“Expectations are resentments under construction”

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

23 years together, 4 apartments, 5 houses, foster kids, Johnny, hardships, losses, joys and love.

After all this time together I think I figured out the secret to a lasting marriage… not giving up, at least not at the same time.

Kevin and I have dealt with a lot of issues in our years together, hard issues like alcoholism, medical hardships, taking care of ill family, ill children, financial bankruptcy, and separation and near divorce. We were foster parents for 14years. I am pretty sure the kids are the only reason we stayed together, whether we were happy or not.

Early on expectations of each other is what catapulted us into arguments. Eventually, we never argued. I know now not arguing is a very bad thing for a marriage. It means you may be ignoring the issues that are causing you resentments and anger.

Kevin and I separated for 2 years. 1 of those years we lived in the same house the other year he bought a condo a few blocks away. We raised the kids together better than ever when we were separated. Kevin was always available to help out at the house, more than ever. It gave me some time to myself which I learned scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was always taking care of someone else.

During those two years I learned how to care for me. I was forced into it by the separation. I learned that men are not our knights in shining armor and will not save us from ourselves. I learned how to make friends with woman, all types of woman! I learned how to live sober alone, happy alone. I lived my life constantly challenging myself to try things I never did. I traveled to Ireland solo for the first time to see my dying mother. Normally, I would convince my bother to go with me. However, I did call or text my brother constantly asking for positive affirmations and guidance. I started a Non-profit for my son’s school with other moms and raised over $22K the first year. I started my own business negotiating a “divorce settlement” from Kevin because he refused to get a divorce. I took care of my dying father for 9 months with more grace then I give myself credit for. I let go a little (just a little) of Johnny, my growing boy with the trifecta of disabilities (autism, CDH and Epilepsy). Letting go is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am still working on that.

With everything I did, I didn’t do it alone!  I had a posse of woman or community behind me cheering me on, telling me I am crazy and loads of constructive advice. They empowered me!

At some point, Kevin and I came back together. I attribute that separation to what saved our marriage. It allowed me to grow as a woman, mother and human. It allowed Kevin to watch me grow without him. He had to know I could do this without him. He also needed time to catch up in his growth and spirituality. But, that is his journey to tell.

What I love about marriage in our 18th year seem so silly, but defines who we are and how we love.

  1. Eating!

We went out to dinner for our anniversary. We talked and laughed a lot while eating with full mouths and sometimes even making a mess. As we sat there we watched a couple across from us. They sat so tall and prim. The woman had a napkin on her lap and wiped her mouth after every bite. The guy chewed with his mouth shut and covered his mouth when he laughed. I asked Kevin, “Do you remember when we were shy eating in front of each other?”  He just smiled and said “Not anymore!”  Dinner time is so much chiller and laid back. We don’t overdo the manners and we surly don’t wipe after every bite, anymore.

  1. Dating!

We are raising a family and so damn tired by the end of the night. Just after our afternoon anniversary date at the spa, dinner and a trip to Costco, we were home by 5pm, we crashed at home. At 7pm we both wondered when John will go to bed because we are exhausted. Dating is exhausting at this point. Staying home on the couch and watching a movie isn’t exhausting. My favorite is when Kevin pauses the movie to tell me something about his day. Or when I start talking and he pauses it so he can hear me. That is my kind of date!

  1. BFF

Yes, he is my BFF, my partner in life. I tell him when I am constipated or when I have my period. He tells me about the Port-a-potty issues on the job site. It’s what best friends do, talk about the things that we shouldn’t talk about. We laugh a lot!

  1. Who cares if the dishes get done?

I don’t!!  Neither does Kevin but he does them anyway. I used to harp over who does the dishes and how I hated waking up in the morning to a pile. I never even gave anyone a chance to do them. I just complained while I did them. Eventually, when I started stepping away things got done without me. Imagine that? I step away and stop doing it in my fix/manage/control way and people step up and get it done in their own time. Ahhhh…..

