The people you have been

Lauren Doyle Owens recently wrote an article for The New York Times called “Nobody tells you how long a marriage is”

She poignantly recalls growing apart from her partner: “I was trapped inside myself. Each day I would go to a job that I hated and come back to a house that didn’t feel like mine and I would drink too much, climbing into a small, dark hole made for one.”

Ever felt like that?

And she muses: “Nobody tells you how long marriage is. When you fall in love, when you have fun with somebody, when you enjoy the way they see the world, nobody ever says, ‘This person will change. And so you will be married to two, three, four, five or 10 people throughout the course of your life, as you live out your vows’.”

I’ve definitely felt like that.

After years of longing to leave, Owens was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly her perspective changed.

She tells her husband: “It’s been 10 years since the cancer. And those sad years that followed feel almost like another sickness I went through, a fever or drug interaction. I still have no idea why you stayed. Why you tolerated me. But I’m glad you did.

“There is something deep and hard and lasting inside of you. And I wish I had known, when I was searching again for my bedrock, that all I had to do was reach out my hand.”

It’s something I failed to do. I didn’t reach out my hand, neither did he. And we lost our bedrock.

It takes a lot of effort to stay married.

Your marriage vows warn you that it’s or better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. But you can’t imagine there will be hard times during those giddy years of courtship and proposal and wedding.

I admire the couples who remain in love with the two, three, four, five or 10 people their partners become during the course of their lives.

I’m not sure which of my husband incarnations I fell out of love with.

He’s already become several more people since then, all of them a little more incomprehensible to me.

And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. He’s simply an odd mix of stranger and former lover, who dropped off a container of spag bol mince yesterday to save me cooking for the kids last night.

You have to feel a little fondly towards an ex-partner who does that.

The New York Times article also got me thinking about all the people DD has been over the years.

Who was he at 20, 30 and 40?

My DD must retain a kernel of himself from his youth, but be vastly different at the same time.

He and I missed all those earlier versions of ourselves, finally meeting a little damaged and worn four years ago.

We were both on the rebound and our relationship probably shouldn’t have lasted as a result. But it did and I marvel at how my love for him grows and morphs.

After living through the red giant that was my dying marriage for so many years I’d forgotten what it feels like to be in the nebula of a relationship’s birth.

It surprises me that we remain so delighted by each other after those early giddy months of falling in love.

Will the feeling wearing off. Are we still changing? Do we ever become final versions of ourselves?

I think we both have more healing to do, so the answer to the second question is undoubtedly “yes”.

As for the rest … who knows?

Song of the day: Elton John “Rocket man”

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