A Holding Pattern

I haven’t written much about my marriage lately.

My friend, Antoinette, and her three children came to visit a few weeks ago and when I mentioned Gil in conversation, she timidly asked, “So…how are you guys?”

I took a deep breath and attempted to center myself before answering. I can be joltingly transparent and don’t like withholding even highly personal information from my friends, but this marriage-trouble stuff is a beast I’ve never wrestled. My gut is telling me to tread lightly and share minimally — especially in a wide-open public space with our children in earshot.

Piers and Wallace know that lately things aren’t all roses and sunshine between Mom and Dad. I’ve told them that we love them and are committed to being the best parents we can be and that we’re trying to figure out the best solution for all of us. I’m partial to honesty, and their well-being and helping them through this transition is my biggest priority. It’s tricky and not ideal, but we’re all doing the best we can as we navigate this unconventional co-existence.

Gil, on the other hand, says nothing but has been short on patience of late. He works a lot, takes the kids to the trampoline park, the pool, and anywhere else that’s fun and active when he’s around, and avoids any conversation resembling the touchy-feelies that make him squirm in his seat.

What the kids don’t know is that Mom and Dad’s money is all tied up in two houses and there’s no way in hell that we can afford a third residence. If that were an option, Dad would not be living here.

They don’t know that we’re going to lose a great deal of money on our house when we do sell it because the market in that area is not great, which means we likely won’t be in a position to afford two residences for some time. What we’re doing now is managing (thankfully), but money’s not exactly popping up on the magnolia out front.

They don’t know that their father is a bit impulsive and self-destructive and that the concept of a budget is lost on him, so the little amount of money that I bring home is typically used up paying for long-past spending sprees. Gil and I also have different interpretations of needs and wants. Neither of us is especially stellar with finances, though we’ve both come a long way. Point being: we’ll likely have to live together for awhile if we want to stay in Savannah (we do.)

I’m pretty close to having Piers and Wallace go back to sharing a bedroom because if I don’t get some decent sleep and a better setup for my office, then I sure as heck won’t be able to bring more money in, and we’ll be living together forever.

But I wasn’t ready to get into the hairy details with Antoinette at the neighborhood pool, so I responded to her question with a vague yet relevant reply:

“We’re in a holding pattern.”

Antoinette is one of my more thoughtful and pensive friends, far from a chatty-Cathy. She uses language sparingly which makes her remarkably poignant. She got that soulful look on her face which let me know she got it and wouldn’t press me further for details. She’s awesome like that.

“Huh…that’s an exellent way to put it. I’d gander that lots of marriages are in a holding pattern right along with you guys.”

As I thought about it further, I mentally acknowledged the accuracy of that metaphor.

We can’t go anywhere, but we can’t land this jet due to circumstances outside our control, so we continue to circle…waiting for clearance. The only problem is that some days I feel like this plane is quickly running out of fuel.

One of the most frustrating parts I’m finding about splitting up when there are kids involved is that you never know how anyone is going to react — even your closest friends. You withhold the most pertinent details fearing judgment like never before — at least that’s been my experience. Judge me all you want, but it’s much harder when my parenting is questioned.

It might be better for you, but is it really best for your children? People say or seem to say.

And really, let’s face it; nobody goes into marriage thinking they’re gonna split up — okay, some do I suppose, but the majority of people, I like to believe, expect that things will work out.

I certainly believed Gil and I would be together til death did us part, when we joined together in holy matrimony on that sweltering summer day that now feels like a million moons ago.

The two of us are unconventional and I, especially, balk all things traditional — all that holy matrimony business was a formality to pacify our more religious relatives. Chalk that on up to things you do when you’re twenty-five and have a lot of growing up to do. That’s not the case for all youngsters, but it certainly applied to me. And even though I didn’t need a huge ceremony and all the formalities, I truly believed that we were a perfect fit and would sail smoothly into a life together.

Even still, when you strip everything away except for the two of us, there’s a lot of love left, which likely explains the deep, aching sadness buried deep inside my soul.

In some ways I think Gil and I are too much a like. We’re offbeat and lovable, and while many people don’t understand us, they pulled for us — the cute, quirky misfits who found a home in each other and made it work until it just couldn’t for another minute, likely because we’re more individually broken than we let on.

As far as my explanation to Antoinette, I never offered one. She assumed that in regards to the holding pattern, I simply meant that Gil and I were in a phase of life where there was no time to focus on our marriage — we were plowing through, and once most of the career-building and raising of head-strong children steadied, we’d land the plane and move forward happily, stronger than ever perhaps.

I couldn’t help but ponder her notions, albeit briefly.

Is that what’s going on with us?

Yes, but there’s much more to it. Relationships are complicated. The circumstances surrounding life are murky, and we long for clarity.

Viewing my current reality, marriage issues and other, as a holding pattern, has been strangely comforting and works for a number of life situations.

Our house will sell, and we won’t be wedged in this too-small space forever.

As for how to tell people, well, I’m dipping my toe in gradually, and my approach is case by case, but I no longer feel this dire need for some grand announcement.

There’s more to say — isn’t there always? But I’m emotionally spent and need to stop.

