Category Archives: Love

Not So Easy Silence

*In a moment of weakness…. I am going back and making myself publish previously written posts… this one was written in September.  I think I even published it for a few hours, then came back and reverted to draft.  Maybe I’ll leave it out there this time…”

 

Horoscope September 04, 2012 (Today):  Sometimes in life, we have to settle for good when we really wanted great. You’ve got an intensely devoted, loyal heart — and a questing, independent spirit that just won’t be tied down. This is a tough combo for some people to get, but rest assured, there are those out there who cherish this quixotic and delightful mixture. Someone who wants to blend their life with yours will understand why it is you who possess both these qualities in abundance — and won’t ask you to get rid of one or the other to satisfy them. Hang in there.

I’ve tried to sit down a write many-a-blog here in the last couple of months.  I haven’t been able to finish one… the topic has changed… the mood has changed… there has been little consistency in my life.  There have been highs and lows as is the ebb and flow of life, and the life of an unstable marriage.  This weekend things definitely came to a head as we approached and “celebrated” our 5th year of marriage.  Two weeks ago, I sat my husband down at a local restaurant and told him the following:

1.  Emphatically, I do not want to end our marriage.  That is the last thing I have ever wanted.

2.  Our son deserves to live in a peaceful environment, a loving environment.

3.  You and I have tried to work things out, and I’m finally at a point where I feel I have done everything I know to do to fix us, and none of it has worked.

4.  Because we have an obligation to create a safe and happy environment for our son, I’ve researched divorce laws and think it’s time for us to separate officially inside the house until we either decide together to keep trying or figure out a way to legally separate and start the process of divorce.

Those were basically the points of our conversation.  He was taken by surprise, I could tell.  He said to me, “I just don’t understand why we can’t make it work.”  I explained that I’ve been trying to tell him for years that we need help – I’ve come to the table with so many suggestions, begging him to come to the table with me to try to make things more peaceful between us.  Each time we’ve come together temporarily, agreed that we love each other and “tried.”  I say that with hesitation, because really all that comes to my mind when I think of his efforts to “try” is the way he has always reacted to my telling him that we need help, that we need to work to actively love one another.  He’s told me so many times that we don’t really have problems… he’s explained, “You don’t like when people have different opinions from you…” and that’s how he’s summed up “our” problems.  He’s said a few hurtful things, but it’s been mainly his method of communicating that’s been the most hurtful over the years.  There’s been a whole. lot. of silence on his part.  So much that it’s essentially allowed the incredible abyss between us to survive so well.  I’ve told him many times that if I had the money, I’d have already been gone.  I’ve explained my thoughts, my emotions, my wishes to him in writing, verbally, through tears, through anger and lately, through incredible calm.  Most of the time I’ve been met with silence… no acknowledgement whatsoever of a letter, tears, a plea for discussion, a dissertation on what makes me, me and why I feel lonely and helpless at this point in our relationship.

This weekend we attempted to have a nice dinner to mark our anniversary.  We dressed up and sat down, we started talking… about us.  Obviously trying to keep things positive… it was very hard to do so.  Right before dinner, we’d argued about getting ready.  I wanted him to be excited about going out, I wanted him to have a realistic understanding of what getting ready took – with a toddler and a baby sitter arriving within 30 minutes.  He wanted to drink a beer and sit on the couch, 30 minutes before the babysitter got there.  I still had to finish getting ready and obviously, our baby needed to eat and be ready for bed.  Somehow, we actually argued about this because as usual, I was hurt by the fact that even 30 minutes before our fancy anniversary dinner, he responded with a “don’t try to control me” tone when I told him, “aren’t you excited about going out?”  I listed a few things that needed to be done, and all I got was, “I’ll be ready…” and a “leave me alone” look.  So, by the time the babysitter arrived and we got into the car, I had already resigned myself to the tone the evening had taken on.  I was hurt, and wasn’t going to be able to leave that hurt place just for the sake of our milestone anniversary dinner.  I’m really not very good at leaving that place, I readily admit.  So, as dinner proceeded and wine was consumed, I remained comfortable on my throne of “you can’t hurt me anymore” stature.

It isn’t true, that he can’t hurt me anymore.  I thought it was.  I thought I was so confident and ready for anything, including divorce and separation.  All I have to do is look at my son’s face or hear him tell us, “Stop it!” when we raise our voices at each other and I know that separation is the right thing for him.  For awhile, that made my attitude and disposition very easy.  It was easy for me to move into the guest room, the guest bathroom, to tell him I had come to the unfortunate conclusion that we cannot make this work and therefore it is healthy and right to give up at this point.  I felt like I was somewhat on top of the world after our initial conversation – so sure of myself and what I’d said.  I felt like I was doing the right thing, period.  I still think I did the right thing by bringing it to that level.  When he asked me why we couldn’t make it work, I told him that I don’t know, I wish I did or I’d fix it, but the point is that it isn’t working and therefore we cannot live like this for the rest of our lives so we just need to move on and accept it for what it is for the sake of our son.

