Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fight. Pray. Love. (or God Must Be Amused)

I stormed out of the house. Slammed the door good and hard, with extra emphasis on the slamming part just for good measure. To show him how mad I really was. I hightailed it out to the car, lest he come after me and try to stop me. He didn't.

I started the car and tried to ignore the voice in my head asking me "where are you going to go?" I knew I couldn't go to my parents house. Or his parents house. I'd seen WAY too many fights between my parents which extended the bounds of our small, four-walled house and lassoed in my grandparents, to know better. (And don't even get me started on the physical altercations and visits from police officers.)

So. Where to go. . . Parents' houses? Out. Siblings' houses? Out. Friends? No. This is a private matter. (I'd also seen how fights paraded in the public arena of family scrutiny forever tainted that family's view of the offending spouse - without the grand benefit of seeing the "making it all better" part.) Suddenly, the mantra "I will not repeat the relationship mistakes of my parents" was pounding through my head.

I was a woman alone. And really, really mad. Furious and sad. In my car. With nowhere to go.


I drove without destination.

Then, I drove to the church parking lot.

And prayed.

And went back home. And we made it all better.

A few years later when our inactive neighbor and her bad news boyfriend were beating the crap out of each other and yelling obscenities which wafted on the cool breeze into our open window, panic gripped me instantly and I ran to the other room to M's side and in a suddenly high-pitched, scared voice said, lamely, "they're fighting!"

I've reflected on this many times since then. I've decided that I ran to his side that night for comfort. And for reassurance that I have not, in fact, repeated the mistakes of my parents. Sure, we've had knock-down-drag-outs of the verbal variety, and said words we were later ashamed of. We average one of those about once every 1.8 years. We've even had one of our worst fights EVER in front of our friends - I don't recommend it. Sometimes, though I find myself disagreeing with M more vehemently in front of friends than I normally would, in an effort to show them (and maybe myself) - God knows why - that we can agree to disagree, rise above the conflict, and be a-okay.

The three times I've ever left the house in a rage (I've done all the leaving during these episodes - though in the fight in front of our friends I locked him out of the house and stayed) I've always ended up the same place. Doing the same thing. And I always come back and we make it better.

Mostly I've learned that it's sometimes enough to not repeat the mistakes of our parents. When it comes to family relationships, sometimes that's all we can do. But sometimes, it might not enough. Because those times are still VERY scary for me.

I've learned that someone has to be the bigger person and avoid the pitfalls of those ugly fights by not going down the road marked "Skirmish Ahead" and by choosing an alternate detour as soon as the road gets the littlest bit bumpy. Hopefully this means I'll leave less often in the future. Or maybe I'll just slam the door less hard on my way out.

I'm just grateful that I can go to the church parking lot, turn off the car engine, cry, pray, ignore the ringing cell phone until I've purged my soul of the anger, then call him up a different woman and say "I'm on my way". And know that I am. I'm on my way.


Celia Fae said...

The hardest thing in the world is to change the patterns that we grew up with. I admire you for trying and succeeding.

The first big fight I had with my husband I tried to drive away. He chased after me on foot. I had to change my tactics after that.

Nichole said...

Thanks CF!

This is one of those posts you put out there, worry about, fret over, wonder if you should retract quick before anyone sees, and then someone like you comes along and pets me on the shoulder and says "here's the love".

Maybe no one else fights with their husbands, maybe no one else saw their parents have a dysfunctional marriage that ended in divorce. I don't know. I'm only speaking from my experience, which I'm trying to make as un-dysfunctional (that's a word, right?) as possible.

Thanks for the love!

the MomBabe said...

You shouldn't retract it or fret. I loved this post, I just didn't know what to say. You know how that goes?

Kimberly said...

I can't help thinking it must have felt good, if scary, to put that into words.

Neil and I went years without fighting, because I told him when anything bugged me, and he's a guy who isn't easily bugged. When I finally gave up on the shy girl routine it was hard on us...we had to find a balance between sharing what we were feeling and hurting each other.

It's been rough this past year, but it's getting better. I'm not scared to tell him when he's being a jerk, but I know I don't have to wait till I'm ready to scream and cry to do so.

We're getting there. On our way, as you put it.

Brilliant post.