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  • Kevin O'Rourke

Hope from Hardship | Bear Bottom Acres (A question from Sunshine Farm)

Can hope come from hardship? This is a question we were asked by Jenn at Sunshine Farm. In this video, we share about a very difficult time in our life and the good that came out of this time of hardship.

This was a very difficult video for us to make. I am assuming that you have watched the video so this info will not read well without having done so. I will share some details from my perspective. So remember this is the lens that I was/am seeing the world through and I am sure Heather would disagree with some of the details but obviously we share the same outline of this period in our life and that is what the video essentially is, the shared narrative of this experience.

In the future, Heather and I will probably do a video on how we met, but right now I can tell you that we put the pedal to the metal very fast. We had a great first date. I was actually thinking that if things didn't get moving a little more I was going to have to let it go. I am kind of an all in guy. But once we admitted that we both liked each other there was no reason to play games.

Maybe we went too fast but when I met Heather I was 28 and she was 24. Now that I am older and I think back to all of the life experiences in my 20's I think of how immature I was. In either way and for what ever reason I never really felt like I was in sync with her. Think of a graph of 2 opposite sign waves. On one hand I would think she was losing interest in me but then on the other hand think she was rushing me on a time frame for asking her to marry me. Our jobs were not that stable and nothing to brag about. Then we decided to start a family. It was a lot of pressure, but I was all in on each decision because I believed that she would always be there.

In these years, there was a lot of miscommunication and dysfunction. Here are a couple of examples: 1) We had mattress that was causing my back so much pain, that I started sleeping on an air mattress instead. It was bad and I really wanted to get something more firm. We should have gotten one of those beds where each person can decide how firm they want it, but at the time they had some bad press about mold growing in some corners or something so chose to compromise instead. We ended up buying a new mattress. Not only did we get a more expensive model but we got the cloud model which Heather really wanted but which kind of defeated the purpose of getting a bed for my back. To Heather's defense the mattresses do seem very firm at first but then with body heat you sink into them. I still love ours when I crawl in bed at night but after laying in it for an hour it is a different bed. Right now it is still a reminder of the lack of communication we had.

The second example is the decision to paint our living room Santa Fe Red. Yep, when we bought our first house we were negotiating on paint colors. I wanted a very dark color like black in the bedroom. It soaks up all the ambient light and is great for sleeping especially during the day. We settled on a dark brown and Heather absolutely loves it to this day. In order for that to happen I had to agree to go with Santa Fe Red in the living room. What do we have that is Sante Fe? Nothing. What goes with red and especially that shade? Nothing. It could be the reason why we fought. A red room just affects your mood and psyche.

So to sum it up we were not communicating well, neither one of us was really owning our decisions. We were in a ton of debt from medical bills. She didn't give me acknowledgement I needed or thanks for everything I did when she was sick when the kids were babies. To tell you the truth on one hand I was paralyzed with worrying about the future and her health. On the other hand I was very happy because I got to do so much for her, it made me proud. I was responsible for two adorable children. You get mad respect when you are doing the grocery shopping by yourself as a man with two babies. I was doing things for others; serving others. In reality Heather could probably feel my worry in every sentence I spoke.

When you have young children and both people work you can get trapped into making a series of less than perfect micro decisions and you are just trying to keep your head above water. You never realize how things can get out of balance. We were fighting more and more. There was one terrible fight caused I recall clearly. It was started by one of our Windows phones. (This is the reason why I would never get a Windows phone again.) I picked up her phone one day and I saw a pop-up ad for a divorce lawyer. I got pissed and I confronted her about it. "Why would this be on your phone? What were you looking at to get this ad?" She denied doing anything of the sort and I didn't believe her. It was clear as a bell. It was on her phone. Did it magically get there? So I pushed it and told her if she didn't want to be married that we would find an equatable way for her to leave. She didn't have to worry. Later after she had left, I ended up getting the same pop-up ad on my phone so then I realized that it was innocent after all. Think about it. It was a new way to advertise. There was no track record to land a big advertising account.

A month later she however took me up on my offer for her to leave and she moved in with her parents. Instantly, I went into damage control mode and thought about the kids. She told me the news she was leaving me when we were sitting in our bedroom. It made me mad and after she left so that I wanted to remodel the whole room but I could only move a couple of pieces of furniture. It didn't help. Every day in that room, was a reminder as I laid down without her that she was gone.

Now, even though she was gone, I still saw her a lot because we had the kids and we thought it was best for the kids to stay in the house as much as possible. She would spend time with them in the house when I was at work. We didn't talk much though. We got together a few times over the months that we were apart. We just got done negotiating the split of our belongings and then we had a great time talking with each other. I am sure other couples blur the lines when it isn't a blow up break up. Any interaction was on her terms, though.

So months pass and we start to execute the final details of the plan to split up. We made moves to split belongings, arrange schedules with the kids and to relieve the debt. We drew up all the paperwork with help from a lawyer so it would be legally binding and as fair as possible to both sides. Just put our wishes on paper. I slow played it as much as I could and we were about 2 weeks away. I was planning on making one last plea for the sake of the kids and because I loved her but It wouldn't have worked if I would have had to try to "sell her" on the idea of getting back together.

Then I get a call and she is sobbing. "I ruined everything. How could we ever go back? How could you ever forgive me?" and I just listened to all of it and said "come home". She thought we should ease back in so we went to a local fair called "The Little Log House Pioneer Village." We had an awesome day. And I asked her, "When are you moving back and do you need some help?" The next week, she moved back home and I was as happy as I could be.

What did I Learn from the experience? One, stop yelling! I come from a family of people who yell a lot. To me it is not a big deal. Heather just shuts down when yelling starts. I realized that I was wasting my breath yelling. Now, I always walk away if we start arguing and I feel like I want to yell and it drives her crazy when I step away. But there is no reason for me to get worked up because there has never been a time where I have yelled and Heather has said "Thank You for telling me in a forceful manner now I completely get it".

We are still learning and growing. We had shelved talks about this time period. Doing this video has brought some old feelings back to surface. We have had some talks and have shared some of our feelings with each other about that time that we maybe couldn't before. Healing isn't a light switch to be turned on and off. It takes time, maybe years. This also could be just regular relationship maintenance. In either way we are still learning what each other needs and trying to figure it out. Now we leave a discussion encouraged and energized that we can make it better where as previously we said things to make ourselves feel good and were not honest with ourselves. The land we bought is not a band-aid for our relationship. Instead it is the playground that we will share and get to build together. We hope that this video can be encouraging to anyone going through a similar time.


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