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Showing posts with label imperfect. Show all posts
Showing posts with label imperfect. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Are You Tough Enough for My Love?

Recently after a long day at work, I was about to head home and the song Coming Home by Cinderella occurred to me.  Specifically these lyrics: 

I see the fire in your eyes but a man's gotta make his way
So are you tough enough for my love
Just close your eyes to the heaven above
I'm comin home, I'm comin home

In the song, the lead singer is reflecting his time on the road, the impact it has on his family and the anticipation of going back to family.  Anyway, he asks a good question: "So are you tough enough for my love"?  This got me to thinking, relationships can take a lot of work, a lot of dedication and frankly just ability to cope with difficult circumstances.  The common refrain in wedding vows such as listed below.

I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."

That vow wasn't created for no reason.  It's been widely recognized across time and cultures that marriage isn't always an easy journey.  Often times, I think people really have no idea just how much work it is or will be.  Hence the vow doesn't sugar coat marriage.  It speaks of a commitment.  Not just words, but the willingness and mindset that you are in it for the long haul.  Anyone who has been previously married or has been married for a long time is likely to get this (or should get it), but you know I get these inspirations and feel the need to remind everyone of this.  ;-)

We don't always know what we are getting into when we get married and really how can we?  Typically, there is usually so much we don't know about each other.  We go off our gut, we go off our instinct and lets just be frank, we go off our hope based on something intriguing we find in each other. 

In my blog post, It's just you and me and we just disagree..., I explored the idea that not all relationships that end are do to a "bad guy" or lack of effort, but that it's an easy trap to label failures as having a "bad guy".  In my 48 years, I've seen friends and family have failed marriages, been a child of and once even been part of a failed marriage.    Here are some of the obstacles I've seen to successful marriages which require "toughness" or "understanding" or "commitment" (that in some cases can apply to both partners).
  • Partners in the marriage either don't have or haven't made the time necessary to get to know each other.  
    • Work schedule
    • Kid schedule 
  • A trauma has hit close to home.  Examples include:
    • Child gets sick or dies.  
    • Someone has had health problems, sometimes to a point in which it has changed the person or the dynamics of the relationship.
    • Financial disaster such as bankruptcy or failed business.
  • A spouse had unresolved hurts.
    • Especially, but not limited to family of origin hurts.  
    • Perhaps we already know that he or she has hurts, but not necessarily the extent.  
    • In a way, this is a trauma at an early age.
    • His/her reactions seem out of proportion or puzzling to us.  But, when taken in the context of hurts can be seen as 'protecting' him or herself.
  • A spouse has hangups (or a tendency towards) that we weren't aware of or aware of the extent of.  Examples include:
    • What we perceived as having an occasional drink was in reality our spouse hiding (or denying) a real problem with alcohol.
    • A spouse gets sick and takes pain killers only to have them take over his or her life.
  • A spouse has annoying habits or idiosyncracies that we didn't see so clearly when we were just dating.  Examples include:
    • Being a control freak.  What seemed like organization on their part or "being helpful" now is more clearly control.
    • Making important decisions/purchases without at least passing it by the other spouse.
    • Being disorganized.  It may not have seem like such a big deal or obvious during the dating stage, but we find that it gets in the way of being productive.
This isn't meant to be an all-inclusive list of obstacles to a successful marriage, but just some things I've observed over the years.  Your list very probably will be different.  In any case, even when each partner in a marriage wants the marriage to succeed and truly cares about the other spouse, this is a question that can be asked.  We don't always express our love to our spouse the same way.  We don't always express our love to our spouse in the same measure.  We don't always express our love to our spouse effectively in our actions.  But, in each case, that doesn't mean it isn't present.  In a way, I guess it boils back down to the question.

"So are you tough enough for my love."

Each partner has his/her flaws and his or her ways of expressing themselves, but I guess the question we have to ask early on--when we are answering the question, "Do you take..."--is our we tough enough to accept the imperfect love that our spouse shows us?

Just some thoughts.  Thanks for reading and I hope everyone who reads this finds the courage, strength and fortitude they need to appreciate their imperfect spouse, especially when their spouse really does care about them.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The dying years

The past few years have been hard.  There has been a reset of my relationship with my dad.   After many years in his shadow, I'd finally utterly developed the ability to talk to him and say thing that bothered me.  Losing everything helped this process along.  I'd always been the closest to him, but he's never been the warmest fuzziest father.  Perhaps he didn't know how and I didn't know how to take him as I am very different.  He's a bit distant, I'm very connected, very emotive.

