Winning the fight, losing the war

It’s a shame that we can often get caught up in winning the petty fights, so much so, that we lose sight of the ultimate war, the battle to save what’s actually important—our marriage, our home, our hearts…

As I meander through the convoluted mazes of my mind, to this day, I still struggle to remember what exactly had been the dire catalyst for our explosive argument that morning, screeching at each other like pious Wall Street traders on the verge of another economic meltdown. We were probably grimacing over whose turn it was to wash the dishes, take out the trash; or, maybe a little worse, like changing the little man’s diaper. So it reeked of a chamber in the pit of hell. In hindsight, who cares?

What I do however perfectly recall were her final words. “I’m leaving and I’m not coming back!” Seven words that pierced right through, apportioning me into unequal pieces, as a sleek knife through a Victoria sponge. The shouting had ceased by now, her tone had softened, somewhat lethargic on this occasion. A defeated manner that breathed an air of nonchalance, beyond care. Her mind made up; it already didn’t matter anymore.

“Then go!” I retorted, foolishly. An absolute facade of my inner being—arms folded, taut neck, nostrils ballooning with each breath.  “Who’s stopping you?” I shouted.

“Go!”

One word I would later come to regret.

She didn’t leave immediately. It took a while to pack her necessities—spectacles (check), a change of clothes (check), her makeup bag! (Check. I kid. I can now, we’ve made up!). Last but not least, our boy.

As each second passed I let another opportunity to rectify the situation lapse.

Say something Banji! Anything!

But amidst the jarring noise of the door as it slammed shut, accompanied by the wailings of a confused toddler, sadly awoken from his state of Nirvana, “Daddy… Daddy…” I said nothing.

And as I sat there in the aftermath, a hapless soul in the middle of a hollow living room, glancing at my watch every other second, with nothing but a glass of Jack Daniels to befriend me, I almost shed a tear. Almost. “She’ll be back, won’t she?” I asked him. Jack, said nothing, as usual, just listened.

An hour had passed, she hadn’t returned. One hour became two. Two, twenty four. The day turned to weeks. But as much as I wanted to, the man in me, somehow resisted the urge to type. After all, I was in the right, or so I supposed.  She should be the one begging me? No, I wouldn’t contact her, even if I was dying.

Unbeknownst to me, I already was. Dying, that is. A crushed soul, still breathing but yet an empty vessel.

Oftentime, I’d stumble across a selfie from an age past. Our intimate poses and teeth baring grins would take me back to the good old days. Back to long evening walks, the dining, even the annoying 6am’s when the boy would pounce on me, “Daddy!! Weetabix!! Daddy!!” And as much as I’d beseech her back then—“please sort him out, joh, I beg! juxtaposing tears with laughter. “You know you’re better at this?I’d give anything to be woken up by him in the morning again, even the extra scoop of honey he so often craved, anything. Anything to feel his not so gentle tug on my goatee again come 8pm that night when I’d arduously attempt to rock him to sleep.

So, of course, now as I press rewind to then replay the fight scene again from a bird’s eye view within, I see myself doing things somewhat differently. I’ve held her hands now, softly, drawing her closer into me as I kiss her forehead—a sultry exchange. I find myself rekindling a long lost tongue of affection. “I love you,” I whisper in her left ear, and a little smile begins to crack like dawn as her cheeks redden in the heat of our exchange. “I’m sorry I’ve hurt you,” I’m saying, wiping away a salty droplet caught in the crevice of her eye. “It’s all a misunderstanding. Baby, we can fix this?”

Dreams do come true for some, but sadly there’s no pause button, no re-run, in real life. Things may happen to be a little better in the camp nowadays, fingers crossed, but even after punctilious mending, a clay pot that was once broken will still displays its cracks. War scars, evidence that one once partook in the battle.

And it’s a shame that we can often get caught up in winning the petty fights, so much so, that we lose sight of the ultimate war, the battle to save what’s actually important—our marriage, our home, our hearts.

More often than not though, pride, that narcissistic ego of ours trumps. I’ll speak for myself.

Though, I’m gradually learning to let go. Learning to let go of all the trivial brawls. The nonsensical arguments about my poor driving etiquette in the car on our way to church on a Sunday morning—the irony! It is crucial that I speak my mind, have my voice heard, but there’s an appropriate time and a place for everything.

One of the greatest lessons I’m grasping is that I don’t always have to win anymore. Does it hurt? Of course it does. But my eyes are now focused on the greater prize.

Life throws enough punch bags to keep us sweating on a daily basis as it is—bills, debts, jobs. The list is endless.

So, it’s ok darling, I get it now. As much as you may still exasperate me from time to time with your avid attempts to touch the wheel as I drive, yelling “careful!” every time I make an awkward turn in the road, I’d rather have you in the passenger seat any day, riding shotgun as we roam the rough terrains of life together—a tag team.

Because, you’re not the enemy. They are.

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