Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Love That Almost Withered Away

WRITER'S NOTE: Last night, I tried to compose a post capturing the wide swath of parenting experiences I've been having as we bear down on the due date for our impending arrival, but my brain just wasn't cooperating. The post meandered through a bunch of entertaining details, but didn't tie them together well. It was frustrating given how long it's been since my last post, but I resolved to get the post right before publishing it.

Then, today I came across this journal-style essay I wrote nearly four years ago, at a moment of uncertainty in my relationship with Sarah. Today was the first time I'd read this since, and I was powerfully transported to a moment that I remember as being quite scary. But as I read, I was also reminded of the amazing woman I have often taken for granted as we've barreled head-long into the wild parenting journey together.

I thought you'd all find it pretty riveting stuff--no one more so than Sarah. It's for you, Baby, that I post this now. I know this pregnancy has been tough on you, and that these last weeks in particular are turning out to be pure torture. I know there are days when you're not sure how much longer you can make it. But remember that no matter how grim things seem, no matter how scared you might get, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and you've got a hopelessly devoted man who's there to help you every step of the way. Read on...


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ah, Sarah…just thinking about her brings a peace over me…yet I write this as she sleeps in my bed blissfully, having just given me the latest of life's shots to my solar plexus…

The fact that I haven't pointedly written about her, other than in emails (to her and others), speaks more to my laser-like focus on her over the past 8 months than it does to any possible lack of inspiration—conversely, she inspires me far more than any other woman I've been with. And oddly enough, what has inspired me to write now, at 5 am on a Sunday morning, is the nightmarish conversation that broke out as we were in bed, getting ready for what I sincerely thought was going to be our first lovemaking in nearly a week.

Instead, my reward for my patience was a sudden declaration that she was feeling unsexual and was having some second thoughts about whether our relationship is right for her. And by "our", she meant not just her and me, but also Jackson. Apparently, a string of interactions between Jackson and me that fueled a restaurant scene at dinner tonight has her considering whether she's biting off more than she can chew.

Of course, this is something I can understand with profound intensity. I faced this same quandary at the far more na├»ve age of 28, when, after a one-year break-up, I foolishly returned to Rox, who would become my first wife, believing that she was the one for me. What resulted was 11 more years of mostly frustration, resentment and loneliness that culminated with our split and, not long after that, her suicide. I remember often feeling that I wasn't sure my life with Rox was right for me, but I didn't want to let anyone down—not Rox, not Alex or Owen (my stepchildren), and down the road, not our little baby Jackson.

In the meantime, I let myself down by doing what I'd always sworn I wouldn't do—namely, marching unconsciously into a life I didn't really want. Don't get me wrong, I loved bringing Jackson into the world, and he's really the only reason any of it makes sense today. But if I had it to do all over again, I'd never allow myself to commit to the life I did. I'd have the ability to see how wrong Rox—and her situation—was for me.

I don't want Sarah to feel like she'd be making that same mistake. I know the love I share with Sarah runs very deep. I've never felt about anyone the way I do about her, and she says she feels the same. She's just seeing a future—or at least a near-ish future—filled with conflict and stress and public scenes as Jackson heads full-bore into puberty. And quite honestly, if I was in her shoes, I very well might make a beeline for the hills.

Then again, there's that love thing, and it's intense. What we have isn't something you walk away from before it runs its course. What we have isn't something you cut off before you've seen what it can grow into. What we have is strong enough to buoy us, lifting us over any challenge in our way. What we have is special, very special.

The last thing Sarah said to me before we started to doze off was not to get carried away and think she's breaking up with me. It may just be one of the occasional freakouts she was prone to in the first months of our relationship, she said. It may be the current onset of PMS talking, she said. But I know better. I know a person in serious doubt when I hear one. I hope I’m wrong, and that her concerns at the moment represent a temporary set of feelings. And yet, something tells me this is the beginning of the end.

To know how this would devastate me, one would have to understand the amazing connection we've discovered in each other. One would have to have watched the seamless way we feed off each other, communicate with each other, and make love to each other. This is not your garden-variety romance. This is the kind of romance books are borne from. It's the kind of romance that all future romances are compared against. It's a stroke of luck the likes of which doesn't come around very often in a lifetime.

Which is to say, I don't want to lose her. I mean, I really, really don't want to lose her. And yet I feel helpless to do anything to stop her growing away from me. I'm starting to see her fickle nature, and am increasingly worried that the mask that love has placed over her eyes is starting to come loose, and that she's seeing the situation with clearer vision now. And I can't help but think this isn't a good thing.

Maybe it's inevitable that I lose her. Maybe it's been foolish of me to think that a woman possessing the combination of sexiness, peace with herself, and ease of personality that Sarah brings to a relationship can possibly stay satisfied with a frenzied, widowed single dad who has an emotionally charged 11-year-old boy hanging off of him. Maybe it's too much to ask to keep it alive.

But I'm not about to let a little reality cloud my love for Sarah. I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with her. Whether that means marriage or a child isn't important. What matters is that I get to be with her. And yes, Jackson is a bit of an obstruction, as any child would be. But this is a relationship, and a future, worth fighting for. That said, I'm not sure there's anything for me to fight—the ball's really in her court, and my sense is that with Sarah, my best strategy is to leave her to her thoughts and let her figure it out without my interference. Easier said than done.

What I really want to do is go slide into bed, arouse her, and make passionate love to her. That won't leave any doubts in her head. But now I find myself, for the first time in months, wondering if I've made love to her for the last time.

If that's the case, I know I'll take away a number of things from our time together. For instance, I'll understand better than ever the danger of taking such wonderful connections for granted.

Sarah, if you're listening from your blissful slumber, don't let this die. Don't walk away from what we have. Give this a chance to blossom into the depths of love that both of us had grown to think was impossible to find. We found it—that's half the struggle. Making it work, that's the hard part. Here's hoping we get the chance.

WRITER'S EPILOGUE: Baby, thanks for giving us the chance--we certainly haven't wasted any time making the most of it. Now it's all about holding it together!