Gary unlocked the heavy wooden door and pushed it open. Quickly stepping to one side, he let our two dogs rush past him to begin a thorough investigation of each and every crack, crevice and corner of our temporary new home.
Walking in behind them, I stood near the doorway, to let my eyes adjust to the dimly lit interior.
We had rented a old log cabin in the mountains all caught up in the fantasy of the authentic "Adirondack vacation", and, well, that's what we got. Double-hung windows on either side of the door, allowed in the daylight, but direct sun was blocked by the roof of a large front porch. The little light that managed to penetrate was instantly absorbed by the pine floors, walls and cavernous cathedral ceiling stained dark mahogany brown and decorated with colored Native American rugs and blankets, but even the scarlet couch in the center of the room failed to brighten the large open living space, though you could tell it really tried.
But the cabin was not the major source of our problems.
The four hour drive to the mountains had run the gambit from not great, to mildly disappointing, to pretty f***ing crappy. I'm not a big one for road trips in any case, plus Gary had been completely devoid of personality, and out of touch the entire trip.
I started out the ride determined to make him be the first one to speak, but after 45 minutes, realized that my unrealistic expectation would more then likely result in four long hours of silence. By the time we reached our destination, I would likely be DOA, having died of boredom after about the 3rd hour. (That really happened to people back before everyone had smart phones.)
Since, clearly the silent treatment was not so much being ignored, as going unnoticed, I decided on a different tactic. First I asked Gary if he was thinking about work. "No" he said, "Not really." It was vacation after all, why should he be thinking about work?
So I brought up different topics that I thought we could discuss, but one after another became me monologuing on a subject, to which Gary would eventually respond "Yeah?" or maybe "Mmm." followed by the sound of the car air conditioner's hoarse unbroken exhale, and the rhythmic thunk thunk thunk of tires hitting the seams in the road's surface.
After several attempts, I finally asked him a question about his job. Predictably, the flood gates opened and he became a fountain of information and communication. I let him pour out the pent up work related blah blah blah blah, blah, before asking, "But you're not really thinking about work?" Realizing that it had been a trap, Gary got my point, but not surprisingly his angered response was only more silence.
Truth is, our marriage was going through a bit of a rough patch. For the last 10 years Gary had poured all his energy into his job. After running his own business for almost a decade, he decided to let it go and took a position with a small local builder. During the years that followed, he moved his way up through the industry till he was working as a Superintendent for one of the area's top residential firms. His effort and focus had born fruit, but at a high cost. He had become incredibly one sided and single minded.
Thing is, for many years, that was largely what we did together. He would come home from work around 5:30 or 6:00. We would hang out and run through his day, in minute detail. I would listen, make comments, ask questions and follow up on details he mentioned the day before to see how things got resolved. When we had completed this day-in-review, it would be followed by dinner in front of the TV, where we remained watching whatever crap was on, till 9pm when Gary would go to bed. That was his life 24/5.
It's hard to say when things changed. I know we had both gotten tired of being programmed and gave up watching television completely a couple years back. Somewhere along the line, I guess I also grew tired of vicariously living the life of a construction supervisor. It seems as though that's when Gary all but gave up talking.
To be fair, Gary's never been a gabby guy. He's the kind of guy that people are comfortable with the minute they meet him simply because he's always comfortable with himself.
He's friendly, straight forward and likable. But I think part of the reason he is like he is, has to do with his somewhat detached disinterest in others. Like you never have to worry about what he really thinks about you, because it's easy to tell he doesn't. That could make some people seem cold or self-absorbed but with Gary it just comes off as being easy-going. "Keep it simple stupid" was always his motto...well nearly always, he did marry me;)
Fortunately the gorgeous late-summer weather allowed us to escape the gloom of the cabin's interior. Between hikes and sightseeing, Gary and I would hang out in the Adirondack chairs idyllically situated on the front porch.
Only as the days passed, I felt my frustration building. Any attempts to connect Gary to my expanded inner world failed to draw him in.
And I was just totally done with the one subject that had held him enthralled to the exclusion of all else. I needed more from life and more from him.
