There’s a woman at church who’s getting a minor surgery tomorrow. The other women were all over her to provide her with meals and help until she’s better. That’s a good thing.
I just sat in my back pew and wondered why no one ever offered me a meal when my husband was having surgery on his knee last month or all the times when my son was down with pneumonia. The poor kid has had pneumonia six times now, and even the time I had pneumonia with him, folks just looked at me as if I’d been shirking my duties when I finally returned to my spot in the back row. There’s definitely a favored list among the people of our small congregation.
I used to be more involved than I am now. I admit that. I worked at the food bank. I manned the table at the town festival. I went with the group of kids to Wild Waves. I’m still the one who organizes a table for Halloween. I still bake for the sales, take my turn at coffee hour, and I’m in the choir. Yet, I can feel it.
There are favorites.
I know that I am not a favorite.
It’s my day to complain. It’s my day to be ignored,even at home. I hate those days. You know what it feels like, don’t you? You get home to where you think they love you most. You think you’re having a conversation with someone and they walk away without answering or worse, they look up at the TV as if it’s got more personality than you do.
I have to admit that my husband has been doing this to me. Oh, he apologizes afterward when I bother to cry, but more and more, I feel him drifting off, in another, more desirable world.
I’ve never admitted this to anyone else but I wonder if I’m going to be traded in for a newer model. For my last birthday, he gave me three pair of socks and a hat. The card he gave me was about the craziness of menopause. I adore this man. I do. Yet last night, I dreamed that he kept walking away from me as I tried to keep up.
What is happening with my life? It looks normal, but on the inside, it feels as though it’s disintegrating.
I make more mistakes. I forget things. I’m not as cute as I used to be. I imagine there are lots of reasons I’ve lost favor. I’m a bad mom. My husband lets me know that I’m a bad mom when my boy ignores me and I end up yelling at him to do what he’s supposed to do. That is a huge stone in the pit of my stomach. I try not to yell, but all my friends tell me that preteens don’t get off the couch until the volume goes up. Yet, my husband thinks that I’m the problem.
I’m sure it’s hard to snuggle up with someone who’s sulking, but it gets no better when I’m cheerful and chirpy. Sometimes I imagine getting lost for a month or two and wondering if they’d notice.
Well, they’d notice. The laundry wouldn’t be done. There would be no meals, no one to do the dishes. The dog and cat would either die of thirst or starvation. Someone else would have to buy groceries. I’ve actually disappeared as much as I can without interrupting services. Isn’t that sad?
It is, unfortunately, the truth.
The worst part of it is that I intended to tell you the story of how my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. I was going to tell you how we were in a canoe, how we paddled on flat water and along rivers, for an afternoon and for a week at a time. It was all so lovely, but now it aches to feel it, the loss of this lovely connectedness, the way I used to feel his power through the motion of the canoe under me. I felt my power too.
Yesterday, I read that fast canoeing burns more calories than rollerblading, cycling, swimming, and karate. I know how hard I used to work when we were really working to keep our boat upright. I was burning almost a thousand calories an hour. No wonder I was hungry on those trips. I was invigorated by those trips, even when we were moving more slowly. It seemed to connect us, the unison motion of our paddling.
So what has happened? Why are we struggling so much now?
There is no time for us any more. Even when my son is off on some adventure with his friends, my husband and I don’t know how to connect. We might do okay if we could get into a canoe. We’re out of practice on dry land. I don’t think he even thinks of me when I’m not around.
Oh, he says he loves me. I beg for love letters for holidays. When I get them, he says he loves me and for a while, I believe him. And then he goes back to zoning out at the TV when he’s done with our boy, with work, with Scouting, with chores at home. I know that he’s got a lot on my mind, but I’d like to be in there somewhere above chores at home. I’d like to be in there somewhere. It doesn’t work for me to get mad. It doesn’t help to cry. I tried demanding a level of priority.
This has been long in developing. Back before we even had kids, I used to call his job the other woman. He didn’t like that. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t found another woman, but he might as well have.
So, can you see how it’s hard to keep working on this book of mine as I feel forgotten, lost, and yet still in love. I’m not going anywhere, but our marriage sure could use some First Aid.
Ah, there goes the television again. It was off this afternoon for an hour or so. Maybe I’ll go take a nap. Maybe I’ll dream that my husband loves me, that instead of walking away, he turns around, takes me into his arms and makes me feel precious one more time. He’s really the only one I need to remember me.
Thank you for listening, jules