Today’s edition of Will Work For Foos marks the blog’s one-year anniversary.
I have to let that sink in. One year. Wow.
One year since I took what was, for me, a huge step and declared my intentions to pursue my dream job. One year since I determined that to bare my soul and put this crazy idea out into the universe was the only way to ever see if it would evolve into something. One year since I took a deep breath and said “What the hell.” I questioned my sanity, but I needed to follow this path and see where it would lead.
I knew from the start that this blog was going to have a unique, and some might say, limited focus. When I first began, I had one or two topics in mind, but I honestly wasn’t sure how long I could sustain it. I love a rock band, truly, madly and deeply, but I worried how I could talk about the Foo Fighters on any kind of regular basis and make the blog relevant to anyone who didn’t feel the same.
Still, I was determined to make it into something that people would enjoy, and share. After a few weeks, I discovered that this blog wasn’t so much about the band as it was about me, and hitting middle age, and dealing with issues that all of us face, or will likely face, at some point.
Early on, Mark told me just to write what I knew, and to write from my heart, and that would be enough. And that’s what I’ve done. Some weeks the ideas come easily, and other weeks I struggle, but writing consistently has now become a habit, and that discipline alone has helped me in many ways.
I knew from day one that writing well, and honestly, was a must. And I can honestly say this is a better blog now than it was a year ago. When people you know tell you you’re a good writer, you tend to brush it off and think they’re just being polite. But when you start to receive praise from people you’ve never met, you have no choice but to believe it. Strangers have no vested interest in you or your happiness or your success, so why would they shower you with false praise?
You may not have known the Foo Fighters when you started reading this blog, but you probably knew how it felt to lose a loved one, or to be angered by a social issue, or to have a dream that you wanted to pursue. So maybe you kept reading because something here reflected a part of your life, or struck a familiar chord. The band serves as my inspiration, but hopefully, there’s been something else here that has held your interest. Or maybe you’re just in it for the chance to get free baked goods. Either way, thanks for being here.
As it happens, the blog’s anniversary isn’t the only one I’m celebrating this week.
It was 32 years ago today that I, then a fairly mature yet still starry-eyed twenty year-old, walked down the aisle in a gorgeous candlelight gown and, before a church full of family and friends, pledged my troth to the wild-eyed cowboy of my dreams. And it’s certainly been a hell of a ride.
Looking back on it now, I am at once shocked and delighted that things have worked out as well as they have. By all rights, we really should have crashed and burned a long time ago. We were young, we were foolish, and we had no business taking on the emotional responsibilities that come with marriage.
Very few of the people who knew us expected us to last. I came from a family with a piss-poor marital track record. My parents had divorced after twenty-nine years, and two of my three brothers were already on second marriages. Nobody on my side of the aisle voiced any strong objections, but if we’d fallen apart early on, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised.
On balance, the objections on Mark’s side of the aisle were quite strong. We were too young, I was the prodigal product of a broken home, and perhaps worst of all, I was not Catholic. We would probably fall apart, bringing the embarrassment of divorce to the family. We heard all the concerns, and then went ahead with our plans anyway.
Our non-denominational ceremony ran an efficient twenty minutes, then we were off for our cake and champagne reception, followed by a honeymoon in Cancun. Upon our return, we had dinner at Mark’s parents’ house, where my mother-in-law commented on the too short, mass-free ceremony and wondered aloud if we thought God had even bothered to show up.
The day-to-day aspects of marriage are pretty tough in the beginning, and that’s not made any easier by knowing that people aren’t expecting things to work out. Yet, still, we managed to defy the odds. We adopted first one dog, then another, then built a house, and then started a family. About five years in, even the naysayers were beginning to come around.
Another baby came along, followed by a move to a bigger house. People began to ask us what the secret to our success was. I said it was because we talked to each other about everything. Mark’s response was more rudimentary; he said that the sex was really good. Maybe it was a combination of the two. It wasn’t always easy, and things weren’t always rosy. Jobs came and went. Incomes rose and fell. But we got into a rhythm. And we stayed the course.
We marked our twentieth anniversary with a trip to Hawaii. Our kids finished high school, and then graduated college. Life went on. Life was good. But then it wasn’t.
Twenty-eight years in, we hit the mother of all rough patches. We stopped talking. We had reached the place where so many couples frequently find themselves. The dreaded, clichéd crossroads of ‘we’ve grown apart’ and ‘why even bother?”
It’s the turning point for many marriages. According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of all couples in the U.S. divorce at some point. If we’d taken that path, we wouldn’t have been unique. But we were stubborn. We held on. Dug in our heels. We both sought counseling, both together and separately.
Counseling, when you’re doing it right, can be simultaneously enlightening and terrifying. It forces you to look at yourself objectively, and what you see can be ugly. You have to face truths that you’d rather not acknowledge. Old wounds are opened and scabs are torn off. It can be excruciating.
But if you’re lucky, and honest, you can come out the other side intact. There will be scars and bruises, but you’ll have gained insight and wisdom, and you have the tools to help you get through any subsequent rough patches. Sort of like a free parting gift from the experience.
We are stronger now than we’ve ever been. Holding on was not always easy, but it was worth it.
And they said it wouldn’t last.