Summer! Finally! I love this time of year when the warmth of the sun seeps deep into my bones and the pace of life seems to slow down. I am an outdoor kind of girl and love to putter around the yard, so it was no surprise to Will that I wanted to put up a pergola over our patio this year. After getting quotes and searching online for a ready-made pergola, we came to the conclusion that the only way to get exactly what we wanted, was to build it ourselves. This alone was slightly triggering. Let me explain.
In the past, Will would begin to argue, complain, attack, withdraw etc, the minute a project was proposed. What I know now, that I didn’t know then, was that he resented spending time on projects which he felt could be better spent practicing his addictive behaviors. All I saw was him telling me how my idea was stupid, that we couldn’t manage it, that it was too expensive, that it would take too much time…blah, blah, blah. He was completely unwilling to work with me and intentionally put up obstacles and resistance to thwart my plans. This made for a hellish experience when renovating our first home from pillar to post. Much of the work on that house was done by me…and my kids when I could recruit them.
So, when it became clear that building a pergola together was the best option for our plans and our bank account, I immediately bounced back to days when Will would disappear to make a Home Depot run…and didn’t come back for a couple of hours. I thought of the many, many times when he promised to take care of some aspect of a project I couldn’t do on my own…and he never followed through. I remembered how he told me the kitchen renovation was not gonna happen unless I could do it on my own with a $500.00 budget. (I did and came in under budget at $380.00!) I know now that as we were building storage in our garage, Will was coordinating with the Skank for her trip to MY home, to sleep in MY bed and have sex with MY husband. So…yeah, a building project with Will was an event that I both dreaded and needed to confront.
After receiving the lumber and spending a week staining and setting the footings for the posts, Saturday morning was the day. We started out okay…and then things quickly went downhill. See, Will is inflexible. He gets an agenda or method in his mind and if something doesn’t go as planned, he loses it. This is something he has been working n, but has much more work to do. So, he had in his mind a certain way to begin the pergola, and without going into the weeds here, it wasn’t a viable plan. I suggested we do it a different way and “Old Will” quickly emerged. He discounted what I was saying, began to be short and abrupt, interrupted me or spoke over me. It was not going well. But then…something amazing happened. He was on the ladder, I was on the patio holding the drill and lag bolts. He was on his way up the ladder and our spat had grown into an argument. We were sniping at each other and it was painful and ugly. He stopped going up the ladder and came down to where I was. He looked at me and said, “This is not us anymore. Let’s start over.” And we did. We spoke to one another instead of at each other. We calmly discussed our views about the best way to accomplish our goal. We apologized to one another and hugged.
Now, for some people, this is their normal. For Will and I, this was nothing short of miraculous. We worked together the entire day. From 8:30 am to our finished project at 9:30 pm. We have never, ever finished a project, even a much simpler, smaller one, in a single day. Ever. This was such a valuable lesson for us both. I learned that Will is truly changing and is trying to be present. Will learned that projects get done when he is here and present.
And we have a beautiful new 16’ x 18’ pergola that we have been enjoying every day.
Progress, people. Progress.