Tag Archives: coupledom

A new beginning.

Two weeks after the beginning of a new year, and everything is already very different… and yet completely the same. I’m sitting in the bedroom, watching mosquitoes hover in front of my cat-eye frames, and blaming myself for not remembering to close the window screen after Riley opened it to make sure I heard him yell, “Mama! Mama! Mamaaaaa!!”

That was his greeting when I got home from school. 

I’d come home early because of a headache and my body’s need to relax, and there he was, happy to see me, positively radiant and beaming in his I-LOVE-my-mommy!-ness. Micah was in the bath, and when he saw me, he lit up like a firecracker and I swore I saw heaven. 

And then I remembered that Rob’s mom had passed away from lung cancer and that she’d never see my babies’ smiles, and I wanted to smoke and eat and shop and act out every other vice I have. 

It’s been a hard year so far.

I miss Rob’s mom. There are money issues plaguing me. My extended family is showing itself to be more and more bat-shit crazy. Rob and I are having a hard time being Rob and I. And in the midst of all this, I’m tentatively putting one foot in front of the other, making my way towards something better than what I’ve got, and mindful that everything could blow up in my face at any moment.

 

With a hiphop soundtrack.

Him: Right now, this song is pretty much my life.

Me: [jokingly] Ew. You’re corny.

Him: Why? What’s your life right now?

Me: Grey’s Anatomy + Noli Me Tangere, with a hiphop soundtrack and two kids on the side.

I want us to be *that couple*.

Not the Disney couple that’s so sugary-sweet you can feel your teeth enamel melting off every time you see them.

Not the abusive couple that makes headlines.

Not the plain/uninteresting/boring couple that has everything they could ask for and yet no problems to speak of.

I want to be the couple that’s so bizarre and novel that we take up your thoughts in the middle of the night and make you wonder, question, and acknowledge perspectives you’ve never before noticed or had always believed to be wrong. I want us to defy and redefine everything you know about Love, and in so doing open your mind to my reality: the one where we are all free to Love as we want without having that love invalidated by others’ opinions of what Love should be. I want our love to be the kind that proves my hopes and wishes to be true, even if I’m not entirely sure what those hopes and wishes are.

Maybe I need to know that there is someone out there capable of loving me while I inevitably grow and change and redefine everything I’m about. Maybe I need someone who redefines my every notion of what my soulmate should be like, and in so doing overwrites a large part of my psyche. Maybe I need to bolster my self-confidence by going through hell with someone, knowing that our relationship could very well be falling apart right before my eyes, and yet scrounge up an insurmountable amount of faith.

Maybe.

All I know is, I’m in this thing, ride or die.

From the outside.

So, last night happened. And in the wake of the fight I had with Rob, I blogged. I blogged to vent and to gain perspective and to answer questions I didn’t realize needed to be asked. I blogged to be courageous and communicative and to express ideas that needed to be expressed. And then I sent that post to a bunch of my closest friends and waited until replies came in. And when I read those replies, I realized why I wrote that post in the first place.

I’m as far-removed from my old reality as I ever could be, and in the year and a half that I’ve been living in the Philippines, all of my closest friends are busy changing. We touch minds every so often, but until I read replies from my message, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d changed. I’ve changed more than I’d like to admit, and with that realization came a lot of hard truths, like: Writing that post was one thing, but sending it out to everyone was another. I shouldn’t have done it – not to all those people, at least.

All relationships have their ups and downs – on a pragmatic level, we all know that. Once someone starts giving voice to the downs, though, people tend to focus on them and forget all about the ups. It makes sense, since in giving voice to my relationship fears and doubts, I’m in essence shining a spotlight on an area that many of us find fascinating and downright gossip-worthy; we’re all opinionated when it comes to love, and finding out about other peoples’ love lives gives us license to pass judgment and let our own experiences color their lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing the details of our days; sometimes, it’s the only thing that tethers us to sanity. A talk with a good friend, an email, a text – communication keeps things in context and helps us grow. But when you’re in a relationship and making a life with someone, all of a sudden the rules are different. Because sharing the details of your life ends up being sharing the life that the two of you have created, and you realize that some things are too sacred to share.

There were several things I noticed after letting my previous post sink in:

  1. Some of my closest friends just don’t get me anymore.
  2. The shit that used to fly in NY no longer applies.
  3. I will probably never feel really safe with Rob, and that might be okay.

*****

When someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, it’s easy to put on blinders and stick your fingers in your ears. When I read the comments that people made to the effect of “It doesn’t sound like it’s working out between the two of you. Just call it quits already”, I had to stop myself from reacting; I didn’t want to put up the blinders.