I heard the song "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics and on some level I understood it.  My dad's health was failing, but on some level, he was a tough old bird and there was a part of me that in some way just kept expecting him to live through it. He was gradually getting less able, but yet he was unwilling to accept it.  But, then again maybe he was accepting it but I didn't really see it.  I saw him "wanting to go home", even past the point of absurdity.

A little over two years ago, after 10 times or more of him falling down at home, sometimes breaking ribs, sometimes just bruising them, and sometimes sustaining cuts, I realized taking him back home like he wanted would be a death sentence sooner than it should be.  Even if I had moved in with him, I'd be leaving him at home for 12 hours or more at a time and my daughter would be subjected to these stresses when I had her.  His limitations were getting worse all the time.  He was going through spells of confusion--sundowners.  He was falling prey to sales pitches from fast talking "but wait, there is more" types, etc.  He was having issues taking his meds regularly.  In short, he need 24/7 coverage, preferably with someone or someones who was trained to take care of the elderly.   I had taken him home a few times from the ER and watched him for a while and then had to leave eventually.  Gradually, the guilt of having to leave him by himself at all, was eating me.  I felt like I was doing him a disservice.  The last time he fell and got injured before permanently moving to a nursing home, he tried to pressure me into taking him home, but I refused and said to the social worker at Christian Northeast, I can't do this anymore.  In short, I left the hospital and let the system handle the issue for once.  Eventually, he agreed to go in a nursing home.   They had told me at the hospital that he couldn't be left alone for an extended length of time.

I felt guilty about it, but I had to temporarily walk away for my own sanity as well as my dad's safety.  He kept on 'wanting to go home' and we did humor outing back to the house, to steak and shake, etc. to get him at least a break from the nursing home.  His last outing was around his birthday last November.  We took him over a friend's house and celebrated his birthday.   Later, around Christmas while I was recovering from my own surgery, he aspirated and got pneumonia.  He recovered from that, but it left him to a GI tube as he was a swallow risk.   For a time he was able to go back to regular food, but ultimately, he could not.  After a 3-4 week stay in the hospital which weakened him dramatically.  He made it out back to the nursing home and then I put him on hospice.  Making life and death type decisions for a parent isn't easy.

I watched him last Friday take some of his last few breaths and he passed away shortly after I left, almost as if he was waiting for me to leave.


In the song, The Living Years, the singer regrets the bitterness and frustration of not seeing eye to eye with his dad, the estrangement, the separation and just not coming to terms with his dad before he died.

I had issues with my dad.  I had disappointments with him.  I had frustrations.  I was sad that he never truly seemed to get me and that he wouldn't truly open up about himself.  I wanted a go for beers relationship with the old man, but settled for well I guess we are family so I guess we need to act like it.  He was very hard to talk to.  He'd shut down conversation, he left few real avenues of discussion.  It was almost like he had difficulties in engaging too much more than surface conversation.   Though I tried.  He often seemed more of a judge than my advocate.  But, you know I came to realize you can't wish a relationship is what it isn't  I had other frustrations about the matter, but will not go into it.  I guess at times, I felt like I had a person who called himself my dad, but had trouble being a father.  I think he meant well at times, but didn't necessarily get me.

As I realized that he was dying, my anger/frustration turned to empathy.  I looked in his eyes and I did not see this hard man, but I saw my own flesh and blood, suffering, sometimes frightened, just pathetic.  How the hell can anyone with a conscience turn their back on that?   I may not have had much to give as I've dealt with a lot in the past few years, but I had to at least try.  I mouthed to him the last time I saw him conscience, "I love you".  He mouthed back, "I love you too".  I really was looking into the heart of a hurting soul.  I tried to do my best at the end to make sure he had an opportunity to make peace with his maker.  I protected him from those whom I considered a threat to him (including a family member and a nurse).   It didn't matter who in his life had turned their back on him.  I saw him as 'my person'.  I couldn't face myself knowing that I didn't do all that I could.  Nor could I face God having refused to honor my father.  I spent his last few hours with him as his soul was encased in the shell that we call a body.  It wasn't easy, but I know I had to be there for him, if not for me.

I do miss him.   I am disappointed that having a closer relationship, a more full one, a more hallmark card one wasn't in the cards.  I do know that no matter what, he was my dad and even with his flaws he ultimately was there.  Even though his sense of honor wasn't exactly mine, I did respect it when he showed it.   I think he tried, but was hampered by less than a less than perfect environment growing up.  Besides, having an imperfect relationship with a father is better than none at all.   I got to see one way of fatherly parenting and where I disagreed, I had a basis to go in the opposite direction.  Had I not had a father, I probably would have been more aimless.

I did know that I forgave him and loved him in "The Dying Years".