Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When did we become strangers?

I keep asking myself the same question over and over again, as if trying to get an answer that will somehow ease my unsettledness. As time passes by, the sense of uncertainty, discomfort and detachment keep hunting me down, taking control and suffocating me.
Today, I didn’t go to the local pub as I usually do, I’m tired of pretending I’m having the time of my life, when the reality is that it sucks. So, here I’m, sitting on a bench at the square located two blocks away from “our home”, while attempting to kill some time before heading back to our house.
At the pub we all act as if we are there by choice. We watch the news, drink some beers, and smoke a few cigarettes while laughing to some dull jokes. A sad attempt to disguise what really is keeping us there. We all have families to go to, but none wants to do so, as many do not feel welcome any more. By unspoken understanding we don’t discuss our feelings, instead we talked generalities and pretend to be having the time of our life. Then after an hour or two one by one starts heading back to their quarters - which very few can still call home – the parade is over, it’s time to get back to reality…
So, here I am asking myself once again: Where is the woman I married? When did we become strangers? What happened to us? Do you still love me? I want to ask you all these and a hundred more questions, but I can’t do so… You don’t have time for me anymore. When I wake up in the mornings you are already running around the house, getting the children ready for school, shouting and complaining while trying to stop their fights. My presence at the breakfast table goes unnoticed, except for the times when something is broken, or you need some extra money to pay an unexpected bill. You are so busy with the house and the children that you hardly notice I left for work.
Getting back home has no resemblance with what it used to be before the children were born. You do not light candles and fill the bathtub anymore, or dress up to wait for me, or cook a special dinner, or drag me into the sofa so I can sit to listen to your dreams, adventures or the book you were reading.
I miss very much the way we used to laugh, hug, share dreams and life. I miss us!
Here, sitting all by myself, while indifferently watching people passing by, I ask myself once again: When did we become strangers? Was it something I did? What can I do to have our romance back?
The day I married you I knew you were the woman of my dreams, my soul mate, my everything. I pictured our life together, as a couple, sharing the chores, the children, the ups and downs of life. But, I never anticipated we were to end up like this: two strangers sharing the table and the bed…
You don’t know me anymore; you stopped asking me about my work, my dreams and my feelings. You also stopped calling me at work, just to tell me how much you miss me and that you wanted me with you.
What has happened to you? Why did you give up on yourself and therefore on us? You hate your body and hide it from me, ashamed of your stretch marks, your fatty and fluffy tummy and the wrinkles around your eyes. You don’t believe me when I say that I love you just the way you are. That love is more than physical appearance or finding someone to go to bed with. Love is to wake up every morning with the same person and falling in love again despite the imperfections. I hope you believe me when I said: “You are beautiful because I love you” I wish that was more than enough for you…
Whenever I try to start a conversation your reaction is always the same, you either look at me suspiciously and on guard -as if I was the carrier of very bad news - or you just tell me flat and plain: “I’m too busy and tired to discuss nonsense”.
If you just knew how much I wish to come home and find you and the children happily waiting for me. But instead, all I find is them hiding from me and the punishment you promised them from me for not being good. As for you, well… either you are too busy to even notice I’m home or you rush to me to complain about everything. So, I do what everybody is expecting me to do: sit on the sofa, remove my shoes, get the remote control and watch the news until dinner is served.
During dinner the children fight and you shout at them at the top of your lungs: “Stop fighting, I’m sick and tired of all of you” and then you turn and look at me in disbelief while saying: “Aren’t you going to do something? You are their father; you must put control and discipline!” Those are the times when I also want to shout back: “I’m also sick and tired of all this crap!” But instead I zip my mouth, put my head down and let you believe you are right.
At that moment I hate you, not for what you are, but for what I’m when I’m with you…
I don’t know how much longer I will be able to cope with this and which is the way out. Shall I keep drinking at the bar? Shall I find a lover that makes me feel the way you used to make me feel? Or shall I confront you and open up?
With these thoughts in his mind he begins to head back “home”… Counting his steps and breathing slowly, in a desperate last attempt to freeze time.

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Edward said...

This is indeed a very moving story that touches at the very core of the goings on back in our families. I believe though that the best way forward is to communicate. Accusations and counter accusations will never make a family the single unit it ought to be, but talking and listening to a greater extend would.

Anonymous said...

muy bueno...

yo que estoy pensando en si me quiero casar... en si quiero tener hijos... me hacen bien estos escritos que te confrontan con la realidad de tanta gente para plantearme que si algun día decido tener pareja para largo tiempo lo debo hacer bien y debo esforzarme para no llegar al tedio y al "horror" que describe este último blog tuyo.

gracias por compartirlo conmigo.


Tag said...

There comes a time in a marriage when it begins to move back up hill, when the children are not as dependent as they have been, when love once again blossoms. It is during that down time, that uncertainty that we may lose hope and turn to find our happiness elsewhere. That is when the romance ends, if we allow it. This is very personal Gabi, Thank you.

Gabriela Abalo said...

