Not Your Typical “Facebook Happy” New Years Post.

I’m quite realistic. It’s something people either love or hate about me. When I see the sappy posts on facebook about how perfect everyone’s 2018 was…yeah that’s not how I roll.

I don’t ignore bad things. I face them. I won’t say 2018 was a great year for myself or my family. Because in all honesty it wasn’t. But it could have been worse. And scattered through hard times were good times.

Between the screaming three year olds who fight sleep like it’s the plague, there were hugs and cuddles and the first time they said “I wuv you Mama.” Between watching my dad battle a chronic illness that is stealing him away piece by piece, there were lucid conversations; actual conversations where I spoke and he answered and it was rational and normal and I realized how precious the ability to converse with loved ones truly is.

We’ve had struggles within our marriage that are painful and challenging. But I’ve learned to have empathy for my clients who feel shamed by the struggles within their own marriage, who feel they can’t talk to anyone about it except for me because they know I am outside their circle of perfect married couple friends. I’ve heard, “You must think I’m crazy for staying,” through tears more times than I can count.

I learned a new response, “No, I think you have a decade or more with this person, children, good memories, not just bad, and it seems like you’re not ready to give up on it yet. That’s okay. You have to do everything in your own time.” I preach acceptance to individuals struggling silently in their marriages. Because I know that feeling and I wouldn’t dare to judge anyone else’s decisions within their marriages.

At some point in December we got bookshelves. I’ve been waiting a year and a half since we moved in to get them. My books are like my babies. Yes. I’m one of those weirdo’s who has piles of books around her house. Except for the last few years they have been in boxes. It has been killing me.

So we unpacked them into the bookshelves that I put together in our foyer while I swore a lot because seriously we can never just get a piece of furniture to put together where all the pieces fit perfectly. I always have to pull out my drill and make my own damn holes to finish it off.

Anyway I came across my favorite books. I always come across them when I need them.  It’s the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. And I read my favorite quotes and cried through my favorite parts. Usually late at night after everyone was asleep.

“Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight into hell, just to keep getting your fix.”
Karen Marie Moning, Shadowfever

“Although it may not seem like it, this isn’t a story about darkness. It’s about light. Kahlil Gibran says Your joy can fill you only as deeply your sorrow has carved you. If you’ve never tasted bitterness, sweet is just another pleasant flavor on your tongue. One day I’m going to hold a lot of joy.”
Karen Marie Moning, Bloodfever

“I’m sorry your pretty little world got all screwed up, but everybody’s does, and you go on. It’s how you go on that defines you.”
Karen Marie Moning, Bloodfever

When I feel like I’m brought to my knees in my life I am reminded that every one is at some point or another in life. That it is how I get up and go on that defines my life.

In 2018 I am grateful for the pieces of joy that overcame the spaces of darkness. I am grateful for my sons even though they drive me insane. Literally. I am grateful for my marriage because it does make me stronger, better, and there are times I just have to be reminded that we started out addicted to one another and it’s still there. It just gets buried under twins and bills and everything else about adulting that sucks.

I am grateful for my house and the life we have built together. I am grateful for my business which is thriving. I am grateful for my dear friends  who have seen my through so much in the past year. I hated making two trips to the emergency department one for my son and one for my Dad, but I am incredibly grateful that both times there were people who I knew taking care of my family members because I worked with them in the past in the emergency department.

I love that Blue Planet II came out. I hate that I showed my sons who were scarred by the whales tearing apart the bird. Mom fail. I miss the arrogance and freedom of my twenties, but am grateful to have lived to 33 as I have now seen too many young people die from heroin overdoses by 25.

I hate watching my Dad decline but I loved the conversations I got to have with him when he seemed back to his old self. One at my dining room table, one in the emergency department, and one sitting in his backyard on his birthday.

I hate the state of our country. But I have hope that 2019 will bring change. I hate that my Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Non-binary Queer clients/friends/family live in fear. I have hope that we won’t one day. I hate that hetero-cis individuals belittle our fear when they have not felt the sting of discrimination ever.

I hate that Ellen D. came out with an awful stand-up routine that did not in the least address the issues the Queer community faces today. I love Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and I applaud her for facing the tough issues.

I hate hard times in my marriage but I love coming out the other end stronger for it.

