset and being happy that even for the best of us it’s easy to forget just how much hard work and heavy lifting is required to keep the relationship viable for both parties.

The truth is as we head towards our 14th wedding anniversary this fall, 16 years total together that we are truly facing a challenge that will determine whether or not we stay standing or not. Oh, its nothing dramatic, nobody is slapping anyone around or emotionally abusing anyone…come now, put a hand on me and someone leaves in a body bag. That’s been my personal motto. No, I fear we have fallen victim to life. Jobs, bills, kids, changing bodies, that getting old shit…life.

In many ways I have been a smug bitch (yes I know some of you will cringe at my use that word but on my blog I can call myself what I want to call myself), in the past several years I have seen so many girlfriends’ marriages and partnerships fall apart…I have tried to support them yet somewhere in my mind I always said that would never be me. Why? I am married to my best friend, business partner, lover and our bond is rock solid. We are the couple that is always together, the Spousal Unit works from home, I do part of my work from home, as a one car by choice family, we are always together barring my occasional outings and work related stuff. Yet despite that I finally had to admit that somewhere along the way things have shifted and maybe we aren’t working so well together. Again it’s nothing noticeable, but just that pang in your heart that says “Is this it?” I have tried to ignore it instead saying it’s not really that but in my search to find me, I have had to accept no this is not a momentary thing.

I have to admit the man was stunned and we are talking about what we can do to get the train back on track. I made a joke this morning that people joke about the 7 year itch, maybe there is a 14 year itch. Turns out I might not be joking at all. I did some Googling on the matter and it seems there is a growing body of work that suggests that in previous generations couples did grapple with the 7 year itch but now its marriages in the 10-14 year range that face the greatest assaults and threat of divorce. It makes sense as couples marry later, have kids later in life, it is after the first decade when the pressures heat up. In the first 7 years of our marriage, we went through a custody battle with my ex, lost both our mothers, moved 1100 miles to a state neither of us wanted to move to and started going broke in year 7. In year 8 our daughter was born and we officially went broke, so badly at one point we had to use Medicaid for health insurance.

Looking back, the first 7 years of our marriage weren’t exactly a cakewalk especially since I spent most of that time accruing over $100,000 in student loan debt for an education that while it enlightened me has not enlightened our bank account. I made that decision banking on a good economy and like many assuming I would have higher earning power but so far it has not come to pass.

Since year 8 though and the birth of our daughter, that’s when shit started getting wonky, the spooning sessions we took for granted for the first years together became a rare treat. Having a high needs highly spirited child who still interrupts our conversations makes it hard to talk at a deeper level. In the 5.5 years since her birth, I realized we have only been away from her on a date three times and since the last time was to attend a friend’s 40th birthday party not sure we can count that as a date. Looking at this now, that’s a lot of days to not really connect, oh yeah we talk but I am realizing when we do ever get beneath the surface? Rarely and clearly not as often as we need. Even the fact that we are always together might be working against us since it’s easy to get complacent and not have the deeper conversations when you are always together…after all not all talk is created equal. Also while many folks think working from home is a plus, it does have a darker side, it’s sometimes harder to unplug from work, in my husband’s case being self employed, and unplugging can be bad if a client has a last minute change. After having lost several clients a few years ago, we both are skittish about unplugging from work; the loss of another client would financially ruin us. Good paying gigs for freelance writers are harder to come by these days so it’s the downside to our world.

Ever since I was a kid my nickname given to me by my Dad has been rabbit. Why? Rabbits know when to hop away…yet I am no longer a child and while my first instinct lately has been maybe its time to blow this pop stand, but I woke up this morning with a clarity that said hopping away is not the answer. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am a planner, its how I try and stay one step ahead of the bad shit in life. So in my mind I have already been calculating what I would need to do to leave, how much cash is required, etc. But I look at my daughter, I think of my son, I think of myself and say what the hell am I hopping to? The fire may not burn as high as it once did but there are still some sparks….sparks can start fires. So right now what we need is to create enough sparks to light this forest on fire…anyone who has been married any length of time knows you can’t sustain a fire of love all the time but I do believe at certain stages you need a fire. I think as an almost middle aged woman (though by some standards I am already there but I ain’t claiming it yet no matter what my body says) sometimes you need a deep fire of love to anchor you as you deal with the rest of the shit that assaults you in middle age.

