Last week, I reached a tipping point. If you read my piece on the fundamental gender inequality of holiday pressure, you might expect it was something I was doing, like trying to gift-wrap a teepee. It was, in fact, something I heard. One too many diatribes from moms at the playground, at pickup, in the locker room who were saying the same thing over and over to me or within earshot. They wake up every year on November first, their fingers still blistered from hot glue-gunning Halloween costumes, and think ahead to the next eight weeks with a sense of dread and pressure that, they perceived, their husbands just don't feel. After the twentieth such encounter from women across racial and socioeconomic lines I thought, this needs to be talked about. I am having moments of this myself.
However -- and this is where I fucked up -- in structuring the blog, instead of sharing anonymous quotes from friends and acquaintances, I owned the whole thing, creating an exaggerated version of my husband to make a point so those women out their feeling so isolated in their frustrations could feel less alone.
All good intentions gone horribly wrong.
Yet another example of why it isn't easy being married to me. If you're in a bar and someone with a real job offers to buy you a drink -- and a writer makes the same offer -- take the employed person! Being marred to a writer sucks.
First, there is the unique issue that I came pre-married. It took me years to shift my emotional dependency onto David. My partner, Emma, and I had been in the foxhole together for so many years, speaking our weird Nell twin language, that it took a long time for me to allow myself to rely on David in the same way and I know that was really hard on him. Trust and vulnerability are still something I struggle with -- I would always rather do something alone than ask for help. It was never something that was rewarded growing up so I still think he'll love me more if I Cinderella the whole house. He won't. But I had to make that mistake a lot before I got it.
David is endlessly, relentlessly, almost delusionally I would say, supportive of my work. He believes in me, in Emma, and everything we are trying to accomplish. But I know it's hard for him that we have all the stress of a two-income household, juggling childcare and the household, without the security. Whether or not I'm able to write a story that resonates with audiences, that sells, directly impacts his quality of life. Whether he gets new pants or to take a vacation. Or the fact that he's been cooking in the same tiny 1970's Formica kitchen with the gunge-crusted appliances that I keep thinking I'll be able to make enough to gut one of these years.
Not to mention that he has had to live through some major professional heartbreaks with me. Finally, he said to me this year, "I didn't sign up to live with this disappointed person." That was a huge wake-up call for me. And the kind of thing I said in my wedding toast I would always be able to count on him for -- to say the things to me I need to hear, even when they feel like a slap. How else will I keep growing?
David cheers me on and cheers me up. He talks me off the ceiling every Sunday night after my parents leave, he pries the ice cream out of my hand when he finds me eating in the dark in a fugue state. He puts up with a woman who is lost in thought much of the time, seeing the next scene that has to be written, talking to my characters, asking what's next for them. He puts up with my love of Adidas. My pajamas du jour. My general loathing of the hairdryer or esthetic discomfort.
So he did not deserve to be the focus of my piece. I still want to write about the complexities of modern marriage. But I will have to find a way to do it that does not expose him. I'm not going to start wearing heels again, but this I can do.