Yesterday was tense. Last night, even more so. Tornadoes and storms swept across the southern region of the US, leaving devastation and death in their wake. In my little neck of the woods, it was a day of darkening skies and flickering power surges.
Just before dinner I inched my vehicle under our back deck, where I’ve never managed to park it before – hoping to avoid the effects of hail or a hapless limb if it came down in the driveway. Or worse.
But more than that? There was little I could do. When disaster is building momentum on a grand scale, you hold your breath, you whisper to your gods, you gather your children and hope for the best.
I couldn’t help but think of my marriage, or any relationship when it spirals out of control. I thought of abuse and addiction. I thought of warning signs, noticed but unheeded. I thought of our fragility in contrast to nature’s ferocious power. I listened to the wind and watched the trees behind my house as they bent precariously.
And I felt very, very small.
Love and Other Afflictions
We may not be able to outrun tornadoes, but when bad winds brew in relationships, paying attention may avert disaster. So why do we turn away when we see problems in our communication styles, our bedroom behaviors, our divergent belief systems?
Some years back I fell in love, built a thoughtful and balanced relationship with a good man, but ignored an obvious dilemma. The bond was strong, our values in sync, he was good to my children. But libido levels?
Night and day.
I was 40-something at the time, and at first I thought I could live with the difference. Fortunately, I lost my own argument and eventually ended the relationship, one that would have left me wanting in an arena that I consider vital to emotional intimacy. But for months I knew what likely lay ahead and I didn’t budge. I thought love – and sticking it out – would see me through.
This is precisely how I behaved throughout my marriage – hanging tough, ignoring signs, trying to stay positive, looking away – convinced that it would be enough.
I was wrong.
Warnings and Windows
Yesterday afternoon, I spoke with a friend who was hit in the first wave of the storm; damage was sustained to her vehicle, but not her home or her family. Last night I talked on the phone multiple times with a friend who was right in the path of two waves of storm. He is unhurt, but nearby, there are people still trapped in their homes.
As for our household, while thunderstorms taunted the neighborhood, this morning’s inspection left me feeling immeasurably grateful. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in yesterday’s devastating storms.
We have warnings we heed and others in which no preparation is sufficient. All we can do is take cover. We have windows of opportunity that allow us to assess a situation – marriage, relationship, health, work – and possibly find a path to higher ground without abandoning everything or everyone we love.
Why we stay and why we go remains a mystery. Perhaps it’s the blue of the sky and the sweet smell in the air the morning after. The calm after the storm, promoting denial.
Perhaps it is our desire to build, and when necessary, to build again.
© D A Wolf