Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Cape of Good Hope

Pesharim – The Cape of Good Hope

This began as the worst Holiday Season that I have ever personally experienced, but by this moment has changed dramatically into one of the best Holiday Seasons I have ever enjoyed.

It began some months ago when my marriage to my wife started to deteriorate. Dramatically. This past year we purchased the old family estate, house, and lands, and were later given some additional lands by my parents.

We rented out our old home to some people who we later discovered were horrible tenants and we were eventually forced to evict them for non-payment of rent. As a result we were making two home mortgage payments, including land payments and other expenses without any income by way of rent owed, for months, and had to eat court costs and proceedings, which dragged on for nearly a year, just to evict the bad tenants.

I was working about 10 to 16 hours a day, every day, except Sundays on which I worked about six hours a day not counting work I did for the church. So in all I was working seven days a week, we were under tremendous financial pressure (and are still recovering from that disaster), I was getting very little sleep, almost no exercise, and I was still attempting to maintain most, if not all of my prior activities. I was writing, doing consulting projects, doing work for various companies, going on patrol when I could, investigating a few Cold Cases, trying to maintain my studies, doing volunteer work for the church, I was appointed Missions House director and assistant treasurer, teaching on occasion, and without sleep, proper exercise, rest, relaxation, or recreation, I was becoming a real asshole and tyrant. It didn’t take much to make me angry, I would get in a blow-up, take it out on my wife, who had problems of her own, and was yelling at my children over seemingly innocuous and petty matters. I began to fall victim to recurring injuries (when I did bother to train) and illnesses, due to exhaustion and overwork no doubt, and began having occasional chest pains. I took Disaster Relief, communications, and new CERT training (when I was in the CAP my main training was in Civil Defense and SAR, so it was a good overlap), and helped on a few missions and rescue efforts. I spent little time in prayer, contemplation, or mediation, spent even less with God in any honest way. The world, and the pressures and events and work in it, seemed to be consuming me entirely. I was scattered about in a thousand different directions and spread thin as a sheet of cheap dime store paper.

To continue the decline one of my prized dogs was killed by either a nest of copperheads or cottonmouths (not all that long after his mother was killed by a hunter), we never found out exactly which, and I had to personally help put him to sleep and then bury him with my own hands. My last grandmother died, and she was more like a second mother to me than just a modern distant, never-see, nuclear-family type grandmother. She helped raise me and I even lived with her for a while during college and after my grandfather died. I buried several good friends, and quite a few of the World War II generation in our church who I had come to respect, and even some I had come to be personally close with. I worked a couple of really violent and disturbing cases, which also left me drained. One of my daughters was badly sick for a while, and improvement was slow. I became extremely tired, and yet, at the encouragement of my friends I began blogging, for which I am now glad but for a couple of months there it was extremely exhausting work and I wasn’t enjoying it much, I just saw it as another writing chore and time consumer, without even the benefit of pay.

My wife, who was working heavy hours at her own work during the holidays was I imagine feeling equal pressure, as well as catching hell from me, and she was also trying to do far too much outside of work, like teaching Sunday School classes, being Woman’s Missions Director for our church, going on volunteer missions trips to rebuild parts of Mississippi, doing other volunteer work, and so forth. We were both exhausted and pushed way too hard, but we did very little together except argue, yell at each other, or the children.

Eventually we became resentful of, and with each other, sometimes over petty and certainly unimportant matters, and sometimes over reasonable and logical matters, but matters which at some other point in time, or under other circumstances we could have easily accommodated and repaired.

Our sex life plummeted and to tell the truth I was reaching the point of thinking her cold, distant, and unattractive no matter what I did or said, and God only knows what she was thinking, but I’m sure it was along similar veins. I was praying heavily for some relief in our marriage, and she later told me she was as well, but we certainly weren’t praying or acting together, but at odds with each other. In any case no matter what I tried, and I’m sure she felt the same, nothing worked and our condition deteriorated even worse. She was the product of a divorced family and was raised by a single mom, and I got the feeling that she felt that wouldn’t be such a bad escape. To tell you the truth recently I was feeling the same way.

