Waiting for the Storm to Pass
Writing from the heart, it’s Peter here,
I’ve been married for 3 months, but I can’t say I’ve lived a single day of married life so far. I dream constantly of it, counting the days until my sweetheart comes home, but as someone that chased dreams and lost them before, an increasing anxiety has been taking over lately.
After our wedding, I enjoyed a few weeks together in Japan with Akiko, traveling, working around the farm, even fighting a little bit, as couples do. But then, I had to come back to Brazil, while she had to stay in Japan (permament visas take time and lots of paperwork to arrange!), and that was that.
Two years of long distance relationship, of tearful goodbyes every six months, of being a thirty hour flight apart, and we had to separate one more time.
It was the most difficult goodbye for me to say. Because I knew that the next step for Akiko would be the most difficult in her life: to move from a developed, familiar, comfortable country, to a developing, wild and dangerous one.
In the back of my mind, there was always the feeling that maybe she wouldn’t come, that family and friends would convince her to give up, that after hearing “Akichan, going to Brazil is a mistake” so much, maybe she would start believing it.
That is, of course, absolute and utter bullshit. It’s extremely unfair and selfish of me to entertain that kind of thought. After all, she is the one that decided to drop a very promising career to move to an unknown country which she had no real connection with. That decided to move away from her family and friends and many people that loved and cherished her. That decided that this guy here was the one she would start a family with. She is the bravest person I know (and I come from a military family!).
My mind knew this, without question. But my heart couldn’t be so sure. Recently, my country has not been doing well, to say the least. Scandal after scandal, crime after crime, the negative news keeping coming daily, and the click-bait media keeps showing the worst of the worst to keep the masses interested. While things are truly not that great, the reality presented is nothing short of apocalyptic.
The economy is also not going well. We are facing the biggest recession in many decades, and although I’m lucky to have a well-paying, stable job, our buying power has decreased considerably abroad, making exchanging into japanese yen quite painful…
Our budget has been a shadow in our future, both of us used to the single life of a successful professional, with lots of disposable income, now having to compromise and sacrifice to start a life together. Akiko has been worried, justifiably so, but as much as I could rationally understand her uneasiness, I felt such a visceral reaction to her doubts, that I started doubting my own self-value.
I think this reaction came from one of those gaps between male and female psychology. As a male, you are defined by your ability as a provider and a protector, and I believed myself to be good at both roles: good career, reasonable good looks, good health and physical shape; my self image was confident and solid.
But being so far away from my wife, while constantly exposed to negative news, started cracking that image. And when she, honestly and thoughtfully told me of her doubts about the future (in a way questioning my ability to provide for and protect her), the confident image was finally shattered. I felt my worth as a man destroyed.
Which is another piece of bullshit, of course. I’m the same person from before, so why should I feel any different? Confidence comes from within. And what shattered it was not Akiko, but my own heart.
So we tried the male, problem-solving way. Turned her doubts into numbers, made them into an equation with a solution, and it helped, the situation is not that bad after all. Given some perspective, I would say many couples would hate us if they looked into our spreadsheets; we have some very short term big expenses, which means a tight budget until the end of the year, but no crushing student loans or any sort of significant debt at all.
Looking into the numbers with an analytical mind, our reaction seemed excessive, melodramatic even. Why get so stressed about it? Yet Akiko couldn’t shake her own doubts.
The thing is, we can’t escape our environments, and we are in a context full of pressures and expectations and risks. No matter how optimistic we tell our minds to be, our hearts can’t ignore the feeling in the air.
In our relationship, I might be the mind, but Akiko is the heart. And I think this opressive anxiety I’ve been feeling, this sense of loss for something that may not ever happen, is coming from being so unused to listening to the heart, from always being the logic guy. When confronted with such strong feelings, with a problem without an obvious solution, I didn’t know how to react and became lost.
Akiko had similar feelings, similar doubts and anxieties, but she kept on with her life, to her best ability. When I asked her to give me a straight answer, she told me to wait. “Just wait! My heart is still too full to give my mind energy to think!”.
So I will do just like her, and wait. Because this is a matter of the heart, and there’s nothing the mind can do about it.