“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” Rumi perhaps or Hāfiz
I choke a little when I think of that day. The day of our wedding, I started out crying, worried you’d never be the person I knew I deserved, knowing secretly that there was a strong chance that you’d never really get it together.
But the feelings in the bedsheets, soft against your skin was always my home. I never wanted you to owe me anything. I never wanted to hold up a ruler and say this is how Good you must be to qualify.
But it’s dismayingly obvious. Tear by tear, releasing what kept me going for so long. Every day by day, every strategy, every filter, every revelation, challenging myself to keep improving so that I could keep you and we could show our children what the power of love and marriage could do for us.
Dear Lord, how I miss you. But at the very same time, I feel so much cleaner without your darkness. I wish you could walk through this door, healed and complete, with apologies and zest for life and love for me like you used to have.
Dance with me in the kitchen. Hold me while I cry. Write me a love note and leave it in my pocket. How I loved your grand romance but you let it die. It stopped showing up, lost in the maze of blame you’ve made for my image in your brain.
Then there was that day twelve years ago, when we were so happy and in love the whole world stopped to notice. A magical day that will never leave my memories. “He is so attentive to you!” A stranger stopped to notice.
The flowers blooming outside the tiny post office and the dancing in the grocery store. The Lord smiled on us, but all I saw was You.
Somehow the world took the Good you away from me. You gave your thoughts of distrust and sludge. Anger and condescension, twisted thoughts and words. And I never got taken dancing again.
I don’t know when the last time was. Probably over a year ago. Before you started the job.
The job I prayed for. The job that was supposed to bring us up, but it did exactly the opposite. Tumbling down every day, trodden upon, I was somehow in the way instead of your greatest asset.
The job that killed our love. Killed our whole home and your fateful choice to love it more than me. Over and over again, I watched you make that choice. I felt you make that choice.
I felt you make that choice every time you came home and ignored me. Every time you came home and had a criticism instead of a greeting. Walk through this door bringing darkness and a false measure of how I’d never really do what you wanted. Maybe what you wanted was the problem. You didn’t want me, I’m certain of that. You wanted a compliant version of me, an impossible vision of a woman who I was never meant to be.
The slow crumpling of my purpose, like a good tool left out in the rain. Rusty and useless, an eyesore is what I became to you. You no longer saw me for who I was: graceful, complete, gorgeous in every way. You didn’t see my growth, you didn’t celebrate me. You didn’t acknowledge all of my gifts to you. And that broke me in ways that you never saw. The cracks from the bottom, the long nights alone, the persistent and actual heartache that plagued me. Maybe you did see. Maybe that’s why you gave it all up.
Unable to face what was really true— you are the shell of the lover, of the man, of the caretaker I married. The Good Man who could not triumph for her over his demons of fear, control, and domination.
I never wanted it to end— this grand love story of my life, so perfect and beautiful… but you couldn’t keep it together.
I went to school to learn how to be a Good Wife. And I was and I am. I succeeded in everything I tried. I made the perfect bed for us to lie in. Conditions for growth, safety, love, security, intimacy. But you stopped choosing me, no matter how lovely I made myself for you.
I wanted us to always be together. You and I. Lovers, friends, parents, a bonded pair.
But you were nasty to me, and my friends, and my family. You kept our home private and stuck. You deprived me of love and tried to squash my spirit because your demons of fear were louder in your head than my love. I can’t adjust the dials in your own head.
That option does not belong to me.
So the Hebrews said, honor your marriage. And Dear Lord, I have!
And I still want it. I want him. I want the Good parts of him that truly did love me, because I know they were meant just for me.
I didn’t know he was so sick, Lord. And you know, I did my best.
I didn’t know he’d stop choosing me, Lord. Casting me out day by day, pushing us further and further away as the mountain of his unfulfilled responsibilities intensified every day.
After a fight (which he always started), sometimes he would make me a nice dinner, sit me down between candles, hold my hands on top of the table and tell me His Truth.
“Bonnie, I’m sorry, but I know we are going to make it,” he began.
From deep inside of him, a love letter would come to me, assuring me I was on the right path, asking me to keep reinvesting and to remain calm and feel the love he was offering. So I did.
And I kept doing that for years after the last love letter was sent.
The last love letter arrived when he dropped to his knees in the parking lot of a taco shop, pleading with God to let him raise his baby growing inside me. I heard him. We made it back together. We did our best to keep it together. But the relationship was broken and I thought I could mend my side of things and make it work.
He never trusted me. He could only believe the lies he told himself about me, never seeing me for who I actually was. No matter what I did, didn’t actually make a difference. Only superficially, only to the next day or until he’d decided to be angry for months, because I didn’t comply with his orders. One summer he was angry for three months because I complained about the sock drawer and then bought myself new socks. I still don’t understand why.
Once the children were here, they got his unconditional love, and everything became leftovers for me and what he gave me was worse and worse. He said something devastating to me, I hid in the laundry room, crying over a bag of chips. He came in and laughed at my misery. I screamed a deep primal scream in deep defense of myself— I would not be taken over by his demons of shame.
I am too Good, I am too Loving. I am too much made in Her Image to be controlled by the likes of Shame.
As I tried to get better as he had asked me to do, he made only slight efforts of his own of lessening degrees.
They were not enough. He was not enough. His Goodness wasn’t strong enough to fight the fears of his world.
Overcome by tyrannical rule, we are best off without today. A week in heaven without you. Why, Lord? This means I cannot bring my man? He vowed to walk with me through the darkness, then why do I not find him faithfully at my side? I am truly alone inside this relationship but never in any other way. My faith, my friends, my children, my family, my ancestors, they walk alongside me, telling me how beautiful I am every day.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAID THAT. I cry out for you. And my words bounce back, assuring myself that it is not my lack of beauty in truth, it is a lack of clarity in your eyes. Others see it plainly. Sometimes they stop me on the street to tell me. And despite my respectful and loving disposition, you haven’t noticed my shine in a while.
I miss you. And I still love you, Because I vowed to do that for the rest of my life and I don’t take that kind of promise lightly. But I have to let you go and find your path back to Goodness on your own. I tried to be your shepherd but you refused to see the beauty and instead only complained of the long trek and difficult terrain, which is not like you, my goatfriend. Your true nature is one of sacrifice and diligence. You must recover yourself.
Sleep on the porch until you are clean. My love, I don’t want you to be cold. My love, I don’t want you to be lost.
But I cannot bring you back. Only you can.
The demons in your head keep saying their nasty words. “It’s her fault!” they jeer and you listen and believe.
But God knows the truth. I am the woman you married. I am your loving wife. I am respectful. I am loving. I am worthy of trust, love, and respect in every interaction.
Your vows said that you would walk through the valleys with me. But I have walked them alone.