That was then… this is now.  Right now, I think I’d give my right arm not to lose him, not to break up our family.  The question I think I keep asking myself is whether that is because I don’t want the relationship to end, or because I don’t want to live without him.  I am pretty sure I’ve been asking myself this question for almost the entire time we’ve been married.  The dinner conversation resulted in a hurtful exchange – and he finally told me that he would have left by now if things were different financially as well.  I brought it up, I told him, “I’m going to be very honest with you, I think it’s over.  I don’t see you coming to me and trying to make it work, I can see it in your eyes and feel it in you – you’re going to just let it end.” In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t said it.  I wish I’d just let the conversation flow and not put a statement with such accusatory finality sit there in the middle of our anniversary dinner.   And, it went down hill from there.  What I didn’t expect was to fall off of my pedestal.  But, that is what I did… I fell hard over the next few days.

The reality of living without him hit me like a ton of bricks.  Suddenly, all I could think of was our wedding day, the way he looked at me while we stood there promising each other that we would stick it out in the good times and the bad.  We wrote our own vows, together.  I love our vows.  The words are framed in our bedroom; I designed a print of them and gave it to him for our 2nd or 3rd anniversary – in part because I felt that we needed a refresher.  Is it normal to need a refresher that soon?  I didn’t think so – the fact is we need a refresher every single day it seems.  So, I’m asking myself if we’re holding on the idea of our marriage now or to each other.  I think the question is the same internally now for both of us.  I cried my eyes out the next day.  I haven’t cried like that in years… my eyes were all but swollen shut – I just couldn’t speak without crying.  When I saw him after one of my “calm” moments of the day, he looked at me and then seemingly went on with his day… showing what seemed like absolutely no concern for me.  So, yes, that just made me cry harder and not because he wasn’t showing concern but because I was actually still expecting him to show concern in the way that I’ve always wanted him to.  The question, “Why can’t I give up?” was like a broken record in my head and heart all weekend.  All.  Weekend.


My brother: Chapter 3: ME.

That phone conversation sent me into the dark place… that place where I go when I feel emotionally trapped.  I’ve been to that place oh so many times over the years.  I’ve lived there for months at a time.  I don’t go there very often any more, but when I do, I go with a new awareness that makes the pain deeper, and therefore shorter lasting.  There was nothing I could say… nothing.  Anything I said would have made me look like the ass hole.  I couldn’t believe the tone in his voice, the matter-of-fact way with which he spoke… the absolute void-of-emotion conversation we were having.  He was leaving to go back across the ocean in less than 24 hours… no desire to see your sister who is one of the greatest people you’ve ever known???  No NEED to see her and hug her and say thank you, I love you, one more time?  No.  Nothing but a slight obligatory tone indicative of a family member who is obligated to appease another family member just by showing up when is expected.  And then my mind started spinning…

Of course he was acting distant to me now that he’d come home and my parents were completely and amazingly supportive of his situation.  He’d called them and told them and given them a few days to think it over before he called back to tell them he was coming home to marry Rachel.  I finally spoke to my mother about it and her word-for-word comments were these,”I mean, what are we supposed to do, but be supportive?  We can make a big deal about it and worry about what everyone will think, or we can just accept that this is what it is and love them and be the supportive parents that they need us to be right now.  It could be a lot worse.”

Pause still for shock and awe.

My jaw nearly fell off my face.  After a few seconds of speechlessness, I managed to tell her how proud I was for her and how right she was.  I told her I was proud of her three times.  She acted surprised… and finally said, “Well, ya know, we’ve been through a lot, Ellie, and we aren’t going to be the kind of parents that aren’t there for our children.  I can’t tell you what some of my cousins went through with their families and the lack of support they received.  We’re just not going to do that.”  She talked a little bit more but I tuned her out… I told her I was proud of her for the last time and we said goodbye.

I shared this apparent awakening with an old friend and was able to laugh about how I feel that I have a right to take credit for some of that obvious emotional growth and development that has occurred in my parents… I like to think I broke them in with my bi-racial marriage and all.  They ignored my husband’s existence for 2 years and lectured me about how they’d burn in hell before they had black grand-babies… they told me at the age of 25 that I had no “idea” what I was doing and that I “better stop it now” before it’s “too late.”  Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what they meant by “too late.”  They never reacted well to any situation I found myself in.  They were never supportive of me in my darkest hours when I needed them the most.  As proud as I was of them for the way they were handling this situation, their ease and acceptance just dug the knife they planted in my heart many years ago in just a little bit deeper.  That is a pain that is profound and very energy consuming to cover up when they are around.

So, here was my brother, home and spending time with my mom and dad who completely and almost immediately embraced him and the girl they once said they could not stand.  They surrounded him with the love and support he needed almost immediately, as he said they would.  He told me, “they don’t have a choice, they’ll love her and be supportive of her because our family is amazing and that’s what families do.”  It has taken me years of therapy to realize that they very much do have a choice when it comes to what kind of parents they choose to be.  I am finally beginning to understand this. Parents always have a choice as to how they will react to their children.  Herein lies the “ME” part of this chapter.