I like talking about it here. It’s semi-private and something about the blogging community feels supportive in a heathy but detached way — it’s like my readers are sitting with my pain and holding space for me and my abundant and complicated emotions.

I started this post talking about kombucha, and it’s evolved into something else altogether. I guess I needed to give words to some heavy stuff I’ve been carrying.

I’m deeply grateful for this space.

Thank you.

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18 thoughts on “A Holding Pattern

  1. It’s a big journey…and mostly touching those places we would rather not.
    But in all truth, even though it will be painful…will be a growth like no other.
    And as you said, emotionally your too tired to worry about ‘others’, and believe it or not, taht is exactly where you need to be.
    It is you coming back to you…and really looking inside and asking yourself ‘what do I really want’.
    It is the beginning of loving yourself because up till now, it has been all about every one else. Yes, you have responsibilities, but the one for yourself has been blocked by the walls that we build against being hurt. It is time to remove those fears.
    It will be hard, but it will attract to you exactly what you need to go through it all. And the end product will glow like nothing else. A true glow, instead of one piled on with the artificiality of this world, and one that will finally be peaceful, loving and really have a happiness like no other.
    Believe in you, and what you can now create, instead of re-acting to this world. Before you know it you will be feeling the changes and understand much more, what your love is built on within.
    Welcome to this community of bloggers, there are many here that share exactly who they are, and within that is their truth, and the love that they express that truth with. Join the party 🙂
    Love and light for your journey 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind (and spot-on) words, Mark. I somehow missed this comment and only discovered it today — a day when I VERY MUCH needed encouragement and inspiration.

      I am humbled and truly appreciate you taking the time to write. Love and light to you as well. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. — Viv

      Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure Viv, and it is always in the timing, my comment got lost till you needed to see it 😀
        Breeeeathe….look after you, only then can you truly care for another. Functioning can be very difficult at this time, but just take it easy, look within to see ‘why’ you feel the way you do, and in that understanding you will be half way there.
        These times always throw our fears up so we can see them…and until we face them, they will remain as the walls to that self love that we forever deny ourselves.
        Solve the fear, then love begins truly, and you are free…really free.
        Love and light for your journey, may your love show you the way 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly where you are….I was at the point of bring “stuck” a few years ago, and the stress I put on what people would think made me stay longer than I intended (making me more resentful, bitter and overall unhappy). I was put out in the cold by everyone when I followed through with the separation, but about the time I quit giving a shred of a shit, everyone was accepting..primarily due to the delicate weekly transition of our daughter was a fully confirmed success. I am a better mom as a happy mom, but you are not alone. Hang in there and best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hang in there. There are others out here (myself included) that are in the holding pattern that you describe too. There are days that it sucks having to keep flying the plane, but there are also days that the plane still being in the air serves as hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This place is where my healing started. It may not have been a huge contributing factor, but it really helped me so much to get through all my difficult times. And many times, you commented on my posts and helped me get through some of the toughest times. So I inturn need to thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy you’re in a better place. You went through SO much and deserve such happiness. I know it’s not easy but I sense it’s getting easier. I feel like I’m doing some much-needed healing and even though things are hard…it feels productive, if that makes sense. The situation is difficult but necessary, therefore productive, so not quite AS difficult as it has been. I so much appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Sending you lots of love as you continue moving forward! Thank you again for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re dealing with enormously difficult issues with grace and compassion. As usual, you write so eloquently and insightfully. Thinking of you and sending you my love and hopes that everything (yes, everything) will fall into place well as soon as possible. xoxo xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I DO believe that things will fall into place. I’m going away for the weekend and am looking forward to time with some friends I haven’t seen in ages. I’m also looking forward to some the much-needed clarity I sense this time away will bring. Thank you for your encouragement. Always. It truly means so much to me. xoxo

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    • Thank you for the kind words. You speak wisdom. These decisions ARE difficult but the older I get the better I become at sitting with the hard stuff — kind of observing it and knowing that answers will appear. Writing is a gift that is such a comfort to me and I’m so grateful. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

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  6. That’s what I like about blogging. You can use your blog as a sounding board for something you have to talk about to others, vent safely, keep a journal, or for self reflection. I have ranted, reflected, told stories, and told MY story on WordPress, and it has helped me immensely.

    I always pull for a successful relationship, and hope the same for you. Whether that means splitting up, co-parenting, making up, sticking it out – any other outcome you aim for, I hope it all works out for the best.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Andrew. I agree that blogging is so helpful. I actually ran across a comment I constructed a few weeks back and somehow kept but never posted on YOUR post after my mobile WordPress App crashed. I’ll have to go back and repost. I hope things are getting easier with the healthy habits and quitting smoking and all that. I appreciate you reading and for your support.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope that writing and sharing helped you. Yes, your blogging friends are here for you. Take your time, breathe, and do what’s best for you and your family. Try not to be too concerned about other people’s viewpoints. Sending you hugs & resolve, Lori

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Lori. Writing does help me — it always has, and I am so grateful for kind bloggers like you. I have good days and harder days, but overall, the situation is gradually getting easier, so that feels like progress. Thanks again for reading and for the kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

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