  1. Marriage is NOT 50/50

Sometimes marriage is 80/20. Sometimes it’s 90/10 and sometimes is 100/0. The person who said marriage is 50/50 didn’t have any hardships or loss. When John was born I had to quit my well-paying job to stay home with him. His medical needs were so overwhelming that for me working was not an option. I was his nurse. Kevin was the bread winner now. I took care of 80% of John’s care from advocating, doctors’ appointments, school, nursing care and so on. Kevin took on 100% of the financial burden. We both could have easily been resentful of the other for doing more or less. Resentments just lead to anger and isolation. Today, we work as partners. We have clearer expectations of each other and help more with the household duties. We talk about what we need help with instead of expecting it without asking. Someone told me once, “Don’t let him disappoint you”. Tell him what you want or need instead of waiting for him to fail because he didn’t know or understand.

  1. I’m not his mama

I don’t need to control him. He is a grown man and the decisions he makes in his personal dealings are his to make. I can only offer my opinion and pray he makes the right choice, most cases he does. Which leads me to the next one…

  1. Forgiveness is easier

When I am mad at Kevin I can let my thoughts spiral into a sad sad story of our lives. I script future conversations about divorce. Thankfully, I never speak a word of it! I have trained myself to fall into positive impressions of Kevin. By training myself I mean, I call a friend who loves him and tell them why I am mad. They usually side with me but always justify Kevin’s side. It allows me to take a step back from anger and look at him in a positive light. I talk about how great of a father he is, how he is always fixing things around the house, about that time he built a new garage in 2 days and put up a new fence. I talk about the way he holds John when John is sick. How he gives him a bath every night and I get to hear them laughing. He doesn’t resent us, he loves us and loves spending time with us. We know this through his actions. So that one time a month he pisses me off, is so much easier to forgive. I hope Kevin feels the same about me.

  1. We agree to disagree

I am notorious for stopping in the middle of a conversation we are debating and saying “Ok, you are right.”. And walking away.  Kevin usually laughs at me but I feel like it’s a ‘drop the mic’ moment and I have actually won. This is what I tell myself because in reality I would rather be happy then right. This little tactic has saved us from hours of the silent treatment. Best one ever!

  1. We don’t need gifts

Gifts were great in the beginning. At this stage in the game I just want him to take the lil man to Chuck E Cheese for two hours so I can catch a nap. In reality, it’s the day to day things that get done or how he shows up, that is the real gift. Most Sunday mornings he lets me sleep in but leaves a cup of coffee by my bedside just in case I want to sit up in bed. Sometimes he throws in a bagel or a bowl of fruit. My dear friend Ann always says, “It’s about the season, not the day”.  What we do for each other all month long is a sweeter gift then flowers and thigh thickening chocolates on sweetest day! I’ll take the season over the day.

  1. Our love is unconditional

Before Kevin and I separated I vividly remember telling him on a drunken night that I hate him. I remember saying it and thinking, once I say this I cannot take it back. It is my greatest regret in our marriage. However, it is also one of the things that got us to the place we are now. I remember the hurt on his face when I said it. It was all over money, paying bills and how we parent. Our love was conditional, if you pay the bills and help me parent I will love you. The recession hit us hard, we had a house in foreclosure and we owed my father a lot of money. This sort of thinking takes years to change but if you are invested in spiritual and personal growth, change can happen. After I got sober I began working the steps. This is when I realized how unrealistic my expectations were and how conditional my love was. I pushed people away by hurting them and drank to feel better about it. Today, we are partners. When we can’t pay the mortgage it’s up to both of us to make it work. If I cannot contribute financial I can contribute emotionally. I can tell him I will support him and help look for a solution. I can pray and reassure him that I still love him.

It took me years to remove the labels that we assume when we get married; romantic, knight, lover, money etc… What we thought a husband should be is not the reality. If more people went into marriage with less unrealistic Expectation of each other, the marriage would last.

