Actually, that's putting it mildly. I have a REALLY hard time letting go of things, even things I should probably let go of. I hate the sound of a closing door. I hate the finality of choosing one thing over another.
So when I decided to try and take part in Elana Johnson's Never Surrender Blogfest, I was stuck. The challenge is to blog about a time in your life when you did not give up. I have a lot of times I didn't give up, but most of them aren't inspiring. Mostly they're stories of me just stumbling forward, because I didn't know what else to do.
And for every story like that, there's another story of something I should have walked away from earlier and didn't. Or times I did let something go and it turned out to be the wrong thing. So I don't really feel qualified to tell you why you should never surrender.
There are a couple of exceptions to this, a couple of things in my life that are hard and wonderful and take more work and commitment than I ever expected. Those things are my writing and my marriage.
And since I've talked about my writing journey and querying and editing and all that already, I thought I'd share a little bit about my marriage.
Warning, personal-type stuff ahead!!!!
My husband and I met several years before we started dating. We hung out with the same people and did a lot of the same things. First we were friends, then less-than-friends, then a little more than friends, and then he finally asked me out.
We clicked from the start. We have similar senses of humor, including a love of British comedies. We went for long walks and talked about everything from theology and politics to movies and Internet memes. Being together stabilized us, made us calmer, happier people.
Most of the time.
Dan and I are both first-borns, late bloomers and stubborn and independent as hell. We both struggle with anxiety. And we're yellers. (You wouldn't call the police if you heard us, but you wouldn't want to be in the same room either.) If there's conflict, he wants to argue until it is resolved, whereas I reach a point really quickly where I need space to cool off.
There was a lot of arguing. Neither one of us had been in a serious relationship before and sometimes it was a battle. But we didn't think it was a serious problem. We loved each other. We were best friends. It was hard at times, but we were making it work.
Then we got married.
And all hell broke loose.
There's something about marriage that amplifies conflict. You can't just have an argument and go home and cool off and call each other later and make up. That person--who may be the last person on earth you want to see right that very second--is in your space. They are in your BED. There's nowhere to go.
(This was especially hard for me. I have a very strong flight response to conflict, and when I feel trapped, I freak out.)
Things started to fall apart almost immediately. We still loved each other, but we didn't feel close at all. We didn't trust each other. Every discussion turned into a fight. It felt like everything we'd built together was crumbling. People would make jokes about newlyweds and nudge us and I would smile because I didn't know what else to do. But inside I was dying.
It could have ended right there. We could have decided we weren't right for each other and split up. Or we could have stopped caring so much, grown cold towards each other and settled for a facsimile of the good marriage we wanted.
We didn't do either of those things. We wanted to stay together, but more than that, we wanted to be close again. We missed each other.
So we started yelling for help. We talked to mentors, pastors, people we trusted. We read books on good communication and had long conversations about the differences between our styles. I learned to be more selfish and ask for what I needed. He grew more gentle. We both got honest. It was scary and it was hard and it was messy and it didn't happen overnight, but slowly, we started to rebuild the broken parts of our relationship.
The second year was easier, and the third. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary at the end of February, so we're still pretty new at this. We still fight. We still ask for help sometimes. But we're a team now. With a lot of work and a lot of grace and a lot of support, we got the best part of us back.
And I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Want to join the Never Surrender blogfest? Details are here.