A Moment in My Marriage

There are moments in my marriage that take my breath away.

Last Sunday on Mother’s Day, the four of us spent several hours working on my garden. My garden is one of my sanctuaries, but every year the grass from the lawn finds its way into my vegetable beds and by mid-summer they’re overrun with weeds. Last autumn we realized that we needed to make a border around the garden to prevent the grass from crawling over, so my request for Mother’s Day was my family’s help to create this barrier. This required renting a heavy piece of equipment to cut the sod then transporting twenty, sixty-pound bags of rock from the store into my garden. I’m all for women’s empowerment but I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage this one on my own. My husband was more than happy to help.

We worked all day together. While my husband handled the machinery, our younger son rolled up the sod and our older son lifted the sod onto the lawn tractor and drove it to another part of the yard that needed re-sodding. We laughed, played, worked, and sweated. I was in bliss, full of gratitude for this day, for the passage of time that has allowed our sons to grow big enough so that they’re actually participating in our family work instead of needing to be entertained, and for the magically joyful space that the four of us have found together recently. For all of you parents of young children out there: It does get easier!

By afternoon, we had shifted gears a bit and decided to work on the raspberry patch. My husband was moving some of the rocks that he had laid down as a border several years ago, and I suddenly noticed that the rocks extended twenty or thirty feet. They had been covered over in grass the last couple of years, but I had no recollection of him setting them there to begin with. “Did you put all of these down?” I asked him. He said yes.

When did he do this? How long did it take him? Where did he get the stones? And where was I when he was hauling these stones into our yard and placing them with his classic artistic care along the edges of the raspberries?

I was with our boys, of course. I was cooking and cleaning and caring and holding. I was tending to big feelings and soothing bedtime fears. I was trying to figure out how to homeschool and addressing the challenges that came up along the way. I was also working and creating, writing and tending to my work. He was doing all of these things, too, but not at the same time as I was. Modern parenting is often a game of tag-teaming where parents connect with their kids but often lose sight of each other. If we parented in community, the way it’s meant to be, we would come up for air more often than we do. But modern America, with all of its innovations and technology, has forgotten that children aren’t meant to be raised by one or two parents alone. We truly do need the village, as this article so aptly states.

My husband and I have stayed as connected as any two parents could given the circumstances and we have stolen away into the moments of time and space as much as possible. But as our boys reach the next stage of their independence, we’re finding vast pockets of time and spaces of air returned to us. It’s quite delicious, reminiscent of the BC era (Before Children), and when I stood in the yard last Sunday and watched my husband re-placing the stones, my heart flooded with gratitude for him: for his devotion to me and our sons; for his commitment to our house and yard; for his courage to leave Los Angeles and a successful career all those years ago to forge out together into the new frontier of Colorado, a life that included time for each other and placed connection as the centerpiece; for the fact that we’ve made it through several dark nights of our marriage soul, rife with projections and inherited stories that begged to be healed, and emerged with so much more light, laughter, and love than I ever could have imagined.

Our marriage has always been a safe haven even when the projections were sky-high from both of us, but now it’s mostly a playground of joy and harmony. Of course, it would be hubris to think that we’ll never be dragged into the underworld again. We have many, many decades before us, and countless unforeseen challenges no doubt lie ahead. But what I can tell you is that the stretches of ease, harmony, and true in-loveness are longer and longer, and when we do get snagged on the hooks of projections and old fear stories we come back to each other within the blink of an eye. This is the most we can hope for in marriage, and it is more than enough.

Through all of the work and pain and challenges of parenting young children, we have emerged into a new plateau, and when I raised my head in that moment and looked at my husband it was as if for the first time. It was a moment of pure bliss, a window into what the next half of life might look like together as our kids continue to grow up and eventually leave the house, as we age and ache and grow even more fully into the woman and man we are meant to be.

I share this with you now because I know how many of you are struggling in your relationships. Anxiety steals us away from love, and life circumstances come in to suck out the air. I’ve been there. We’ve been there. But what I can tell you – as I share in some form weekly on this blog – is that when you stay committed to your inner work and devote yourself to your healing so that you become the source of your joy and can shed the stories from your past both yours and inherited that no longer serve you, you will also emerge into the golden light of spring. The tulips will serenade you and your joy will be reflected in the world around you. As the stories fall away, the truth and beauty are revealed. And it’s so much better than Hollywood tells us. It’s real life: multi-textured as much from the pain and darkness as from the light and love.

Hang on, my friends. You are being guided and led. There is a path to follow. Let your inner wisdom, which often manifests as anxiety, lead the way.

The Gift of Projection

Projection is one of the most important concepts to understand when you’re stuck in relationship anxiety or any manifestation of anxiety. It’s a psychological term that essentially means we’re stuck in a story about someone or something else with the belief that it’s true, and that if the person or thing would change we would feel better. Everyone will, at some point, find themselves stuck in a projection; it’s part of being human. Projections are a bit challenging to define and even more challenging to see when you’re in one. In Wikipedia’s words:

“Psychological projection or projection bias (including Freudian Projection) is the unconscious act of denial of a person’s own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, the government, a tool, or to other people… Projection is considered one of the most profound and subtle of human psychological processes, … Click here to continue reading...

What You Choose Determines What Comes Next

Transitions, as breaking and renewal points, offer choice-points that determine how we unfold into the next stage of our lives. Many people find me during their wedding transition when when they’re broken open not only by relationship anxiety but also by the earthquake of feelings that erupt because of the transition itself. The same is true for the transition into parenthood, career changes, moves, and deaths. Because we’re not schooled in the language of transitions and we’re terrified of big feelings, people tend to feel burdened by what feels like an unfair onslaught of anxiety: “Why does everyone else seem to happy when I’m so sad and anxious?” My response, as I’ve shared many times here and in my courses, is, “You’re one of the lucky ones. You’re being shown your core stories, and the seeds you plant now toward healing the flawed stories will serve you in your next … Click here to continue reading...

Loneliness and Love

There’s a fundamental loneliness that is part of the fabric of being human. It arrives in the corners of night, when shadows form from curtain folds and the backs of chairs. It seeps in just before twilight, when afternoon exhales its last breath and evening hasn’t yet inhaled. It lives on the edges of exaltation, in the space between the golden hour when the gods breathe their jeweled breath over meadows and in the splintered crack just before night’s multi-colored ink begins to sink into dreams.

There are acute times when loneliness appears. Holidays, transitional ebbs in the day or week, birthdays. This is often when the shame stories bleed into loneliness and tell you things like, “Everyone else is having fun right now. Everyone else has a family and is off on an adventure and I’m alone. Or I’m not alone – I’m with my family or my partner … Click here to continue reading...

At the Heart of Anxiety

“The final stage of healing is using what happens to you to help other people. That is healing in itself.” – Gloria Steinem

“Why me?” people often ask when they’re dragged into the underworld of anxiety in any form. “Why do they have it so easy? Why does it look like everyone else glides through life when I struggle?”

I’ve written many times on this site and in my courses about the gift of being highly sensitive and the gems that are gleaned from doing our healing work. And I’ve touched on the final stage of healing, which Gloria Steinem succinctly summarizes above, which is to take what you’ve learned and help others.  The two are intimately linked, for it’s those who embrace the gifts of their sensitivity, which means attending to anxiety, who are more easily able to live life in alignment with their true selves. One of the … Click here to continue reading...