I don't know who I am anymore.
I stood in the bathroom after my shower, staring at the reflection in the mirror. I took stock of the white hair that is gradually replacing the deep brown. I observed the creases that flank the edges of my tired eyes, and wondered when the last time was that I really smiled. I've never considered myself to be pretty, yet I considered what others see when they look at me now. Do they notice the sadness? Does my unhappiness wear like an accessory for the whole world to see?
These past few years have been full of struggle, and challenge. Heartache has met me at every turn, and I have fought to keep my head above water. Through it all, I have tried to focus on what was good. To still count my blessings and not get completely buried under the weight of everything that was broken and falling apart.
Or so I thought.
As I was preparing my lunch the other day, he turned from the family room, his voice raised and said, "Why are you so unhappy all the time?" He sat down in the chair, his back to me, slumped down, and pulled out his phone. I stood there, staring at the back of his head, speechless. Later, when I tried to give an answer, that had something to do with how little time he had spent with me over his days off and how we hadn't talked hardly at all, he answered back with, "I'm sorry you can't find anything to be happy about."
That wasn't true. I had plenty of things to be happy about. The sun had been out for a week or more. I've been able to spend some quality time with my son who's leaving for college in the fall lately. I've started running again. I took a nap in our new hammock the other evening. I had just about finished knitting a tiny sweater for a friend's new grand-baby. What was he talking about?
I've asked myself that question a lot over the past few days. Why AM I so unhappy? I could list a dozen things or more that are making me feel unhappy. All of them are things you have heard here before, so I won't list them again. What I didn't realize, was that I had fallen into a state of entitlement. Somehow, over all this time, I decided that I was entitled to be unhappy. Instead of really focusing on what was good, and enjoying life, I was dwelling on what was broken, and letting it consume me.
Proverbs 21:19 says, "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Yet, over the past year and a half, that is exactly what I have started to become. I spent so many years pretending that everything was fine, when it wasn't, that somehow I got this notion that I had to let it be known when things weren't OK. Instead of talking about it, however, which isn't his strong suit, and is often an exercise in frustration, I have been showing it.
Who wants to spend time with someone who appears to be miserable all the time? What do my kids think about their old mom, or the state of our relationship? These are the questions that haunt me at 2:30am when I can't sleep. I spent years watching my own mother walk around miserable and unhappy because my father didn't pay any attention to her, and I vowed I'd never be like her. Yet, here I am. It was a sobering realization.
I can't change him. It's not my job nor do I want it to be. What I can change is me. How I react to life, and to him. I can change my attitude and my outlook. I am a blessed daughter of the King, who has a lot to be thankful and happy about. I can be the best wife I know how, even if I'm feeling neglected and lonely. I can show my kids what a healthy relationship should look like so they don't fall into the same patterns I thought I never would. I can do the best that I can every day, and maybe, just maybe, begin to find myself again.