This week that toothy shark spiraled up from the black, sunless depths and took a good-sized chunk out of my ass. This week I remember why I have such a difficult time floating in the good moments of my marriage. This week, I’m tempted to exhale and sink into the dreamless release of surrender. This week, I’ve lost my sense of humor.
Jack has begun his journey through this year’s Vietnam Anniversary dates. He’s doing his best, using his good-mental-health-tools to fight against it. But he’s increasingly negative, his mind filled with conspiracy theories and the same old paranoia and distrust of the government he’s battled since crawling ashore at Red Beach near Danang. He’s a little more irritable, talks about selling the house, is becoming increasingly obsessed with buying a couch or a rug or a car.
We’re less than a week into the season and already I’m desperate to break the cycle. I have a clear, visceral memory of why, in our younger days, I’d agree to anything to stop the downward spiral. Slip on backpacks and travel around Asia. Done that. Move to Mexico and become scuba instructors? Been there. Sell everything and move to Panama? Bought the T-shirt.
Because you see the very worst thing about this time of year is that my husband hates me. He really does. Because, I’m the mirror. Oh, I’m not saying he doesn’t love me. But, right now, he mostly hates me. And, here’s the very hardest part, after all these years, I hate him too. The mirror of marriage is, after all, double-sided.
I’m bone tired of dealing with his PTSD. Sick unto death of the financial messes, and the negativity and the physical pain and psychic wounds. And, he’s just as tired of dealing with a wife he can never please, who has suddenly, after twenty-five years, decided she wants more in life than being his cheerleader. Right now, today, the two of us cannot say two words to each to each other without starting a fight.
So, how are we going to get through the next six months?
The same way we always do.
Stack minutes into hours, and hours into days, and days into weeks into months until we look at each again and remember why we’re together.
Recite what I call the marriage prayer. “Lord help me in my unbelief.”
And, if all else fails, we’ll sell everything and fly to Thailand, or Tasmania, or Timbuktu.
But, guaranteed, come December 14th, the anniversary of the day Jack stepped on the landmine, the day he left Vietnam, we’ll still be right here, glaring or gazing, either way, we’ll be side-by-freaking-side.