My favorite words of wisdom when it comes to marriage:

“You can tell a lot about a marriage by the way they treat each other through the bad times.” – I have no idea who said this but someone did and I remembered it.

We have had enough bad times to pull us a part and back together again and again. Somehow, we keep coming back to each other.

I love my life today, I love my marriage, my home and my lil family!

“Expectations are resentments under construction” – Anne Lamott

 

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Daily Prompt: Thorny…or complex?!

Thorny

I have this horrible habit of scripting conversations and scenarios in my head that will literally never happen! For example, last night someone asked me to babysit this weekend. I declined because it’s my birthday weekend and I wanted to see if my husband was going to plan anything.

Mind you, I did not remind him or even send him out a hint. My plan was to wait for him to forget so I can go bat shit crazy.

In my head, I was scripting a conversation we would have if we were to see a therapist. Which we never will because he just won’t do it. (That’s another story!) I was saying things like “We have been together for over 20 years and every year I have to remind him…why can’t he just know it!” I literally drive myself crazy with the complexity of the script. Saying I am thorny is an understatement.

When I arrived home at 10pm after a 12hour shift he had an amazing homemade burrito bowl ready for me. I asked him if he had any plans Saturday and without a beat he said, “No, wanna go out?”. I immediately softened but was also a little surprised he asked. I am still not convinced he knows why I asked, but he fed me so I wasn’t feeling as thorny or complex and let it go.

Here’s to a Happy Birthday weekend, whether he knows it or not.

And a reminder, in the great words of my dear friend Ann B., “It’s about the season, not the day.”

Good thing he fed me….:)

What’s your love language?

Last night, I wrote a long resentful angry blog about my partner. I did not share it with anyone. Even last night in the midst of my anger I knew it was unfair and I was just venting. I am so grateful for my restraint of pen and tongue these days. Makes life so much more fun and full of gratitude.

This morning I read this blog:

https://12stepwork.com/2017/08/27/success-in-relationships/

Right after crying about feeling left out and unloved…

“… it’s not anybody else’s job to “make” me feel better or different… whenever I’ve left the job of “Make me happy!” up to someone or something else, it ends up causing me a lot of needless suffering… happiness is an inside job.” – Mike Stewart, Life Lover

What a great reminder. My marriage can be lonely sometimes. There is this site that talks about our “love Languages”.  How we show people that we love them. It’s hard when you are with someone that doesn’t speak your love language. You have to constantly remind yourself that you are enough and this is the way they show it.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

I took the test.

My results: Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.

The tight runner up being “Quality Time”.

I am pretty sure that my partners love language would for me would be:

His Results: Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

He likes to fix things for me, build new things and cook. Just tonight I mentioned that I need a new shelf put up at the shop and his eyes lit up while saying “I’ll be by tomorrow to take a look” And he will be by, I guarantee it.

After 24 years together, I am not always happy. As I am sure he isn’t as well. The hardest part about marriage is growing emotionally together. When one person isn’t growing emotionally and the other is, it makes for a tough time. The person growing has to find ways to compliment themselves and feel good in the space they are in. I do this by going to meetings, meeting other woman that can help me grow and talking to other woman that may feel the same way. It lets me know I am not alone and that the negative feelings shall pass. Thank God those negative feelings pass, with the help of some friends.

Take the test, tell me what your love language is.

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Social media addict?

Yesterday, I made the decision to remove myself from social media.

Yes, I did….

I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted my Snapchat.

I didn’t have an Instagram or twitter.

However, I do have accounts in all of these for my business.

On a personal level, I am not longer connected to social media.

AND I FEEL FABULOUS!!!

At first, I thought this was going to be hard. How will I survive without seeing everyone’s lives happening before me? How will I make it through a day without seeing how everyone’s first day of school was or how that girl in Bloomington is doing with the new baby. How will I make it without knowing how Ed the coffee guy managed to make it through the Park Ridge Farmers Market or how Bob from California is enjoying his new puppy?

