Losing my religion and finding my husband

25 Sep

My husband and I are separating.  We have been married for 26 years — since I was 21 years old.  He is moving to London.  I’m staying here.  We are deeply, sometimes even madly in love.  We have decided to live apart for this year for many complicated and convoluted reasons orbiting around his career, my career, our children, my personal need for some alone time, and money.  Money always seems to play a role in decisions.  I have spent the better part of three months working full-time on getting two kids situated comfortably in colleges that are in cities four hours apart, literally touching and sorting every single thing we have ever owned and deciding where it should go next, applying for passports, setting up both local and international bank accounts that can talk to each other, forwarding mail, searching for lost mail, changing insurance companies…the list is endless and boring.  I have spent the last two years in a  tail spin of loss and confusion — see my other post.

What is important is that R.E.M. broke up for real. They didn’t even warn us or ask our opinions.  They just freaking did it.

As you can imagine, when my husband and I got married in 1986 after only knowing each other for ten months — when I was still in college and he was in a rock band – things did not go well.  We fought a lot.  I spent a lot of time with a knot in my chest feeling like “Holy Shit, this is forever!”  Everything seemed to hold deeper meaning and I felt like I was getting nothing I needed from him.  We fought so much, one morning he threw our bagged lunch “toward” (he tells it as toward, I know it was AT) me and hit me in the back of the head.  We were about seven months in when this happened.  Blind with rage, I took a swing at him.  Yes, domestic violence happens!  His response has defined our marriage ever since.  “I love you — I love you more everyday.  Nothing will change that.  I chose to be with you.  (“Now calm down, you crazy woman” must have been his subtext.)

When I met my husband, I was rife with questions.  None of the rhetoric of my conservative upbringing was ringing true within the context of my liberal arts education.  My heart and my intellect were leaning way left and my roots held right.  I felt crooked and unlovable; yet, he did.  My husband loved me unconditionally because he just did.  And in that confidence and safe space he created, some times in silence, I learned to feel safe.  Who gets this luxury?

I know I’m not alone when I repeat the cliché that R.E.M. provided a soundtrack for those formative years, but c’mon, it is true.

Today while we were driving on the Interstate for him to bid farewell-for-now to his family, he began singing “You are The Everything.” He knew all the words and he can sing in tune. He sang it softly and tears rolled my cheeks as I listened.  I looked at him and I knew his love has saved my life.  His unwavering love has changed me into a better person.  I am more because of him: more kind, more interesting, more informed, more patient, more reliable, more of lots of good things.  Now, we have made this choice to separate for a while, and so many people are baffled and worried about us.  Relax, I am confident that it will be okay because it is truly what I need right now.

I need time to write, time to work, time to think, time to listen to R.E.M and memorize the lyrics.  I want time to walk without feeling distracted by anyone and without guilt for wanting my time.  Life is complicated and short.  Love is powerful.

I know I am so damn lucky to be able to make this choice.  I am so damned lucky to be so loved.

“That’s me in the corner…”

3 Responses to “Losing my religion and finding my husband”

  1. charlotte September 25, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Like I said before, I’m in awe of you both. Sending you both love as you start on this new adventure!!! xoxo

  2. Sayaka April 18, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    This is beautiful…I remember after one of the first times that I met both of you, I looked at Aaron and told him that I could tell that you two really loved each other and were still passionate about each other after all these years. I honestly hope that I will eventually be able to find a love like yours, maybe in your son? We’ll see 🙂 Hope you’re doing well in London. See you in couple of weeks!

    • Allison Mahaley April 19, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Oh Sayaka, one does not find a love like ours, one grows it, cultivates it and relishes it. If you want a happy relationship, make sure each person in it is responsible for their own happiness…blah, blah, blah. Can’t wait to see you either!

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