Tuesday, April 17, 2012

bcc in real life: the bull ring

First, I need to thank you.  The response after my first 'real life' post was incredibly touching.  It's not an easy story to write, but you made it well worthwhile.  Thank you for being the understanding, encouraging lot of ladies (and gents?) that you are.  For those of you who shared that you are going through the same thing, I sincerely hope you are finding your voice.  Or at least finding someone else who's saying what you're thinking.

After chapter 1, I wasn't quite sure which part of the story to tell next.  It seems like everything happened so fast and all at once.  In my first post, I claimed a lot of sole ownership of this experience.  And for good reason.  My entire being is being affected in one way or another.  But the truth is, I'm not on this journey alone.  John and I are in this thing together.

John and I started dating nearly 10 years ago (!) and have been married for almost 8.  Part of what makes us so strong together is our own individuality.  It's no secret that I'm super independent and stubborn as a mule.  So, having someone who not only appreciates that, but fosters it, has been a true gift.  There's nothing like being able to grow on your own, yet experience it together.  Does that make any sense at all?

Anyway, I'm not a very mushy person when it comes to my marriage (see above: independent and stubborn), but it is absolutely no reflection on how I feel about my marriage.  I'm so lucky to have someone who challenges me, talks to me, is honest with me and above all else, values my honesty with him.  Those last 2 are the biggies.  Everything else grows from there.

Making the decision to start a family is really exciting.  Together, we made this choice to step into a new chapter of our lives together.  When it started to get harder than we anticipated, it threw us for a loop and neither one of us really knew what to do with it.  At first, I was all about patience, while he harbored the concern.  Then, I moved on to denial, pouring myself into every other aspect of my life in order to avoid the inevitable disappointment.  John continued to harbor the concern, but this time with a healthy dose of fear - fear that my denial was me saying that I no longer wanted to step into that next chapter.  We were on a slippery slope to resentment, which is one very dangerous place for a marriage to go.

Talking about it was so hard.  It was like poking a tender bruise.  Since it was such a new and unexpected experience for both of us, neither of us knew how to respond to the other's needs and still get the personal approval and satisfaction that we needed individually.  So many times, the conversation ended with me feeling defensive and in tears and him feeling frustrated and insecure.

Finally, one Wednesday last summer, we went out to lunch.  Over my afternoon omelet, my eyes filled with tears and I finally blurted out what we both knew deep down to be true, "If we don't get a hold on this, it's going to tear us apart."  Dramatic?  Yes.  True?  Yeah.  And that was our turning point.  The idea of sacrificing all that we had built together for something that may or may not ever happen was terrifying.  I guess you could say we were scared straight.  Suddenly, the walls came down, and we were back on the same side.  We had not only regained the courage to speak frankly and honestly with one another, but finally realized the grace we needed to listen to one another.  It wasn't about making the other person feel better, it was about making them feel heard.  And that's what made us both feel better.

It's not to say that it was all of a sudden fixed, but it was so much easier.  Putting our relationship first was what we needed.  We never intended to let it get consumed by the frustration and grief of our experience, but for a while there, it did.  Once we got a handle on it, the excitement came back.  We talked about our life with a child and our life without a child, and honestly, they both sounded pretty great.  With a little perspective, our priorites were realigned and we were able to proceed together.

I guess every cloud really does have a silver lining.

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