Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pelican and the Project


Several weeks back, I briefly mentioned the latest argument I had with the husband…said something about it being “very instructional…I learned a lot,” and left it at that.  The truth is, there were things said during that discussion that cut me to the bone, hurt so bad that I had not the capacity to go anywhere near the wound, much less examine or attempt to treat it.

Since then, I’ve been doing my level best to skirt the issue, sidestep the crater…hoping that by pretending it didn’t exist I could make it go away.  I really did NOT want to look at it; did NOT want to discover that my marriage was ever-so-not as recovered and rejuvenated as I so fervently wanted to believe.

But the argument haunted me.  His very perception of what we’ve been doing for the past thirty-six years grabbed me by the throat and would not let go.  Seems he has spent all these years bending over backward to make me happy.  And yet, I am not happy.  What is wrong with ME?   “You get pretty much everything you ask for.  You ask for a deck, you get it.  You ask for planter boxes, you get them.  Looks to me like you have it pretty good.”

Really?  Really??

Without getting into how desperately I needed you—your help, your support, your love—when the restaurant was eating me alive, and you all but turned your back on me…

See if I EVER ask you for anything again. 

A few weeks later, he was all smiles and conciliation.   “What do you want for your birthday?”

 You’re kidding, right?  Hell will freeze over before I ask you for a birthday gift.

To remain functional, I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into the building we acquired; and it’s probably a good thing that it is 100 miles from here.  It’s provided me with distance from the thing I could not confront.

But I couldn’t be away all the time, and when I was home, I was miserable. I would look out the back door at the half-finished deck around my greenhouse—a project he started earlier this year, got frustrated with and gave up on—and I would feel not just a burning resentment, but a heavy sadness settle on my heart.  Something as simple as, “Hey, when are you going to finish that deck?” had become anything but simple.  And how ridiculous, how sad is that, between two people married for more than three decades?  It wasn’t really the unfinished deck that bothered me.  It was what it represented. 

Somehow, that deck became a dragon that I had to slay.  Once that project was finished, there would no longer be a physical manifestation of how broken our relationship still was, staring me in the face every day.   In my bull-headed way, I made up my mind that if I wanted the work done, I would have to do it.  And I wanted the work done. 

So I planned and I designed and I thought and I schemed…and I fretted.  The thing is, I knew what would happen if I set out to do the project myself.  It was guaranteed to provoke another confrontation.  And I was pretty sure I did not want to go where that confrontation was going to send me.  But I knew in my heart that trying to sit down and tell him how I felt—trying to “talk it out”—was not going to work either.  That was what had got us into this mess to begin with.  

Eventually, obsessively weighing the alternatives bore no fruit other than to take me to where I was on the verge of tears every minute. In the end, I decided that if I was damned if I did, damned if I didn’t, I might as well be damned in a chaise longue on my finished deck.  And I decided Sunday would be the day. 

Sunday morning, I got out of bed burdened with a determination and a sadness so overwhelming it was like a physical weight.   It felt surreal that, after thirty some years of marriage, I could not ask him to pick up a hammer or a drill and expect him to gracefully do…what he has always done.  I felt ridiculous and off-balance, and resentful as hell.  I really needed something, someOne, to help me. 

The Almighty has let me know in no uncertain terms that my Spirit Guides are available to walk me through the difficult passages of my life.  So I don’t know why I always think first that I have to gird my loins and do things on my own.  Sunday morning, I really was in no condition to Do It Alone.  I was a mess.  An emotional meltdown was hovering inches from my head.  The resentment and the unforgiveness were sitting so heavily on my shoulders that I could barely move.  So I thought of Pelican.     

Call on pelican when you’re feeling resentful or angry toward someone and you want to release it…
…when you’re feeling overwhelmed with heavy emotions and want to rise above them.

Pelican—who had stepped in as the guiding spirit of my marriage two years ago, and who continued his vigil as I struggled with flashbacks of resentment and feelings of abandonment inflicted by our struggle with that stupid restaurant. 

Pelican—who reminded me to forgive, to release, to let go.  For really the first time, I “called upon” a Spirit Guide.  I gazed at the Pelican icons I’ve collected, reached out a hand to caress a small statue of a pelican that sits on my dresser.  I would like to say that I formed a beautiful poetic petition of some kind to call the power of Pelican to my side.  But all I could really muster through my tears was a weak “Help me out here, guys.”  Hoping someone would hear…

After breakfast, I grabbed some tools and went out to the project site.  Through my resentment and my tears, I managed to ungracefully get a decent start on the job.  Enough to make it obvious that I meant business.  Husband wandered into the picture about an hour into my struggles.  I was clearing off my temporary “deck” made of wooden pallets covered with scrap wood, preparatory to hauling them out of the way to make room for their replacement. 

“You want some help with that?”

A simple question, really.  To normal people.  But in this situation, armed with his, “You get everything you want” comment, an answer was almost impossible.  Yes, I wanted his help.  But I was going to be damned if I was going to ask him for it.  And the first thing that came to my mind was some kind of cutting retort, on the order of “Not if you’re just going to throw it in my face later!” 

But I stowed that.  I looked at him, for too long, I guess, as I tried to form some words that were not cutting or nasty. 

“I was just getting ready to haul these things out of the way…”

“I can help if you want.”

“Sure.  That would be nice.”

And so it went for the rest of the afternoon.  The two of us actually making an effort to be civil to one another.  Choosing neutral words over emotionally-charged ones.  Sharing ideas and brainstorming together, instead of copping that “my way or the highway” attitude which has lately become our go-to philosophy.    

It was nice.  It was peaceful.  And it went a long way toward rearranging the scattered bits of my marriage back into something I could understand and live with again.  I had begun to think that would never happen, and I couldn’t really figure out how I was going to go forward with things as hopelessly mangled as they seemed.  An air of forgiveness presided over us all day, and I believe with all my heart that the Almighty ministered to us through the power of Pelican.

Because I remembered to ask. 

So, yeah…I’m doing a lot of tripping and falling, searching and questioning along this spiritual path to which I’ve been called.  But I’m learning.  Slowly but surely.

And I’m grateful. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been talking a lot recently to friends about the issues of 30+ year marriages. Maybe it's a point where all of us start thinking "what the hell?" A test of psychological and emotional stamina to be sure.

    I'm glad to hear that your request was answered...that you had a decent and productive day.