This question comes from Laura Michels. She is a fantastic actress newly returned to Grand Rapids and performed in the piece I wrote for the GRAM as well as ‘twelve scenes about loving’. She asks: “What has the last year taught you about marriage and love?”
I had to think about this for a while. I’m still not sure that things happen for a reason, though I do believe that we can get meaning from even the most horrible experiences. So what is the meaning of this year for me? What have I learned? I learned to find my voice again. I’ve learned what marriage is not, what it shouldn’t be. I’ve learned that I still believe in love, but I’m still struggling with the fear that it might never happen for me, at least the good kind of love. The kind of love that is balanced and, well, kind.
In my marriage, I thought that to keep P. married to me, to keep the family happy, I had to give up on my self. I mean that. I mean, I gave up on My Self. I gave up on things that made me happy as an individual. I thought being married was sacrificing everything in order to make your family happy. By doing that, I disappeared. I became mute. I was a living ghost. By leaving, I rediscovered that self and now know that though I am flawed, maybe even tragically, or at least melodramatically, I am, essentially human. I’ve learned that everyone is at some point a fuck up. And it’s these flaws that are endearing. Achilles without the flaw in his heel is just another God. With that flaw, he’s vulnerable. He has a heart. He can be loved.
I’ve learned that I have a big heart. I’ve learned that I now know what love is and how to recognize it. It isn’t giving up your self. It’s finding someone who loves and supports you not in spite of your flaws…but because of them.
I’ve learned that marriage should be a partnership. There should be passion, and fights, and times of quiet. There should be support. I’ve learned that a woman has value. She is more than a collection of roles like mother, wife, cook. She is a full person. A person to be treasured. I should have been in my marriage. I was not. I take partial blame because I allowed it to happen.
What I’m still learning is how to be kind to myself. To look at the wrinkles, the silly mistakes, the wonderful blunders I’ve made and to laugh. And there have been nights, alone, in my apartment, where I have turned up the music and I have danced. I have very little rhythm and my body rarely moves the way I want it to, but I have danced. A year ago, I was too afraid to do this.
So. What have I learned? What has this year taught me? That being alone is okay. Loving who I am is okay. Hoping to find a relationship built on trust and compassion and passion is possible. I just have to be a little more patient. I’m working on it. I really am.
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