Mountain Range – By Haley Jones-Chiarmonte

I woke up in the night and arose straight out of my bed, lurched forward, and yelped like an injured dog toward my left foot. This isn’t so abnormal lately, I just had surgery on my foot and as it stands, or lack thereof, I am a gimp. I hop around my house all day with a hot pink cane for a little support. Screaming often happens when I lose my balance and put too much pressure on my injury. But at 11:53pm last night, after automatically leaning towards my foot to see why I was hurting, I realized it was another part of my body aching. It was my heart.

People often talk about the peaks and valleys of marriage, how love is a verb, and even try to categorize people into 5 love groups to better understand each other. I feel like I’ve read it all, seen it all, talked about it all and the only conclusion I’ve come to is that marriage is complicated and takes experience. People are complicated and life is mostly about balance. Unfortunately for me, things have gotten complicated. I have lost my balance both physically and emotionally. Now I must rely on experience.

I married Adrian in September 2011. We’ve had quite an adventure so far. His business has blown up, I’ve gone back to school, and there is no shortage of travel or family in our lives. We’ve both been very blessed. When we got married, I remember distinctly telling Adrian to remember that moment forever and to hold onto the memory of all the people who supported our union. But as the years pass it seems that memory fades just a little more. Other people, places and things become a higher priority, and we have more and more moments of loneliness within our marriage. I can’t say I wasn’t warned about this and told that this is “normal” in relationships. But it still hurts and I feel a sense of loss. Facebook and social media make it easy for us to portray a false reality. One that says, “we have no problems”, “life is great”, and love is always in the air. What it doesn’t show are the lows we march through, the transitions and changes that at times create conflict. I suppose that’s okay, but it’s definitely not the whole story.

During the lows of our marriage, I find myself questioning the whole idea and institution of being tied to one person for the rest of my life. Bearing their weight and baggage… it seems overwhelming. I feel a sense of brokenness and unlike my left foot, there are no pins to place in my heart to keep it from aching. When trying to describe a “low”, I am lost for words. Empty. That’s the only thing I can think of.

I do my best to bring back the dim thought of our wedding day, the people there, and the love I felt. I go through pictures and reminisce over the “highs” we’ve had. I also find it helpful to focus on the feelings in the past when Adrian has done simple things to make me smile. Things like running around the back yard with the dog, picking out a Christmas tree, making me tea, or coming home early from work so he could spend extra time with me. These memories keep me wanting more and help me realize that the lows are just another part of this big picture and our journey together.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I am currently in a low. Physically I only have one functioning foot and emotionally, my heart is half-in. If I put too much pressure on my foot too soon, I could have a whole new set of complications. I believe the same is true with my heart. So I’ve decided to just sit still, contemplate, forgive, and focus on healing my body as well as my soul. I’ve learned that during these lows it’s important to keep compassion for the other person and have some self-control when making decisions. Never make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions. That is the motto I cling to. With this new low, I have decided to wade it through until I am well enough to climb the next mountain. I know eventually I will feel the sun on my face again as we grasp each other’s aging hands and reach another peak.