We lived in our ‘temporary heaven’ until Wednesday night of that same week. I crawled into bed feeling romantic and cuddly. Tim crawled into bed with one mission in mind: sleep. One quick ‘peck’ and he fell asleep. He snored instantly.
To me this apparent rejection was worse than the first night. All my insecurities and inadequacies flooded over me again. I felt empty, lonely and rejected. I thought couples always hug and snuggle before going to sleep. I was certain there was something about me my husband didn’t like, and this was his way of letting me know.
I shoved all those feeling into my mental discard file, this time slamming the lid. I was angry with myself for feeling hurt. Angry with myself for not being able to express the feelings of hurt and rejection. Angry with Tim for falling asleep with nothing more than one dutiful, unromantic kiss. And no snuggling. I was angry at life for my confusion about men and my insecurity about myself.
Anger exhausted me and I fell asleep until the morning. When I awoke Tim was still sound asleep and I was no less upset.
I decided I would shower and go to the dining area of this lovely Mexico resort to get us some breakfast. I wasn’t doing this to win my husband’s heart via his stomach, however noble such motivation would have been. I was doing this to avoid dealing with reality and yet secretly hoping to get a message to Tim. ‘I’m hurting and frustrated; please rescue me.’
Before I made it out of bed, mission one was complete: Tim was awake. “What’s wrong?” he asked as I crawled out of bed.
“Nothing,” I said as I made my way to the shower.
A night-hawk heading for the shower at 5:30 a.m. for no apparent reason is a bad sign. Especially since the earliest we had managed to be up and running, so far, had been 9 a.m., often barely catching breakfast. Tim assumed I was being honest and nothing was bothering me except sleeplessness.
In the shower life didn’t improve. I dropped the shampoo bottle with a startling thud, sliced my ankle trying to shave, and the water suddenly went cold. I exited the shower with an angry racket.
Why had no one told me that love and marriage are hard work? Or had they told me and I didn’t get it? I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I was disappointed and didn’t know how to deal with it.
I dried and combed my hair before slipping into shorts and a T-shirt and heading out to get some breakfast. (I should confess here that, while we were still in the Mennonite church where we would remain for eight years, we had a very non-Mennonite honeymoon, leaving all our cultural attire in Canada.)
In Mexico everything happens ‘mañana’. This word means tomorrow or at some time in the future. ‘Today we’ll relax and do only what should have been done yesterday, the rest can wait for tomorrow’ seems to be the philosophy of the vast majority. When I arrived for our breakfast that morning I had my first annoying run-in with this philosophy.
After several moments of deliberating, I filled our tray with fruits and a few baked goods before heading for the pop machine to get some coke. We lived on coca-cola during our honeymoon because of the water contamination risks. The pop machine was empty that morning and, as I debated whether to wait or return later, a kind gentleman came to me. In broken English he apologized for the tardiness of the man in charge of refilling the pop machine. No one else had keys to access the machine so all they could do was wait.
I decided to wait a few more minutes hoping he was on his way. While I waited I started to think about Tim, all alone in our room, wondering where his bride might be. I regretted not having told him that I was getting our breakfast.
Each time I was ready to give up waiting for our drinks, the kind gentleman would return to assure me it would only be another minute or two, and I would wait for just a few more minutes. Given my luck that morning, I figured the pop man would probably arrive the instant I turned to leave for our room, and be empty again by the time we came back later. It would be better to wait.
When the pop man finally showed up, he apologized and handed me my coke. By the time I returned to our room I had been gone an hour or more and Tim was very much awake.
“Where have you been?” His voice remained gentle, but there was no mistaking the concern.
“I went to get us breakfast.” I said it as though he might have known. I offered no idle chatter. There had been few people in my life, prior to Tim, who had cared about my feelings. I wasn’t ready to risk further rejection by telling all.
“I was worried about you,” he said.
“Why were you worried? I just went to get breakfast.”
He told me how out of character I was, making all that noise in the shower. And then I just disappeared, leaving him in bed, alone.
Hearing the hurt in Tim’s voice, I felt terrible. I was frustrated that I didn’t know what was wrong with my expectations or how to change them.
“I overreacted to something. I don’t feel like explaining,” I said.
Tim encouraged me to talk it out, and we did so without coming to any profound conclusions, but it cleared the air and helped me see the importance of opening my heart to Tim.
We agreed to do our best, in marriage, to always talk things out. To not carry feelings of hurt or rejection in silence, but to explore and work through them.
It took years for me to understand that my sensitivity was because of childhood abuse, and during those years I struggled with easily trusting Tim with my pain. Still, he patiently loved me, even when I was unlovely. When I withdrew in silence, because of fear, he gently pursued me.
Tim is human. He is not perfect. I don’t idolize him, and I don’t want anyone else to idolize him. I could as easily put together a list of his faults, and the areas he struggled. But I won’t. That is his story to tell, and I will always honour his more reserved nature, and his preference for privacy on many levels. Like any human being, he made mistakes and makes mistakes. But in the areas where I was completely destroyed and broken, he loved me well, and for that I am truly grateful.
© Trudy Metzger
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