It's been a hard year. Without going into boring details, there's been unemployment, pay cuts, addiction, moving, discord. But still grateful. So grateful that I still get another chance (and another, and another).
Marriage is hard. So hard that sometimes, you get to the point where you're talking to a family lawyer (yes, that kind of family lawyer), and reading books with cringe-worthy titles like, "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men," and "The Emotionally Abused Woman : Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself." And then you have these endless battles with yourself; on the one hand wondering if you are just a narcissistic whiner and on the other hand wallowing in abject anger and self-hatred, with a dash of hating the fact that the struggle itself may serve to invalidate women who suffer real abuse.
And then there is Pride. I love that there is a wikipedia entry on Pride:
Pride is an inward directed (feeling) emotion that exemplifies either an inflated sense of one's personal status or the specific mostly positive emotion that is a product of praise or independent self-reflection. Philosophers and social psychologists have noted that pride is a complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a sense of self and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions (e.g., that pride is distinct from happiness and joy) through language-based interaction with others.
Pride is sometimes viewed as excessive or as a vice, sometimes as proper or as a virtue. While some philosophers such as Aristotle (and George Bernard Shaw) consider pride a profound virtue, most world religions consider it a sin, such as the Old Testament of the Bible used by Christians and Jews, in Proverbs 2:11.
We live in such a pride-driven society nowadays. Everything is about pride: we talk about developing self-worth, realizing self-worth, being proud of our achievements (whatever they are). We have politicians who make it a point of pride to never to back down, and an entire corporate ethos that celebrates those with the most cojones (which is, let's admit it, just super-pride).
So that's where my marriage was - an endless match between two adversaries, each one believing himself absolutely correct, taking no prisoners, right right right right right.
So the inevitable question: does being the one to take a step back, the one who disengages, the one who submits... does that automatically make you the abused? Is that all it takes? And what about the gender politics of it all? Masculinity is so often tied to the pride of righteousness, the alpha male self defined by being right against the face of corrupt authority (whatever form it comes in). And the new woman-hear-me-roar, all about standing in her truth (her truth, not his truth, not their truth, not even the truth, but her truth), and putting it foremost, and not conventionally one-step-behind-your-man. Can a couple emerge victorious when these are the rules? Or must one side always lose?
I suppose I've lost the battle. For now. I make no guarantees that something won't come along to appropriate my mind and set me on another battlefield. For now, I look at my happy, happy children, and they are so happy. And it is enough.