“Life is a Negotiation.”---Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator, CEO of the Black Swan Group, Ltd.
I laid in bed this morning, staring at the ceiling. And wondered if there was something special about yesterday that I couldn’t get to sleep till nearly two in the morning. Hours later, I got a bit of an answer. Yes, it was about marriage. Well, not really. It was about decisions.
I reminisced on how last night marked three years ago was about the same time I’d dreamt that we’d have a complete shutdown from a pandemic. That day, I awoke in a heavy, cold sweat mid-January 2020 on a Wednesday afternoon after two house clients had cancelled. I’d come home said ‘hi’ to hubby then went upstairs and collapsed onto our bed at 11:03 am. It was after I’d already tended to a few other ill and pained clients. I was relieved and I was exhausted. I knew what was about to happen. I’d dreamt years before about all sorts of catastrophes and well, they happened. If the dream is clear it usually happens. Sometimes it happens thirteen years later. Sometimes not. But this one I was waiting for, for years.
Yesterday morning as I ran down quiet roads, the sound of birds chirping held a dark moment for me. It too was reminiscent of mid-January 2020. Just like last night’s winter concert. Which was the first winter concert held at our high school in person in three years—I wondered if I was emotionally removed. I realized that the last time my husband had gone into the high school for an unmasked large event was for our youngest’s wrestling match January 2020. I remember sitting in the bleachers worrying for him. He didn’t look ill, but we knew he was. He was having some good moments.
As these thoughts pass through me, deeper thoughts arrive. The question I’d asked three people over the course of the past year. I asked, “How the hec did I end up being married for thirty-six years? That wasn’t supposed to happen.” One friend I’ve known since 1981 and served in the Marines with till the end of 1983 remarked, “I never expected that. You were always a loner. When you told me you were getting married. I couldn’t believe it.” I concurred and then we laughed that night just months ago.
My former ultra-running coach, Dante and now friend since 1998, who’s ran 35 to 60-mile training runs with me. He thought it was who I was—a married person. Then the revelation I offered him in mid-2022, I think he was stunned. He’d thought he’d known me based on our early morning into the afternoon weekend runs and those calls at one or two in the morning from me in Texas, California, Ohio, and the like of, “I think I’m pissing blood. I just tossed my cookies couple times and my back hurts… Tell me… I don’t want to bail, but I can’t stand up completely.” Dante helping me make medical decisions to keep me out of the hospital. Dante on the phone 1,000-3,000 miles away from me. He knew my running side. The side my husband would be stunned at and call out in the middle of a multiday running event, “She’s come back from the dead!” Norm had a panicked look in his eyes. I think he wondered how I stood up after a ten-minute nap, or a total of four hours sleep in nearly four days and then restart my running engine. He’d either stand me up or I’d stand up and take the first ten steps and begin to run. There were times it looked as though I’d never just collapsed into exhaustion only minutes or a half hour prior to getting back into the run.
I faded back into this morning and the conversations I’d had with Dante and two others on how I ended up where I presently was in my life. I asked these three people if they had a clue of what transpired way back for me to go in a completely unplanned direction in my life about forty years ago. All my adult-childhood life; till I was about age twenty, I had the plan. The plan was to serve and to leave. I served, but not to the degree of which I’d planned. Or rather, not completely in the direction of how I was supposed to serve till it was my time to leave.
This morning I began to realize that I had a major disruption in my life after I had just learned how to truly fall in love. And that one incident had an insurmountable impact on the rest of my life. What was worse, was I realized the very thing that I did not want to be in my life was gradually occurring. The good thing was I recognized it early. I mentally thwarted all the jealousy of people thinking I was fortunate. When meanwhile they came from better. Having more money, more faculties, more choices than I could have ever imagined. Yet, they refused to be themselves.
There are many sayings about that, “Ruby Tuesday”. “…Lose your dreams, and you will lose your mind.” I decided I wasn’t about to lose all my dreams. Even though quite a few of them looked unrecognizable. I’d lived some of them because I was willing to compromise. I’d negotiate the navigation of some dreams. Others were ripped out of my soul. It was a tough surrender. It still pains me. Others I allowed to be taken. It was part of the negotiation of living and being married. As one still pains me. The ‘what if?’ still lingers daily in my mind.
My negotiation for life was a compromise. Neither selection was pleasant. They were all tough decisions. Tough decisions that many do not choose to partake in. For they know on some level it will cause them lifelong pain. Yet for me, I saw the decision as inclusive. It was about thinking globally on decisions. And I’ve paid the price every day for over thirty years for those decisions. It wasn’t about marriage, but it occurred seven years or so into my marriage. It was about doing the right thing. I’ve done the right thing innumerable times in my life, and I’ve paid heavily. Norm had said, “Marriage is filled with compromises.” Yes it is. So is life. Life is a chess match. And yes, “Life is a Negotiation”. No matter the intrusion by something evil, we must learn how to navigate the negotiation within ourselves to make it livable beyond a mere existence.---Jody-Lynn Reicher