In my frustration, I tried calling my parents, no answer.  I tried calling my sister, no answer.  I just could not bring myself to seek comfort from my husband, who had the knowledge to offer the most compassion, but lacks a general ability to actually show compassion, which presents an obvious problem. But, I decided to tell him anyway because quite frankly, he was the only one who knew the history and sometimes I just can’t be bothered explaining it all, nor do I want everyone in my life to know the drama that is my family.  I explained to my husband that I was feeling hurt by the entire situation on multiple levels:  hurt that my brother was showing no interest or even care about whether or not he saw me before he left the country, hurt that my parents had shown him such support and love when I never have been able to receive that from them. I told him that if it were not for me and all of the things I “put them through,” this would never be.  His response did not shock me… he told me “Don’t even take it there, Ellie.  Don’t even take it there. This isn’t about you or your parents…”  I stopped him and calmly explained that the situation involves me because of the bond I have with my brother.  I explained that I am allowed and should be granted full permission in my own house to feel things as I need to feel them as I adjust to the situation.  I explained that he must understand my shock and awe at my parents behavior considering that I had received such opposite behavior from them on multiple occasions in my life.  Certainly, he could understand that?? Apparently not. So, I told the blog. 😉

They finally came by; it was after their dinner reservations, around 9pm.  I’d just put my son to bed.  As soon as I saw him, all the anger and hurt I’d been feeling all day naturally disappeared.  I hugged him and told him to please keep in touch once he was back home.  I’m a bit of an over protective sister at this point and I do recognize that I have some adjusting to do, but who wouldn’t?  


Courage and Cravings

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
― Maya Angelou

Blogging can be lonely as hell.  So can marriage.  Let me tell you, I don’t know what keeps me writing or fighting sometimes.  Is it courage?  Or insanity?  What makes me so scared to start saving money and making this divorce happen?  What makes me believe that there could still be hope?  I feel these days like I’m slowly coming apart at the seams despite my incredible determination not to.  I believe it’s just exhaustion… shear exhaustion.  Exhaustion from years of trying to explain myself and the problems to my husband.  Years.  YEARS.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” ― Dale Carnegie

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

“Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.”
― Samuel Johnson

He is trying.  I can tell.  In the last few days there have been some signs of a fundamental change.  I know it will not happen over night.  The only problem with it is that it is so incredibly late.  I want to feel grateful and relieved and “back to normal.”  I want to crave him… but I don’t.

The only thing I crave these days are my dreams.  I’ve been having recurring dreams of the one that got away; rather, the one that almost was.  The one that was my best friend.  The one that wouldn’t leave the room unless he knew that I felt at least better… until I felt understood and heard.  The one that could hug me and make the world disappear.  In my dreams, he’s been doing that.  He’s been hugging me, and I’ve finally been able to feel his intimate touch and his lips against mine.  It has been my saving grace in the middle of the night… compensation for the lack of affection and security I feel with my husband.  A good friend told me that he is showing up in my life to remind me that it is possible for me to be loved that way – that it’s out there.  Of course, I spend a lot of time (too much time?) imagining that he sometimes dreams of me as well… that he wonders if he made the right choice.  I wonder if he thinks about me and longs to know what it would’ve been like to grow and travel the world with me.  It seems like he’s living the life I was meant to live, somehow.  Whatever the reason he has come back into my life, even if only fantastically, I am so grateful for it.  I am grateful for those dreams that feel so real I wake up feeling comforted and loved.


Flowers and Jewelry (and a little hypocrisy)

Our latest argument was about money.  We argue about money quite a bit.  Mainly, this is due to the lack of money we generally have to do things that we have to do – such as grocery shop or pay for our newly established gym membership.  Last week we were too tight to pay the gym membership so I told my husband we needed to put it on the credit card until payday, when we could pay it right back.  His response?  “That’s not our money.  I don’t know what you’re going to do b/c we aren’t going to be able to pay it for another two weeks.”  Obviously, this meant I couldn’t go to the gym for those two weeks and he knows I am currently trying to lose weight (and doing very well!)  This absolutely infuriated me.  In my mind, it is just another way for him to try and control me.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day.  He spent the day with a mutual friend of ours who I decided to clue into the recent (ha, recent) drama in our relationship.  Essentially I chose to let him in on the fact that I really believe that my husband is clinically depressed and needs a mentor or at least a friend to force him out of the house.  I knew this friend would be asking him what he was planning on doing for me for the big day in February that I’ve just grown to hate.  Excuse me for not sounding like a very appreciative wife here in the next paragraph.

I got a phone call towards the end of my work day.  He asked me to pick up the little guy even though he could’ve done so easily.  I figured that he could probably use some more time alone and as usual, held out a bit of hope that what he really needed the time for was so he could go home and prepare a romantic candlelight dinner, ya know, as part of his “I’ll do anything” campaign tour.  In my drive home, I tried to talk myself out of these expectations.  After all, I’d gotten him a card (because that was seriously all I could afford) and figured he’d probably done the same for me and that would be that.  I actually found a very appropriate card this year.  It essentially gently reminded him that I do love him without indicating that he’s this gigantic support system for me/the perfect man/my soul mate like most of them do.  I felt he needed that assurance because he seems to be convinced that I don’t want to be with him (although, I realize as well that this is a tactic part of his denial that our problems are real and therefore fixable if we just try to fix them).  I’ve somewhat shifted from anger to compassion as I’ve realized that his depression is real and true.  It’s the fact that he’s in denial and has always exhibited emotionally abusive behaviors that tips the scale to anger on some (okay most) days.  I can’t exactly use his recent depression as an excuse for that behavior, can I?  No, unfortunately.  Because, that would probably be easier.  Sigh.  I feel like I will never get to the end of this paragraph.  I think I have to start a new one now.

