It’s been a while since I’ve posted - I’ve been pretty swamped with life and work. So if you’re a skip to the end sort, the thesis of this is as such:
The pressures of trying to carry the burden of not only financial responsibility in my marriage mixed with the necessity for my husband of living in the same house as my mother in law, has finally hit an irreparable and potentially freeing, breaking point.
I’m trying to decide what’s right for me with job opportunities, while also preparing to go to Canada. I have a conference in Toronto in a couple weeks (part of some of my work uncertainty - who am I going on behalf of? As I’m with two agencies and also represent a green coin) and then go to Vancouver for at least a month. My original plan was to drive with dog and husband, but my husband can’t justify the costs while he’s looking for work. Anyway, it’s a lot, sort of great that I’ll have untethered time with friends and family, but sad as I’ll miss him. He’s also exceedingly insecure about me and Canada, and worries that I won’t want to come back.
Reader: it hasn’t really crossed my mind that I wouldn’t come back till he said it. But his insecurity is both sad and kind of frustrating. I don’t feel like he’s done enough to try and find opportunities. I know, we aren’t supposed to “should” people or use our personal lens on others and expect to see the same thing. But I work really hard to stay relevant, avoid gathering career moss and am always aware that any contract I have could go away. The financial burden of this partnership rests solely on me, and that’s a lot, for both of us.
Anyway that’s a picture painted that some of you already are familiar with. Yesterday, we rescued two puppies from the house next to where we’re building. I love these dogs, brother and sister, sweetest dispositions. But - they are essentially wild, not fixed and getting to an age where it’s worrisome that hormones will take over and unwanted, incest puppies will happen. The owner agreed to let us take them and get them fixed and care for them while they heal, which is honestly a big triumph in my marriage. When I first suggested it to my husband, he was aghast and didn’t want to meddle, have our home uprooted and I think - at some level - he didn’t like my fixation on reproductive control. That’s a whole other ball of (barbed wire) wax.
We live above my MIL, who I’ve mentioned, really dislikes me. I work from home, so while our house is split in two totally separate living spaces, I pass her window every time I leave, which is often, and now more often because we have two extra dogs to care for.
Yesterday was a big day! A lovely article about my husband and my meeting went up, something I was excited but scared for, fearing repercussions from my violently abusive ex. But / knock on wood - so far the response from friends and total strangers has been nice. In any case, he and I talked a lot about our meeting, the hardships we’ve endured to be together, and were grateful. Also it felt like sort of momentous timing, as I’d gotten him to agree to taking care of these puppies.
But - when we got home with them (- Herculean effort on my part, getting social but wholly untrained puppies into a car on the side of a dusty highway - I’m CERTAIN that it looked like I was dognapping), I had to run upstairs to get stuff to clean the puppies. Husband opened the window I pass every time I leave, where she’s always stationed, with the TV blaring. I’ve tried to explain to him before how it’s not only out of my comfort zone to stop and say hi to a woman who makes it clear she despises me, but it’s hard as she’s hard of hearing, I have a soft voice, and she’s always got the TV on as loud as it goes.
Anyway I said hi how are you, smiled, and went upstairs to get scissors for the tags on the collars and leashes I’d bought for the puppies. Then - she bellowed out, with a very unpleasant look on her face, accusatory and unkind and petulant (petulant at 84 is a weird look) “HOLA.” And I said hola back, again asked how she was, but she’d already launched into a diatribe about me, in front of me, to her son/my husband. I understand Spanish almost 100%, while I’m lacking confidence in my verb conjugations and also having to yell, I don’t speak it with her very often. My husband looked pained and tried to explain I’d said hi but she hadn’t heard me, but she kept going. A solid 9 minutes of her talking about how rude I am, I live upstairs and never talk to her, what’s wrong with me etc.
It took much of me to refrain from explaining that I’m paying for her son’s existence, and I pay her bills, but what would the point be?
For me, it was a painful but important validation in front of my husband, that his mother is awful to me, this isn’t tenable, and things have to change.
We talked about it, he knows now, and what it means for us? I love him, I want to remain his wife, but I will not live in this house anymore. It means me paying for the house we’re building to ramp up even more, but it’s worth it. He also claims that this will be the push he needs to get out of his “comfort zone” and find a way to provide so that we don’t live in this house anymore.
I have talked at length with some friends about the impact that this has been taking on our marriage, and a friend asked, point blank if we’d have issues if I didn’t live above her. I know we’d still have issues, but not having to factor in being quiet and aware that she’s always there, making me feel like a trespasser, I believe we’d be better. And I believe it’s worth finding out.
But - the point is - the breaking point has been reached and as much as yesterday made me sad, hurt, frustrated, hopeless - it also was the validator I needed for my husband to see. I can’t keep this going and the status quo cannot remain as such.
I feel like a fraud, given all the people so moved by our story, but I tried to be honest in it, that we’d not always had it easy, and that every day we set out intentions with our partnership. That is very true, and after yesterday’s encounter, I think his intentions have gotten clearer.
How long will I stay away? I don’t know. At least a month in Vancouver, maybe longer. I am so angry, but somehow less so, now that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Before, when I didn’t understand Spanish, he could act like I was wrong, but the look on his face, in his lovely eyes, when he saw that I heard and understood everything that was being said about me, in front of me, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the presence of two extra puppies who love me and trust me to help them, but I feel more grounded and capable of enacting positive change, even if it’s as small as preventing more Mexican street dogs. And rescuing the female dog from the fate of most female dogs here, which I won’t share because it’s grim and I have already written a small opus.
I appreciate having this space to gather and put my thoughts, and do not expect answers or even anyone to read this - it just feels good to get it out.
Now off to take some puppies for a scary but essential surgery. On the bright side there - other than helping the dogs - I think I have found an animal welfare group here that I can connect with my contacts in Canada who are looking for dogs to foster, care for and place in furever homes.
*EDITED: wow typos. Sorry - I wrote this on my phone! But bonus is puppies in pictures.