Monday, February 1, 2010

The Watermark


In AA you are taught that the word fine really means Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. What? I'm just saying. Many words in the English language are dubious. What Webster's says they mean and what they really mean are two different things.

If your daughter hears you squeal 'Bruuuuce' when a Springteen song comes on and says ' Keep your pants on mom, ' it may sound like she hears questionable humor from her father, when in reality, the top silver shiny button on your skinny jeans has just popped open, after you have eaten your 15th Thin Mint cookie of the day, because your daughter is in the Girl Scouts, which really and truly is an organization about the fattening of suburban mothers, and has nothing to do with little girls doing good and ironing on patches.

Maybe that was a bad example.

Take the word marriage. Mine is in a hard part, a hurting phase. My marriage has distinct and unique challenges to it, outside the normal box of broke, young kids, full time work, bad habits and all that - challenges. Hm. Maybe, take the word, challenges. I challenge you to a duel. I challenge you to prove your love. I challenge you to eat three tacos in under one minute. I challenge you to do your Saturday chores before the Rapture. I challenge you to face and conquer your darkest demons in order to save our marriage. Incorporating both those words in there, it all appears obvious. Either DO IT, or don't. Either make a decision, or DON'T. Either, Or. But life is lived 99 percent of the time in between Either and Or ( both lands frequented by old grannies with wooden spoons and a sour, i been suckin on my dentures and they taste like Grandpa's balls kind of expression ) in the land of Part. As in, part of me is brave, and the other part a coward. Part of this marriage is fantastic and part is making me doubt my ability to ever grow up in the sense of 'turn in your taxes on time spend money wisely and remain emotionally stable'. Part of our sex life involves donkeys, and part of it doesn't. Part of this paragraph is true to life and part is full of beans.

When we marry, we each have ideas of what that word means. When we accept that we will face challenges in life, we each have ideas- often which are completely wrong- about what those challenges might be, and how we expect our Marriage to handle those challenges. Marrying means accepting the impossible dream comes attached to real people. For me, marrying meant a dream attached to the very real beautiful butts of three very loved children, our Dakota, our Ian, our Lola. I thank the Universe every day for these children, even under the most trying and brutal challenges. Ah. That word again. The grace of a unbearable childhood is that, if you are lucky enough to find your way out of it, you understand much younger and much deeper that few things really matter, and the ones that do are worth living for, not just worth dying for, but living for. Really living. Like, my ass and heart are exposed to the wind and the whole world can see me but I am here, and I am giving it all I have, I am working hard for the money, I am putting in full time hours and sweating and sore muscles and studying all night all semester and next year too, and no one, whatever else they can and will say, can or will ever say that I do any less than that.

I know that Mr. Curry and I both believe closely, so closely the same what the word marriage means, beyond the dictionary definition, toward the watermark, the meaning we see rising through our days and lives, the silent agreement made between two people when they unite, unsaid and barely conscious, about what life will be, married. The river that runs through it, as they say.

What do they say, again?

*illustration, Daren Newman
Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Kisses on you.

Ocean Girl said...

Things are clearer when you no longer have them.

Annje said...

Great post! It is interesting how marriage is, at once, infinitely more insufferable and more exquisite than anyone can ever imagine pre-marriage. Here you are at an insufferable point, wallow through it and know (hope) that there are exquisite moments ahead. I wish there were something to say to make it feel better.

Annie said...

Great post. And about those Girl Scout cookies, my bane these days, has been the left over fundraiser candy bars we purchased but never sold, being eaten, one candy bar, one day at a time- by me- now that the Christmas milk chocolate has run out. Yikes!

Vashti said...

Its bloody hard work! Half the time I love it,1/4 of the time I hate it, 1/4 of the time I'm indifferent...but I refuse to give up.
Love you and you writing.
x
p.s did your jeans really pop open???

Vashti said...

Its bloody hard work! Half the time I love it,1/4 of the time I hate it, 1/4 of the time I'm indifferent...but I refuse to give up.
Love you and you writing.
x
p.s did your jeans really pop open???

Terresa said...

