The Hospitable Host of Fear

May 21, 2015 was the day it all started. That was the day my husband and I separated.

I sit this morning in contemplation and deep reverence for the year that has been.

I’ve been falling deeply and have hit an all time low. I am in the depths of a major depression like none other I have seen before and I have relapsed into the eating disorder.

I am grateful.

I initiated the separation due to my husband’s alcoholism and requested that he seek treatment. I would not return unless he sought treatment.

He has not sought treatment and he continues to drink.

Had he done as I’d asked I’m not sure I would have been forced to look so deeply at myself. I now wonder if this really had anything to do with him at all but more to do with me and my refusal to meet myself.

If my unhappiness was because of him then surely I would be in contented bliss as I live alone without him.

The truth is, the deep unhappiness is still in me.

His alcoholism was easy to blame as the source of my unhappiness because I was relying on him to fill my empty cup. Without him though, my cup is still empty.

So now who do I blame?

There is only one way to turn and that is inward.

I am not who I thought I was and without that, who am I?

I am terrified.

I often don’t want to look and feel great discomfort when I am alone.

The eating disorder is welcomed as the distractor of my mind. It prevents the great meeting from taking place. I can continue to identify, albeit falsely, with what I know from experience.

The truth is, I am none of it and all of it, all at once.

It’s not my cardinal sin, it’s a sign.

As Hebrews 13:2 states, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

As the great poet, Rumi, has suggested also in his wise poem The Guest House, my fear and depression are unexpected visitors who have been sent as a guide from beyond.

I am slowly, oh so slowly, starting to accept it all, neither as good or bad, but all from God.

There is no one to blame. Not even my husband.

 

A Different Kind of Love

I’ve been reading.

Sometimes I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I like to read and explore new ideas. My mind’s view is quite liberal and I’m not the most objective person. I can also be very black-and-white in my thinking so I can often take what I read to be literal truth.

Regardless, I came across a book called How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny. It’s based on the premise that love is not about communication, it’s about connection. It intrigued me since I’m trying to talk my way past the necessity of divorce and it isn’t working, not even in the slightest.

Now, I know there are other issues in my marriage besides a lack of communication and  a mutual misunderstanding of each other but this book is quite interesting, providing insights I hadn’t considered before. One, in particular, being that men have a heightened sensitivity to feeling inadequacy and shame.

I kept this idea in my head as I read, trying to make connections.

It really is a vicious cycle. I talk, he listens, he responds with stuff that makes no sense to me at all, I get angry, he shuts down. Stalemate!

I began to ponder the idea that perhaps he truly isn’t capable of having deep, emotional conversation. If that’s the case and I respond with anger and frustration, could it be that his shutdown is his protective response of pain avoidance, to not feel the pain and shame associated with having not met the needs of his wife? Hmmm…

So, I was at the house last night dog-sitting. I was under the impression that my husband would not be coming home and that I would get to spend the night with the dog. I was eager for this alone-time with my little four-legged love so when my husband arrived home at about 9:30 p.m. I was disappointed and frustrated.

He could sense my emotional disturbance and when I said I’d just leave and go home, he sat down and sort of just stared despondently into space.

Sigh.

I asked him what was wrong. He shrugged and just said quietly, “I thought you’d be happy I was home.”

Sigh.

So, I have the internal dialogue.

Why am I angry that he’s home? What’s the big deal? I can still stay and hang out with the dog. How is my anger at him hurting? Why would he think I’d be happy he was home? I hate that he makes plans and then changes things last minute.

And then it hit me! If he’s home, he drove himself home and that means he didn’t drink tonight. He just couldn’t say it point-blank.

I silently swallowed my pride and walked over to him. I bent down, kissed him and said, “Yes. I am happy you’re home.”

“You don’t have to say that now,” he said. His eyes were a little teary.

“I’m saying it because I mean it,” I said. “I’m going to put my pj’s back on and I’ll spend the night.”

All I can say is that it’s super hard to act compassionately when I still don’t feel like I’ve been heard or that my own needs aren’t being met. However, had I rejected his efforts due to my own discomfort, I would have perpetuated his feelings of shame and inadequacy and his frustration at never being able to meet my expectations. Instead, in a small way, I feel more love for having shared my love than I believe I would have had I kept it hidden for my own personal pride and protection.

Humbled.

RE – A Mighty Prefix, Another Chance

A recent interaction with my husband has me sitting in a spot that is painful and uncomfortable, and also unknown.

I’m in uncharted territory. I’m not clamoring to get out. There’s something happening here and I just need to sit and watch.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not in a peaceful, pensive, in-control spot.

I’m panicked on the inside; in a state of complete confusion and bewilderment. I think this has been the catalyst of a very steep spiraling down of my mood.

I’ve landed right back at square one in terms of mood, eating disorder and overall emotional well-being.

But, I’m still here. And while the circumstances of the past may all be playing out again, I am not the same person going through them. I think I’m getting another chance.

The things I’m still holding, still resisting, will keep touching the nerves until the thorn has been eradicated.

Round two, here we go!

