Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Negotiating the Cease-Fire

I keep forgetting that our marriage is not a union.  It's a truce. 

It passed into that realm in 2010, when I understood there was no doubt that if I continued trying to pilot that restaurant, one of the primary casualties—along with my sanity and my health—was going to be my marriage.  Clearly, in order to preserve any crumb of what remained of my bond with my husband, I had to sever my attachment to the thing that had so starkly highlighted the decay of our regard for one another.

When we closed the doors on that disaster in 2011, I remember being desperate for peace.  And while the mere act of walking away from the endless mountain of aggravation, stress and frustration that was the Old Town Café dissolved the lion’s share of threats to the peace I craved, it didn’t take long for me to see that I had run away from a forest fire and into a briar patch. 

The husband and I were left glaring at each other over a thorny field of anger, hurt and resentment.  Eventually, we hammered out a treaty.  Not so much through negotiation as through a series of tactical retreats.  As long as we had calm, we had peace.  But the slightest stress—from an unexpected car repair to having to entertain out-of-town guests—would find one of us (usually him) losing it and the other (usually me) falling back and throwing up a wall. 

Yes…it’s been five and a half years.  And from the Peanut Gallery, I can hear jeers of “Get over it, already!”  I don’t think anyone in the world would like to see that more than I would.  But this isn’t something one “gets over.”  Any more than the death of a loved one or the loss of a home or the end of a satisfying career.  Like everything in life, it’s not a matter of “getting over it” at all. All one can do is accept the new normal and keep walking.  And above all, try not to dwell on when “normal” was so much more than it is now.

We mostly have peace now.  We are companionable, possibly even fond of each other, much of the time.  Sometimes I forget that our relationship is not healed, not what it once was, certainly not what I ever hoped it would be.  Then something happens, some nameless, invisible thing knocks up against and upsets our peace.  At those times, I understand that the best thing I can do is take myself physically away for awhile.  Luckily, I have a building and a business 100 miles away from here that can always use a day or two of my attention. 

So I sigh.  And I go.  And when I come back, there is peace again.  Until the next time.     

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