It came to head on the third day of vacation. I felt like I was choking on my own frustration. I told him I couldn't go on living like this for the rest of our lives. It wasn't what I had signed up for and, if nothing was going to change, we were done.
In twenty five years of marriage, I had never given him an ultimatum. I never seriously considered leaving him and I wasn't even sure I meant it then, but I sure sounded like I did.
Some guys would think maybe we should talk about it. Not surprisingly, Gary didn't want to talk. He said he wanted time to think and went off by himself to do some soul searching.
As I lay in a lounge chair on the lawn in the warm sun, I felt as though I was standing on the edge of an abyss, staring with terrifying uncertainty at what my future could be like without the one person that I had shared my life with since I was just 19!
I felt far greater powers at play here than my own, like the hand of fate was the pulling the levers, and I didn't know what the end game was. Were we on a path of renewal? or was it a slippery slope down to destruction of the life we'd shared together for so long?
Gary returned without any answers, I guess he didn't know if he COULD change (or maybe he didn't know if he wanted to). Dinner was quiet, and he went to bed without anything being resolved.
Surprisingly, the next day dawned as expected. The cheerful sunshine beamed down on our laps as we had coffee on the porch, but it did little to lighten my mood. I felt apprehensive and unsure.
"There's a hike not far from here called 'Chimney Rock'" Gary suggested "If you wanna go..."
"Sure" I agreed, why not? The pups and I were always up for a hike, but Gary rarely wanted to come with us. The years spent as a carpenter had taken a toll on his 6'4" frame. He had been diagnosed with pinched nerves that caused him a good deal of leg pain, and his knees had climbed up way too many ladders. He was only in his late forties, but we joked that he had the legs of an 85 year old.
So we moved slowly and laboriously up the stony trail and I listened while Gary described two dreams that he had the night before. In the first he remembered seeing two girls, and one of them tells him her father just died.
"YES!" I almost shouted, my fist shooting reflexively into the air. I turned and smiled at him.
He looked surprised but continued to tell me of a second dream about an old high school friend named Brian.
"He was just standing there. Only he was really scrawny and emaciated and he had blue hair."
"YES! YES! YES!" I responded ecstatically. It was as though his dreams were makingmy dreams come true. The Universe just let me know, I was getting my husband back!
The rest of the hike we had this amazing conversation. I explained his dream and, like some kind of miracle, he was fully awake, his mind easily grasping and using metaphors. For what seemed like the first time in forever, he could see my world.
Not long before Gary and I met, Brian was working for his dad as a plumber. He was the one that started Gary on his career when he told him about a framer who was looking for help. That was how Gary got into the trades.
In the dream Brian represented Gary having been drained of all the energy fueling the growth and promise he had back at the beginning of his career as a carpenter.
The girl's father' also represented work because traditionally it was the world of business and commerce that Fathers occupy during the day, while Mothers represent home and family. Obviously, this was the sphere that had a stranglehold on Gary's energy and focus. The death of the father in his dream showed the hold that influence had over him was passing away. The girl, as the surviving family member, pointed to the opportunity for Gary to reconnect with his the feminine energy, his unconscious, the spiritual, mystical, artistic side of his being. She was the opportunity for him to restore his inner balance.
On the way back down the mountain, we continued to connect on a deeper level. He was still great, but by the bottom of the hill I could feel it wearing thin. He was slipping back already. The rest of the day he flitted in and out. I couldn't see how it could be permanent, but at least I didn't have to leave him...not for now anyway
In this whole traumatic experience, there was another thing that totally amazed me. Without knowing what the end game was, or how to achieve it, I was used to bring Gary to the point where he could see his situation for what it was. I trusted in and surrendered to The Powers That Be and basically had no say for much of the discussion. I know because the whole time I was like "holy sh*t-This is not what I want!!" But still I was insisting that I did.
What I thought might be the end, turned out to be a new beginning. The shift that took place that vacation, slowly, gradually, but undeniable created a massive change. Gary turned the tables on me as his search for balance opened up brave new worlds for us both.
So that's where I'll be going in the future. I hope you'll continue the journey with me.
If Steemit's really all about original content, that much I can guarantee.
I hope you enjoyed this post:)
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