The start of 10 years....
On April 23rd, 2011 I walked arm in arm with my father, dressed in his Formal Navy Uniform, down a curved aisle in a little clubhouse towards the boy I loved. It had been a rough night leading up to this day. No planned bachelorette party for me, a bailed-on bachelor party, and a broken-down car for Jake. We were thankful and surprised his wedding party showed up at all the next day. My garter, cake cutting tools and cardigan for our first dance outfit were missing, last-minute sound system issues and more went awry. These rough beginnings to our marriage would seem to some, to be a sign not to proceed. In hindsight, those who have read my story may say- LIFE HAS BEEN TELLING YOU NOT TO PROCEED. And life afterward also seemed to thwart all plans of happiness together. I have been asked by many when enough is enough and why/how I have stuck it out as long as I have. I am a firm believer in when things are hard- they are the right thing to do. The devil tries to distract and hurt us into thinking we are making the wrong choice… when in reality, the choice is perfect for us. Has my marriage been easy? No… but would I say it’s worth it? 100%!!!
As I write this post, I am sitting in our backyard under an umbrella- watching my gorgeous 3 kids build an incredibly creative fort out of lawn chairs, a mini trampoline, and foam tiles while they eat tacos on Cinco De Mayo. They made it all worth it. I wouldn’t change it. Do I wish that things were easier sometimes and wonder why the hell I continue to battle the same battles with no change? Yeah, sure. But I can also recognize my personal growth through my trials and realize I didn’t learn enough or grow enough the last time. So, God continues to test me until I get a better score. 2 weeks ago, I celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary with Jake. We took 5 days away in Myrtle Beach, we privately renewed our vows, and we spent time alone in a beach condo.
I was hoping for this incredibly romantic getaway, where we would get to be intimate and rekindle our flame, remembering why we fell in love and learn why we are still together, how we can be better to one another and how we can grow as a couple and as a family. Unfortunately, it didn’t really happen that way. Now hold on- before you get all worried I’m about to say how crappy it was- it was amazing. Very eye-opening, and I do not regret renewing my vows or taking time away. In fact, I would have loved a few more days away. However, we have jobs to get back to and children who missed us. I am thankful to my mother who was able to keep my kids and work them into her busy work schedule all while dealing with some other family issues. She is a warrior and I love her! But anywho… events of our anniversary trip:
Day 1- We had a red-eye flight leaving Salt Lake City at 11:59p. Things were going great, we laughed, we giggled, we had new jokes to replay at a later date, and we were doing something adult-like by traveling together. I had not been on a plane in 6 years. Neither of us had traveled since Covid hit. Jake is an experienced traveler. As you may recall, he traveled to and from Denver 2-4 times per year, and to Vegas multiple times as well as LA, for auditions and shows he was doing. He was used to traveling alone. Historically, he would get a drink in an airport bar, or on the plane and fly tipsy. Well with Covid there are no inflight services (unless you are in first-class- which don’t even get me started on how messed up and classist that is during a pandemic…I mean yeah you are in first class, but if you are doing beverage service for them, why can’t you open it up for the rest of the plane? It makes no sense…) So as he went on the hunt for snacks and drinks… Being that it was midnight or nearly midnight… apparently, EVERYTHING had closed. Our terminal also didn’t really have any vending machines close by. He was gone FOREVER!!!! Like I was starting to get nervous… He didn’t answer his phone, they started boarding and he was not back… I couldn’t carry all of our bags alone and go hunt for him, I couldn’t leave them… I started to get really stressed. Finally, he wanders back to our gate, super drunk.
I was pissed. One, I was worried sick, two- he didn’t answer his phone, three- I was mad he had been selfish and got himself something but not me, four- he was drunk… Which now changed my role from wife to the babysitter. I have triggers from our past and this definitely set one-off. We had discussed that it would be a sober trip, so now I felt betrayed and humiliated as well as furious. Now, I am aware that it’s unfair for me to be so mad... That’s part of the tricky side of triggers. I know I could have handled it more calmly, and I know I could have chosen not to get upset. But triggers aren’t rational. I felt hurt and I felt annoyed and embarrassed. Here we were trying to board a plane for our anniversary celebration to renew vows and have this whole new outlook on our marriage- and it started where it had been for the past few years... it wasn’t boding well. That hurt. He was swaying, and couldn’t keep his eyes fully open. We get to our seat and it’s us along with 1 other gal…
We start small talk and she tells us how she has been vaccinated so we can chill (not that we were worried), and that she was drunk and sorry in advance. Jake responded with “hey so am I!” And they began a little witty banter that was entertaining to listen to. A few minutes later she says “oh how rude of us, we don’t even know each other’s names… My name is ‘Shauna’.” Now I wrote “Shauna” and those who have read my story know this name is significant… It is in quotes because it’s not her real name. But her name matched that of an earlier… dilemma….. yeah, we’ll say dilemma, to our marriage. I had to laugh and internally cringe at the irony… Here we were… trying to rekindle our marriage and move forward from all the pain, hurt, and struggles of the past 10 years…. It started rocky with an alcoholic binge, and now… ‘Shauna’ was inserting herself at the beginning of our trip the way the original ‘Shauna’ was at the beginning of our marriage. Internally, I spoke to God, and I said… “Well played, Lord, well played… What is my lesson?”