“I wish you a marriage peppered with bad days in order to make the good days even sweeter. I wish you the best marriage filled with love in all forms- so powerful that it hurts, and so pure and good that even on the hard days you know you will make it through and come out maybe a little stronger, a little darker, and with a love so strong you can’t live without it.” (me to my sister at her wedding in 2012)

I’m bracing myself for 2019. But as I said. I face shit. So bring it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Marriage Struggle is Real…

I meet people a lot who have been married for twenty or thirty or forty something years. In my line of work mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It goes for married people too. I’ve seen a lot of different types of marriages- heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous (multiple partners), open marriages, swingers, etc. I wouldn’t say there is one recipe for success because honestly a lot of people I’ve encountered who have been married for decades are not always blissful. In fact some are freaking miserable but it’s been for so long and they are so comfortable and financially it’s the best decision…that they stay.

Marriage isn’t easy and it isn’t for the faint of heart. I can say I’ve learned a lot of what not to do based off the unhappy marriages I see.

Don’t stop having sex. This is key. I’m telling you. No matter what, no matter how tired you are, how unattractive you think you are, how hard it is (or isn’t;), freaking do it. Healthy sex is a common denominator in the healthy marriages I’ve observed. Healthy sex can mean many things to different people. Don’t limit yourself. Be willing to explore your partner’s sexual desires and needs. I swear to you it’s super duper important. When I see people who haven’t had sex in two or three years…well things are not going well and they are not happy. I’ve literally never met anyone who’s said, “Yeah we haven’t had sex in years and we are soooo happy!” Never. Because sex is important. Do it. I didn’t know what sex positive was until one of my friends became a sex therapist. I learned about it. It’s cool. I feel like I was sex positive for my client’s I just didn’t have a label for it. Now I do.

Go on dates. I know this sounds really cliche and dumb. And then people are like “Wahh we don’t have any money,” okay go for a walk. Spend thirty minutes together outside of your house, with no screens. Connecting emotionally is as important as connecting physically. When my wife and I wait too long between date nights we feel it. We start getting all irritable and bickering and then we are like, oh right, we haven’t spent thirty minutes together without insane two year olds and mountains of laundry to fold. We don’t always go to an expensive restaurant. In fact there’s this vineyard near us that we’ve gone to, we buy a bottle of wine for like 15$ then we sit at this table outside with an amazing view, eat all the food we bring, get a little buzzed, and have an amazing afternoon together. No screens, no kids, lots of food, a bottle of wine and each other.

Say “I love you,” say “Good-night” send sexy texts and pictures. Keep the romance alive in whatever way you can. Bring home flowers (ah hem, babe…), jewelry, a book, whatever floats their boat. Do something spontaneous because it’s nice and fun and sexy and feels good.

If your spouse has asked you to do something. Do it. Even if you don’t want to. Even if it goes against everything you do want to do. Do it. Make sacrifices. Show them they matter. Show up when it matters.

There are moments in every marriage when it feels too hard, when there are irrevocable changes that will make the past memories the only ones you have to cling onto. There will be times as you age when you realize you will never look like you did when you were 20, 30, 40, 50…etc. When you realize life won’t ever be the same as it used to be. When you question whether you should move forward with this partner or not.

I can tell you if the sex is still good, the laughter is still shared, affection is freely given and taken, and when you’ve asked them a million times to take out the trash and they actually have, or when you wake up every morning to coffee freshly brewed just for you…in our case also the chlorine tablets always being replenished without me asking…because for real don’t mess with my pool…those are the little things that keep a marriage going. Those are the little patches that bring you through the hard times.

Hard times will come. Jobs will be lost, finances will get strained, decisions will be questions and torn apart, illness will strike, surgery, mood changes, kids (teenagers…oy), tears, pain, loss…so much can happen in a marriage. So much between two (or sometimes more) people. It can seem like a lot to build such an intense history with one person.

For me, to check myself, to know that she’s still the one…I do this thing. I try and visualize my life without her. And when I close my eyes and try to picture my mornings without hearing her bang around the bathroom. My days without the texts and calls. My nights without her next to me. When I try and imagine that and it literally makes me sick to my stomach. I get this ball of dread and knot of fear in there. Then I know, nah, we are still in this. We still got this.

I’ve said that to clients. Try and imagine your life without your spouse. It’s brought some to tears. It’s created this sort of hardened emotionless look in others. It seems to me to be the best barometer.

Don’t ignore your marriage if you have one. Because it will start to slip away. Own it, love it, and don’t turn from the hard times. Embrace them. Because they will make the times shared at a vineyard with cake and wine that much sweeter.