Friday, November 6, 2009

There are many moments in the day that I recall a better time. Believe it or not, doing the dishes early in the morning after they had stacked up from the previous evening, was always a thing I enjoyed doing. When Lucy and I talked about the division of responsibilities early in our marriage, she said that since I was the cook, she would wash the pots, pans and dishes we ate off of. Certainly there were other tasks that Lucy took on without any formal understanding between us. The laundry, for instance. Lucy began washing all of our clothes together and this would have been wonderful if someone had taught her some things about laundry that I had learned along the way of bachelorhood.

First of all, I'm a slob. I can't seem to consume any sort of food without some portion of it bouncing off my belly and leaving an oily stain on my shirt to deal with later. As a matter of course, I always checked every shirt for grease or oil stains prior to washing and pre-treated greasy blotches with stain remover or just a concentrated rub of the Tide® detergent. I always washed most items in cold water. Lucy didn't know about my laundry needs because she stealthily did loads of laundry without ever telling me when she intended to do a couple loads. Too many times, a favorite shirt was passed over for pre-treating and the stain was set in by a hot wash and hot drying cycle. I couldn't stand wearing stained shirts so letting Lucy do my laundry became too costly. I forgot how I said it, but I can imagine it wasn't expressed with much diplomacy or caring. I was getting tired of throwing shirts away each month so in so many words I said, "Thanks, but no thanks!" I took over my own laundry responsibilities. It probably seemed to her that I was hyper critical, but I didn't want to hear from friends and co-workers about my grease-stained t-shirts.

In my mind, I thought taking responsibility for my own laundry would be a plus. I mean, not too many other husbands cooked, cleaned, did their own laundry and was handy at fixing things around the house. In fact one of Lucy's best friends was sort of jealous over how much more of the household responsibilities I took on compared to her husband. Even by Lucy's own affirmations, I was getting good marks in that area. At least that was my impression.

As time went along, I noticed that Lucy's commitment to cleaning up the pots and pans fell off little by little. It got to where I had few clean utensils in the morning to make breakfast for the family. I began doing the dishes early in the morning so I wouldn't have to wait for her to get up. I was an early riser and an early eater as well. I don't know...maybe that bugged her. I know that having body clocks in different timezones certainly put a crimp in our sex lives. Lucy was a night owl and wanted to be intimate in the evening. Unfortunately, I had gotten up three to four hours ahead of her, so naturally I was three to four hours ahead of her in the evening. She was frisky and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. In the morning at 6:15am, I was already up 30 minutes and I could have gone at least 2 rounds under the sheets if she had been awake when I was at my peak.

Things only got worse after our two kids began sharing our bed almost every night. Finding the right mood, moment, and opportunity for intimacy became harder to find. I know that shouldn't have been an excuse, but because neither of us would properly address the elephant in the living room, the uncomfortable silence hung heavy like the stench of death over our relationship. The sparse opportunities for sex became an issue of my own failure—at least as far as my wife was concerned. As Lucy so indelicately informed me, I wasn't satisfying her with our scant sexual habits.

The stress of that awareness combined with the pressures of caring for our two young children at night while Lucy went to school, had me at an even greater disadvantage to assail any plan of action to be more intimate with my wife. I was usually asleep as early as 8pm on the couch.

After suffering a bad blow to the head while building a patio cover on our first home, the Urgent Care doctor examining me said that I had slight hypertension. He handed me a handful of pamphlets and information that I never bothered to read. I just began taking the medication he prescribed. I never gave much thought to treating the cause of my high blood pressure instead of the symptom. I wasn't aware that most hypertension is caused by stress and worry. Man! I had plenty of that. What was secretly poised to assist in the destruction of my marriage, were the side effects of the Lotensin® most likely combined with a developing chronic depression. Both were compounding my waning libido, and evoking an insomnia that virtually put my wife and myself on opposite schedules. I was reduced to being a room-mate helping to raise our two children. Sex was non-existent at that point. Whether the depression came first, causing the hypertension, insomnia, stress, and dead libido...or the other way didn't really matter any more. I had become too detached to really give a crap. I was a dishwasher, thinking about how impossible it was to meet the needs of a woman who lived in another timezone. Every morning Lucy missed her window with me. Every evening, I missed mine with her.

What was even more tragic, were the awkward moments after coming home from work and her going off to night school. She would play back recorded segments from the Today Show or The View, suggesting how to spice up a stale love life. I winced inwardly, unable to bear the pain of telling Lucy that making sex spicier wasn't the problem. Not wanting sex at all, was! This was something I couldn't begin to figure out or admit...particularly before the era of ED medications.

Oh well...all this water under the bridge and now I sob over the morning dishes while my kids still sleep. The task that I had happily assumed to make life easier for Lucy, has become a painful remembrance of a life and love that I cherished, but lost.

My love for Lucy is not lost, though. It isn't easy to maintain a loving attitude. And please understand that I don't count "civility" or "amiability" as anything similar to loving. My ability to love is under constant attack. I have thought and said things about Lucy—to myself and in my journaling—that are petty and vindictive. I know they don't help my happiness or health, but I look back and admit to myself that I rarely had the strength to fight, let alone admit there was even something that needed to be fought for. I still freeze in the headlights of self confrontation and become divided against myself. My daily remider as I wash my pots, pans, utensils, glasses and I can eat again, make meals for my growing kids again, and pretend that God will eventually be victorious in my own devastation. I die each day when I wake to the realization that the girl I committed to love for a lifetime, is now gone from my life.

"Dear Lucy— I miss you so much in the morning. The time of day I could've best made you feel loved. Yet, unreasonably frozen by my fear of rejection...I just let you sleep. I'm so sorry."

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