I am going to try this anniversary thing a second time. First, I’m sending the kids off with Walter to the basketball game. Second, I’m going to pull out a bottle of red wine that is from the year 1991. Third, I’m going to cook Jeanine’s favorite dinner- steak, baked potatoes and more steak.
I’m going to light a fire and tell Jeanine how much I love her. How she has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen and how lucky I feel to wake up with her every day.
Especially the days she lets me sleep in, closing the bedroom door so I won’t hear the ruckus downstairs, even though the door is not nearly thick enough to muffle that noise.
I’m going to have a nice anniversary dinner with her- I’m going to raise a toast to celebrate the fact that we are still married. Last year at this time? I was asking for a separation. I was done. I couldn’t be alone anymore. I couldn’t keep asking for connection and be turned away. It hurt too much.
Or so I thought. Because before we got here, it hurt a lot more.
Last year, Jeanine could barely stay in the same emotional room with me. It was too painful, too hard. I couldn’t stand it myself.
From November 14, 2006:
“I can’t believe such horrible things happen, she said.
Look at me. Such horrible things happened to me. It’s about me. My life. Not some global sense horror.
I know, I know, she says before fading away to a safer topic of conversation.
I know it’s almost impossible for her to take in. She cannot imagine. She does not want to imagine. If she does, she has to see the woman she is married to as a small child so afraid she wet her pants- often. She’ll have to realize some of the sadness is irreparable. I will always have it. When she holds me, she will have to realize how I was held against my will.
I need her to imagine. Imagine my fear I’ll never be able to sleep again without wondering, as I close my eyes, what I will see in my dreams. Imagine what it’s like to sit and without control, have what I can only describe, somewhat inaccurately, as flashbacks. My vision isn’t gone, but suddenly, as when I write, I can see the scene as clearly as if it were on a movie screen. As a writer, I have always locked onto the ‘picture’ in my mind and moved through the room to describe each detail for the story I’m writing. This is how my memories have come back to me. Unwanted rooms, unwanted detail. I have to make myself look.”
Last weekend, when I woke up afraid, she knew why. She doesn’t need to have me describe all the details anymore because she’s made herself listen.
She held it with me and only ran away once. Starting over with someone new would have been much easier emotionally.
Tonight, I’m going to sit with her, in front of the fire, and tell her how grateful I am that she stayed, even when she wanted to go. Listened to details she never wanted to hear, to the point of her own heart racing, her own hands clenched in retaliation.
And was never afraid to hold me, to make love to me, to know that she was not the perpetrator nor would her touch ever feel that way.
A day late, but not a dollar short, tonight we’ll celebrate 17 years together, with a special bonus for making it through the hardest year ever. The struggle brought us closer than we've ever been.
And more in love.