I took a step back, took a deep breath, and looked at things objectively. Then I realized that they didn’t have the whole picture; they didn’t even have all of the important parts of the picture. All they knew of my new reality was the little that I’d written in the post, and it dawned on me just how little we know about each others’ lives. That’s when the most painful truth hit me: In the past 19 months, I’ve unintentionally pared down my circle of besties.

It was inevitable, I guess, but still painful to admit. There was a time when these people knew my life backwards and forwards. There was a time when they really got me. Now, everything needs a three-hour back-up story. And even though I’m more than willing to sit down and write them a long-ass email, it still sucks that we’re not already on the same page. I miss what we used to have, and I hate to think that we’re losing track of each other.

But stewing in that post made me realize something else that’s very important: All of the question marks that used to float around me have been replaced with other question marks. I guess this means that I’ve unknowingly figured out who I am and what I want in life. I’ve spent the last 26 years learning all of that, and now that my quest for answers is over, all that’s left is the actual doing.

These days are not at all like the ones I had back in NY, and I have to start living that truth. I have to stop living in the past. I have to recognize what I have now and be grateful for all of it.

All this time, I’ve been foraging and gathering and hunting for parts of my life. I’ve been wracking my brain, experiencing a slew of different lives, going through all of that so that I can decide which belong to me. Now that I’ve made my decision, I feel like a kid opening the birthday presents I’ve been begging for. I know what I’ve got, but I don’t know what I can really do with all of it.

That analogy definitely applies to Rob. I feel like, I’ve been fighting for him, for us, and for our family for a really long time. Now that I really feel like it’s all mine, I’m just now getting used to what that means.

Maybe I don’t feel protected when I’m with Rob, but maybe I don’t need to feel protected by him. Maybe the whole point of being so careful about defining my life and picking out its parts was so that I had the confidence to pick a partner who gets me more than I get myself, and maybe my partner is right. Maybe I don’t let anyone take care of me – not in the conventional ways, at least. Maybe I let my partner take care of me in the ways that I need to be taken care of, and that’s okay even if those aren’t the ways I want to be taken care of.

All I know is, this exchange of feelings – the blogging, the messaging to friends, the talking to Rob – is what I needed to feel secure in what I’ve got. Strangely, it took focusing on the downs to get back on an upswing.

Safety.

When I was pregnant with Riley, we had a baby shower. At that baby shower, one of my best friends said to Rob, “Okay, so you and Maria are having a baby. You really have to take care of her now.”

Rob’s response?

“No, I won’t take care of her. She won’t let me.”

My back had been turned and I’d unintentionally eavesdropped on the conversation, but the moment I heard his answer, my blood ran cold. I didn’t know what it was that made me so upset; I just knew that that little exchange had unearthed something very profound.

Fast-forward a year later. Rob was living in the Philippines with me and Riley. I brought up that conversation, and I told Rob how upset it had made me. Still, I had no idea why it made me upset. I had a vague notion that Rob’s answer wasn’t the right one, but I wasn’t certain why it wasn’t the right answer. Would I have wanted him to nod solemnly and pledge his life to taking care of me? No, not in the slightest. So what was it?

“Love,” Rob said to me. “The only reason I said that is because you’re independent. You take care of yourself. I know you don’t really need me, and that’s what I love about you.”

It sounded aiight. I mean, the words coming out of his mouth weren’t necessarily offensive.  But still, there was something amiss.

Rob and I did the cohabitation/co-parenting thing for almost a year, and things were going well. Then, right before he left to go back to New York, his mom came to visit. I get along great with his mom, so I loved having her around. She even gave Rob a credit card to use so that we could really enjoy our last days together.

Turns out, though, that his brother maxed out the credit card in order to pay for his estranged wife’s bills, so we couldn’t use it.

Then, Rob’s mom offered to give us a car. The idea was, we’d have something to drive around if we went back to New York (at that time, we didn’t know if we’d move back). The idea was also, Just in case Rob can’t find a job, we have something to use as collateral for a loan, et al.

But guess what? His brother gave his own car away to his estranged wife and took for himself the car that was supposed to be for us.

Then, when it was clear that me and the kids were going to stay in the Philippines and Rob was going to work in the States, Rob’s uncle secured for him a job.

And guess who took it?

Now, here’s the thing: At the time, it didn’t really bother me. I mean, it did, but Rob’s mom’s side is very c’est la vie about this kind of thing. They’re a tight-knit clan and won’t let material things get in the way of loving each other. For the most part, I respect that and think it’s pretty cool. But today? Today I was typing with Rob (my laptop’s ancient and doesn’t have a mic or camera), and maybe it’s because I was already in a pretty shitty mood, or because Rob’s not good with English and doesn’t know how to emote via text/writing, or because the deadline for Rob’s landing a job is only two weeks away and he hasn’t gotten any calls back. All I know is, when Rob mentioned how his brother keeps on dicking us over, I got really, really upset.

