Monday, April 27, 2015

Til Death Do Us Part

I have been reflecting a lot on my life lately. I'm turning 40 this year. My son just turned 5 and my husband and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary.

Ten years married to this man. TEN years! Our wedding day doesn't feel that long ago, but I guess that's because we went through hell and back to get where we are today. Almost seems like it should feel like forever ago, but it doesn't. Going through all the hard times we went through together just made us stronger. When we married we altered the vows slightly. Instead of two becoming one, we decided we wanted to stay two and just join paths. We wanted to maintain our individuality, we wanted to stay true to ourselves.

We took our vows seriously, but not too seriously. But we both knew that this wasn't temporary, that we were in it for the long haul. In the past 10 years, we have maintained faithful to each other, supported each other in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, we love and cherish and have no plans to change that until death do us part. We are in it for the long haul and we knew that when we made this commitment to each other. Many marriages don't experience all of these things, but in 10 short years, I can honestly say that we have experienced every single one of them together. The most important thing in marriage that's somehow not mentioned in vows is to trust one another. I cannot stress how important that is. when there's trust, you don't have to worry about betrayal and faithfulness because there's trust. You don't have to worry about what happens in sickness and in health, because there's trust. You don't have to worry about if they will be there in good times and bad, because there's trust. Vows are in no way questioned because there's trust. When the trust is gone, there's a problem. That doesn't mean it's forever, trust can come back, but it usually needs to be earned, and that can be a VERY tricky process.

I see people divorce all the time. People close to me and people not so close. I know what couples fight about, we've had our own fair share of fights, but we don't let them tear us apart. We still have trust. The people that divorce are the people who have likely broken a vow, have a lack of trust or have lost faith. The most recent marital problems I have seen lately are lack of faithfulness, lack of trust and lack of support. It makes me sad. One of these marriages lasted a mere 2 years while one of the others ended after 15 years.

Paul and I had the perfect recipe to come apart. After nearly 5 years of marriage, things were going good. We were both employed, not the greatest jobs mind you, but enough to get the bills paid and still be able to enjoy life. We bought a house together and had nice cars. There had already been some financial bumps in the road, but nothing major. In 2009, everything changed. My husband had an accident at work, a sofa fell on him when he was unloading a truck. After that, he was taken off work and a workman's comp case was opened for him. A month later we discovered I was pregnant. As the first few months of my pregnancy, our comfort zone diminished. His income was gone and replaced with a check that was 2/3 of his reported income. This did NOT include tips. Tips were a large part of his income, but since they were never reported, work comp does not compensate for that.

My husband was getting treatment for his back. He had 6 herniated discs. The doctor gave him injections for the pain, but they weren't working. In February of 2010, my husband underwent his first back surgery, a microdiscectomy. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. It was stressful, but I needed by husband back, we were about to have a baby. A month and a half later, we did have that baby, my son Jesse. We were expecting a healthy, happy, beautiful baby boy. On the day he was born, he shocked us. He was born with an unexpected cleft lip and palate. I was very uneducated about his condition and it devastated me. I don't think my husband had a chance to experience his own emotions because he was spending his energy keeping me afloat. In the months to follow, things were hard. We had to dismiss everything we knew about babies and learn again. We had to accept that our son had a facial difference. We had to visit doctors we never thought we'd need to see for his care. We had to learn how to feed him so he could thrive. We had to plan a surgery for him when he was 3 months old. We succeeded in these tasks.


During all this my husbands back wasn't any better. He had been suffering for many months. The next step for him was a double spinal fusion. This one was not going to be easy. He underwent the surgery, spent 4 days in the hospital and would be in a body cast for 3-4 months. This was literally the hardest time of my life. I had a new born baby who needed his own surgery, now this? It was an extremely trying time for me, but we managed to keep going. as my husband is barely healed from his surgery, we needed my son's cleft palate to be repaired. This was done when he was 10 1/2 months old, February 2011. His surgery was a success and life went on. Of course not without struggle. My husband needed physical therapy, my son needed speech therapy and I am pretty sure I needed therapy too, but I hardly had time for that. My husband then had 2 more surgeries to help manage his pain because at this point there was extensive nerve damage. He was also addicted to the opiates he's been taking for years. We still had many struggles ahead in regards to his condition.

Time went on and my job changed to part time. I picked up another job, as a waitress. I like this because I was able to spend more time with my son, but the bills were barely getting paid and eventually that came to an end when the restaurant closed down. I was able to find another part time job. Then my other job, the one that I'd had for 10 years, let me go in October of 2013. My income, that was supporting my family, was now gone. My job security, gone. I had the choice of letting this consume me, but I chose not to let it. I needed to be brave and fight to keep the roof over my family's heads and food in their bellies. I found another part time job and worked my butt off. Once again, it wasn't enough. We were barely getting by, bills were always late and it was just a matter of time before we'd lose everything. I got back on my horse and looked for something better. After several interviews, a few less than desirable job offers, it happened. The job I wanted and needed, for the income I needed and deserved. It took perseverance and determination, but it happened and I couldn't be happier.

Now here we are, my husband is a stay at home Dad and I am a working professional supporting my family. Sure, sometimes I'd rather be home with my son than sitting at this desk, but at least I know he's in good hands being raised by his Father instead of a day care provider. We are happy. My son is so incredible smart and full of life. My husband still has to manage his pain, but with the major hurdles in our past, his stress levels are down and his pain has decreased. He still has physical restrictions, but he can still be a great Dad and husband.

There were many times I lost hope. I thought this little black cloud was going to follow me around forever. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I was sure that there never would be an end to our struggles. Paul's work comp case eventually closed (and not without a fight there too), I landed the idea job, my son graduated from Speech therapy and is starting Kindergarten in the Fall. We are caught up on bills, even bought a new car.

We couldn't have done all of this without each other. We stayed by each others sides even at the darkest of times. Instead of letting the bad things consume us and tear us apart, we instead let it bring us closer together. We never gave up. We stayed strong and brave with whatever life wanted to throw at us next.

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