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Unicorn Floats and a Marriage Deflated

I was reasonably sure that day my husband had made up his mind; he’s not the type to say things he doesn’t mean and he told me he had been thinking about this for a while. And, he was right: We weren’t happy. In fact, I had been threatening separation for months. But hearing him say it cut me to my core. I didn’t want our marriage to end. I just wanted it to be better, and I wasn’t certain it could be. Apparently he wasn’t either, though he hadn’t expressed that to me quite so directly before.

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He was also right that cancer wasn’t the problem, though it was certainly my problem. For inasmuch as I hated the fact that he seemed to shrug off any lasting impact it had on him, and us, I was stuck in it. Whenever people would congratulate us for “beating cancer,” I would cringe. “Yes, we’re very happy about his scans,” I would say. “But (always with a but), there’s still so much to navigate.” That was my code phrase for “I’m drowning in the aftermath of all of this, and I just need you to see that without me having to explain it because then I sound ungrateful and selfish.” I also think part of this was a defense mechanism. If I never let cancer escape my thoughts, it could never surprise me again. I would always be ready for its return. In the process, I was driving my husband away.

In fact, this unicorn float is so whimsical and comfortable that you may be tempted to float away to an entirely new life — a life that isn’t burdened with the relentless pressures of parenting; a life that isn’t consumed by work, and to-do lists, and household chores; a life that is out of cancer’s reach. You may not be able to run away from life’s problems, but with this float you can certainly forget them for a few hours.

In the end, I got the job. I pulled myself together and I wrote about that unicorn float like my life depended on it. As for my marriage, well, it turns out a marriage can’t actually be undone in five minutes, contrary to how I felt that day. We started seeing a new therapist, both as a couple and on our own, for hours each week. We quickly began to face all the pieces of us that had become deflated. We starting mending the tears.

We found out that we are, in fact, still those people who became lovers and best friends and wanted to take on life together. There are no bad guys. There are only two people who want what’s best for the other, and also for ourselves. We are healing, growing and moving forward from a more loving place. For now, we are floating together on calmer waters.

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