This has been one heck of a year so far. It started with the slam by my step-niece about my weight. Yeah, sure. Her comments were valid...but so was my wish to not have my feelings hurt by a 60 lb. adolescent cheerleader! Then I came down with that rotten flu, followed by the mess with the VA. I endured mockery from a spike-haired, argyle wearing, big mouthed department store employee while almost simultaneously realizing that I was one seriously lonely individual. (The fact that I actually laughed with Mr. Fashion Critic instead of smacking him around was a testament of just how lonely I had become!) All of this in just the first month of the year. February brought even more turmoil for me. My father became ill and was hospitalized for a week. My own life was rife with discontent. Nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to go right. The thing is, in the past, it really didn't matter what was going on in my life. As long as Randey and I were in sync and feeling "together" emotionally, I could handle just about anything. But that hasn't been the case lately. Randey and I have struggled mightily with the concept of "togetherness". There's been no ugliness, per se, and no outside influences, other than the norm, that have caused our problems. We've just had a really hard time getting ourselves together. He's had health issues, some of which have been exacerbated by the pressure and stress of the VA thing. Plus he's been traveling a lot for work. I've had my own issues (the biggest one being trying to ascertain the difference between menopause and depression!). I've had problems dealing with family members...my mother and I haven't spoken since December and I'm not really sure why that is, my daughter's life choices have left me reeling with fear and angst and the list goes on and on. I've been caught in a seemingly endless loop of analyzing my own life and problems. I've come to realize more and more that my children are all almost grown and don't need me as much as they used to and, in reality, don't want or need my help as much as I thought they would. And I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I've been a mother for 27 of my 44 years on this earth. Motherhood has been my defining role in life. And don't get me wrong. It's the role I love and I would choose it again and again and again if asked. But, having said that, I must also admit that it seems like I've been looking forward to the time when Randey and I could go off and do things alone together without having to worry about our kids ever since those kids were babies! (How’s that for a selfish attitude?) And then...just as they're about old enough for us to do that...I found that Randey and I were at odds with one another and I was left feeling kind of alone and more than a little bit lost. Not exactly how I had envisioned this stage of my life! It felt like I was becoming the invisible woman - the kids didn't need me, Randey didn't need me, my relatives didn't need me...so what's my worth in this world? I've always thought of myself as being fairly headstrong, determined, independent even. The past 6 months or so have truly given me reason to change that view of myself. I don't mean to say that I don't think I could survive if I wasn't married to Randey. I'm sure I could. My thing is, I don't want to. I want to be married to Randey, I want to spend the rest of my life with him and I want to wake up every morning in the certain knowledge that he and I belong together. I even know that he feels the same way. So what's with the struggle if both of us love one another and want to be together? I think over time we've allowed ourselves to have different priorities...some things that matter to me, don't matter to him anymore. And vice-versa. These differences between us have been growing for a long, long time. We've both just been so comfortable with each other that we didn't think we needed to insist on discussing those differences. I assumed he understood the seriousness of my issues whenever I'd bring them up. He didn't. He assumed I understood his reasons for doing certain things. I didn't. Where did that eventually leave us? With about a million metaphorical miles between us, that’s where. I've mentioned many times in this blog how Susan is my best friend. But Randey's my partner, my soul mate, my yin to his yang, my other half...you get the idea. Randey's always with me, even when his body is miles away. Floundering about without him being "with" me, has caused massive confusion and pain inside. I've been stumbling out of bed every morning and going thru the motions of living. After months of me trying to voice my feelings, but making little progress, Randey realized that the ostrich approach wasn't going to work anymore and we finally talked. Or rather, he finally talked. (What is it with men anyway? Why don't they just say what they feel? Oh the times Randey's said to me, "I'm not a mind reader". Well, duh! Neither am I, buddy! lol). Anyway...Randey finally spoke and we were able to begin a dialogue (instead of that fruitless monologue I feel like I've been spouting for a long, long time now). At long last...a beginning. The first steps on what will hopefully be a new, lifelong path for us together. So why am I spilling my guts to you guys and blabbing about personal business? Because I’m hoping that maybe I can help someone else to not go thru what I’ve been going thru. Pay attention to that little voice that tells you to deal with an issue, no matter how small or awkward or uncomfortable it may make you feel. Don't put it off until you find yourself in pain and isolated from the rest of the world. I’d all but stopped talking to people and I’d all but stopped blogging because I didn’t think anyone could identify with what I was going thru. It almost seemed like everyone that I knew who was married had a picture perfect relationship. And I honestly thought Randey and I did, too. That’s why it’s been so difficult to breathe lately…I’ve felt that the very foundation of my life has been rocked because I suddenly realized that my marriage was in trouble. How could that be? We love each other! We’d die for each other…how can we not be perfect together? Ironically enough, I think the depth of our feelings for each other was actually one of the reasons how Randey and I got to the point we were at. I mean I knew how much I loved him and he knew it, too. He knew how much he loved me and I knew that, too. We basically became comfortable in the belief that "love conquers all" and I don't think we thought we had to delve into problems that arose. We got into the habit of just reassuring each other of our love and glossing over the rest. Well, I'm here to tell you...that whole “love conquers all” stuff is a myth. "Love" doesn't conquer all. Love with communication, respect and hard work conquers all. You never, ever reach the point when you don't have to pay attention to your partner, when you can take them for granted, when it's okay to stop communicating honestly with each other. I love my husband deeply. I know he loves me just as deeply. Sometimes we don't understand each other, but I think that as long as we understand that we must work at our marriage and we must work at it every single day, we'll be all right. The message I want to get out to you, the friends I’ve made with this blog, is this: treasure those you love in this life. Treasure them and know that it will take constant effort on your part to keep your love alive and growing. Randey and I celebrated our 19th anniversary almost a week ago. I can't tell you how shocked I am to realize that once the arguments and stress over money and kids are done with, life isn't just smooth sailing. Yep. Shocked. I guess I thought once we got past those kinds of stresses, the joys of love and marriage would just come to us as if by magic. That's not the case, however. It's still work to keep the love going and growing. It's been a long, confusing, lonely and scary road to come to that knowledge. But now that I do know it, I'm good with it. Because I also know that this love is worth the work.