Have you noticed lately? There's been a big, pink elephant that I've been trying to avoid in the room. I've been avoiding it by posting infrequently or, when I do, trying to waltz around the thing disrupting the normal flow of life at Swamp River Ridge.
But now, in an effort to make Valentine's Day a GOOD day for me, I am ready to rid myself of the weight that's been lurking 'between the lines' of my writing.
Tom moved out on January 17th.
Tom's been struggling to make Swamp River Ridge and the LIFESTYLE that such a place requires the right choice for him. When we began this project, he thought it was what he wanted. Now he knows that it's not. It's a big, fat disappointment, but how can a person know that something WILL be right until s/he actually tries it?
In retrospect, I think Tom's been struggling ever since the spring of 2008 when he quit his IT position on the Rez and set out to be his own boss as a handyman. Then, there was his attempt to 'find himself' last March when he headed out to Sedona. And, we all know that his time of personal reflection wasn't in the cards when he crashed & burned on his 2nd day there. Maybe 'crashed & broke' would be more accurate to explain his 5 day stay in an Arizona hospital recovering from the collapsed lung, badly broken clavicle, and 6 shattered ribs.
We've both been in counseling, individually & as a couple, on and off for over a year. At first blush, the 'problem' seemed to be "just" Swamp River Ridge. Now, the reality seems to be that there is more at the heart of things . . . and a pervasive unhappiness that Tom's struggling with that encompasses our marriage, too. Being philosophical, I believe that Tom's always allowed himself to be swept up (by the woman in his life) in activities, plans, moves, changes that he thinks are what he truly wants. But then, when he gets there, figuratively, he realizes that it's not what he wants. And, unfortunately, I don't think he's ever learned how to listen to his inner self to find just what it is that he DOES want. As a result of that, relationships, jobs, new lifestyles have fallen along the wayside.
My chest, my heart physically aches as I sit here trying to decide what to write, but I know I'll be able to continue with my writing on this blog now that the truth is out. (And I 'reclaimed' it as my own, if you will, with the new name . . . as you might have noticed. I'm not sure the sunflower image will be permanent, but the name will stay.)
I certainly hope I haven't sounded disparaging against Tom. We didn't know it at the time, but we took a huge personal risk in creating such a unique lifestyle for ourselves. And, unfortunately, that risk didn't pay off. Would these internal struggles of Tom's come to the surface if we had stayed living in Minneapolis . . . or in our cozy little house down by the lake? Who knows? But probably. It wasn't Swamp River Ridge that created his demons, but it did play a big part in forcing them to the surface.
On the up side, the difficulties in our relationship have forced me to realize how much this physical place, Swamp River Ridge, and this home that we designed & built mean to me. I've often said that I won't leave until I'm carried out in a pine box. I thought I'd have to retract that statement when Tom left, believing that he'd ask me to choose between Swamp River Ridge and him . . . but he hasn't. Maybe he still will . . . ask me to live with him, wherever that is. But, for now, I am here.
Now my biggest hurdle (aside from the emotions & what will become of our marriage) is figuring out how I can keep Swamp River Ridge, financially. For the last 12 1/2 years, Tom has supported me, 99.5%, financially. That was our "deal" when we moved in together in the fall of 1997: I would be a homemaker and keep all things running smoothly, and he would be the bread-winner. However, the time has very obviously come when I need to rejoin the working stiffs . . . that is to say, work OUTSIDE the home for the first time in a very long time. Am I nervous? Of course. Am I disappointed? Duh. Will Swamp River Ridge suffer when I'm out working 40 hours a week? Yup. Am I willing to make those sacrifices in an attempt to keep 'what is mine', so very deeply, in my soul? You bet. It's gonna suck rotten eggs, but I'll know that every moment spent away from home will be going towards the (fairly huge) mortgage . . . towards preserving this life that means so very much to me.
So, with that, I'll hit 'post' and hope that I haven't hurt Tom by being honest.