I got home.  No candles were lit, but I’d convinced myself not to expect that, right?  No, it couldn’t be that simple.  The house wasn’t picked up, but there were a dozen roses, two cards, and gift box on the table.  It was sweet, unexpected, but still fell short.  He knew what time I got home – I walked in the door to a mess and he was sitting on the couch talking on the phone.  It was almost like…. “See, I did it.  Here’s your freakin’ Valentine.”  See what I mean?  I sound a bit like a spoiled brat.  But that’s the thing – I’m NOT.  So what if I expected that he’d maybe have dinner ready?  The table set for us all to sit and eat together?  Maybe a frickin’ candle?  Instead, a box, that I knew would have jewelry in it, because he still thinks that I need things like this.  He is so convinced that if he buys me expensive things like jewelry, I’d feel better.  You can probably understand per the first paragraph why I felt like strangling him with whatever piece of jewelry was in that box before I’d ever seen it.  Seriously?  You got me JEWELRY?  You can buy me jewelry, but you can’t borrow money from the credit card to pay the gym dues so I can keep working out?  Oh, I see – what YOU think is important and not completely wasteful and unnecessary is acceptable, what I think is important is just little woman talk.  So, we opened each others cards and decided to save the jewelry for later.  When I opened it, I started crying.  As is the story of my life – I wasn’t crying tears of frickin’ joy – I was crying because the man is just so utterly clueless it literally hurts me.  It was a fancy, and beautiful choker (HA, the irony kills me).  It was great!  It will sit in the box it came in on top of my jewelry box and I’ll wear it maybe once a year; I don’t have clothes nice enough to match the damn thing for god’s sake!  I don’t care about expensive jewelry!!

I just let it go, though.  I said thank you, we watched a show, we went upstairs and finished every married couple’s Valentine’s Day ritual.  It was the first time I’ve ever gotten through it with the constant thought… “Is it over yet?”

Is it?


Lethal Compassion

My drives to work in the morning have become quite productive.  This morning, once again, I was reflecting on Neil Gaiman’s words, particularly these: “They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind.”  My compassion for others has always been one of my favorite attributes – and I am starting to understand why every single thing has to have a boundary, even this.  I know that my husband is not an abusive person and that he has a pure and kind heart.  I, therefore, know and understand that when he says things to me that crush my soul, he doesn’t do it with malice.  But, he still does it, and that is the point.

This weekend I went to my neighbor’s house for her birthday party.  It was great – more fun than I have had in quite some time.  It was the kind of fun I used to have all the time in college – except very different because the conversations had were much more mature, lol.  I had so much fun – and in the middle of the fun and conversations I realized that I am barely really living my life.  I struggle so much with anxiety now that I forget how easy it used to be for me to meet and get to know new people.  These aren’t your average people I was hanging with – these are people that are real and so much themselves that you can’t help but to be yourself just to try and honor their fearlessness.  Sigh, isn’t that only something those of us who are afraid to really be ourselves say?  Anyway, on to my point…

I got home late, very late.  I was feeling so peaceful and happy that I had given myself that time to relax and have fun, because I rarely let myself do so.  I crawled into my bed with a smile on my face, leaned over in an attempt to cuddle with the husband to let him know I was home.  I knew he wasn’t sleeping, and he wasn’t moving either.  It didn’t take long for the sickening feeling to come over me – the feeling I get when I realize he is unhappy with me for some truly obnoxious and ridiculous reason.  I wanted to be sure he actually was alive, so I said, “Are you okay?”  I got no response, but the tension began to spread in the silent return.  This time, I was determined not to let him ruin that wonderful, warm feeling I had so I just put my ear plugs in and went back to sleep.  I didn’t even want to hear what ridiculous things he was saying because they weren’t going to be nice things and I didn’t deserve to hear them.  He did answer me, finally, emphatically, with: “Are you fucking kidding me? Do you think that just because you are next door that you can stay out as late as you want?”  And, with that, I fell asleep.  It felt very good to just tune him out and not internalize the accusation and react to him for the moment.

The next morning I tried explaining to him that he could have expressed his frustration to me in many ways other than the way he ultimately chose to.  I explained the same thing I have explained a million times to him (and by a million I mean nearly every time I go “out” and I push the limits of unexpressed rules that he apparently has for me, such as a curfew), that it really is all about communication and the way we speak to each other.  I told him how hurt and uncomfortable it makes me feel when he talks to me in that tone for that reason.  In the nicest way I’ve ever described it to him, I told him that he is better than this controlling person he sounds like when he accuses me of doing something wrong when all I’ve done is stay out a little later than usual and let myself socialize in an adult world for a change.

