Sunday, November 21, 2010

Behind The Veneer

I used to be the girl that scoffed at Mills & Boon romances, enjoyed the modern twist on fairy tales - in which Snow White pursues an aggressive feminist agenda among other things egregious. I used to also believe that a woman's sense of self is worth a lot more than anything a man can give her - and to that end it was worth fighting for to the bitter end.
In my first marriage, I found myself turning dangerously enamored of the myth of the "perfect" union. We had to read each others' minds and anticipate needs that were unspoken. That union was the fatal mix of unrelentingly perfect and dangerously flawed. My sense of self took a beating that required the better part of a decade to recover. 
At the time of meeting DB, the facade had come together quite nicely. I looked (and even felt) together and confident - qualities that DB found very attractive. I had no reason to know that the facade was merely a veneer. Nothing and nobody had quite tested its resilience. 
That was the petri dish of romance and then there is the cauldron of marriage. Inside it the facade is peeling, crumbling, falling apart so uncontrollably that I sometimes have to wonder how it came to be that I changed this much in less than a year. It is easy to blame what is new in the mix of things - marriage and DB. To say that he is confused would be understating it.
The wounds underneath are raw and tender - it takes very little provocation to make them hurt hellishly - together, poised and confident are not words one would associate with that frame of mind. I am coming to realize that I had spent my life in denial of my true inclinations - maybe I am sucker for the saccharine romance after all. I am looking for the man in my life to be the answer to everything. DB is placed in the position where he is required to do everything and more and still find that it is not quite enough. 
Then there is the business of "sense of self" - that thing that was worth waging war over. That has not changed too much. I am over-sensitive to the point of being paranoid. There is nothing that DB can say to me without me wondering if this would be the beginning of a covert campaign to hijack who I am and replace that with who he would like me to be. I bristle at the very idea, kick scream and protest with so much passion that he cannot correlate cause and effect. 
If there is light at the end of this tunnel, it is hard to see it from where I am now.

5 comments:

Hope said...

Hi,

I've recently started reading your blogs and it's a great read.
For the post, I would like to give a friendly suggestion, or rather an experience shared.
"Marriage is about team-work and losing yourself in the relationship. If you keep looking for how much you change in the process, you'll never be happy, and you'll never enjoy what you get. Love is where you 'lose' yourself. If you had to stay the way you're, then you were good being alone, an individual. Marriage is where you test how you fare being with someone else."
I don't know how much of it makes sense. But, hope it helps.
Take Care!

Chevalier said...

For what it's worth, someone once told me a a difficult 'finding myself' time to get far far away from everything in my life, both positive AND negative. i went to dharamsala, and HATED it - i missed the man in my life so much. maybe something drastic like that to help build perspective?

also helpful - the advice to 'take each day as it comes'. helps deal with fears of losing oneself.

and finally - sometimes you lose your sense of self and get a better one. maybe it's time to change yourself in every way, not just the one about the expectations of a perfect romance? i'm a feminist too, and i'll be the first to say that a great marriage is worth a lot of sacrifices.

sherenejose.com said...

Do only women struggle with their sense of self post-marriage? I'll be taking the plunge next year and posts like this make me v nervous :/

Heartcrossings said...

Hope - Thanks for some good advice. The mythical ideal marriage is one where both partners blend into the relationship seamlessly and are each enhanced by the experience. I am learning that the enhancement comes at a certain price - it requires for me to give up some things which were important to me. It is a hard to reconcile with that sense of loss even if the eventual gains will outweigh it.

Chevalier - I want to come to the same conclusion as yourself - on my own so I am at peace with it "i'm a feminist too, and i'll be the first to say that a great marriage is worth a lot of sacrifices.' Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Sherene - I think men suffer from loss of identity as well - they may react to it differently. DB for instance is fiercely independent and has made a lot of change/adjustment to fit the husband and father role. I think we both want to be constantly assured that the changes we are making are being acknowledged, appreciated and that the other person is worth everything we do for them.

I am realizing that expressing my feelings for DB in a way that he can understand is a lot harder than I had imagined. And likewise for him. As a result, the indications of love and good intentions for each other miss the mark by a wide margin.

Careless Chronicles said...

Hey, Came across this blog today and this post says all that I feel but don't say for fear of putting too much of myself o hang out there in cyberspace