Wednesday, February 15, 2012

forgetting what i already knew

valentines day sideswiped me with unexpected emotion and introduced a fresh fuss of introspection (as if i need more!) all the cute, fluffy stuff with the kids was fine and good - surprises waiting for them at the breakfast table, a love note in henry's lunch, and all the (sugar-free) bubble-yum they could chew in a day. (turns out lily can polish off a whole pack, no problem. henry, ever more thoughtful and prudent, chewed one piece). we had the missionaries and my grandma for dinner, which was also really nice. but the later part of the evening, the tiny moment of the day that nate and i reserved for each other, was tepid and flat. i went to bed tear-streaked and puffy-eyed, not because i felt unloved, but because i felt disappointed in myself and misunderstood. and, worst of all, after an hour of sniffling contemplation the things that seemed most impossible to me were the inconsistencies of my own complicated head (heart?). i refused to allow myself to blame my attitude on anyone or anything else. i pushed back against rationalization and justification that came to mind in rapid beat, until the only things left for scrutiny were my own thoughts and feelings, and they were zig-zagged and upside down and incongruent. my last thought to myself (after i begged the lord to help me understand my feelings and put my heart in a better place) was, maybe i am crazy.

when i woke up this morning i felt confused. but not crazy. (phew.)

if asked, i would say that i'm over the imposed pressure and silly expectations of holidays; i've written about it before. but valentines day caught me in a pocket of vulnerability. i wanted to feel young(er) and aflutter and adored. the predictable bouquet of tired-looking roses and the 10:30 (after an evening of work) invitation, "you wanna chat for a bit before i head to bed?" (though very sweet and the most my tired, trying nate could muster), were just irritating to me. i was distant and guarded. ironic, when what i wanted so badly was to feel what we felt in the sparkling days of our courtship and i was never either of those things (distant or guarded) back then. when i write this out i feel so silly, almost too silly to write it down and own it; i see all the ridiculousness of it in retrospect. even in the moment i knew my attitude wreaked of selfishness and irrationality, but i just didn't have the grit to get over my own lameness. and that inability stung and throbbed in juxtaposition to recent efforts at choosing happiness regardless of external variables. (i suspect this is something you'll be hearing about a lot in forthcoming blog posts - my efforts to choose happiness, to really be in control of my reactions, and my frequent failings to do's a journey i'd like to document. i apologize in advance if it feels repetitive).

tonight i've been wondering if courtney's words about the work of marriage (which i believe can be extended to the broader work of humanity) found more weight in anyone else's soul than they did in my own. they are sitting somewhere deep in my viscera - heavy and at home...

"true romanticism is a man and a woman dedicated to work. The battle of it all is one of self-worth, we have to fight to know who we are, and what we are capable of.

and this: "we think we go from partner to partner because there will be someone "better" for us. In reality, no one is better for us, we just get better for ourselves."

And this: "relationships work when we sacrifice negative beliefs about ourselves, and in that process we become the best thing that's ever happened to anyone."

And this: "a successful marriage is about two people engaged and dedicated to overcoming selfishness--for the rest of their lives."

in the pink, sugar-coated buzz of a silly holiday i totally lost track of truth i already knew --
frustrating, but not fruitless. the introspection has been productive, yielding this:

more dedication to the work of love, mine and nate's especially, but also to the work of coming to each day/conversation/interaction with more love and less selfishness (in all its subtle forms), which will allow me to be better - for myself and for him, which betterment will allow me a clearer understanding of who i am and what i'm capable of.

it is all so reciprocal and beautiful and perfect.
and hard. so very, very hard.


  1. Emily, have you heard of Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project? It's written by a woman who felt like she had every reason in the world to be happy (great career, wonderful marriage, 2 kids that she adored) but felt like she just wasn't maximizing her happiness, so she spent a year deliberately working to be happy. I read it and totally loved it and I'm working on doing the same myself--I would highly recommend it. She identifies a specific goal for every month, like "energy" or "marriage" to work on, and then breaks that down into 4 or 5 action goals. Great food for thought.

  2. Oh my is that Lily of yours is one edible darling. So cute. Love your thoughts and honesty. I read the Cjane post and also appreciated the way they referred to their marriage as work. It is good work, but work! Even the most idyllic marriages can't escape that reality, and thank heavens for that. Imagine if marriage was only easy and in a constant state of twitterpait: Booooring!

  3. As always I adore your raw honesty, Em and willingness to unabashedly share it with me and whoever decides to read your blog.
    You share such intimate thoughts and words about who you are and what you are struggling with...thank you.
    I understand you and feel very similarly about life and its varying challenges.

  4. I just wrote about relationships after reading that "Marry Him" book. I think there is so much room for us to remind ourselves of how to improve us individually as well as within the realm of relationships.