My mother tongue is silence, sarcasm, and cold shoulders. I've always said I'd do better, but a first language isn't easily forgotten and a second not easily learned. Caught in limbo between what I know and what I want to know, I try to avoid conflict altogether. I stuff it in and eat it away and numb it with too much mindless time spent staring at a screen. Hand me a pen or a keyboard and I'll get the words just right, but ask me to say them out loud and I freeze. I'm fine, I say. Except that I'm often not.
* * *
It was the end of summer when the husband and I crash-landed in our own marital winter. Like the barrenness of that season or the charred remnants of a forest fire, it seemed as though nothing good could grow there again. But God, as He so often does, has breathed life into our dust and brought beauty forth from what was broken. Vulnerability has a way of bringing us closer, doesn't it? And goodness knows I've never felt so exposed.
It was in those first days of crisis that I knew there were only two options: I could find both the ability and the courage to speak in that unfamiliar tongue, or I could fall back on what I know to the certain end of the marriage to the man I've known since I was twelve years old. There was no cold shouldering this away.
I'm not sure I've ever prayed harder, and those words in that unfamiliar language came. I spoke them with a voice both trembling and certain, and it made all the difference for both of us.
* * *
The husband and I have been rediscovering each other for the past several weeks. Some days are good and some days are not; it's all just hard, very hard. He has been endlessly patient and understanding as we work to rebuild shattered trust and broken hearts. From the first moment, he has not denied, minimized, nor failed to take responsibility for what his actions have done, and that too has made all the difference. We're both learning.
I'm still fighting to hang on to the fragile beginnings of that new spoken language. Some days I have done well and others I have failed terribly, but the importance of it has sunk deep into my soul. Those days following dredged up anger from old wounds that I hadn't known were still open, but how can they ever be healed if I will not acknowledge them? I have been unfair to my husband and to our marriage in my reluctance to simply speak my hurt aloud. I have failed to allow him to make amends or to understand my thoughts and feelings. It was all small stuff before, daily annoyances that arise when living with another imperfect human being, but even those things become big when left to fester.
So I'm learning to speak, and it's hard. I'm a mess of leave it well enough alone and how do I say this right and fear and trembling and second-guessing. But I'm learning to speak.
* * *
Everything always seems to happen at once, doesn't it? Now we're moving to a new home and all that entails. We're purging the excess that has accumulated over the past four years and it feels good but it's challenging, too.
We're rebuilding from the ground up in many ways, circling back to the beginning. Starting over. Learning. Trying again.
Maybe we'll do a little better each time around.