I didn’t learn one on the trip, but I will tell you what I have gleaned from it since, a little later. We finish the flight, I got no sleep, Jake and Shauna both slept the whole flight… As we got ready to de-board I had the hardest time keeping my mouth shout- BUT I DID IT- when the 20 something-year-old kid in front of us who had let his mask drop multiple times, went off to his co-travelers about the flight attendant who requested he pulls his mask up again, and not to let it slip again. He said “Man, come back and tell me again, huh? Like you wanna tell me to pull my mask up again, I’ll tell you exactly how I feel, and where you can shove it…” along with other stupid things… Like dude- you chose to travel in a pandemic… there are rules that go along with that. The airline requires you to wear your mask. You wanna fly- you agree to the rules. Quit complaining, pull your big boy pants up and keep your mask over your nose. I get that people have differing opinions… Hell- so do I. It’s unpopular but I am ready for people to go back to normal life… I hate that people are dying from this disease. I hate that we couldn’t all just behave the first couple of months and let it disappear so we could get back to life faster. But I am ready to move forward.
If people want to wear masks, let them. If they don’t, don’t make them. Freedom of choice is where I am currently at, and I am not interested in battling it out. So don’t try, please. I will respect your choice, but you will not change my opinion. I will not fight it out. I have a desire for normal life to resume. Back to my story- I think this kid was too- but I will follow the rules of travel because I am a good citizen and understand I have a choice to travel under the regulations or not to travel if I don’t want to follow them. Anyway- we de-plane and we start booking it to our connection flight from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. We have about 30 minutes to our next flight. Jake admits to not being able to remember the flight at all and was bugged to hear ‘Shauna’ had followed us on our trip. He had no recollection of meeting Shauna 2.0, and could not believe it. He then shared that recently Shauna 1.0 had seen a lot of his Instagram Stories recently and that it was an uncomfortable coincidence for him. Internally I was hoping he would make a bigger effort to be sober and present knowing what had transpired and how it had triggered me. I was hopeful for the remaining days of our trip.
We both napped on the 1-hour flight from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. We arrived and were picked up by a family member who was renting us his condo and performing our vow renewal later on the trip. He took us to the condo and gave us a tour of the area as we drove. He was kind enough to lend us one of his cars, so we didn't have to rent one or be stranded. When we got to the condo- we were right on the beach. A beautiful 3 bedroom 3 bath condo with a balcony overlooking the vast ocean. Pelicans flew right across our level twice a day, the ocean was dark and beautiful. Everything was on the up and up! Until…. I started my period the instant we got to the condo. Not very romantic… Another wrench into the vacation. God sure had a sense of humor! We drove around to pick up some groceries to keep in the kitchen for our stay and to see what was close by. We enjoyed a nap and a couple of hours of Law and Order SVU before driving to dinner with our hosts at their home. A delicious pasta dinner and walk around their gorgeous gold course in their gated community. You could see the condo we were staying in directly across from their house on the Golf Course. We saw turtles, fish, squirrels, and birds, as well as a beautiful sunset, while we listened to all the gossip about the neighborhood. We finished the night with stories of our family and discussing the plan for the Vow renewal the next day. We returned to the condo, exhausted. We attempted to watch a movie we brought, but Jake fell asleep on the couch and after many attempts to wake him and remind him to take off his contacts, I gave up and eventually turned off the movie and fell asleep myself. It had been along! Day. Tomorrow we would start fresh and do some fun activities. But tonight… we were resting.
Originally I had planned one post on our anniversary trip but the details that flow out when I write, take more space than I think they will. I think it’s gonna have to be a mini-series, because who wants to read a 30-minute blog post?!? So here is day one/two! Now I know it may be hard for some to read these details and some wonder why things are the way they are, why I stay through continual behavior, or why we work. I want to be clear- I share the nitty-gritty details of our lives with a purpose. It’s not to trash talk my husband or to get sympathy or pity. I share the intimate details so that others who are struggling with similar issues know they are not alone. SO often in my journey, I felt alone, embarrassed, ashamed, scared….When I realized I didn’t have to be ashamed, or embarrassed by what had happened in my life through the choices of others or my own choices, it was freeing. I know Jake feels slightly uncomfortable with the details I share because it makes him feel weak and ashamed. But in all honesty, to share your story is brave and should feel empowering. I understand that I am in a different space emotionally and mentally with my journey than he is. In my mind, it has only shown his strength and endurance through his trials and shows what an amazing human he is that I want to continue to work on our marriage and it’s worth fighting for.
I share these stories because we are human. We make mistakes and we make stupid choices that have consequences. Sometimes the consequences are for the better. Sometimes they are for the worst. But it doesn’t make him less worthy of love, support, and compassion. I love him more than I can ever put into words. He is my other half and he is my partner. My love for him is unconditional. For others in our situation- parting ways is the right choice. I believe in my higher power and when I pray to my higher power for guidance, I am always guided to keep working at it, that he is worth it and our marriage isn’t finished. That we will overcome our adversity… That excites me. The story of overcoming our struggles will be shared as it unfolds here. I will have an opportunity to truly look back at EVERYTHING that made life hard for me… I will be able to see my journey and how I have persevered and how it came out in the best way. I LOVE THAT! I also love sharing the journey. I think part of the trouble we have in this life is the filters we put up. Dropping the filter into my life is freeing. I know there are other lives involved who are not ready to be unfiltered, like Jake. But he is human, he has demons of his own, he has a journey of his own. It doesn’t scare me to face them with him. Together, he and I WILL rise above the ashes of our past and we will soar high like the phoenix. I hope his journey heals along with mine as he doesn’t feel he has to hide his baggage. He is lovable, he is worthy of love and he is MY love. I look forward to sharing our vow renewal story next week along with incredible photos of our trip! Until next week, be brave! Stand up, speak out and share your truths so you too can rise like the phoenix above the ashes of your past.