Spring Washout (May 1995)

I love the spring rains. When I was a child they stood for adventure and whispered that summer was almost here. Living in a rural area of BC, our family figured out how to go with the flow on a regular basis and do without immediate help from the government. When the river flooded, Mom and Dad figured out how to cross it without a bridge. The road to Rosswood was called Beaver Flats because every couple of years, the Beaver River flooded its banks and washed the wooden bridge out. One spring when it also flooded Clear Creek, we got to ride to school on our farm tractor and trailer because we couldn’t cross over by foot or bike. This month’s photo is of Grandad carrying the gas can and a box to our truck, with my brothers Mike and Don as his helpers. He parked his truck on this side of the washout and walked across the planks and hitch-hiked a ride into town and back.

Living so close to nature and doing things naturally helped mould my way of thinking. I figured things out by doing. As children we learned to do and make do. We were left to our own devices much of the time. Lately I have read a few books on relationships, trying to figure out what happened to my marriage. One book suggested the idea that the more simply people are raised, the less complicated the hidden agenda is that they bring into a relationship. Another book gave examples of a series of stages that each relationship goes through as the partners struggle to get their needs met. All three books gave excellent examples of the subtle programming each of us uses to get love and appreciation and suggest that we strive to be loved in much the same way that our parents loved us. The power struggles happen when couples are not aware of what they really need or want from each other. Only with a lot of time, patience and insight do we usually become mature men and women, no longer driven by the old patterns that we absorbed through osmosis.

When I was ten or eleven years old, I remember hearing a love song on the radio, which upset me so much that I ran across the room and shut it off, screaming that there was no such thing as love. As a teenager raised with six brothers, I remember telling my girl friend who was always trying to set me up with a date that I didn’t want to touch a boy with a ten-foot pole.

Meeting Rae was nothing I had planned. We met at the skating rink and he could skate faster than I, so I was impressed. He could also dive and swim and he had a car, so I didn’t have to walk the three miles to school. By grade ten we were going steady and by grade eleven I got pregnant. I was delighted that he wanted to marry me, for most of the girls I knew got dumped as soon as that happened. I could not understand why my mother got so angry. I was seventeen and knew all there was to know. I had spent years looking after my younger brothers and I was sure that raising one small baby would be a piece of cake. I was in love and enjoyed being a lady of leisure as I waddled about doing the things I had always wanted to do. Soon we had two more children and a house and a garden and a business. Family life taught me a lot about organizing and Rae was the perfect teacher. Once the romance stage wore off, my anger started to show and the power struggles started. But I had made a promise to myself never to argue. I had watched my Mom do it for fifteen years and it always seemed to be a waste of energy. Usually the argument was settled by my Dad giving in to my Mom’s request and saying, “I just wanted to hear you holler.” This made no sense to me but at least I knew the shouting match was over and the cold war was about to start.

I think I needed to prove to my Mom that men and women could get along without fighting. My husband was very good at reminding me whenever I started sounding like her. At first I wouldn’t admit he was right but after thinking about it, I knew he was. I had to change myself if I were to keep my promise that I would not be like my Mom. Rae was a good listener: he never criticized me, he was open-minded and had a sense of fairness that I appreciated and he never told me what to do. We both trusted our instincts. When times got rough I would ask myself questions like: “In ten years, will this make a difference?” or “Is the money worth it?” I reminded myself that he was my teacher and that if I didn’t learn it now I would have to repeat this same scene with someone else so I may as well figure out what needs to happen so that we can both be happy. His support and guidance in those crucial years have given me much strength and knowingness that I can do anything … as did my mother and her mother and Grandma and Grandpa Kost.

Rae helped me break many of my parental programmings because I was such a willing student. After reading a few books I can now understand the benefits of counselling but at that stage of my life we couldn’t afford it and we weren’t having serious problems. Whenever Rae refused to nurture me in the way I wanted, I found other ways to make myself happy. For example, when he wouldn’t take me dancing I took lessons and had so much fun with the girls that I quit bugging him. Once the pressure let up he decided to take the risk of being embarrassed and after a while I couldn’t get him off the dance floor. When he was busy working nights or needed to go out with the boys, I took night classes and got involved in Astrology. That helped me to understand myself and it also saved our marriage. I was relieved to hear the astrologer tell me that Rae was born with a hole in his pocket and that he was not spending our money to get even with me. (Power struggles on an old tape that my parents had played many times.)

As our three boys entered high school, I started to realize that he was depending on me to make him happy. Rae seemed bored with life and talked of change …changing trucks, bosses or businesses was not satisfying him any more and he was starting to ache from twenty years of driving machines. He tried to get interested in health and metaphysics …these subjects just weren’t for him. He supported me in my changes and encouraged me to start this magazine but after several years of watching me get busier and busier, he decided he had had enough. I started to realize how little we had in common. My idea of a walk was to head into the hills and he wanted to walk three blocks to Tim Horton’s for coffee and a donut. I tried my best to keep my mouth shut about the damage he was doing to his body and I tried to ignore the cigarette smoke but I found his truck driving and hunting stories boring and I started to say so!

It came as no surprise when he said he wanted to find a woman that would spend time doing what he wanted to do. I agreed that if that would make him happy he should go for it …but did he understand that he was the only person that could make himself happy. The hollowness in his heart was not my fault. I had learned much about myself through him and now it was time to part so I rejoiced in our divorce for I consider it a time of celebration when the student surpasses the teacher.

It has been four and a half years since Rae and I parted. I have continued to learn much about ‘why I am the way I am.’

Now I am looking for a new teacher, someone who would like to see ISSUES grow and expand. I am looking for a business partner who would like to be involved in the day-to-day operations of publishing, including advertising sales, magazine lay-out and editing as well as long-term goals. If you have some cash and are interested in being a team player, please phone 492-0987 or send a letter to ISSUES Magazine, 254 Ellis St., Penticton, BC, V2A 4L6.