He sounds like a controlling ass hole, does he not??  Well, he’s really not!  He is simply a product of his upbringing, which happens to have taken place in a part of the world that is largely patriarchal even today (and, more so that here in the good ole’ U.S.A. which I do realize is quite patriarchal still as well.)  I have watched his mother and father interact and it is clear that even today, in 2012, there are definite and defined limits on his mother’s actions.  She may be feisty and rebellious at times, and by that I mean, she may have an opinion and express that opinion, but she is ultimately guided and willingly follows the standards of submissiveness that she has existed in for her entire life.  Now, my husband has explained to me that this is not true in any sense.  Because he doesn’t see it.  And how could he?  It is perfectly normal to him.  He has never shown interest in exploring the roots of the kind of behavior he exhibits in these circumstances.  So, the story goes that because I am compassionate and I know his heart is kind and pure, I look beyond it, forgive him, accept that he is never “sorry” for how badly he makes me feel during these moments.  Which brings me to the title of original title this post, which was “The Subtle, Confusing, Innocence of Emotional Abuse.”  You can see why I changed it.

Just saying the word “abuse” feels very taboo and foreign and uncomfortable to me, because it is almost always followed, in my head at least, with the word “victim.”  I don’t want to be anybody’s victim, I don’t want to play the victim, I don’t want to over-exaggerate my circumstances, I don’t want to accuse.  My husband is not a monster and he really is one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met.  I keep trying to figure out if he’s always been this controlling or if he’s changed over the years as circumstances have hardened his heart.  I’ve thought he’s been depressed now for over a year, and I chalk his behavior up to that a lot and I do understand his recent frustration with life.  But, our marriage has had many problems that stem from our fundamental differences for quite some time.  This is one of the main reasons it is so hard for me to use the word “abuse” when talking about my marriage or my husband, because I know he doesn’t treat me this way with malice.  However, by it’s definition, emotional abuse is “any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal assaults.”  This is a fairly basic definition, found on a random college counseling website that I don’t live anywhere near.  Google sure is handy.  I liked this definition, though, because of this comment, “Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept.”

Now, listen as I explain away the absolute fact that this is what is happening in my marriage.  I have blatantly pointed out to my husband that what he is doing qualifies as emotional abuse, and, naturally, he scoffs and says things like, “Please!” Or “Wow, really?  This is unbelievable.”  Or, my personal favorite, “So if you think I am abusing you, why don’t you just leave?”  The more I weed through the problems of our marriage and my contributions to our utter lack of healthy communication patterns, the more I come to realize that in this case, my compassion has started to hurt rather than help me.  I understand why he thinks it is okay to belittle and disrespect me on a regular basis.  This does not mean I have to accept it.  Accepting it includes letting it happen.  Letting it happen includes letting it go, moving on with our daily lives as if nothing is wrong because it’s just easier that way.  I have tried explaining the way he makes me feel many, many times.  I have tried every perspective that you can imagine.  The only thing that works, sometimes, is when I ask him to put himself in my shoes and “Would you like it if I said that to you?”  In the end, whether he says he is sorry or not, the root of the problem is never truly addressed and thus, the cycle continues.  Thus, his insistence that all of our problems are due to my “creation of problems that don’t exist (more emotional abuse).”  A good friend recently reminded me of a quote that says something along the lines of, “before you diagnose yourself with any kind of disorder or mental illness, be sure that you aren’t just surrounded by ass holes first.”

I actually would prefer to be married to my husband for the rest of my life.  I just need him to love himself enough to make some transformations so that he can be the person I know he wants to be, so that we can have the kind of marriage we both deserve.  I thought, as I always do, that I could actually be unaffected by his temper tantrum.  It had no logic, was cruel, I didn’t deserve it, so why give it a thought?  Why try and explain myself?  I just end up sounding guilty and I was not guilty of anything – I was literally next door with people he knows just as well as I do!  Despite this understanding, I did somehow still end up defending myself as well.  ” know it was late, but I was having fun….”  I am an adult – I am fairly far into adulthood… certainly far enough to make decisions for myself.  The fact that I even had to have that kind of a conversation and thought process is really the core reason why I feel so heartbroken and disturbed at the end of these little battles.  Because, they are battles within my husband that I am trying to fight for him.   And I will never win.

This is just one small example of the way things typically go in my house.  The sad and excruciating part of this is that the rest of the day, we actually got along just fine.  I assumed that he had calmed down and reason had returned to him with sleep.  I also assumed that he knew what I said was right and recognized his mistake in treating me like his 16 year old child.  So, later that night when he tried to snuggle up to me, I asked him if he felt bad for the way he had spoken to me.  Yes, I totally ruined the “moment” but this was NOT my intention!  I fully expected him to say, “Yes, I do.”  And, herein lies MY neurosis.  I didn’t expect an apology, he sucks at them.  I figured at the very least he’d ACKNOWLEDGE how dreadful he was to me.  But, alas, he did not.  He actually ended up emphasizing his point that as a wife and a mother, I should not “behave that way.”  It’s quite hilarious when you think about it – because one could conclude that as a wife and a mother, he intends for me never to socialize (even with the neighbors), drink alcohol socially, meet new people, invest in new friendships, and of course never stay out past 12? 1? 2am?  And the reason for this is because of… what people will say about me?  Him?  Because I’d love to know who the hell would agree with him that my “behavior” was inappropriate.  If I was bar-hopping every night and standing on a corner, eh, yeah, I can see how that may cross the motherly/wifely line.  For the love of GOD, I was NEXT DOOR.  (That maybe the title of my book, just sayin’.)

