Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nine Years

Nine years ago today I lost my life. I gave it up, gave it away. On January 20, 2001 I married Richard Wei Tjan Lim. How many times have I regretted that act? Literally screamed out loud my anger against God? Slumped in despair before pastors and counselors, my heart bleeding into a wad of kleenex?

I could sling a lot of mud right here but that wouldn't be appropriate. Nobody cheated or broke the law, nothing like that. Nobody drained the bank. No violence, no filth. I won't publicly post all the problems we faced, but I will tell you how I felt: Unloved. Deceived. Trapped.

And it all started nine years ago today. I cried on our honeymoon in Maui and slipped into the night for a walk on the beach to wrestle with my heart and my loneliness. By our first anniversary I had sunk into lasting depression. In the shadow of Aspen trees in a little yellow house on a quiet culdesac, I suffered the deepest wounds my heart had ever borne.

Eventually we did try counseling. (Talk isn't cheap, by the way.) When a seasoned marriage counselor told us that our situation was rather unique, I felt lost. No wonder our premarital workbook hadn't prepared us. No wonder marriage help books weren't helping at all. No wonder all that therapy did little to improve our love life.

My heart went numb for years blocking out feelings of rejection and isolation. We had three babies. We quit counseling. We smiled in public. I got over my depression and focused on the kids. As any couple does, we went through good times and bad times, but it seemed the bad always eclipsed the good and I always returned to regret when I allowed my heart a moment to breathe. I didn't do that too often. Without my faith in God, tenacity in honoring my marriage covenant, and my duty to the children, we might not still be together.

But I am so glad that we are! Last summer it all changed. One random day in August we went from our worst year together to beginning our best one. I wish I could understand what precipitated the shift but I have no idea. My husband's behavior simply changed. Drastically. It took a while for me to trust that it wouldn't be temporary, but things remain just as good five months later. Forgiveness flows, hope lives again. There is love and desire in his eyes when he looks at me, and I feel an intimacy we've never shared before. We talked about it just a few days ago and he couldn't figure it out either. In fact, he wasn't even aware of the depth of the revolution at the time – definitely not some great act of willpower to make things different. Believe me, we have been there and done that with less than satisfactory results.

Let's not figure it out then, let's just enjoy it! No I don't get butterflies in my stomach when Richard holds my hand. My heart doesn't race when I catch his eye and we aren't having some passionate honeymoon that we missed out on before. But we are finally a normal couple with normal challenges, and “normal” is a big step up. “Normal” feels wonderful! I can live with normal.

Today is my first truly Happy Anniversary!


Kristin said...

Kristina, I am sitting here with tears welling up (why do all our posts make me cry!?)

Thank you so much for writing this. Marriage is the most difficult relationship I've ever known and when so many are quick to divorce, we've hung in there as well. I am so glad to hear that your relationship has experienced a change and you are living it with love now.

What a beautifully honest piece and Happy Anniversary :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honesty and Happy Anniversary. My marriage started out much like you describe yours. But it didn't resolve the same. We've been divorced for several years now, and he's getting ready to marry someone else. I'm packing up our house and finally grieving the past 2 decades.

It's more painful than I ever expected, considering how lonely I was. You got lucky you ended up with the man you needed. Or maybe you just got your prayers answered.

It's not all bad news for me, though. There's another man up north making a place for me. He makes me feel warm and connected every time he sings to me. And he sings to me all the time. That's more than I ever asked for or thought I deserved. Maybe that's my prayers getting answered too.

Peg said...

This hit home for me Kristina. My first marriage sounded similar to what you are describing but we didn't survive it. In my case it was better that we divorced due to circumstances out of my control which my ex husband caused, but that doesn't mean the pain was any easier. I used to feel "alone" while surrounded by people so I know how you felt. I admire you for your tenacity.
What I love about our group is that every time I read a piece I get one more glimpse into knowing everyone better.
Thanks for sharing this.

Em said...

Wow, Kristina! What HOPE you have given me!!! I regretted saying "Yes" even before my wedding day, and in my 4 years of marriage, I have continually felt like I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.... However, I'm in it, I refuse to leave it, and I do feel 100% positive that with continued prayer and commitment, the Lord will make it an amazing marriage. I've just been wondering... "WHEN???" So if you were able to hang in there for 9 years before seeing such a wonderful change, then I can hang in there, too. So THANK YOU for your openness, and for giving me HOPE!!! It was a beautiful piece you shared!

Jen said...

So honest. Bless you. Most of us hide our hopes and dashed expectations of marriage, hoping that yes, one day it will get better. When we have time, when the kids get bigger, when we like the same things...when...when...when...when?Luckily our kids bond us together more than any interest or time ever will. We are each selfishly so in love with them we could never part with them for even a few days at a time. Much less take them from their other doting parent. Our saving grace until we give room and trust into God's grace instead.