"The grace of a unbearable childhood" -- this would be lovely title for a book.

As would be "The watermark."

Maggie, this post speaks.

Elizabeth said...

Oy -- amazing post that I'm holding close.

Home Girl said...

without needing to meet you, i feel that loveliness and passion exude i buckets from you! your writing sends this clear message despite your pain. i'm sorry to hear you are having such a rough patch. from my own experience of misscarriage it seemed to go hand in hand with a terrible year. i was so drainned and unable to vigorously confront the challenges life threw at me. it sounds like things are much more complicated than that but i hope that you are keeping up your basic nourishment, time for yourself, good food, meditation etc. easier said than done! hope life lightens & starts to sparkle again sooon xx

Beth said...

Ah, that ebb and flow - marriage is always in a state of "flux." Or should be.

Jeanne said...

I think a lot about connotation versus denotation and how many fewer misunderstandings there would be if we all had the same understanding for each word.

Ms. Moon said...

I love the watermark image. I have been thinking a lot recently about marriage and how, when two people manage to GROW together it is nothing short of a miracle. When you stand up there and say those words and end them with "I do" and a kiss, you have no idea what you are saying because you have no idea who that person is or who you are or what the future brings.
Yes. It is a challenge.
Sending love....M

Susan Erickson said...

Marriage and mothering take over our lives and leave us questioning our progress. It's all very humbling and elusive. Day to day living isn't always gratifying but it enables us to gradually develop our place in it all. Finding our place is the hard part....

CitricSugar said...

There is a reason that the "Hang in there, Kitten" poster is a classic. Some things are just worth it. Hope the wheel turns upward again for you soon.

Drax said...

I love your blog...

...but man the tiny type is heard to read.

Mwa said...

Yeah, and some more kisses.

Bex said...

I'm not married, but I have a child with a man who I love and hate, sometimes in equal measure. I know what it means to think that part of your relationship is just as it should be, and part of it is something you'd never wish on anyone. We've been in a hard place for a while, but I think we may be coming out of it. To me, marriage, should I be brave enough to take it on, will mean staying put while the storm rages--even when part of me wants to move someplace sunny.

Hoping the storm passes soon for you.

Lola Sharp said...

I dont really know what 'they" say...but I always say this:

Love is a VERB... first, and more than anything else.

By that I mean love means DOING the hard work, on self and in relationship. It means wiping butts, changing diapers, giving a hug when someone is raging, letting our egos go and taking the time to understand those we love. And allowing them to do the same for us. Without martyrdom.

It is loving our planet and its citizens (the bigger picture) and our friends and family (even when they arent being lovable) by DOING the right thing, and doing the hard things. Sometimes, that means walking a way for a bit, allowing the person the think and calm. Keeping our ego and drama from masking the real issues. Often, it means making compromises--TOGETHER. Give and take. This is the balance I think most of us struggle with. Learning when to give of ourselves, and when the best way to give of ourselves is to give to ourselves, and allowing the other person to do the same, on their own.
Really, in marriage, in my opinion, maturity of both partners is the most vital ingredient. Personal responsibility and willingness to workon it is a huge part of maturity. Since we cant 'grow up' another person, the best thing we can do is to grow ourselves. Often that is the inspiration needed for those around us. Worst case, we are growing, and better able to understand the plight(s) of our loved ones.

Again, I really think keeping emotions out of a lot of it, as in the drama...and spend that energy doing the things that need to get done.
So many people, sadly, confuse the highs and lows of drama with love. I think they become addicted to it, the adreneline, the chemicals our body makes is like a drug, complete with high highs and low lows.

Real loving is doing the hard stuff, and doing it with a measure of grace, peace and purity of heart. Enjoying the process, the work, as the gift that it is.

But, that's just my opinion.
I'm not saying this has anything to do with you, sweet Maggie.
Just my opinion about marriage(s) in general. I'm going on 15 years of marriage to my wonderful husband...and his parents have been married over 40 years, and still happily married and do fun things together all the time.
And I've been in my share of bad long term relationship prior to my husband. And I come from a broken home. These are merely my thoughts from my perspective.

