Saturday, August 25, 2012

40 Years Married To The Same Man Is Commitment

My husband Daniel and I are celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary today. Forty years married to the same man is commitment, love, compromise, and honesty. Our marriage of that long has also been filled with anger, fear, struggles and sometimes denial of feelings.

Our marriage has seen good years and some bad years. The bad years were among the first 25 when I was either in denial or was angry and sometimes raging because of the lasting effects of incest upon me and my interactions with others.

The first ten years, I was trying to control everything because of my fear of being out of control or under someone else's control like my dad when the incest was happening. I didn't trust Daniel to be able to keep me safe. When I was 27, I hit bottom emotionally when I heard myself screaming at Daniel that I hated him and everything about my life. I heard myself screaming those hateful words and I knew they weren't true. The reality that I faced that day was that I hated myself - the abused and terrified little girl inside of me who thought if she could control everything and everyone then she would never be hurt again. I hated and blamed that little girl for the incest. I hated myself. Somewhere the wisdom came that said that Daniel had nothing to do with me being so unhappy, so angry and so bitter.

I knew that I had to change me if I had any chance of being happy. I still had no idea what healthy was. I knew that trying to change Daniel would not help the situation. In a marriage, or any kind of relationship, you cannot change the other person to make you happy. My happiness came from inside me, not from Daniel. Daniel could do nothing to make me happy.

I wish I could say that I woke up to everything that day but I didn't. I struggled with who I was and what was normal. I didn't know for many years to come that what was normal was rarely healthy. Instead I decided to work on myself which means that I read the three books on incest that the Tyler, Texas library had at the time. I also decided to not have any contact with my dad or his side of the family hoping that would bring me some peace. I was still in denial trying to be okay when I wasn't. Having no contact with my dad's family of origin lasted for ten years and stopped when I realized that they weren't my dad and they shouldn't be punished for what he did. I missed my aunts and uncles and grandmother being in my life.

As I searched for peace, I stuffed emotions until they would come spewing out with the force of a volcano in either tears late at night when no one but my husband could see or rage that hurt those closest to me, mostly Daniel. I couldn't control the feelings so the stuffing and exploding went on for years. Those were the bad years. I missed a lot because I was so focused on trying to not feel the pain of incest. Those years were filled with denial that the incest happened and was a part of my life even though I no longer lived at home with my dad. I didn't leave the incest behind just because my dad was out of my life. I couldn't wish it so no matter how much I tried. Denial just builds more hurt on top of the original.

Wow! I didn't know that I was going to tell you all of that. I don't want you to think that all of our 40 years were bad because they weren't. Daniel and I have had good years too. In the 1970's we moved from Shreveport, Louisiana to Asheville, North Carolina when our son was born and where we spent every Sunday driving through the Smokey and Blue Ridge Mountains and absorbing the beauty of God's creation. Daniel and I moved to Asheville when he got a job there in 1973. The three years that we spent in Asheville allowed us to learn to depend upon each other without any family members living nearby. We left Asheville to move back to Louisiana when I was pregnant with our daughter.

The three years we spent in North Carolina strengthened our friendship with each other. I don't believe we would have been married for 40 years if not for our friendship. Marriage, to me, is about liking as well as loving someone else. My husband taught me that someone could love me. Before I met Daniel I didn't think I would ever find someone to love or someone who would love me back. He taught me that I was lovable.

Believe me when I tell you that Daniel taught me all about love over the years. He stayed during the worst of times before and after I started healing from incest. With the healing came a time of great confusion where I had to find out who I was. I had to learn to love myself. In learning to love myself, I was able to give a much greater love to my husband and children. Since our 25th Anniversary, more love, laughter and joy has come into my life. Daniel is responsible for a lot of the changes that I have made. He didn't make the changes, I did, but he is part of the reason that I wanted to make the changes. I wanted the pain to stop but I also wanted to be a better wife and mother for Daniel and our children.

Happy 40th Anniversary my love of my life, Daniel.  You mean more to me that I can express. You are a big part of the reason that I am the person that I am today. I love you with all of my heart. You are my Sweetheart.  You taught me to laugh. You showed me that it is okay to cry. You helped me to build a safe place for me to live in our home and in my own body. Thank you.

I am surprised to see how long this post has become. I hope it makes some sense to you. Let me know what you think.


Pat said...

Patricia and Daniel -Congratulations on your 40th anniversary. I understand the journey you and Daniel have been on although different. My husband Jim and I have been married 46 years this December.

When we all decide to walk together on thess journies we learn so many things and it makes us stronger and wiser for it.

I can feel the strong love you have for each in the writing of your article and I commend you both for being there for each other through the good and not so good times. Makes it so much worth it at the other end.

Love your courage and for sharing what exemplifies the meaning of true love.

Patricia Singleton said...

Pat, thank you. Your words mean so much to me. Daniel and I are getting ready to go out to dinner together to celebrate.

Jane Rowan said...

Congratulations! It is wonderful to hear about the good things that come from dedication and commitment.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jane, thank you. Without the commitment, we would not have lasted through the years of struggles.

Intrepid Song said...

Inspiring. <3 Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story. There is so much hope here. Blessings to you and Happy Anniversary.

Patricia Singleton said...

Kimberly, thank you so much. Hope is what I wanted to show. Appreciation of what I have and who I am is also important to me. My husband has been here for every single issue that I have worked through. His love has enabled me to see that I am lovable. He taught me to smile and that laughter is important in our lives. He isn't a saint but neither am I. He is a man with many faults and a big heart that made room in his life for my heart. This has been a journey that we have done together and it isn't over yet.

Life On A Shoestring ... In Beverly Hills? said...

Beautifully written Patricia -- Happy Anniversary -- When Daddy passed 5 years ago, my folks had 60years together -- a hour at a time they got through and with 5 children, then losing one kept their lives full indeed! You write from the heart and your words resonate keep shining your light... people who were blind will see! ~Christine Redlin Author -

Patricia Singleton said...

Christine, thank you. Wow! 60 years, that is amazing and such a blessing. Welcome to Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker. I appreciate your words and your visit.