So, when no acknowledgement of any wrong doing occurred, I shut down.  I couldn’t believe it.  He couldn’t believe it either… so, he blurted out, “This relationship is going nowhere with you.”  Isn’t that lovely?  Again, he implies that due to my complete and utter psychosis, “this relationship” is going nowhere.  “This relationship” can’t go anywhere unless we are both committed to its survival.  Survival.  I am completely okay with it sometimes just being about surviving as a couple.  It is like life… sometimes we really do just “survive.”  I have been “surviving” now for a long, long time.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I want to thrive.  I want my son to see me as free and happy as I was in the midst of all that fun on Saturday night, the way I am when it is just him and I, laughing and playing and living the magical moments of life together.   Maybe I ruined the moment my husband was in desperate need of at that time.  But, as I told him later that night, it’s pretty essential that we start asking ourselves the hard questions at this juncture, because I’m sick of the merry-go-round.  It is fine for us to have a difference in opinion about what is and is not appropriate “behavior” for me as a mother and a wife.  It is not okay for him to shame me for not following his definition.  It is not okay for him to do this once… and he has done it many, many times.

As things become more and more clear to me, I realize that I have a decision to make.  He won’t go to therapy.  The pattern won’t change on it’s own.  I can’t be our therapist.  I can’t save our marriage.  Our problems are fixable.  This is what breaks my heart… I am a fighter!  I don’t like giving up on people, especially people who I love and believe in.  However, I realize now that it is not in my power to change him and that my compassion for him and the way he was raised can only take me so far.  Trying to understand and explain away his abusive behavior is only hurting me.  It is only a matter of time before my son starts to learn the same patterns that my husband learned throughout his childhood.  And, I just can’t let that happen.

It’s been fairly dark inside my head this week as we have barely spoken anything other than necessary words to one another.  I think we are both sad, and as usual the saddest part to me is that he is waiting for me to “get over it” while I am waiting for him to give me things he will never be able to give me.  I don’t know what will happen, how this one will turn out… if I will feel it is necessary to go back into denial or not for awhile.  But, I know that I just wrote this blog and that the fear of what lies beyond the “what if we don’t make it” thoughts are becoming less and less overwhelming.  I know that my son gives me incredible strength and a will to live and keep fighting this fight that is unparalleled.   I know that no matter what happens, I will be fine.  Better than fine.  I will thrive.  🙂


Epiphany

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”  – Neil Gaiman

It’s no secret why this struck me.  I’m fairly passionate about education and in particular the list of things that we aren’t taught.  This quote stayed with me through the night last night.  I also thought about it on the way to work this morning while listening to my Adele cd, given to me by my husband.  I thought of my imaginary life… the one that I’d have lived if my college sweetheart had chosen me.  I thought of the post he wrote on his most recent anniversary to his wife.  “These have been the best years of my life.”

I don’t think I feel any differently.  The years I’ve spent with my husband have been the best years of my life.  I think it is possible to say such a thing, and still imagine better years.  I thought at this point in my life things would be more defined.  Thanks to my friend Walt Disney, I really believed that love and marriage and even friendship was pretty cut and dry.  You care, you love, you marry, you’re happy.  Life isn’t that simple.  I’d like to start this new year off with a mission to accept the grey areas in my life.  I think it may help my marriage.  I want to be okay with wondering how my life would’ve been “if only” because the more life I live, the more I realize that nothing is as it seems.  Nothing.

I have thus decided that this grey sea I swim in is not all that bad, and certainly not abnormal.  I think I’ll start embracing the unknown parts of myself with this new understanding.  Am I head over heals in love with my life and happy and 100% sure about every area of my life?  Is anyone?  I think my latest “key to life” revelation is that life is a series of in-between moments and it’s up to us to make the best of them.

Happy New Year!


Greener Grass

Today, yesterday, tomorrow.  RENT.  “No DAY but today.”  I try to live my marriage life with this sentiment.  I love my husband on many levels.  I am committed to him, that’s for sure.  But I wonder, several times a day, if there is such a thing as a soul mate.  I used to believe there was.  It was easy, once upon a time, for me to believe that there was reason in every little event in my life. One catastrophe led to another epiphany and so on… and in many ways I do live my life like that.   But in the truth, which is burrowed ever so quietly inside of my busy mind – the epiphany I sometimes feel I don’t have the strength to tend to is that I made a mistake.

As hard as I try I can’t bring the fire back.  There are moments of passion, but I even wonder if they are real sometimes.  I wonder if this is what marriage is like for everyone… the ebbs and flows…if they are unmistakably this frequent and confusing.  Or if I’m missing out.  If there is a true and single connection to be made out there while I sit and make the best of my choices here at home.  I am aware that the grass really is always greener… I am sure that my fantasies would disappoint me if they really surfaced.  The funny thing is that my fantasies are more about closure than excitement!  Hmmm…. question for the therapist I’m currently not seeing anymore!

