Harry said long ago that I was like an onion with many layers and he knew he would never stop learning who I was. He was right. There are so many parts of ourselves and like an onion, our outer layers are usually thin veneers that flake away. The deep layers are juicy and full of flavor. But sometimes revealing those layers is painful and can lead to a good cry.
I have parts of myself I don’t even understand and so does Harry. As close as we are, as much love as we share, we are still individual people who lived separate lives for over 40 years. Deciding to share a life after all that time is brave. Choosing to let that person in to the deep layers of your soul is scary.
What if they don’t like what they see? What if they don’t understand?
So even in marriage – even in the best of marriages – we hide parts of ourselves from our spouse. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes subconsciously. And we settle in to a definition of “us” that suits us and feels comfortable.
Harry and I hit a bump recently and it forced us to re-examine that definition. Self examination and reflection takes effort. And people usually don’t want to do it until they have to. It’s so much easier following our comfortable script.
But ignoring signs that issues are lurking somewhere in the deep layers of the parts of us we kept hidden is a recipe for disaster. I had an 18 year marriage that ignored lots of those parts because we were hoping they would just go away. I knew though, that one day, it would have to be dealt with and hoped we were strong enough to deal with it without imploding. We imploded.
So this time, I don’t want to ignore things. And it’s really hard sometimes. But last night as we lay on our bed, wrapped in each other’s arms we decided to talk openly. We unveiled another layer and we did it in love. There were tears. There were kisses. There were hugs. And there were moments when we looked at each other like…”do I even know you a little bit?” It was a risk. What if they don’t like what they see? What if they don’t understand?
Harry said, “I knew you were messed up when I married you but did you know I was THIS messed up?” I said, “I went in with my eyes wide open, trust me. I knew, but maybe I didn’t know how OFTEN this would come up.” And we chuckled and committed to keep working on the problem.
It’s a risk to let someone in. Every time. Even with the one person who chose to spend the rest of their life with you. But seriously, what is your alternative? Lock them out? Stop learning about each other? Stop discovering the layers? Look, it was a risk when you took that first phone call before the first date. What if they don’t like you? Yeah…but you took that first step. Why, after marriage would you stop taking those steps? If you stop sharing, you are quitting. You’re choosing the beginning of the end.
Sometimes I’m afraid that what Harry shares with me will be very hard to wrap my head around. We come from very different paths. And sometimes like the crack of gunfire, you hold onto your heart hoping it won’t be a fatal blow. But I love the man with all my heart. And I want to understand him. All I can do is promise that I will try. And we can give each other patience, kindness, and time. Time is sometimes a friend. Let the new revelations settle a bit. It might paint a different picture in your heart and it might not be as rosy. But for me, I’d rather have reality than a polished forgery.
There are seasons where growth is necessary to stay alive. Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall. God gave us seasons for a reason. We need times where we sail through life thinking that we are on top of the world, and then times where we have to dig out the weeds. That is life. And its not always easy, and there is the risk you take in living it that something bad will happen. But you have to keep digging or next year there will be no food to keep you alive.