This is how I did it. I replaced that time scrolling through social media with ME time. I looked at my son while I was talking to him. I asked him questions instead of nodding yes while responding to a post. I cleaned the oven, which was pretty cool! I did an amazing amount of marketing on milkshakes for my business and arrived into work early without being tired. While at work I read a book during the slow times and did a little extra cleaning.

It all seems so normal but for me it isn’t normal. I spent way too much time on social media. Doing all these extra things personally and professional has me feeling empowered and ready to tackle some more tasks. That’s crazy!!!!!

Last night I went to bed earlier then I usually do and actually went to sleep!  Like within 15 minutes. That’s unheard of!

This morning I woke up before the alarm and felt great.

I am pretty sure I was addicted to social media. Without it I get a little itchy, I want to just take a quick peek. I pick up my phone to click the big F (that’s F for Facebook) and for a second panic that it isn’t there. But, it’s getting easier and I am looking less.

Another reason I quit social media. It was helping me to build up resentments. I spend a lot of time with my son at home because autism doesn’t let us enjoy day trips out like most families. In addition, his chronic lung disease and oxygen requirements make it hard to just hop on out the door. Watching these assumable normal families enjoy the last few days of summer vacation was making me sad, not happy. Watching stranger’s lives that have no part of my daily life was making me resent them.

Without those visuals I can focus on the gratitude. The beautiful smile and hardy laugh my son enjoys at home. Our everyday hot dog lunches and “black popcorn” with water balloons by the dozen. The chronicles of the Boss (our puppy boxer) and homemade meals (not instagramed or facebooked) by my super BFF hubby! The best part are the text messages from the people IN my life with pictures of their kids first day at school, letting me know they are traveling for a sick family member or just asking to meet for lunch or coffee.  The important stuff!

Keep me posted

This afternoon John has a doctor’s appointment with his pulmonary doctor, Dr. Lestrud. He was been following John for 12 years now, since John was born. Our relationship hasn’t always been sunshine and daisies. We have learned having and keeping a doctor is hard, like any relationship.

Back in the day when John was on the vent, oxygen, feeding tube and 13 medications 3X a day I would call Dr. Lestrud my “bad boyfriend”. I needed him in my life, but I wish I didn’t. He never listened to me and doesn’t call me back until I start crying.

It took a few mistakes and steps back for him to start hearing my suggestions. I vividly remember talking to him on the phone one afternoon crying because John was home sick and not improving. I was upset that it took so long for him to call me back. I was upset that the medication he was using wasn’t helping and that he wouldn’t prescribe a steroid to help him. We talked for about 15 minutes, I stopped crying, he apologized for making me feel unimportant and we agreed on a plan moving forward. Which if I remember correctly worked out well. I rarely cried when I called him but this time I had reached a limit. I believe he knew that and took action to make the situation a little easier for us.

Ironically, his wife, who is his 2nd wife, was a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and took care of John at some point. They have 4 kids together, he has 4 other kids from his first marriage. I often wondered if he was this apologetic as a husband as he was with me that day. But, that would be getting too personal with the doctor.

I’m not saying I was always right. He needed to trust me so he can treat my son and I needed to trust him. There is a balance between what is medically right and what I want. Conversations need to be had, respectfully. I don’t know what medications he needs. But, Dr. Lestrud doesn’t know either unless I can articulate what is happening to John in medical terms, with less emotions. Mom’s with chronically ill kids get a crash course in medical jargon and pick it up quickly.

Over the years I have learned to take the emotion out of my communications. It’s not always easy and I didn’t always do it well. But, I did learn that when I can articulate our needs without crying, name calling or being passive aggressive we get better results. This applies in advocating for education, medical and social needs.