Maybe it’s the loss of my innocence… the refusal to believe that life, and marriage, are just difficult – no matter what.  What I wouldn’t do to step back into my teen years… for just one night.  To feel that wonder again!  To go on my first “real” date all over again – to let go of all the rules I had for myself as a young and way too good girl.  🙂  To re-live my college romance and grant myself that one wishful memory.  I can’t go back and make different decisions.  That’s for sure.  But I want to.

I am thankful for the memories and the dreams that keep me dreaming.  I have to be, they keep it interesting.  🙂


It is love that builds faith… not the other way around.

I’m not religious.  At all.  My husband says that I don’t believe in God.  Sometimes I don’t think I do – but I can’t look at my son without the belief that his presence is anything less than a miracle.  The moment of childbirth solidified my belief in a higher power.  I do believe… just not in the traditional, Southern way that I was encouraged to.

I was raised in a church.  I was baptized, went through all the ceremonies of First Communion, Confirmation… all that.  And then I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.  So I followed my sister to her church.  We were both vulnerable and passionate teenagers.  We loved our friends and having fun… we shared confusions and frustrations that we didn’t know how to verbalize.  We were “normal.”  We were as normal as two loving, spirited, vulnerable teenagers living in the South could be… so it was a perfect time to stumble across a church that would attempt to transform us into little Christian soldiers.  For awhile we were both hooked… to the point that I remember actually believing that because my parents didn’t approve of our attending the church, this meant that they were destined for the fiery depths of hell.  And all the pastors could tell me was that “not everyone is destined for the promise land.”   While I recovered pretty nicely from this temporary insanity in college, it changed my sister’s life forever.  She hasn’t been the same since.  We stopped going to that church right around the time we left for college.

We both left for college determined not to let the separation from our newfound baptism (that church) shake our faith.  I entered college as a Bible thumping, glorified Christian ready to take on all the sins that awaited me with a solid, “No.”  I left wondering if God existed at all… and believing if nothing else, that if he did exist, the last place he was to be found was inside a church/mosque/temple.  I don’t believe in Christianity.  I am not a Christian.  Calm down now… I promise you it’s okay.  I always feel so defiant and rebellious still when I “admit” to that.  It horrifies my husband.  It horrifies my sister.  My sister changed forever when she entered that crazy church – she is as brainwashed today as she ever was.  She once told me that the reason I was depressed was because I had a “hole in my heart where God belonged.”  She actually said that to me.  It was a strange moment in our history as sisters.  She felt so bad for me… and in a very different way I felt so bad for her.  We will never understand each other, and for the most part we’ve stopped trying.  I am sure that my way of life disappoints and confuses her much the way hers disappoints and confuses me.  I am sad for her, and I’m sure she is sad for me.

It’s an interesting study.  We were raised in the same house – and while I cannot say that my parents didn’t sacrifice for us or love us – I can say that we experienced the same level of hypocrisy and contradiction in our upbringing.  My parents tried, but not as hard as they could’ve.  Maybe that isn’t fair.  Their generation didn’t encourage self-reflection…rather I guess it was more about where and how they were raised in their own houses and less to do with the time they were coming of age… which would’ve been the 60s and therefore they should truly have no excuse for not having explored themselves and their limitations a bit more.  Regardless, as loving as they were – they weren’t and they still aren’t whole people.  They think that they complete one another – but truly I believe that they have grown to fill a space in each other that each of them gave up on in themselves.  My dad has been a functioning alcoholic for as long as I can remember.  My mom, although highly educated, never has been able to separate herself from the traditional “wife” role her Southern Baptist upbringing taught.  Although I did watch her rise against it in protest many times throughout my life, and she’d deny it and be utterly offended if I were ever to tell her, but my opinion is that she ultimately settled in defeat.  She decided, almost overnight, that her life would be less challenging if she stopped fighting and instead, allowed herself to fall second to my dad.  I am sure it was gradual, but sometime I am sure I will post a blog about the night I think she made this decision.  For now… back to religion.

Everyone in my life is full of contradictions.  As am I.  Maybe it’s unfair for me to talk about my mom giving up on herself because sometimes I feel like I am in the process of giving up on myself… at the very same time that I feel more empowered and strengthened than I ever have… I still can’t gather the strength to accept that I have changed and that my marriage hasn’t changed with me.  It isn’t my husband’s fault that we are unhappy.  He hasn’t changed.  It’s me who’s gone through an enormous shift – and while I’ll tell anyone who asks that I’ve become stronger and less insecure and aware of healthy boundaries… maybe the truth is that I’ve just gotten very good at telling myself that I don’t have to settle for what I’m settling for, even as I settle for it.  I know I’m not free of hypocrisy.  That’s my point.  But at least, I know it.  At least I own it.  This is something that many people do not even recognize in themselves.  I worked damn hard in therapy to get to this place where I do recognize it.

