From what I hear, February is the month of love. I guess Valentine’s Day and all.
Seven years ago, in February, I got engaged. We had a nine month old son and we were in the process of rebuilding our house. I had come over to the house with our son to check out the progress. He said he had to go grab a tool but I had a feeling he was not going to grab a tool. Something in his mannerisms gave him away. When he came back, sure enough, he dropped down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.
A year from that February, we brought home our daughter. She was born the last day of the month and arrived five days earlier than her due date. We had not yet gotten married but we were loving our life as parents. Having another baby brought us so much joy.
We finally got married, in February, on Leap Day, a couple months after our third child was born. We didn’t tell anyone. We stood in the same spot as where he proposed. Low key is an understatement. Our older two kids were playing on the couch and jumping on a small trampoline while the baby was in his swing. We didn’t even take a picture. I was wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt. It was very us.
I thought that time was one of the most difficult times in my life. We went from being a family unit of three to five in a few short years. We went from being a superstar team to losing ourselves in the throes of parenthood. There were job changes. We moved into our unfinished house. I got sick. Things were extremely stressful. Going from one child to two children and then to three was a huge undertaking, one I was not prepared for.
I thought things couldn’t have possibly been worse at the time we said “I do” but I was wrong. When our seven year anniversary of engagement popped up on my Facebook memories I texted my husband and said, “I bet you wish you could take back that question.”
I hold a lot of guilt over what our life looks like now. Neither of us signed up for the burdens of chronic illness. It started shortly after our daughter was born almost six years ago. In that time, things have been one challenge after the next. In the beginning, when we were trying to figure things out on our own, he did everything in his power to help me. He started working for himself and would take two days off during the week instead of the weekends so that he could help me with the kids gymnastics classes or so that we could do things as a family during the week when places weren’t so busy. So I could go grocery shopping. So I didn’t have to go five full days with him working. He would go in too late, feeling like he couldn’t leave me. I would text him expecting him to still be home on time because regardless of what time he left in the morning, I was still done at the same time of the day everyday, totally and completely spent. It caused a lot of issues with both our relationship and the business.
There have been therapists and doctors, all who said I was perfectly healthy. For five years. I was putting too much pressure on myself. I was a perfectionist. I just needed to go to bed at 9:00 and get up at 5:00 and start my day with yoga, feel the sun on my face, drink more water. We ended up going to couples counselor and she suggested I perhaps had PTSD. I went to yet another therapist who disagreed but still attempted to treat me as if I did.
All these years later, he is still here. I have literally and metaphorically pushed him. I have screamed at him. I have said hurtful things and hurtful things have been said back. Our relationship became something I never thought I would see it become; toxic. In the beginning we were so strong. We never fought. We listened to each other, wanted to spend time together, enjoyed our moments of quiet after our kids were born. But things just got so goddamn hard. It was a pissing match every single day. Who had it worse? The woman with the sudden symptoms that were plaguing her and was home with three kids or the man who had to deal with the backlash and got to leave for work everyday?
Every single day that goes by I know we are waking up and choosing to be here even though most days it feels like walking through a thick fog. We don’t see each other much anymore. But every now and then there is a glimpse of what used to be. I will laugh or he will smile, and it will be a reminder.
We have a long way to go to get back to our foundation. It won’t ever be the same of course, too many things have changed, but someday, maybe, it will resemble the healthy relationship that used to be. Our house will be one of laughter again instead of silence. Our children will feel love radiating from our pores. We will do things as a family again. We will live life together instead of living like ships passing in the night, or worse.
February is the month of love, so they say, but February has cost me so much. It is cold, overcast. It is the lowest moment of the year here, weather wise. It is a time of hibernation and reflection. I am learning to love myself, learning to find compassion for my husband, and healing my relationship with my children. February seems like a good month to start.