My friend is training to run marathons. She eats food as fuel. She practices long runs on a schedule. She brings supplements with her while she runs to replenish her body so she doesn’t run out of gas. It takes determination. It takes commitment. While physical endurance is a big part of the training, it is as much a mental activity. If there is no will there is no way. I’ve said this before, that I was a sprinter in high school. One quick short burst of energy and I got my medal. Simple. Easy. Gratifying. But frankly no one, I don’t think, has ever put on their bucket list to FINISH THE 50 YARD DASH. No. But many thousands, even millions of people have made finishing a marathon one of their goals in life. Why? Because it is an accomplishment that takes great commitment and effort.
I have a new-found appreciation for the journey itself because of the running I’ve been doing for exercise. I get it. It’s cool.
Martin and I both believed that getting him to America would be a sprint. Inconsequential. The first job came easily. He got the visa. There was no reason for us to consider a long drawn out battle. So since August 10th when we found out Martin didn’t have a job in America anymore has been a surprise and not a good one.
In the last 6 months our relationship has been tested many times in different ways. We are learning to be patient from the long wait but it’s not just the time that we have had to contend with. There have been injuries. When you set out on a long run you have to know your body. Know your weak spots so you don’t get injured. I’ve learned this the hard way and have limped home a time or two when my knee has acted up. I now know that if I run in cold weather without warming up my muscles or protecting my legs from the cold I am more apt to get an injury.
Martin’s professional soccer playing days were peppered with much time spent sitting watching his team play due to injury. No sooner did he get signed to the team in London in 1970 than his injuries began. Elbows, knees, and shoulders; he seems particularly vulnerable in his joints. He is so singularly focused on the goal (winning) that he forgets he can’t make it to the goal if his body can’t get him there. We’ve talked about this and I hope he can learn from its lesson.
We are learning a lot about ourselves and each other through this trial. I am learning to let things settle before rushing to judgment. I’m getting to know this other human being with layers. 56 years of layers that we are peeling away a bit at a time. Fortunately we are the kind of couple who can say, “Why did you do that?” And have a frank reflection of a hurtful event so we learn from it in hopes of not repeating it.
Fear does crazy things to people though. Martin’s one track mind makes him like a train going full steam ahead one direction at a time. When he’s doing work he gives it 100%. When he’s golfing he gives it 100%. When he’s with me he gives me 100%. But when things get mish-mashed he doesn’t know what to do. He’s a train remember? He can only ride one track at a time. Throw fear into the mix and he’s a train heading full speed ahead toward a broken bridge with no working brakes. Panic easily kidnaps his thoughts at least for a little while. Eventually he shakes his brain clear and starts behaving like himself again.
We debrief. “Ok, what did we do good, what did we do not-so-good? What can we do different?” We adjust. It’s a loss for the team but the season isn’t over yet.
I admit I’m scared too. This is not an easy thing to do. Getting married for the second time is a big enough leap in and of itself. Mix in a long-distance relationship and the trust factor is quadrupled. While I still think that I had a realistic expectation that Martin should have been more honest with me about how he spent his time, I do sometimes react to abnormalities when he’s in England like they are mutations of his DNA. I need to remember that every mole is not cancer. They’re definitely things that hinder his and my ability to run the race effectively but not enough to get him kicked off the team. Sometimes I only look at that thing as if the cancerous mole has metastasized to every vital organ and he is a terminal case. It’s a mole. It’s ugly and I don’t like it. But it can be cut out and without it he’s pretty great. In lots and lots of ways.
We aren’t robots are we? We have emotions and those emotions sometimes cloud our judgment and make us act in crazy and sometimes hurtful ways. But they also make life rich and satisfying. Who wants to eat fat-free cheesecake or ice cream? It’s just not the same. So we have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes. At the very least we need to give a person we love the same breaks we would give our friends. Don’t believe the worst because of fear. But live with the reality that you do know, deal with it, don’t sweep it under the rug, learn from it, and move on.
We have been working under the idea that since we are so far apart we should spend as much time together as possible. It happened naturally and with enthusiasm from us both. He literally has gotten up at 6 or 6:30 AM almost every morning for 15 months so he can talk to me before leaving for work. I stay up late to talk to him. If he is lying just to get one evening alone does that mean the magic is gone and we are in serious trouble and that he is untrustworthy in all areas? Or does that mean we thought we were in a sprint and acted accordingly and now realize we are in a marathon and need to shift gears in order to not burn out?
We need to understand that he is there and I am here and we have to live. So we are working on it. We are pacing ourselves. Helping each other with discipline and restraint so we can finish the race.