A rotund boulder has been sitting on my mind, squashing out farts of ideas as it creaks a barely comprehensible whisper…you are not good enough. You are doomed.

These pointed thoughts of self-doubt extend endlessly in all directions. I am concerned for the hardiness of my abilities, for the strength of my state of mind, for my possibilities of success, but also I fear for the failure of the most basic parts of me. I fear failure of my character and my humanity. I fear dissolution.

Perhaps I fear that the failure of things to which I devote myself is an indication of a failure of myself. Perhaps that’s always what I’ve felt, and I can’t help but think that those thoughts wouldn’t be an issue if someone hadn’t radically modified beautiful, figure-it-out-as-you-go ideas into crappy substitutes out of bitterness.

Because none of us are so good at leaving things alone, letting them flourish in delightful ambiguity, cultures and times have created stigmas out of unshaped or highly-valued ideas (love, marriage, success, identity). The cultures and the times rot away the amoeba shape into crisp, but unforgiving lines. These lines, once amorphous, molded into shapes which suit each sculptor, now seem rigid and immovable. These transformations have gone from concepts to rules, and rules are terrifying because “What happens if you break the rules?”

Transformations like: “togetherness” to “contractual obligations,”

friendship” to “bread winning” to “house keeping” to “duties,”

giving” to “trade” and “return on investment.”

The pureness of these once beautifully ambiguous concepts like marriage and all the nestled, sub-divided ideals have been totally corroded into commercial, socially and culturally acceptable, role-cementing rules and regulations.

I think to myself, “I’ve got an amoeba partnership, and how I’d love to keep it as it is.” There are no “You shoulds” and “I shoulds,” there are no, “Don’t dos” and “Must dos,” but that still beautiful unmoldedness of just “doing” and just “enjoying.” How I panic and want to cling to these moments when I think, “When will it happen? When will the ‘hard times’ come?”

I look over at my best friend, husband, the most beautiful human on God’s green Earth and I want to cry for fear that things will get bad…because that’s what people tell me will happen. We tell each other, “Things will be hard.”

But why? Why must they be hard? Because life is? I think that’s a man-created rule, and I don’t wish to believe it.

Perhaps it’s willful obstinance to believe that two best friends can go on living peacefully, laughing off blunders, passing off moodiness, and giving to each other without asking, but I was always very good at being stubborn.

I think it absolutely horrifying that the amoeba shape of love and commitment has been bludgeoned into conformity for a culture that loves rules, loves boxes, loves power structures and docile wives. The jokes, the “pity me” cries for help from married couples, the witnessed fights and dissolved marriages, they all cry loudly, they all scream at me their dominance, their control over me.

But, as I search for something louder, I settle on the faint breathing of my husband, the rustling of skin on skin as he rubs his feet together. As I search for something as domineering as these hardened voices, all I can pick up on is the light sensation of a hand on my arm, the joy of a laughing smile, the smell of a day-old-shower.

Happy marriages don’t scream as loudly as sad ones, unfortunately, and if they did, our culture would tell it to shut itself up. Maybe the word marriage is damaged beyond repair, especially for me, but the idea of me…of him…and of us, that one’s not damaged.

I think I’ll slip on a protective cover littered with “I love yous” and hugs for no real reason. I’ll glue it to the surface with sloppy kisses and let those quiet reminders overwhelm me, tired as I am of all the screaming.