Not a TV Husband

But Maybe She Wheel Not A TV Husband

When I got married at 19, I thought I knew how to “wife”. While my then fiancé and now husband and I had a good understanding about doing away with the traditional gender roles a husband and wife play, I didn’t know there was a poisonous thread of preconception I was trying to weave into our marriage. A preconception of what it means to be a bully in a marriage.

 

Growing up, I knew I was fortunate to have parents who loved each other. I saw them sacrifice for each other, spoil one another and love together. But I never saw my parents fight, for they preferred instead to fight quietly and behind closed doors. This wasn’t wrong of them and I don’t resent them for it; however, when I began seriously dating my now husband, I was very behind in knowing the loving way to argue in a marriage.

 

After my mother died, my models for marriage came from my friends’ parents and from movies and TV. Other friends’ parents didn’t make it a habit to argue in front of us either, so I unconsciously began learning patterns of arguing from romantic comedies and TV series. When I laughed along at the antics of Jill and Tim the Toolman Taylor, I unconsciously stored away the pattern of Jill’s to roll her eyes at Tim and for Tim to always admit that Jill was right in the end.

 

But Maybe She Wheel Not A TV Husband Sweet Plum Photography
Photo Credit: Diana Ratcliff, Sweet Plum Photography

Across television, these wives berate their husbands in the form of jokes, insults and passive aggressive teasing. There’s always something that the husband has done or said wrong and it is only the husband that is responsible for the wife’s happiness, with no regard for the husbands. The idea is that the husband should be happy that he has his wife, no matter what, and there’s nothing that she can do wrong.

 

Regardless of the two genders or two nongenders in a relationship, the idea that one person has dominance or authority over another should always be wrong. Women’s suffrage of the early 20th century in this country taught women that they have a voice and a right to be heard. But now it seems like the traditional idea is that there’s still one person in the relationship whose voice is quieted for the other to be heard.

But Maybe She Wheel Not A TV Husband Bruges Belgium
Waterways of Bruges outside of Brussels, Belgium

 

And I am guilty of repeating this mistake in my own marriage. Dusty and I have been married for seven years, five of them with me in a wheelchair and six years in the military.

 

While stationed in Missouri following our return from Germany, Dusty and I both went through a transformative period. For the first time since the accident, I was purposefully doing physical therapy just to stay healthy and not to continue to try to walk.

At this point we’d been married 6 years, together 8 years, and been together through family crises, my accident that left me a paraplegic, moving for school, moving for the Army, long trainings, long distance loving, and countless events that began to shape our identities. He learned how to dress me, stretch my hip flexors, stand by in case when I became independent, and how to be a soldier with a disabled partner. I learned how to be second to the Army in his time, yet feel secure that I was first when given choices. We grew up in our adulthood together.

 

Like young friends do, we also teased each other. Made fun of each other’s failings, jokingly at first but always with an element of our true feelings. Then it began to happen in public, at dinners with friends or with our families or even when meeting other couples for the first time. “Don’t ask Dusty, he can’t make choices,” I’d answer for him when friends would ask where to meet for dinner. Joking? Sure. Truthful of my own frustrations with some of his mannerisms? Yes.

 

And for the first six, Dusty simply absorbed this undertone of belittling and patronizing that I had brought into our marriage. And he took it because he too only knew that it was the husband that was wrong and was constantly needing to get his act together. It breaks my heart to know the man of my life and the hero of my story felt this way for so long. It didn’t matter how tirelessly he worked to make my life accessible, to tune all the kinks from my wheelchair whenever it needed it, to watch for mental and emotional roadblocks in our military life and prepare us for them; if I was unhappy, it was Dusty’s job to fix it. How miserable of a marriage.

But Maybe She Wheel Not A TV Husband back story

But Dusty went through a minor quarter-life crisis in realizing that he simply was not happy. He couldn’t put his finger on the reason, he loved his position in the military at that time, he was hiking and camping all throughout the beautiful Ozarks on weekends, he was enjoying CrossFit… but still he wasn’t happy. We prayed together, I prayed for him and he prayed. And God replied to me, through an article I found on Pinterest. (God totally talks through Pinterest, I’m sure it was His will that wanted me to turn into a wooden pallet sign label maker for our house). Reading through the article, it forced me to ask myself this question.

 

Would I want to be married to me?

 

If I was married to myself and played the role of Dusty, would I appreciate the things I said to myself? Would I want to have the responsibility that I’d just shove over to myself without another thought?

Of course not. I’d make myself miserable after a day. No wonder Dusty was unhappy. It wasn’t that who I am as a person made him unhappy or that he didn’t enjoy being with me or we didn’t love each other or anything in that thread of thought. It was the patronizing and belittling comments that had eaten away at his self-esteem, confidence and happiness with who he is. And I crumbled when I realized it had been my mouth from which those comments had come, no matter what my intention had been.

But Maybe She Wheel Not a TV Husband Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark

And so together we learned how to communicate both the negatives and positives of each other. We’re still learning how to build each other up instead of cutting away the edges we don’t like. And we’re going to be just alright. We have a foundation of communication that has carried us through my accident and more and now we rely on that to teach us how to fight fairly.

