being stuck at home together has brought up a lot of things in our marriage. things that have been ignored and stuffed deep within a bag. so deep that we sometimes can’t see them as we pass each other like strangers in the night.
“i’m not living like john and lisa” he said to me one morning. “who said we have to,” i responded. “this feels like it,” he finished as he walked out of the bedroom.
“can you forgive someone if you don’t know what you have to forgive them for,” he asked from the bedroom door. “people can pray to God for forgiveness. and they don’t need to say anything specific because God knows.” “but how can someone forgive another person who has not admitted to anything” he continued.
“i don’t know,” I scornfully replied. i wasn’t in the mood. “it’s a simple question,” he said. “I don’t know,” i said dryly. i wanted to scream what the hell do you think you need to forgive me for because i knew he was talking about me. but i remained quiet.
when i leave home for my morning walks, i pass by a bag of clothing. it has permanently taken residence at our front door. it is to be donated, but no one is picking up donations during COVID-19. and i’ve left it there. every time i pass by, the cloths look uncomfortable. stuffed into that small bag, trying not to spill onto the floor. that’s how I feel these days — locked away—stuffed into this awkward situation trying my hardest not to spill over.
lisa and john are friends, and they have been married for many years. they live in the same house, are legally married, but lead separate lives. Many believe it’s a dysfunctional situation. it seems to work for them. i don’t know what happened between them. i’ve never asked, and quite frankly i don’t want to. i do know it’s more than what meets the eyes. although the situation seems to work for them, i don’t see them ever being together. lisa hates john.
our marriage isn’t at that point. i don’t hate my husband, but i do dislike the way he’s handled things in our marriage. the forgiveness question is about me. according to my husband, i have said and done bad things to him. he sometimes says hurtful things to me. he has accused me of being with every man i’ve ever been in contact with—in both my personal and professional life.
i used to argue with him and defend myself, but after many years of that. i no longer say anything, and i no longer cry. fear does not play a part in this. i’ve realized i’m fighting a losing battle. there are moments of weakness. when i’m having an emotional day, and my emotions spill all over him. at first, i thought it was merely anger, but it’s disappointment i feel the most.
i remembered 17 years ago. 16 at the time — at my neighbor’s house. her name was sarah. she was in her late 70’s and a sagacious woman. every day i’d visit her after school or chores. i would listen to her stories with wide eyes and an opened mouth.
that is the wisest woman i’ve met in my lifetime to date. that day she was having a conversation with her daughter. her daughter was in her 40’s i believe.
“you have to let it go — you have to release it,” sarah said. “I can’t, it’s too much, my entire body is in pain, and it hurts too much,” her daughter responded. “jenn, you will have no quality of life or peace of mind. you must forgive, you have to release that hurt, or you will create disease in your body and mind.” “ma i can’t,” jenn screamed. jenn was going through a third divorce at the time. i don’t remember much of jenn’s situation, but i remembered she was in pain.
“i’ll come back later, ms. sarah,” i mumbled quietly, feeling uncomfortable. “no, sweetie, stay right where you are — you need to hear this,” sarah said in her wise raspy voice.
“girls being a woman is a difficult thing — our lives are always challenging. we are misunderstood, taken advantage of, and the expectations others have of us are sometimes unrealistic, but we try to meet them, don’t we girls” sarah asked. “we sure do,” she answered.
“for a woman to live a good life, she must know herself and learn to be aware of herself. my dears, you are responsible for yourself, always remember that. as women, we must learn how to forgive and be able to do it quickly. we must learn not to take things personally, and most of all, we must always be truthful in the stories we tell ourselves.” sarah sipped her tea, and i mumbled “ok.”
“that makes no sense,” jenn mumbled between her tears. “ jennier, you will never have a good life, a good marriage or a good relationship unless you understand and embrace those things,” sarah said kindly. “forgiveness is for you sweetie not for anyone. forgiving yourself, and others will work wonders in your life jennifer.” “johnny made the best decisions he knew. sweetie, he did not make them hurt you. i know some of them hurt you, but those were his insecurities in the mix. none of what he said or did was about you jennifer. please don’t take it personally,” sarah finished.
in the last eight years, that conversation has played over and over again in my thoughts (the extended version). at 16 i didn’t understand what sarah meant. but i did go home and write those four things in my little companion notebook. at 21 when i experienced my first heartbreak — I read those words over and over again. as i tried to find comfort in sarah’s words, but it didn’t work. at 25, when i had another painful experience, i decided to ease my pain with sarah’s words once again, but i still didn’t get it.
it wasn’t until eight years ago when i started working on myself that sarah’s words became clear. and that’s when i understood what sarah was telling us that day. her words have helped me to understand my parents, my sisters, and friends better. and now, once again, sarah’s wisdom is making its way into my marriage.
the things my husband says to me no longer hurts, they no longer disappoint me. and being locked away in our home with him and sarah’s words i know i need to have an honest conversation with him. communication has become a lost art in our marriage but i’m ready to bring it back.
i’m ready to talk, but is my husband ready, and can he handle an honest conversation with me? the stories he’s been telling himself about me have not been truthful, and i am prepared to confront him and them.
the burning question remains, can he handle a conversation with me, and will our marriage survive it? will he remove his ego and face the insecurities that have been the result of my verbal abuse all these years?
A story from Nikie — Nikie is located in Brooklyn Heights, and she shared with us vulnerable times during COVID-19 that has changed her life forever. She hopes that her story inspires someone to look at their life and see the things that need to be done to change their lives for the better.
Thank you Nikie for being vulnerable with us ❤️.
I hope you enjoyed this short story — join us next Wednesday for a story no. 3.
As Always, I’m sending Love — Stay Safe.