Holy shit, you guys. Today is our 10th anniversary. And I have so many things I want to say about it, I’m not even sure where to begin.
Marriage, as you may very much be aware, is kind of a big deal. However, that isn’t to say that committed relationships that don’t involve marriage are not a big deal. Not at all. Any committed, longterm relationship, especially once it includes children, is a super fucking special thing that should be celebrated and honoured for what it truly represents–a seriously EPIC amount of dedication and hard work.
For reals, friends. FOR. REALS.
And this is even true for those of us who got stupid lucky in the partner department–because, holy crap, did we do that. Which, of course, is not to say either of us even begin to approach the mythical realm of perfection, because what the shit is that even? But it does mean, as I’ve always said, that our personal puzzle pieces, our individual brands of crazy, if you will, just fit together really, really well.
And thank the gods for that, because we were both pretty fucking broken by the time we found each other. He had recently ended an engagement to another woman, and I was coming up on nine years with a much older man, who I had been together with since I was 18. We had both experienced some rather intense emotional, mental, and just shy of physical abuse during our first major relationships, and although neither of us really knew what we were looking for at that point–or that we even were subconsciously looking for something–we both certainly knew what we weren’t looking for. I was living in a foreign city thousands of miles away from home, and he was about to become roommates with my little brother so they could further cement their budding bromance. We had both heard quite a bit about the other, and then finally met one December evening while I was home for the holidays and, well… I’m not sure if love at first sight is actually a thing, but an instant, intense connection, there most certainly was.
Our courtship was untraditional, as befits us in many ways, and was a bit of an emotionally extreme whirlwind, experienced while I was still technically together with my ex–so also extremely platonic, as I am wicked monogamous, maybe to a fault. And I say this brief period constitutes our courtship because by the time I got on a plane to fly back to Montreal, fully prepared to break up with my ex and move back home to be with my hot, scruffy-looking nerfherder, we had essentially made an unspoken agreement that if we were going to do this, we were going to do this.
And so we did.
I broke things off with my ex the very night I arrived back in Montreal, and exactly two weeks later (a super awkward, emotional, intense two weeks, I might add), I had all my belongings and my goodest boy Paco, my catahoula/pit mix and first furry baby, loaded up in a U-Haul and I was headed home to California, stopping to pick up my best friend from high school in Burlington, Vermont, who had flown across the entire country just to quite literally get in a truck and drive allllllllllll the way back home with me.
BECAUSE BEST FRIENDS.
We were married exactly one year later from the day I arrived back in California, in a homemade backyard ceremony and celebration on my parents’ property, wherein his beloved (and, tragically, recently deceased) aunt married us by perfectly playing the part of the Impressive Clergyman, at least for the ceremony’s opening few lines (we had managed to keep the ceremony a secret between the three of us and the surprised and delighted laughter that erupted at that moment from our surrounding family and friends is something I will always treasure). To this day, people still tell us how much they enjoyed our wedding, which is extraordinarily gratifying because it’s precisely what we were going for.
Unfortunately, the dark, depressing veil of unexplained infertility settled over us in fairly short order, as we were both SO ready for kids by that point, we ceremoniously ditched my birth control on our wedding night to get started, but soon enough realized there was obviously a problem. But even while suffering thus for several years, things were fairly blissful for us early on. Two incomes, two dogs, two cats, and rarely a sober moment outside of the hours we worked. For although I didn’t really drink before we got together and he didn’t really smoke pot, we were quick studies in each others’ chosen vice and we consumed A LOT in those days.
Like, A LOT, A LOT.
And because alcohol especially is so socially accepted and normalized in our culture, and because most of our friends and family were also regularly consuming A LOT, when, what, and how we were drinking was a daily preoccupation. And even once we finally had our adorable twin barnacles, with the help of many lovely doctors and nurses at UCSF, we still consumed A LOT because life was fucking stressful (their whole conception, birth, and beyond really was quite the production, like absurdly so in some respects…) and the booze and pot seemed like a fabulous, normal, even necessary part of privileged, white, suburban parenting.