 

I urge new couples in a serious relationship to practice fair fighting when tempers run high and expectations are skewed. A couple that doesn’t fight could be pushing down the life force of communication that love between two people need. When I’m angry now, I talk honestly instead of passive aggressively belittling his choices and person. He feels affirmed that I think he’s the incredible, strong amazing man that he is when we’ve finished an argument and I feel the same from him. We now know what is a healthy conversation and what isn’t and that’s an education for which I couldn’t be more grateful. Because I’m not married to a husband on TV. I’m married to true person with a spirit like myself.

But Maybe She Wheel Not A TV Husband Canary Islands
But Maybe She Wheel
Load More
Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.
Continue Reading

Losing More than My Mother

Losing More Than A Mother But Maybe She Wheel Julia Rodes

 

 

A week ago marked the 10 year anniversary of losing my mother.

 

These past ten years of grief have shaped how I see relationships. I’ve fallen in love, made the lasting friendships that’ll stay with me, became a wife, a sister and an aunt. But in the first six years after she was gone, I also endured the worst experiences I know I’ll ever live to have. There wouldn’t be any waking up from experiences harder than assault, a traffic accident, a spinal cord injury, waking up to a paralyzed body. What I missed most in those moments was the ability to call my mom, have her take me into her arms and make it all better.

 

I’ve learned I grief much more than just not having my mom in my life; I also grief not having A mom in my life. Because when you lose a mother, you lose so much more than having that person. You also lose the security that a mother gives her child, the comfort that there is someone wiser and always available to help. When a daughter loses a mother, she loses the relationship between mothers and daughters AND she loses the security a mother provides her daughter. My mother surrounded, protected and loved, sometimes judgmentally or intrusively, but with well-meaning and adoring  intentions. I miss the person my mother was, but sometimes more than anything I miss knowing my mom would be there any time I needed her. And how I’ve needed her.

But Maybe She Wheel

I needed our mother-daughter relationship when I fell in love with a soldier and made the choice to be an Army wife. I needed the security my mother would’ve brought when I couldn’t pull pants over my paralyzed legs. I needed her smile when I embarked on mentoring other disabled people on traveling, a passion I inherited from her. I needed her wisdom in medicine to help me manage the chronic nerve pain. I needed her pride when I walked across the stage at my college graduation. I needed her for every milestone in my life and for the lives of my siblings and now her grandchildren. What losing her meant that she’ll never be there to see the adult she helped shape me to become. And I’ll never get to turn around and thank her.

 

In the Hindu religion, time is thought of differently. Hindu’s believe time is not linear like most of the Western world believes, where days and months march forward minute after minute. In Hinduism, time is cyclical and revolves through the four phases, or yugas, of Sat (or Krta), Treta, Dvapara and Kali that repeat themselves endlessly. Think the only period of awkward insecurity is when you’re a teenager? What if we revolved around a period of awkwardness in the circular time when we’re 15 and then revolved through time to again move through that phase at 24, 43, and 68 years old? What if I moved back through the childishly sweet phase of falling head over heels in love with Dusty when I’m 31 and 59 like I did when I was 17?

But Maybe She Wheel

If time is circular, then I will continue to move through phases where I have a mom and where I don’t. Her death is a permanent fact of my life, but that never meant my life would be absent of her presence. As I revolve around and around the circular timeline of my life, I’ll move through periods where her presence is so acute it’s as if she’s alive and then phases where her absence is like a widening void. It’s comforting to think that when I feel her presence, it may be because I’m revolving through a past time as a teenager or child when she was alive.

 

In the linear timeline of my life, my mother is gone and abruptly removed. But in the circular way of thinking, I both have a mother in one phase of a revolution and then do not in another phase. For fans of the Big Bang Theory, this is what I’d call my Schrödinger mother. In circular time, her presence will still be there at each milestone. Her absence will be felt but her presence will still be alive. I can have the relationship, but still have lost the realistic security. I can still look up and thank her.

But Maybe She Wheel

I am an overly fortunate person in that I’ve had multiple women step in and provide that missing security of a mother. Army wives all over the world have taken my husband and myself in to provide comfort and help during our crises, actions that I will not soon forget. Her fellow nurses were there when I fell in love and married my soldier, hosting bridal showers and hastily tying the back of my wedding gown so I could dance. The wives of Army chaplains were there when I awoke paralyzed, patiently explaining that everything would be okay while they fed and comforted Dusty. They were also there to smile with pride when I graduated college two years later. I have incredible, strong, and passionate women who have surrounded me and won’t be quick to let go.

But Maybe She Wheel

 

The cycles of grief have moved through me over the past 10 years and have subsided to echoing ripples in my day to day. She’ll always be painfully missed in my accomplishments, adventures and pitfalls and that’s when the waves will splash over my head. But I know now that she can be both present and absent, gone and alive, in the circular spinning of my life. I’ll be glad the next time I move through the phase where I can feel her presence again.