I also know now that just like with parenting the minute you think you “know” or you think you can give some advice on matters of the heart is pretty much when you can expect the universe to kick you dead in your ass and let you know you don’t know jack. I wish I had a simple answer to what my future looks like but the thought of losing my best friend is too hard to bear so we are get ready to redesign our world and life together unsure of what the future holds. Perhaps this is just part of this crazy ride we call life; we just have to fly blind at times despite how scary that feels.

PS: Before posting this I asked the Spousal Unit to read it and give the thumbs up or down as far as sharing…he gave the thumbs up. I know some may question why am I sharing such a personal issue, well I think many people deal with these issues yet few talk about them. In a generation past, women got together with the coffee klatch and talked about this stuff, now we don’t. I think knowledge is power.

Marriage…the real deal

This is a personal post, more a release of my own thoughts and yes while some of what I am about to say is raw, please know that everything that is on my mind has indeed been discussed with my husband.

Marriage, its that thing that many women dream about, from the time women are young girls somehow our culture has brought home the thought that one day you will wear a big white dress and walk down an aisle to your own prince charming, exchange promises to love, honor and maybe even obey. There might even big a party and afterwards you will  live happily ever after, maybe even have a couple kids, a house and be together until death do you part.

Problem with this thought is that its pure fantasy, everyone thinks about the wedding, the dress and all that other shit but very little detail is focused on the hard day to day work of staying married. I have talked about some of this before but marriage is hard work, its the second hardest job you get when it comes to personal relationships aside from raising kids.

I am going to be honest, I am in a rut. The spousal unit and I have been married 11 years, it will be 12 this fall…up until a few years ago, our marriage seemed perfect. I married a man who is my best friend and make no mistake he still is my best friend. There is nothing I cannot share with him hence why what I am writing is not new to him but the reality is that the challenges of living with less money thus the ability to take that occasional trip is now gone and just doing fun things is pretty non-existant, then you add to the mix we are raising the kids and you add aging ….well, its a recipe for feeling like BB King’s oldie but goodie “The Thrill is Gone”.

I don’t think the thrill is really gone its just that in the real world of marriage and relationships, sometimes there isn’t going to be a thrill….sometimes its going to feel like the most boring job in the world. You know that good steady job that isn’t exciting but pays damn well so you know you need to stay.

However there are times when temptation enters the picture, this is going to sound strange to anyone who doesn’t personally know us which is most of my readers but my mate is a few years older than me, so he has already crossed that 40’s threshold where I have a few more years to go, in case you care to know I am 36. Regular readers also know that the spousal unit is white and I am not…we are facing a strange scenario where the hubby is not aging as gracefully as me, we both attribute this to our respective gene pools. I look like I am in my 20’s and the hubby does not. Truthfully its hard for me watching him age less gracefully than what I am used to in my own family of origin, my Pops is almost 60 but still has a head full of hair whereas my husband is bald because the male pattern baldness was so bad that trying to keep what hair he had was not working anymore.

Now, I know I may sound vain as hell but the reality is its hard for me and well this is where my mind wanders and wonders, no I have no desire to step out on the hubby but since I lost all my weight and now am the size I have spent most of my life at, the reality is temptation seems to be lurking in every corner and I gotta be honest its hard to say no.

Lately I feel as if my soul is is in this death match, there is the angel on one side saying don’t go there and the spirit on the other side saying “Life’s short..go for it”. I made a joke a few days to my husband that I feel like I should never go back home for a visit since temptation would even be worse, of course never visiting family and friends is not feasible but you know what I mean…

My point in sharing this is that marriage is hard work, lately I have been praying daily to recommit myself to my husband and not allow these thoughts to take over but I am reminded that this is much harder than one thinks. I also have realized that many couples that have been married 20, 30, 40 and more years have also faced these same temptations…some give in but many don’t. Yet nobody ever tells couples when they are wrapped up in the love glow that a day may come when you find yourself praying for the strength and courage to stay the course and not stray.

I am also convinced that not all straying is the result of bad feelings, heck I love my husband but what I am battling is independent of him, in some ways its a moral test that I am facing. The one test I have no intentions of  failing but one I never expected to be an issues 11 years ago when I stood in front of my husband and my father (who married us) and pledged my undying love.

Beyonce recently came out with a song telling the single ladies to get a ring, well I say before you get that ring think about what the journey of marriage will entail, its more than rings and dresses…its a journey that can reveal who you are at your deepest core.