When John first came home from the hospital he was going to at least 5 appointments a month. Every appointment I thought there was going to be some great revelation or milestone. Most cases I was disappointed. Most appointments were the usual nurse’s check in (weigh, temp and blood pressure), sit in the room for almost an hour because they over book, see the doctor for 15 minutes and schedule the next appointment for 3-6 months later.  Eventually we were told to come back in 6 months and that seemed like a milestone. 6month!!! You mean not 3 months???  Yeah!!

Today, we are going to see Dr. Lestrud after 3 months to talk about his oxygen needs. I still think something amazing will come out of this, but deep down the little committee in my head is saying “STOP IT, you know it will be a meet and greet and a “keep me posted on his progress at home” visit.” That’s what I get for knowing my son so well, for advocating for him so well all these years. I get a “keep us posted” from the doctor. (Smile) That sentence seriously gave me butterflies, yes that’s me patting myself on the back, after 12 years. Yes, I am patting myself on the back.

Slow and steady is how we roll

Dr. Lestrud explained what a good wean looks like and we set a plan. Wean the liters from 4 to 3 and see how it goes.  We both agreed we want him to start school in September with or without the oxygen.

Go home and “keep me posted”

ilovebowling
I just wanna bowl!!!!

“I’m glad I got cancer”

I rarely hear woman say “I wanna be just like my mom someday”.  We hear boys say they want to be just like their dads when they grow up, why don’t woman say it more? Such different relationships…

Today, I yelled at John. You might think I don’t yell a lot, maybe it was just today? No, I yell all the time. I think my normal talking voice in this house is yelling. I cannot have a conversation without talking over John and his technology devices going off so I scream “Turn it down” mid-sentence and keep going. Newcomers to the Murphy household are usually shell shocked and wondering how I can even have a conversation and retain anything we talked about.

Anyway, I started off talking about mothers. I spent years praying to not be anything like my mom. Now I wish I was like her. She was a mother that had a lot against her. She raised four very different kids in a mostly unhappy marriage as a stay at home mom. After her divorce she went out to work as a bartender, later getting a job with the Chicago School system doing janitorial work. Her relationships with her kids were strained because we were little assholes. Except for my older brother Teddy, he was and is non-judgmental and empathetic. I know he was towards our mother, not so much with others. Even though I believe he really is but tries to play it off like he isn’t. He is generous and is always helping people. A friend of his went to prison and Teddy was the only one who kept in touch with him, sent him gifts, money, etc.  When I asked him why he even bothered he said, “Why not, the guys got nothing else going for him”. When that friend got out of prison, less than 3 months later he died of a heart attack. I think about how that poor man died when his life was getting ready to change for the better and how grateful he was for Teddy’s correspondence all those years.

My mom was diagnosis with brain cancer when Johnny was a baby. I was devastated and so was Teddy. Even today I feel these overwhelming waves of guilt in me for the absence in my mother’s life for so many years, it was intentional absence. I was so mean and judgmental. Unfortunately, it took an illness for me to have any empathy for her at all. She had cancer for 6 years before she passed, we had an amazing 6 years filled with great memories. I would hop on a plane every 3-6 months to visit her in Ireland where she lived to spend a few weeks with her. Teddy and I would take turns going, sometimes going together. Mom told my cousin Mikey one day, “I’m happy I got cancer. I don’t think I would have known how much everyone loves me”.

When he told me that my heart was broken for all the lost years. All the years she wanted to talk to me and I wouldn’t. All the years I didn’t even know why I was mad at her other than other family member’s influences. That day I vowed to live a life where there was no question about love. People I love know I love them because I tell them when I see them. Even if they think it’s strange, I say it. Last weekend, we went to John’s ECMO reunion to celebrate his survival. We have kept in touch with all those folks for over 12yrs. Danny, the ECMO specialist that cared for John, is a friend we see rarely but still considered a friend because of his role in our lives. As I was leaving I told Danny “I love you, see you next year”. He said he loves me back, but I didn’t’ expect that. I truly love him for his role in my son’s life, his survival.