On the other hand I had my marriage vows, my sense of personal honor, my duty to her, God, and my children, and a desire not to fail at marriage. I don’t like to fail at anything and those who know me also know I will go to almost any lengths not to fail at something I consider worth fighting for. Also I had remembrance of a time when our marriage was very good and thriving. Yet none of these things were providing me much motivation to drive me forward to succeed and correct our course, and my wife’s motivations were practically dead as well. As were her feelings for which I have to claim at least partial credit and fault, because I’ve always told her that I wasn’t really concerned with her feelings when it came to problem solving. That it was more important to solve problems than wallow in emotions. I’ve never been a man who was controlled by my emotions; I consider emotions excellent sources of motivation, but poor guides for conduct or behavior. And being at the beck and call, certainly under the influence or whims of your emotions is no way for any man to behave in my opinion. My wife however is in a certain sense a very emotional person, as women tend to be generally, and so I certainly wasn’t helping the matter from her point of view by telling her to be less emotional and more logical and disciplined. She just doesn’t seem to work that way.

Anywho by Christmas Eve we were lying in bed discussing separation and possible divorce. We had already had three or four such conversations since Thanksgiving. I told her flatly that I would do everything possible from my end to save the marriage but that I had not intention in remaining in a failed marriage as a pretense. That to me a marriage, like anything else in Life, should prosper, thrive, and be constantly improving, becoming better. Otherwise it was stagnant and dead. And I couldn’t have a dead marriage anymore than I could have dead work, or dead children. It was either all the way, the right way, or nothing at all. Lies and pretense have never much impressed me.

She cried and disgorged upon me all of her feelings and complaints about me, which did not bother me at all, actually this made me feel much, much more confident because this finally showed me that she at least still wanted to try. Which to me was the real point, that she would be willing to fight instead of just give up and in. We began praying together, humbly I might add, towards mutual goals and we both agreed to make changes in both the way we approach our marriage and our work. We also agreed to make changes to our personal activities, to relax more, to spend more time together, to recreate more, to argue less about petty matters. I’ll detail some of these matters later in my End of the Year Confession, and my New Year’s Resolutions. We went on to have a fantastically good if somewhat subdued and somber Christmas, because we were both still kinda feeling our way through things. Nevertheless it was pleasant, relaxing, and even quite sexually gratifying. A couple of times.

As of today, the 30th, our marriage has improved perceptibly every day since Christmas. This past week has been sort of a Renaissance, or Rebirth of our Marriage. It’s still gonna be a lot of work, changes are gonna have to be made, and were both gonna have to relax, have more faith in God and each other, but it seems to me that we have successfully weathered the worst and roughest part of our marriage ever, and that from here on we can sail forward in improved conditions towards ever better ports and safer harbors. If I had to describe this past year it was like being caught at sea in a typhoon, and the result was a partially wrecked ship, a desperate and dying crew, being adrift without proper supplies, with no canvass for repairs, with a broken rudder, and with spoiled maps and a broken compass. But we made it, we made it to dock and finally have repairs underway. We are resupplying, have new maps and provisions, a fresh compass, and a healthy crew. There will be other storms to weather and other reefs to navigate in the future no doubt but I feel confident now that having made it through this one without capsizing or sinking, we can run any other danger without coming apart either. Point is when you’ve sailed through the storm and come through alive, everything else, no matter how rough the seas is a Cape of Good Hope. So that’s where we are, the Cape of Good Hope. Refitting and making ready to make way again for the New Year, for which I am thankful, and at peace.

It was a good Christmas after all. A very good Christmas.
And a man can’t ask for much more than that as a gift worth keeping.

I hope your Christmas was equally salutary.
Godspeed wherever you sail.


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