Oh Gina... how I'd love to go run around on Bahamian beach at night with you! Unfortunately, I won't have money or vacation time to do that for quite a while! And that's okay. We'll figure something out, you and I. We always do. Summer's almost here, after all. We won't have to travel too far for sunshine and sand!
Anyway, I shared the photo to Facebook with a similar musing. One of my fellow teacher-friends messaged me and said something along the lines of, "Gina, you're so beautiful in that picture. John's such a fool for walking away."
I know she was trying to be helpful, but my first thought was, "You think he left because he thought I wasn't pretty enough?!"
I recognize how silly that thought is, mind you, but that's how I first read it. It frustrated me, because it almost negates the fact that he didn't just walk away from me. He walked away from our family. Sure he still sees the kids, but he's no longer the presence he once was and he certainly won't be the presence for Nate that he was for Vince. It was never about walking away from me - it was about walking away from US. And by us, I mean the boys and I, and I mean John and I. US as in family and US as in married couple.
All that I gave up and pushed aside, and this friend thinks he walked away because John didn't recognize how pretty I am? *Shakes head* Trust me, folks, it runs much more deeply than physical attractiveness. John's decision to walk away has much more to do with immaturity and selfishness than it does my looks. I could be a bombshell walking around topless carrying craft beer and he still would have complained that I wasn't good enough. My looks had nothing to do with it. Me being a bombshell and carrying craft beers wouldn't have helped him recapture his 20s. It certainly wouldn't have fixed his frustrations with friends and family. It wouldn't have helped his lack of fulfillment with work, and no... it wouldn't have helped him recognize the depth of his vocational calling. Again, my looks had very little to do with John's decision to chase after the unicorn of a "perfect marriage." Heck, *I* had very little to do with John's decision.
After all, I did all the things a good wife is supposed to do.
- I made a concerted effort to learn about his various passions - poker, movies, music, wrestling, MMA, and yes, even dodgeball. Not once did he ever show an interest in things that were important to me. Instead, he'd belittle my interests as pointless, stupid, or boring.
- I welcomed his friends as my own and went out of my way to get to know them and love them. John couldn't tell you the first thing about my friends because he never cared to make any effort to include them in his life. Quite the opposite, in fact.
- I took every opportunity I could to make time for his side of the family while balancing time with my own. Him? Yeah... let's not even go there.
- After my miscarriage, he treated me SO horribly that I actually began to question my own sanity. I carried such a terrible, lonely grief - completely alone - and when he finally had proof that I wasn't making it all up, I didn't lord it over him or make him feel bad. Instead, I spent those long, crushing months trying to understand HIS feelings and tip toe around HIS outbursts so that when he did finally recognize the truth, he didn't have to feel ashamed or embarrassed by a (well-deserved) "I told you so."
- During my treatment for cervical cancer, he wasn't there. Didn't ask questions, didn't want to be bothered with the details, and actually guilted me into coming to work the day of my procedure so he could have me explain re-certification procedures that I'd put into place before leaving that business to work for the Archdiocese. I never once made him feel guilty for these things. Instead, I again shouldered it ALL on my own, chalking it up to him being uncomfortable having serious conversations. I didn't want to press him for support because he frankly couldn't handle himself let alone me. So as usual, I shoved my own emotions aside so he could work through his.
- Kids. He was supposedly so worried about finances and whatnot that he didn't want to be saddled with another one after Vince. Though this nearly destroyed the very life of my soul, I bowed my head and trudged on under the weight of that cross because he was my husband and I was willing to sacrifice even my most precious dream to keep our family intact.
- For all the movies, games, tournaments, etc that he's involved himself in over the past decade, I've supported him whole-heartedly. I've cooked for crews, edited plotlines, taken photos of special events, and made sure I was with Vince so he could focus on other things. I never called to complain of his absence (though there were times I'd call to make sure he was still alive because, ya know... he can't communicate). I wasn't a nagging wife who felt insecure if he wasn't beside me all the time.
So yeah. I gave, and gave, and gave, and at the end of the day, none of it was good enough for John who STILL believes that I didn't do enough or try enough to make him happy. The truth is, he's simply projecting his failures onto me. He has failed at being a husband on so many levels and in so many impressively careless ways that it's a miracle this marriage lasted long enough to create Nathan. It wasn't a miracle, though. It was my patience. It was my rock-solid faith in the Sacrament of Marriage. It was my trust in God's Plan, even at my own expense. It was my pride... the pride that blinded me to the fact that the marriage I fought to save never existed to begin with.
So no. That picture up there? Yeah, it's a nice one. But me looking nice is not what makes it a shame that John walked out. John took it while we were on vacation in the Bahamas. However, John didn't take it because he thought I looked particularly nice (a courtesy, by the way, he has never paid me - not even on the day we married). He took it because I asked him to. I was walking towards the water, and I was so happy and adventurous that I wanted a memento of it.
I wanted to be able to look back and see the joy and rush of romance as I thought on the memory of that night.
In truth, I can see that plainly on my face. I was right to ask him to snap this shot. But John wouldn't have seen it. He probably still wouldn't see it. The sad truth is, John has never seen me for who I am. He will never appreciate who I am nor what I've done for him. While I strove to recognize even the smallest things he did (because I am forever the optimist and will cling to any semblance of good in a person), he refused to acknowledge anything but the worst in me.
So this picture - it wasn't for John. Not then, and not now. It was and is for me. This beautiful young woman still exists inside me, and eventually, there will be someone who recognizes, knows, and appreciates her. Not just part of her. Not just the imagined potential of her. Just HER. And that will be enough.