Tag Archives: Emotional Marshmallow

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. ūüėČ

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?  

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Opposing Lenses

“Everything you see is, is through a lens, huh?” He said, as if he understood me.*

*conversation with my father, tonight.


Begin

“This is how to clear the polluted river. ¬†If you’re scared, scared to fail, I say begin already, fail if you must, pick yourself up, start again. ¬†If you fail again, you fail. ¬†So what? ¬†Begin again. ¬†It is not the failure that holds us back but the reluctance to begin over again that causes us to stagnate. ¬†If you’re scared, so what? ¬†If you’re afraid something’s going to leap out and bite you, then for heaven’s sake, get it over with already. ¬†Let your fear leap out and bite you so you can get it over with and go on. ¬†You will get over it. ¬†The fear will pass. ¬†In this case, it is better if you meet it head-on, feel it, and get it over with, than to keep using it to avoid cleaning up the river.” ¬†Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. from her book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

I think this may be my theme lately. ¬†We’ve had a couple good days. ¬†I had a weekend away and it was extremely freeing and cleansing for me in so many ways. ¬†I have finally realized how crucial girl time is, how crucial validation of self is to any relationship. ¬†I am falling more and more in love with myself every day. ¬†I forgive myself now, much more quickly than I have in the past. ¬†I recognize my fears, acknowledge them, and become determined to overcome them. ¬†In my mind, I can accomplish everything I want to accomplish. ¬†I can go back to school, I can improve my career, I can write a novel (or at least an article), I can savor my friendships, I can make a difference, I can save my marriage. ¬†Sigh. ¬†In my mind, I can do everything and anything I put my mind to. ¬†In reality, I restrict myself with the excuse of time.

Writing this blog has truly helped me grow. ¬†I think it’s even helped my marriage in some small way because rather than holding in all of my frustrations and unleashing them in unproductive ways, I’m able to remain calm and constructive during “discussions” these days. ¬†But it takes time, and I find that sometimes I resent the time it takes. ¬†I know that it is necessary for me now and that it is also good practice for one ultimate goal of mine, which is to write a novel. ¬†I am still going to continue to write, and to try and write more often. ¬†It can be difficult for many reasons to find time to do this, but on days like today, when somehow after 4 full days of hope and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it disappears almost entirely, I need to reach out.

A good friend recommended the book referenced above to me to remind me that I am loved… this was one part of the section that jumped out at me because the fear of what is to come can be so crippling. ¬†I am almost afraid of my own strength these days. ¬†I’m so much stronger now than I ever have been that even though things can be going much better one minute, the walls I’ve built around myself and the boundaries I’ve set remain so firmly in place that once they are crossed I revert back into my shell. ¬†This morning, my husband denied that he yelled at me when he all but screamed at me yesterday for no good reason. ¬†As soon as he said, “When did I yell at you?” ¬†I simply looked at him and said, “Are you sure that’s what you want to go with?” ¬†No response. ¬†“This conversation if over, then,” I said. ¬†Because, what’s the point in continuing a conversation with someone who cannot own their own behavior? ¬†There isn’t. ¬†And I don’t have the strength to do it anymore. ¬†Even though we’d shared two very good days together and I can tell he is clearly trying, I just can’t back down this time. ¬†I do have guilt that I should give him a break due to his depression, but at the same time I am afraid that I am using his depression as an excuse for this pattern of behavior and ¬†therefore, it’s really only going to hurt me and him if I let him continue in it.

I’m at a loss again. ¬†I am glad for the reprieve I had and the passage above truly helps me put things into perspective. ¬†It’s the reminder I need, on a daily basis, that trying again and again at my marriage doesn’t make me weak. ¬†It also reminds me that if I do ultimately end this marriage, that although it will feel like I have failed, I will survive the feeling of failure. ¬†I will make it, no matter what happens. ¬†I will clean up my river…

 


Stick a Fork in My Emotional Marshmallow!

Seriously. I have no idea when I’ll regain sanity… maybe never. I’m pretty convinced after this week that I must be the only person on earth who is truly stuck in a loveless, seemingly pointless marriage. I thought things had gotten better…. hence the reason I haven’t exactly been loyal to my bipolar marriage web blog.

Well. As usual, we are slowly creeping back to normal again… fights about nothing that turn into something that turn into something bigger that leave me calculating just how much money I should be saving every paycheck… and if the $5 a week that I could afford to save means that I may as well just suck it up anyway b/c I’ll be at least 50 by the time I actually can afford to truly, truly regain sanity and find my TRUE soulmate that I’m convinced is somewhere out there secretly writing love songs (for me only) and distributing them among my favorite artists and having radio stations/Pandora play them only when I am already an emotional marshmallow!!!

I digress. Or should I? I really wish that I could ask people on facebook who write sentimental messages to their significant others what it’s “really” like for them when they aren’t broadcasting their bliss? It can’t possibly be that the past lovers – or almost so – in my life are not actually pining away for me just like I do for them when I’m convinced my husband is the world’s largest and most clueless ass on the planet.

My bubble burst a bit today as I read the post of an almost lover that talked about the years he has spent with his wife as “the best of his life.” Is it wrong that I’m not happy for him? Haha, of COURSE I’m happy for him. And, I’m sure, that every once in a good while, he does think of me when he hears that one Adele song… and he remembers what it felt like to ALMOST embrace me and to ALMOST make mad passionate love to me…

Right? Sigh…. See what I mean? Not sure when I’ll regain sanity. I asked my neighbor last night if this is actually how marriage “is.” She gave the best answer anyone’s ever given me on the topic… that, of course, it is. And that sometimes she stops and looks around and asks herself, “Am I on planet Earth?” Made me laugh… and if she hadn’t been there it probably would’ve made me cry too!

She also said something (well many things, I love my wise neighbor!) that I think may be the key to at least regaining a LITTLE sanity to make it to the next Anniversary anyway (which is less than 2 weeks away). Wisdom passed on to her is this re: what a man really needs:

We, as women, need an entire afternoon of affection and attention to feel loved and affectionate in return. Men only need about 3 minutes… generally right after they’ve “agreed” to “hold” you – which almost always means that you are “agreeing” to “hold” (their penis) back. So, perhaps if I can try (and it will take effort) to sacrifice these 3 minutes…a… little more often… I’ll be a happier wife?

Funny/sad/horrifying thing is that it makes me LOL to think that I’d ever get a whole afternoon in return without having to beg for it. Blah. I’m sick of being sick of it!