My sister goes to church nearly every Sunday… and between her and her husband they also each attend another church function at least once during every week.  She has always looked down on the rest of us in the family because we don’t share her “passion for Christ.”  I am sure that her heart genuinely aches when she imagines, through her religious goggles, that we aren’t destined for eternal happiness in Heaven as she and all her fellow church going Christian friends and family are.  She doesn’t know that I’m not even a Christian.  She’s fully aware that I don’t subscribe to the ways of any church.  A couple years ago I told her I didn’t believe in missionary work.  She nearly lost her lunch.  I explained that it’s not the “doing good for others” part that I don’t agree with, but the “doing good so that you’ll think Jesus is your savior” part that I cannot fundamentally support.  I believe in helping others because we should want to be helped if we were in need.  I believe that our desire and at times our need to help one another is fundamentally human.  In fact, it’s not just a human trait… we are animals, and just as most living things do, we are generally programmed to help and protect one another from harm.  I don’t believe that it is fair or genuine to help someone under the pretense that by helping them, they should then believe in the same thing that you do.  This steals the love out of the very deed you boast about to your fellow church goers.   I only pick on my sister because I have a window into her world.  I am therefore exposed to this religious vision of the world that she has.  It is draped throughout every area of her life.  Her blog makes me sick to my stomach… many times.  While I agree that I should let her live as she lives – it is painful to watch and listen to her put her all into something that doesn’t even bring her genuine joy.  All it brings is guilt.  Constant guilt – her blogs are filled with “I should’ve… I should…” and praising of those people in her life that agree with her and support her religious beliefs and her overall struggle to find God and Jesus in everything… right down to the Easter egg hunt that she put together for her very small children…she’s all about keeping Christ in everything.  While she’s busy finding Christ in everything, she’s worrying about how inadequate she is in every way – as a mother, as a wife, as a servant to God.  She is constantly apologizing and explaining and talking about how unsupported she feels and all at the same time she’s blogging about how thankful she is… wait… so am I!  So who is to say that we are so different?  I just went to therapy, instead of church.  I recognize this.  What I rejected about religion as I went through my journey, was the guilt it encouraged in me.  I grew up with so much guilt it took me years to find myself in all the layers that were so neatly put together over my spirit throughout years and years of being told just how “wrong” I was about pretty much every thought I had.  I’m not sure my sister’s experiences were the exact same as mine were – but they weren’t far off.  We were raised by a perfectionist whose pride caused immense pain and confusion in our hearts.  He loved us, but we were never  doing what we should.  If anyone did what she should, it was my sister.  Until she found that church.  My parents hate that church – ironically for much of the same reasons that I do.

I go to church, as I did this morning, with my husband from time to time, to show support to him… although he knows that I do not believe as he does.  When we met we were on the same page with religion.  We understood each other.  We shared the general believe that God didn’t belong in a church – that Christianity was just one of so many religions that claimed to be “the way, truth, light” when ultimately all they were doing was creating war against one another.  He changed a few years ago when his life took a devastating turn and he experienced something that few will ever know, including myself.  It’s not to be shared now, but I understand his turn toward religion, because it was the only way that he could make sense out of what happened to him.  And that’s okay.  Maybe that’s what the undertone of my sister’s search is as well.  And that’s okay.  It just doesn’t make logical sense – I wish it did.  But it just doesn’t.

This morning, and every morning that I sit in church I am utterly disturbed by the militant and mindless worship.  Repeating a creed while raising your hands in the air… is different than bowing towards a temple and repeating a different creed… how exactly?  Telling your “followers” that they are right and others are wrong… in the same breath that you tell them to have hearts filled with love… is teaching love… how exactly?  One thing the priest said this morning was true.  He said, “For it is love that builds faith, and not the other way around.”  This is true.  If I felt that what was behind this Christian movement was more about love and less about faith and whose is stronger/louder/more correct, then perhaps I’d sympathize with it a little more.  I’d understand and even sympathize with my sister a little more.  But the underlying message that she and all other religions teach is that it is faith that builds love… and only the “right” faith leads to “true” love.   That’s why my sister has built a protective wall between us… because my lack of what she calls “faith” contradicts her own, and the church teaches her that those who do not walk in the kind of love that they seek, will only lead them astray.  It’s a great analogy they use with the flock of sheep… genius, really… like everything else that’s brought the Christian empire where it is today.   It takes a certain genius to gain power and maintain it for so long.  They even change the sacred “word of God” every couple years by coming up with a new “version” of the Bible that helps translate their message through each and every era we’ve experienced as a culture… and few question it.  It’s okay to have doubts… God can help you with that.  But to question the word of God… that’s blasphemy.  It’s faith that she thinks she has.  All that she is truly searching for is the kind of love that we were never really shown.  The kind of love that comes naturally at the start of life… when a person who has experienced some serious radical self-love and acceptance can feel.  It’s the kind of love that I feel for my son.  The kind of love that is unparalleled and unyielding, selfless but with a healthy dose of selfishness too – because the only way you can truly love someone is to love yourself.  It’s that self love that religion frowns upon.  Because if taught to love ourselves with all our faults… then what would our faith be?  What good would that do the church?  If people don’t feel guilty all the time, they don’t give money, they don’t gather and worship, they don’t feed the insatiable need for power that every religion from the beginning of time has held.

So, that’s it.  Another great divide between my husband and I.  That’s not really why I blogged about it… I blogged about it because it’s been heavy on my mind.  Marriage is an offspring of religion… and I am still studying how and why I am so scared to imagine that it is as free of logic as religion itself.  Some things are so ingrained in us that even years of acknowledgement can’t cure our denial.  Maybe I’m not really that different from my own mother, after all.