Lovely writing, BTW, as usual. I love how you are willing to hang that ass out in the wind. Your willingness to be vulnerable to the world is a special and lovely. I thank you.

Hugs,
Lola

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

My mom once said, being married gives us the privilege (yes, the privilege) of seeing the not-so-great parts each other. Seeing each other struggle or fall, or even fail is the most unpleasant, but most intimate part of any relationship...

sending love your way....

yolanda said...

i love marriage,,, and dreams and ideas and real people....

i love you!

Nancy C said...

Marriage is like a bonsai plant, requiring more pruning and time than one would think.

Hard work.

Amie said...

Ah, so well written. Marriage is a toughie. I am not sure I am any good at it but we keep plugging away. As for mothering, I have no choice other than to be good at it or at least as good as I can be. I just keep getting up every day and loving her as best as I can.

Maggie May said...

no one in the blogsphere talks about the hard shit parts of marriage. i wish they did. they say 'write what you wish you could read.'
so here i am.

trinsch said...

i hear you. i really do.

krista said...

same page.
same chapter.
same book.
the best place to be.

Ellen said...

I have been married to my love for 32+ years...I at one point gave my married name as my maiden name..they were one in the same since I have had that name way longer than the one I was given upon birth. We have been each others best friend through difficult times with children and parents, we have had spats and we don't always see eye to eye but I can't even imagine him not with me. My marriage vows taken when I was so young (19) I may not have understood where it would take me anymore than we can be together all the time (yes!), to the real living...we are the ocean and the shore...

Your honest post is why I keep reading you...you bring up those thoughts we don't always think of. And your saying FINE with AA..I think I can say that relates to my mom with Dementia...

The strength in words...keep on!

Still Life With Coffee said...

Wow... you are amazing. I love this post and I totally agree with the girl scout definition :-) and all the other wonderful words you wrote.

Tania said...

I never expected marriage to have any weight. We only 'hitched' for the visa, to see if we liked each other enough to be together. I'm glad we did but holy moly, if I knew then what I knew now. As we signed the wedding registry, we played Monty Python's 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. But that's because any of the alternatives involved Mariah Carey.

Lacey said...

This was really insightful. I don't know what 99% of words mean. At least, not really.

I hope, at least, that you're doing better than "fine." <3

Maggie May said...

I am trying to find a way to write about these hard things without writing about them. My husband specifically has asked me to leave all details involving this issue out of my blog and so I always have. But when things are hard, it's very VERY hard for me not to write about them, because this 'call and response' kind of writing is extremely effective for me to sort out my thoughts and to find support from people who are in a very distinct and unusual position- who might be in my exact situation, who know a lot about me, who care about me to some degree and so have good intentions in their listening and advice. I truly appreciate your reading and your patience, as I know these kind of posts are murky and unclear.

Maggie May said...

also ps,

a woman left me a comment that made my heart sink and tears fill my eyes. i completely expected a comment to have this effect at some point and i am lucky it's taken this long.

she said, paraphrasing, 'why don't you make the marriage you want instead of focusing on a fantasy'

i'm NOT, NOT going to address every or even any comments again which make me feel like shit, but this was the first, so i just wanted to.

in response, i would just say that the comment reveals that this person does not read and comprehend my posts regularly, and did not read and comprehend this one. if i do anything, it's not living for fantasies. life beat the shit out of me to young for that.

xo

Petunia Face said...

Oh Maggie, hugs to you, both for the rough patch and the a-hole comment.

Of course every marriage is constantly changing, ripping, tearing, blooming, yawning, and what makes your writing so wonderful is your honesty. Thank you for that.

And for everything else. You inspire me--not only because you write like a woman on fire but also because you find the melancholy beauty in the everyday.

xo,
S

Bethany said...

I love your writing, your honesty, your flow.

Jenn said...

But life is lived 99 percent of the time in between Either and Or

Truest statement ever.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Wonderful writing, as always.

Everything you say is so true. I've often tried to define marriage, and I think you've hit it right on the head with this post.

Thank you for sharing. Hugs.

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