But when we were first together and learned that we both deal with some pretty intense mental health issues, we always said things would get really challenging if and when we both found ourselves in a cycle at the same time. Well, further circumstances, some within our control and others not, conspired to create a situation wherein we both began descending into the chaos and darkness that is depression and anxiety–but our substances worked to mask a lot of what was happening for a very long time and things got pretty fucking bad.
Eventually, though, my awesome and amazing husband not only encouraged both of us back into therapy, he also decided to quit drinking, which was a super huge deal. There was an adjustment period FOR SURE, and because he was also experimenting with ADD meds at the time, things got wicked intense for a while. There were actual fights–something we had never really experienced before–there was some couples therapy, there was some reexamining of the narratives each of us held about ourselves, each other, and our marriage, and slowly but surely, we slogged through an attempt to answer one overarching question:
What the fuck are we doing here?
Not, like, what are we doing still married to each other, because we really did emphatically mean that unspoken agreement that if this whole thing was worth doing, it was worth doing. But now that we were well into our marriage and our kids were no longer babies and we owned a house and had investments and had checked so many of those nifty adulting boxes, we realized we were still just phoning it in much of the time. Everything probably looked mostly okay from the outside, but we were treading water at best, and certainly not achieving anything much beyond just the basics of keeping our family mostly put together. And it was wearing on us. And we didn’t want to do it anymore.
Now, oddly enough, I am generally the one very okay with change, but I’ve come to realize just recently that I am really just very okay with superficial change–hair, paint colours, furniture arrangement, housing, cities of residence, etc. What I am apparently less okay with is actual fundamental change, as in, fundamental change to my person. Because I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted to pull the trigger on Operation Get Your Proverbial Shit Together, Woman throughout my life, but the number is high. It’s very high. I’m actually just really fucking stubborn. Also, ODD.
So my dear husband, possessing the patience of a saint (which is, full confession, absolutely required for being and staying married to me), has been doing his sober thing and exercising regularly and eating less and generally just being his super awesome newish self, feeling and doing much better in general, for many months now while I outwardly encouraged him and told him how proud I was of him…and secretly despised him a little for quite obviously doing all this just to make me feel worse about myself.
Stop getting healthy and happy AT ME, damn you!
But he didn’t give up on me because partnership, and once he finally bit the bullet and actually gave up pot as well a few months ago, I was like, well…fuck. I guess it’s time, godsdammit.
And so here we are. 10 years in and we’re finally, actually, really transitioning from low-level adulting to, hopefully, more expert-level adulting. And it’s really fucking awesome to be on the same page and doing this together, not just for the true understanding and support and encouragement (his head start on sobriety has been immensely helpful to me), but because we feel like a proper team working toward a common goal–however different in actuality that may look for each of us–and it’s powerful and special and exciting and many other words of similar meaning.
I mean, we still struggle, don’t get me wrong. For instance, I spent almost all of today in bed feeling sorry for myself because my one night of pot usage this week that accidentally turned into two after my cortisone shot, accidentally turned into two more, and I was tired and sluggish and epically frustrated with myself today. But whatever. It doesn’t mean I’m a shitty person, it just means I had a shitty day. And it’s finally getting easier and easier to remember that distinction.
And how are we celebrating our first double-digit anniversary? Welp, we’re both currently in bed on our MacBooks, him playing Crusader Kings II (which, by the way, you can watch him play on Twitch if that’s your thing–and he does give great narration, I won’t hesitate to add), me writing, while we drink Pepsi and Barq’s and listen to a very special playlist from the time of our courtship that we’ve finally managed to mostly recreate after somehow losing it, as the dog snores at the foot of the bed and our awesome progeny sleep soundly in their beds across the hall (THEY BETTER BE FUCKING SLEEPING, DAMMIT).
SO. Marriage. It’s cool, man. Super cool. But it’s also, as Dubya would term it, hard work.
But we still have really fucking great sex, so, you know.