As my daily routines gradually returned, I was faced with the pleasant reality that I was part of a newly formed family and marriage. Thinking back over my history of growing up as a classic people pleaser, gradually acquiring the ability to use a plethora of dysfunctional strategies to avoid expressing my true feelings. Because of this avoidance policy, I had never learned the art of engaging in an honest disagreement in which I would stand up for the right to own my feelings. With these old habits firmly in place, I had entered adulthood with a discomfort of any serious confrontation. Even though Jim and I shared an easy and relaxed relationship, I didn't even like getting into a serious argument with him. I found it easier to quietly turn away, lick my wounds and deal with my hurt or angry feelings by myself...avoid, avoid, avoid.
The past experience with my mom had given me my first example of truly sharing openly and honestly. This had shown me that speaking from my heart was an effective way for me to communicate, but I knew and understood how practicing it on a daily basis would indeed be a complicated achievement. It was much easier said than done. That level of communication between my mom and myself had been born out of a highly motivated need on my part to have her somehow understand my deeply rooted personal feelings about the real aftershock of emotions that I had been carrying around inside for so many years. It was an example of the style I hoped to emulate in my future, but I obviously needed time to reach that goal. I planned on taking baby steps, having no idea how many years would actually elapse before I would have the opportunity to taste success.
Aside from this disconnected form of communication, our life ran quite smoothly. Professionally I was blessed to have the joy and challenge of working with young children, helping them form a secure foundation for their future learning. I was also a co-leader for Jessica's Brownie and Girl Scout troops, so she and I were able to share many years of scouting adventures. I smile at my fond memories of actually going camping with our troop, and more than once. The smile is due to the fact that I truly enjoyed the experiences. Most people who know me well understand that my idea of "roughing it" consists of staying at Hampton Inn or Best Western. Isn't it beautiful to understand what parents are open to experiencing for the love of a child?
Jim and I have always been an example of opposites attracting. From the very beginning of our relationship we have consistently shared some fundamental beliefs, including the importance of family connections, religious convictions, political principles, a strong work ethic, humor and a love for each other. Although from the onset we've had very differing ideas of basic wants and needs, everything from how to best spend our free time, money habits of saving vs. spending, our first choice of where to live...country or city. Suffice it to say that our marriage has been filled with many compromises, but never dull or boring.