When the feeling rises, I say it. On the other hand, people I dislike usually know it, too. Not because I tell them. Because I create boundary’s that keep them at a distance. For example, my sister and I haven’t seen or talked to each other since Dad died. I do not like her, how she treats her family or how she treats other people. I don’t want to judge her, condemn her or save her, so I create the boundaries. Some people need to save themselves and my role in their life may be only to watch me from afar or not.

I remember mom yelling at us when we were kids. Once she chased me around the front room with a broom and almost made contact. I probably said something disrespectful.

I hate that I yell at John. Sometimes I can’t help it. I always apologize to him without the “but”. I remind myself that I am teaching him how to be treated. We make mistakes, we make amends, we forgive, we pray and we live in gratitude. Thank God for the ability to take time outs, restart our day and thank god for LOVE!

At the end of the night he has never turned away a hug or kiss, for that I am grateful. At the end of the night he knows I love him!

The Hubs: 2017 Edition

My hubs…

Some days I refer to him as my BFF, others not so much. If you are going to have a child like John, the trifecta of disabilities (CDH, Epilepsy & Autism), you better like who you live with because you will be spending a lot of time with them.

Some days we are all we have. No one is inviting us over to BBQ’s and people surely aren’t bringing their kids over to play with my son. At the end of the day he is the only person I can vent to, tell how I feel or just sit in silence with. It’s comfortable, its safe, somedays it’s hard and somedays it’s just perfect.

We separated for two years in 2012 (I think, maybe 2011). That separation is what saved our relationship. Before we separated I was almost 2 years sober, he was an active alcoholic. He left me telling me that I was doing great things and he was holding me back. I made sure he knew that was a great excuse but it’s really because he’s too scared to grow with me.

The first year we lived under the same roof, the second year he moved out into his own condo a few blocks away. I started dating in the second year. Nothing great to talk about. It’s amazing how many men my age live in their mom’s basement apartment, hate their ex’s and just are so lost in who they are. I had literally no success, obviously. I eventually just focused on me and building a business.

During those two years Kevin always treated me well. He treated me better while we were separated then he ever did while we were together. He stopped by the house every night to see his son, he fixed what needed to be fixed, he cooked, cleaned and was an amazing example for who a father should be, except for the part about sticking around in a marriage.

John became ill in 2014 with the flu. He ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Children’s Memorial for one month. At that time, we didn’t know if John was going to survive. They were using words that would prepare us for incubation and what happens if he didn’t start breathing on his own. After about 3 weeks John turned the corner. He started sitting up, breathing and laughing. We were amazed and so grateful for everyone involved in saving our son. It wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last.

During those 4 weeks Kevin and I were carpooling to avoid the $15.00 a day parking fee at the hospital garage. He would drive over after work texting me when he arrived and I would go down and take his truck home while he went up with John. Some days we would go home together, clean up and head back to the hospital. We would sit and chat about John’s past and how strong he is. We gave each other huge praises for keeping him alive. We talked about the good times and the hard times. During this time I was in the process of opening up my shop. Kevin was right there helping with the build out, getting permits, supplies and contracts. He was amazing.  I asked him one day on the way back to the hospital, “Why are you being so good to me? We are not together anymore, you can just move on”. He said, “This is for all of us. Just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we aren’t a family”.

Kevin is a man of few words but sometimes he amazes me with the words he speaks.

I know he struggles with his own demons, I have seen them. But, he really has the best intentions for his family.

Today, I can’t imagine being with any other man. When I am angry at him I imagine what it would be like. I let my crazy mind travel into places, imagining myself with another man or running away by myself to a deserted island. The scenarios I create in my mind always end with me thinking Kevin would treat me kinder. Or Kevin wouldn’t judge me like that, Kevin would have made it all OK.

Every Sunday morning he brings me breakfast in bed. Every night he tucks his son in to bed. Every day he tells me he loves me. He is humble. He is kind. These are the things I need to remember when times get tough.

#GoodNightSweetWorld