But Maybe She Wheel

 

Load More
Something is wrong. Response takes too long or there is JS error. Press Ctrl+Shift+J or Cmd+Shift+J on a Mac.
Continue Reading

My Mean Mom

pexels-photo

 

When I was growing up, my mom was mean.

She punished myself and my three siblings when we made messes and didn’t clean them up.

I had to have a good excuse for not getting straight A’s.

We had a whole list of chores we had to do if we wanted allowance. And more chores were added if we were caught fighting with each other.

She made us go to church each Sunday morning and youth group on Sunday nights. And even during our summer vacation.

If we ever said we were bored at home, she’d make us clean the house or give us a list of books we had to read.

She was so mean taught me how important it is to give back by making us volunteer with her each Christmas by ringing bells for Salvation Army, even though all my friends could see me.

If we ever went camping, she forced us to know how to light a fire ourselves, set up a tent and make dinner.

We never got to get exactly what we wanted in the cereal aisle.

My mom was so mean she’d embarrass me all the time by giving me hugs and kisses in front of the whole school during awards nights, cross country meets, prom dinners or any of the million events she found a way to be present for after working all night.

I never got the makeup or jewelry I wanted for Christmas but instead got a microscope that made me fall in love with science. Lame.

She never let me pout when things didn’t go my way but made me learn how to roll with the punches of life.

All four of us had to have a job in high school if we wanted to share our own cars in high school. And those cars were bought USED. Gross.

My mom was so mean she made me believe in God by how fervently she prayed for all of us.

My mom was so mean she didn’t approve of any of my boyfriends except the boy I’m married to now.

 

My mom was so good at being so mean that God took her back to be the angel that watches me grow into the confident, strong woman that she was and I never would have been if she hadn’t been so mean.

 

Happy Mother’s Day. Kiss your mom today for being so mean.

But Maybe She Wheel in Cinque Terre

Continue Reading

She Takes Me to the Sun

Processed with VSCOcam

It’s a new day and a new season to relaunch But Maybe She Wheel adventures!

Thank you everyone for your patience as I ducked out of the blogosphere to focus on studying for the medical college admission test. I’m happy to say that the weeks of 8+ hour days studying paid off and I’m returning with nothing but excitement for my professional future.

It has been exactly one year since I paired with Ethel and a year ago today we left the Service Dog Project Crazy Acres Farm after two weeks of training to begin our lives together. Today, in my heart, is our anniversary, the “gotcha” day, the day that Ethel joined our lives and forever changed mine.

Through the ups and downs of the year and lessons I’ve learned in pairing with a Service Dane, there’s a layer of underlying routines that happened every day and will continue to happen every day. The routine of meal times, having every head turn when we go out to the store, get the mail or go to the gym and of the twice a day long walk we take are now stitched into the fabric of every day life together. And it is the long walk that is the unsung hero in our life together that I want to illuminate for our one year anniversary.

No matter the life and the state of the body performing in that life, there are hardships too great to bear sometimes. Pain is a relative beast that may appear to be the largest grizzly towering overhead in one person’s life while only the size of a bear cup in comparison to another. I lose perspective sometimes when I’ve fallen overboard into anxiety or sadness. It’s not hard to do and it takes a strength that I oftentimes don’t remember I have to climb my way on board again. Strength… or a Great Dane.

With this God given sixth sense dogs have, Ethel knew at these points how far my heart had fallen. She would respond with taking one of her big paws and whacking at the wheels of my chair or at my legs, which is her *subtle* way of telling me she wants to go for a walk. And when Ethel wants to go for a walk, it’s not long before any ignored whacks turn into two baby blue eyes sorrowfully staring just a few inches from my face. Ok, let’s go for a walk.

Because she knows what I need at those moments I can only get from the wind, from the fresh air and from the sun. My mother’s favorite flower was the sunflower and like the sunflower, she’d follow the yellow star as it’d make its’ arc through the sky throughout of the day. I inherited this need to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and fill on its’ energy in my spirit. It’s when I’m overboard in the depths of my emotions that only sunshine can remind me of warmth that comes from knowing God is still by my side, of patience to see the storm through and of hope that world still has sunny days. Ethel knows this. Even on the days out of vest and off duty, when I need it, my service Dane, my friend and my hero takes me to the sun.

Great Dane, service dog, paraplegic

Continue Reading

‘Til We Meet Again

Hello all! Thank you for all your comments, views, thoughts and sharing of your heart over this past year. I’ve truly enjoyed writing about our travels, my giant baby Little Miss Ethel and what it really means to live disabled in an able bodied world. I’m going to take a break from writing for a bit so that I can pursue a lifelong goal and something I never stopped working towards; I’m applying to medical school! After my accident, I finished my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and completed a Neuroscience thesis to earn an Honors degree. I have not and will not give up on this goal and I’m taking some time to allow for focus. I may post photos of our adventures from time to time, but I won’t be writing. Thank you for all your encouragement towards my book (talking to publishers now!) and I can’t wait to talk again soon. Thank you.

See You Soon

 

Continue Reading