Marriage Brain

I’ve heard lots of pregnant people talk about Pregnancy Brain. And maybe one day I’ll get to experience it for myself. That way, I’ll finally have a real excuse for those days when I forget my husband’s middle name, leave the back door unlocked and spell tacos like tacoes. Yes, I’m being extra impressive today.

But until I can claim I’ve been affected by pregnancy brain, there’s another mind-warping brain phenomenon I’d like to officially recognize. Marriage Brain.

Oh it’s real, people.

And it can only be described as the complete disappearance of skills and abilities one once had when one was single

I first realized I was afflicted with a very severe case of this disease one morning two weeks ago. I was running late for work, and upon finally getting myself showered, dressed, blow-dried and headed toward my car, only one thing stood between me and my day: the garage door. Because it had chosen that moment to open 13 inches off the ground and then stop.

I didn’t officially panic until I had pushed the garage door button 33 more times to confirm that the garage door would in fact go down, but it would not – even if it’s little electric life depended on it – go up more than 13 inches. Which meant that me, my car and my blow dried hair were not getting out of the garage that morning.

Frantically, I called my husband who had somehow escaped the evil clutches of the garage door much earlier and was safely at work. Calmly, he walked me through how to pull down on a lever to disconnect the garage door from the electric track, allowing me to open it manually.

As I did exactly what he was telling me to do, I started having these eerie flashbacks. They were flashbacks to a distant time and a place in which I had experienced all this. It was so strange. I couldn’t help but think that I’d done this very thing before.

And then all at once it hit me, I had done this very thing before. At the house I owned all by myself. Inside the garage I maintained all by myself. Whenever the power had gone out, or the opener just wasn’t working, I had known how to do this, all by myself. Nobody had walked me through it. Nobody had ever even shown me. I just knew what to do. All by myself. And now suddenly, one year later, when left all by myself in a house that wasn’t just mine, I was lost. Marriage Brain.

Marriage brain is also the reason I am completely helpless around a lawn mower. Um, how hard do you have to pull that little string thingy before it starts? Never mind that I owned and operated my own lawn mower every week in my own yard year after year, season after season before marriage.

And Marriage Brain is also the reason I can no longer be home alone overnight. I lived alone until I was 32. In strange cities, no less. And during that time I bought my own house. For just myself to live in. And in all those years, I never once felt vulnerably alone. But now, the minute my husband leaves for a weekend trip, I am convinced there are bad guys hiding in the closets, waiting for this very moment to attack. Or worse, that the ghosts that could possibly live in the attic are going to choose this very weekend to move into the rest of the house. MARRIAGE BRAIN.

And I know it’s not just me. Marriage Brain must be the same reason that some men suddenly forget how to do laundry, how to put their dishes in the dishwasher or how to flush the toilet (but not my wonderful husband who is reading this very sentence right now. You never forget those, baby). It’s either marriage brain that’s to blame, or extremely doting mothers. But that’s another subject for another day.

And here’s the crazy thing. Marriage Brain is a disease for which there is no cure. At least, not for me. Because to get rid of Marriage Brain would mean ceasing to view my day-to-day life as a partnership. And I realize now that even though I once knew how to mow the lawn and fix broken doors all by myself. What I didn’t know back then was just how lonely I actually was. Or how wonderful it is to truly be able to count on someone else. It took finding the right partner to understand that.

So yes, while marriage causes some parts of the brain to dim, I’ve learned it shines a big, bright illuminating light on the things in life that really matter. Just don’t ask me to change the light bulb.

Things hidden in our minds

Last week, I had my 20th treatment with The Dragon Lady. 14 weeks I’ve been seeing her. I don’t want to even try to do the math to figure out how much money that equals. But I’m pretty sure it’d be enough to put our unconcieved baby through a semester of fancy private prep school. By the way, unconceived baby, that is never going to happen. I don’t care if that’s where all your friends are going.

So last week, during my 20th treatment, after we’d reached the final bit of small talk two people who saw each other for one to two hours every week for 14 weeks could muster. After we’d finally run out of topics ranging from The Bachelor (yes, she watches) to the current state of my menstrual flow to why American girls insist on dying their hair. After she had nothing else that she could scold me about. The Dragon Lady said something to me. Something that struck bone.

As she started placing needles in my back, she said,

“So sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong.”

I didn’t know why at first, but immediately tears started to fill my eyes. The Dragon Lady was still placing a few last needles in my back so I silently yelled at myself to hold it together, to not start my chin-quivery ugly cry until she had left the room. And why on earth was my chin all quivery anyway? It’s not like I ever thought that I did deserve this whole miscarriage/infertility thing. Or that I had done something wrong.

But after the Dragon Lady was safely out of the room and I had choked back all the liquid threatening to pour out of my face, I realized that somewhere in some dark crevice of my mind, around the corner from where I stored my 12th grade locker combination, hid the feeling that I did deserve all this. That I had done something wrong. That maybe the last few years had been just a little too perfect and I’d reached some pre-determined happiness quotient and it was time for the universe to knock me down a peg. Or that I’d ruined my body by running or drinking margaritas every once in a while. Or that maybe this was some sort of eventual karmic justice for the times growing up when I skipped class, fought with my brothers or refused to eat my mom’s pot roast.

Somewhere deep inside I unconsciously stored the belief that I had all this coming to me. And I never even knew that feeling existed until someone told me it shouldn’t be there.

And now I see how silly that feeling is. Mainly because it makes this whole thing all about me. And it’s not all about me. It’s about me, my husband, our families, our future family, etcetera, etcetera. It’s not about me, it’s about us.

And also, it’s about you. I struggle to think that there are that many of us out there who have all unknowingly ruined our bodies in the same way. Or have all coincidentally built up the same sort of massive karmic debt. Although if you all like margaritas on Thursdays, once hid your brothers’ lego collections under your beds for two weeks AND grew up hating your mom’s pot roast, we should talk.

Otherwise, I just have to believe it’s just a total random unfair thing. And in case no one has told you, allow me to pass this along,

“So sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong.”