It was a Thursday morning, a little over a month ago; I woke up in a bad mood.
It was probably a combination of several days’ poor sleep catching up with me, and possibly a little PMS in there. But I was irritable and no longer even tapping into my patience reserves, which had long since been used up.
When I got into the shower and saw that the razor was not in its usual cradle, I snapped.
(Yes. John and I share a razor. We also share toothpaste, deodorant, and for the last month, stupidly, a hair product that he has decided he likes and also needs. This post isn’t about providing solutions to our mostly common roommate issues; the bathroom situation is what it is and merely provides a background to the story. In short, please refrain from mentioning that separate razors might solve our marital issues.)
It’s stupid. Really. Something like this happens maybe once a month. Something we take for granted, like returning an object back to where it goes, suddenly becomes the impetus for blind rage.
I was really angry about that razor.
And that kind of anger, for me, burns in a way that I cannot stew on and let out later. I’m not wired that way. I try to hold grudges, and I’m the only one who suffers before I forget why I’m mad. Except, when I’m that angry, my kids also suffer, which isn’t fair. It’s not fair to John either, but somehow I feel justified in his size and maturity, that he can handle it, and it is better to take it out on him than eat an innocent child alive, for something as forgivable as throwing matchbox cars down the stairs into the back of his sister’s unknowing head. (This might have also contributed to my difficult day.)
I’ve mentioned before the way I used to call John on his way to work, when I wake up like this, fuming and cursing and spitting and sometimes crying over things like toothpaste and razors. When he stopped answering his phone before 10am (expecting wrath), I switched to angry G-chat messages that would be waiting for him on his desktop the minute he sat down to work. What a way to start the day.
It is 2016. You know I am finally up to date on my tech habits. G-chat has given way to angry texting. Because if there’s anything that soothes my anger as immediately as a shot of whiskey, it is typing curse words into small handheld devices, announcing my bad mood to the one human who probably needs to hear it the least.
I’m not proud of this. (Hence the title of my post.) And every time I do it, a little Jiminy Cricket inside me reminds me that this isn’t edifying. This isn’t blessing. This is straight up crazy-bitch behavior and if anyone at church or in the neighborhood was truly aware of it, we might receive fewer invites to BBQ’s and more invites for prayer.
Yet. Somehow the devil inside me always wins.
The text went a little something like this: “Would it kill you to put the stupid razor back in the shower, even one time?” (Add some creative cursing in there, because I don’t sensor myself with John and I keep all my -ing’s intact.)
Wife of the year here.
A reply came when I arrived at the gym, not from John, but from a friend whose name also begins with a “J” – to whom the text was inadvertently sent.
She wrote: “Hahahaa. Yes. Yes it would,” followed by a series of kiss blowing emojis.
Then I cried. Like two forgotten faucets, right there in the parking lot of the Jerry Long YMCA, tears, streaming.
Not tears of embarrassment or even deep seeded shame, which I should have had.
Tears of relief.
John and I are a good team. We are maybe even a rare form of outstanding, when it comes to this game of doing life together. Much of this is due to the fact that no one else on the planet could stand to be with either of us for so long, so by default, we have to stick together. But, truly, we work a lot harder than it looks like we do, to make us work.
I was extended a big fat arm of grace that Thursday, and I wish I could say it catapulted us into a really great weekend full of family time and love, complete with appreciation for each other and physical displays of affection, and a rare bit of extra patience for our children.
It’s just not true.
Though we both laughed pretty hard, together, about the text mix-up, the days following were by no means good.
And I frequently wonder how many people would be surprised by this.
This marriage thing? This long-term living-together-relationship thing? It’s work.
It’s a lot of work. It is ever-evolving, and even when we plateau to complacency, it doesn’t always last long. We struggle a lot more often than we let on. And when we are struggling, we say mean and hateful things. And we yell at each other (me more than John). And sometimes we fight in front of our kids. And sometimes we unfairly fight with our kids.
But here’s what we don’t do. We don’t stop fighting because we are too tired. We don’t get passive aggressive or sullen, and punish each other silently. We fight until we get it out. And we don’t stop admitting to each other when we are wrong. And we apologize a lot. We’ve been known to have one or more “restarts” to a day or a weekend.
I’m not saying we’re the poster children for marital bliss.
I feel like I got a restart that Thursday and I missed a great opportunity. At the peak of a stressful week, I let a little thing get the better of me, and I lost a stupid battle with a petty problem. Because I’m human. And I’m weak.
I’m just glad I have another human who chooses to love me despite this weakness.
So John gets home today, from a weeklong Canada fishing trip he’s been on with my father. This same trip two years ago was easily the worst week of my summer. This time was much different. It has been a great week of connecting with my kids, relying on Eliott and Carter for a little more help and patience, and purposefully scheduling a lot more playtime. It was a completely different dynamic and a totally different balance, and I didn’t just survive. I enjoyed it.
Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t be more ready for John to come home. But the break was healthy.