“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful Wife
And you may ask yourself-well…how did I get here?

If we found ourselves isolated from our tribe, the internal upheaval was equally dramatic.  We became victims of our own luck.  The government, my New Orleans employer, had placed me on temporary duty assignment, and was helping to pay for us to live, provided we stayed in Arkansas.  But the time was running out;  Kris had to either report back to New Orleans or lose his job, and I had to stay in Arkansas or lose our housing.    In the midst of this crisis of warring responsibities, I got a job offer for a permanent position in Arkansas.  One that paid well.  One that would require me to leave primary research – the thing I had trained for over fifteen years to do and that I loved – pretty much forever.

It’s one thing to make decisions for your own future.  When you have a family depending on you for THEIR future, it’s changes the equation entirely.  We weren’t going to be allowed to have the luxury of limbo before economically things were going to get very bad, and the options were quite narrow – and narrowing quickly.  In the heat of the moment, sometimes you make decisions without the foresight to anticipate the aftermath.  Sometimes, the way out seems so clear that it doesn’t occur to you that it isn’t as clear to everyone else, and the drive to survive narrows your focus.  You miss predicting the impact of your actions on every aspect of your life.

Kris and I were so focused on ourselves alone, on how the massive upheaval was affecting us directly and how to survive it, that we stopped thinking about each other.  We faced down the crisis together, and then completely fell apart in the aftermath.

Kris always said that being a stay-at-home Dad was his dream job.   Like most fantasies-come-true, the reality was very different.   Home alone, in a city that was completely new to him, with a very young child dependent on him all day, and he in turn dependent on my income, he was isolated and detached.  I was facing a complete career change from the work I had spent my entire life preparing for, and was wrapped up in navigating an entirely new set of skills.  I felt the horrible pressure of trying to manage on a single income, and every expression of frustration struck Kris as criticism of him.  He, in turn, was away from friends and family, alone and feeling dependent and every expression of frustration on his part hit me as blame.

The dynamic of our marriage was completely overturned.  The perfect working harmony we had established in the relationship was shattered and an adversarial dissent had rushed in to fill the vaccuum.   When a relationship descends into chaos, it becomes altogether too easy for outside influences to flow into the cracks, freeze and fragment you further and further apart.  Others, with their interests not vested in marital survival, took advantage of the discontent in favor of their own agendas.   The frictions and compromises of a normal marriage suddenly became intolerable arrows of insult.

It took a near-crisis for us to recognize what we had become, how we had degenerated, the lies and half-truths we had told ourselves in our moments of loneliness and isolation.  We  looked around us and realized that we no longer recognized each other as the couple who had married and, hand in hand, had endured years of joy and sorrow; selfishness had made us into lesser monsters who where capable of inflicting horrible pain on precisely the people we loved and depended on the most – each other.  We had systematically dismantled, in mere months of anger and self-deception, what had taken years to lovingly build.

All that was left was to pick up the fragmented memoirs and restore them to the place of pride on the mantel.  We learned our lessons.  We must be “us” again, not “her” and “him”.  We turn inward, not outward.  Our only friends are friends of the marriage – OUR friends.  We had to relearn the rule that you should never treat your spouse worse than you would treat a total stranger.  So simple a rule, and so often broken.  But destruction is so swift, so easy to accomplish utterly and completely, while restoration is so very painstaking, and slow;  not only to bring back the original luster, but to strengthen against the storms that lie in the future.  We struggle, but we endure.   WE are still here.

Next – Dismantling of a Life, Part 3 – Maturity?  I can’t say I recommend it…

July 31st, 2009 at 9:11 am
3 Responses to “Dismantling of a Life, Part 2 – Once in a Lifetime”
  1. 1
    jodifur Says:

    I always say love is a choice. You wake up everyday and you choose to love this person, or you can choose not to.

    I’m glad you choose to.

  2. 2
    Deirdre Says:

    I’ve been holding my breath, waiting for this post.

    and prayers dear lady.

  3. 3
    Pinkpelican Says:

    I’m glad that you two are finding your way back to each other. I will hold you all in my heart and hope that you continue to rebuild and become even stronger than you were before.