@Edu, good communication is a key factor in any healthy relationship. Relationships also need to be nourished to keep them alive, if we change our priorities then we may lose something on the way. As I read the other day: “Love never dies by natural causes. It dies because we don't replenish its cup”

@Q. not all married couple have the type of relationship I described on my short story. So, do look for love and as you said, choose wisely and work on keeping the relationship alive.

@Tag: Welcome to the blog. Romance must be nurtured, despite the children and the day to day hassles of marriage and parental life, we should never forget the reason we married: to share a life for the good and the bad and beyond all: love



Kass said...

This is a painfully accurate story. It has at its core, the everydayness that can destroy or enhance relationships. I love what Tag said. I don't think I can improve or elaborate beyond that. Well done to the both of you.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank you dear Kass. So true that marriage goes through ups and downs and that during the hard times the relationship is really tested. Some will walk away from the relationship while others will chose to look for solutions. The key is good communication and unconditional love.


Anonymous said...

What you have just written is a real life situation. We women tend to forget exactly what we are and what we are supposed to be most of the times because we tend to do things to extremes such that we deny ourselves even that time to love and to be loved. For example when we get into marriage and have children the whole focus will be on childred and we even forget our husbands, forget our smartness i.e. our hair, nails and all those small small things which we used to do. That is why sometimes you find that husbands wonder if we were the same persons they met at first. All the spark just goes off such that our men tend to look elsewhere for it. Then trouble begins. Please let us balance ourselves, we know we care a lot but we also need to look after ourselves and our affairs.

Gabriela Abalo said...

So true dear Cleo, it is all is about finding the right balance, between taking care of ourselves, the children and keeping the romance alive in our marriage. It sounds as too much work, but actually it is not, we do see many couples managing to do so, and living happily ever after (I’m not talking about the ones described on children’s books ;-) I’m referring to real cases).
When things start to go downhill in any relationship each party involve needs to analyze the causes of the troubles and accept the fact that they are also part of it. If they start pointing fingers at each other instead of accepting their responsibility then things will definitely keep going down. Good relationships require effective communication, accepting responsibilities, positive attitude and unconditional love.


Sherry Bakhtian said...

Dear Gabi,

I agree with Cleo, somewhere somehow women believed that their role as mothers is more important than their role as wife or friend or lover. Because of this belief many of us forget why we got married in the first place. Part of this could be due to over-involvement as parents in our children's lives. My parents were not as involved as I am and I think this itself shifts the balance towards motherhood.
Whatever the cause, I hope no one forgets why they got married and finds a way to bring that reason into the present moment no matter what is going on with the kids.

Thanks for a lovely post,

Gabriela Abalo said...

When balance is lost, frustration rules, then everything else starts to go down the hill. Even the children who are getting their mother full attention are not happy, as they are witnessing how unhappy their parents are.
Extremes are never good.

Thank you dear Sherry for stopping by.


Gabriela Abalo said...

Marriage is that relation between man and woman in which the independence is equal, the dependence mutual, and the obligation reciprocal.
- Louis K Anspacher

Bunda said...

Reading this story reminds me of so many marriages I've seen out there. Its like when people say I do and put the ring on the stop trying, stop working on their relationships. Maybe it's cause they feel the have reached the goal and that's the end. But its not! Every relationship in our life needs to be worked on to grow but for some reason people seem to think marriage will sort its self out. No people, marriage is a relationship too! It needs you to want it to work, to put your energy behind it and to fight to keep it alive!!!! When all the passion and excitement fades and you start the family and have all the drama of children and being grown ups, its great if you have your 'friend' with you through everything that comes after you say "I do".
So work at making relationships in your marriages that live on during the "down" times, fight during the "hard" times and make the "up" times the best ever!

Beautiful story Gabi and well done. And your right good communication is the key to marriage, too bad so many people don't seems to get that.

Gabriela Abalo said...

I always enjoy reading your comments dear Bunda, they are full of passion and deep concern.
People marry for different reasons, but once they are into it, they should honor that, by putting their best efforts to make it work. Finding balance in the relationship is as key as good communication and tolerance.
If we let the other party know what is bothering us, we are already giving a step forward towards its resolution.


Teresa said...

What a sad tale. It is all the more sad because of its realism.

Teresa said...

What a sad tale. It is all the more sad because of its realism.

Jingle said...

sad tale indeed,
well written.
Thanks for sharing.

Autumn said...

the realities of human relationships exposed. great writing. ü

kathew said...

very sad sory for too many families...somehow the vicious circle has to be overcome so that the family can once again be one.

MICHAEL said...

It is really saddening to note that man has lost his place in himself; a different he can not reconcile up till now. We became stranger the moment we lost the moment we once had. We are too preoccupied with trivial issues!! A well noted thesis,I may conclude

Eric Alder said...

The aphorism "Know Thyself" is just as true today as it was back in Ancient Greece. Pretending only serves to hide our true selves.

People do change, but that also means that they can change for the good.

An interesting Pot Luck entry, Gabi!

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking piece.

Anonymous said...

This is very close to the story of my own parents. Kids growing up in the midst of that turmoil, especially the unspoken thoughts, tend to either marry exactly the same person as their mom or dad, or step back and analyze.

Frighteningly real; beautifully realized. Thank you, G.
Amy Barlow Liberatore