Make no mistake: We don’t have much. I make a teensy bit of money every month, and now that the regular school semester’s at an end in the States and I’m too stressed with pregnancy, et al., to launch a huge business plan for the editing business, we’re depending mostly on Rob’s parents to squeak on by. I’m feeling threatened and really wishing we had a credit card, or a car to use as collateral, or a good and steady job for Rob. But we don’t have any of those things because his brother took them all. I know that if push really came to shove, I’d do the damn thing myself: Work my ass off, make that money, pay the bills, et al. – ALL. BY. MY. DAMN. SELF.

I know I could do it, but if I did do it, why the fuck am I with Rob? What the fuck would I need him for, besides sperm donation? (Assuming of course that I want all of my biological kids to have the same dad.) Why am I with someone who doesn’t have the ability to meet my needs?

In my upset state, I told Rob that I felt unsafe. I explained that I feel like we don’t have a lot, and that the least he could do was make me feel like the little we do have will remain ours. I told him I need to feel protected and taken care of. I explained that when it came to this whole thing about his brother, I expected some kind of reaction from him besides a shrug of the shoulders and complacency.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“PUNISH HIM!” I yelled.

And it’s true. I want Rob to punish his brother. I want him to be mean and awful to his brother. I want him to inflict pain on his brother because I feel like his brother’s been doing that to us. It’s a primal urge, and it’s probably useless, but I don’t care. I’ve long ago packed away the need to be with the alpha male. Now, all I need is to feel like my man’s got some kind of power, authority, and control over what’s going on with us and our family. I need to feel like he’s not some doormat who will let his asshole brother take what little we have – not without a fight, at least. I need to see that he’s willing to fight for me, for us, for our family. I want to see that fight. I feel like I’ve been fighting for the longest time, and that every second of every day is a fight and he’s standing at the sidelines while I’m bleeding on the canvass.

I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel like Rob can take care of me. And I wonder if it’s always been that way. I wonder if he’s ever really taken care of me, if that’s the ugly truth that had peeked out two years ago at my baby shower. Maybe I had caught a glimpse of it and subconsciously put my hands over my eyes.

I also wonder if there’s someone else out there who could make me feel more guarded, protected, secure, and sheltered than I feel right now…

Getting fiscally responsible.

There’s this thing about mine and Rob’s relationship that’s more than yin and yang. We balance each other out, sure. But sometimes, we’re so completely opposite of each other that we just spoil what the other one is doing. Case in point: Work. I’m a workhorse. I like getting down to business and getting shit done and getting it all done right. Rob? Not so much. He’d rather lounge around and have fun.

Now, don’t get me wrong: When it’s time to let my hair down, I can party it up with the best of them or lazy about the house doing nothing. And Rob? When push comes to shove, he’s able to pull it all together and do what he’s got to do. For the most part, though, we distract each other from our planned routines. I know that Rob doesn’t really want to be be an upright, responsible adult, so I’ll bend some of the rules that I’d otherwise keep set in stone; Rob knows that I see idleness as a waste of time, so he’ll scramble to get shit done, even when he’d rather be relaxing. I tend to let him influence the lion’s share of how this tug-of-war goes, but these days I’m thinking it’s okay to be a bit more of a hard-ass.

Basically, the situation is this: We have limited funds, but those limited funds are set to temporarily grow in the next two weeks.  Rob has only six weeks left in the Philippines and he wants us to live it up while he’s still here. And while the Maria of 5 years ago would’ve happily shrugged off tomorrow’s responsibilities in lieu of today’s memory-making, the Maria of present would rather play it safe. Call me crazy, but given the situation – having one kid and getting ready for another – I’d rather not spend the bulk of our money on flashy presents to each other and day trips.

I really don’t want to be a stick in the mud, but I’d rather that than not being able to pay for my medical fees, or, ya know, food.

I can’t help but wish that Rob saw things my way.

*sigh*

We’ll talk about this later. Right now, we’re both too cranky from recovering from the fiasco of yesterday.

Intimacy for germaphobes.

What is intimacy to a germaphobe?

It’s feeling your beloved’s body heat radiating from the toilet seat and not running to another bathroom. Who cares if you’re probably – no, definitely – inhaling and digesting tiny bits of fecal matter that have been thrown into the air after the toilet was flushed? It’s human waste, it’s shit, but it’s his shit. That somehow makes it okay.