Even though I still feel like I’m in a very vulnerable place, my view point has definitely changed. The reactions still come, aggressively and shockingly angrily at times, but the time from spike back to plateau is not lasting as long. That’s how I know there has been change.

I saw my husband last week. I had given him an April 30th deadline for letting me know if he was going to go into treatment.

He responded on May 1st, via text, telling me that he would see the counselor one more time but that it had been almost a year since I left him and though a bit upset he felt encouraged that he’d made it a year on his own. He likes who he is, he just needs some fine-tuning.

I didn’t respond. I cried. It just sounded to me like he was okay with things and was moving on.

I felt rejected and dismissed.

I felt sad that his takeaway from the past year has been that, in some way, I just don’t like who he is. That there’s something ‘wrong’ with him. Not true.

I pondered this. There doesn’t seem to be any objective truth in either of our ‘sides’, only our own personal interpretation which drives our behaviors and actions.

I went over to the house later that day. I’m not sure it was a good idea or not but I was sad and wanted to see my dog.

I arrived and my husband was standing at the back door. He just looked at me, threw up his hands, said that he’d been drinking, and walked away.

I replied that it didn’t matter, I’d just come to see my dog.

Several minutes later we were in a heated discussion and he dropped a bombshell.

He told me that I am the reason he drinks.

I became irate. I screamed. I yelled. I threw things. I stomped. I slammed. I wanted to hit him. I didn’t.

I ran downstairs, ready to make a swift exit. My mind was rolling and I could see it – I wanted to run, drive, call all my friends and family, tell them all how he has betrayed me, tell them what he said to me. I wanted to tell everyone what a horrible monster he was.

But why?

I wanted to be right. But, I looked further down the road and knew that no consolation would make the pain more bearable. It would still be inside me, stirring the cauldron of self-pity, rejection, guilt, shame, betrayal, unworthiness.

I stood in the basement, alone and shaking, knowing that other than being right in the pain, any other action would only be a mask.

The pain was indescribable but I was still alive. It wasn’t killing me.

I took deep breaths. I could hear my husband upstairs, sobbing.

I know I am not the reason for his drinking. I may be a thorn in his side that hits his nerves, but I am only one of many.

I went upstairs. He thought I had left and, still sobbing, asked what I was still doing there. I shrugged. He hugged me.

I lightly returned the hug, feeling completely empty. I wasn’t filled with love but I didn’t have hate in my heart either. I just felt like we were two people who were hurt, doing the best we could, trying to protect ourselves from further pain.

After that episode, we lay in bed talking. I asked probing questions to which he was responding openly.

He dropped another bombshell which, for me, was worse than the first.

He told me that shortly before we were married he thought about leaving me. He wasn’t sure if this was really the life he wanted.

I was non-reactive and accepted his words as his truth. The tears were unstoppable though and they rolled, in streams, down my cheeks. He didn’t seem to be concerned about my tears.

I left shortly thereafter. My life, to this point, now felt like a complete untruth, a total charade. It was never real.

I don’t even know if he meant any of what he said that day or if it was his way of protecting himself from further pain and rejection. I think the latter is the case but I will never know.

My whole identity, though I question ever having one to begin with, has been shattered.

I know not what I was. I know not who I am. I know nothing beyond this breath.

A me I thought I was was never really real.

I think I have spent the past week in mourning.

And I don’t even feel a need to rebuild.

I am feeling overwhelmed by all the things sitting in my apartment right now. I don’t want anything. I want to throw it all away.

I’ve started packing.

My lease is up soon.

I don’t know where I will move. I may even move back home.

You see, the marriage isn’t even a thing to me right now. It was a game.

Nothing was real.

We’re just two people. We went looking for happiness in each other and blamed and pointed fingers when the other fell short.

It still hurts. I’m still letting go.

This dying to self thing, no wonder the gate is narrow.

What’s My Role?

I meet my husband. We have dinner. Parts are good and parts are not so good.

We’re still at a stalemate. I want him to go to treatment. He refuses.

We do the dance, back and forth, I get angry and leave.

Is it possible for me to engage with him and leave anger out of it? Can I do this?

I think my anger as the final act of the evening performance sets the tone and provides an excellent opportunity for the addict to focus less on their behavior and more on my behavior.

What if I could just engage without judgement or anger and leave expectation out of it?

F*@k! Because my whole marriage is riding on this!

But I can’t shake him, wake him, make him see.

Do I stay? I wish I could but I’m not strong enough to endure this situation as-is.

I feel weak for not being able to just accept him as he is. Why can’t I just stay open and just love?

What is it that I really want from him? Is it wrong to want something from anyone? If I didn’t want would I feel this anger and rejection and resentment? Can anyone else really provide me with what I need?

If I walk away from this do I end up in another relationship wanting more of what someone else can’t provide?

Advice for the Alcoholic’s Wife

I’ve been angry and upset and felt neglected and unloved. But right now I’m just really sad and scared for him.

I gave him a deadline of April 30th. Either he agrees to treatment or I have to end the marriage.

He’ll answer anything but the question. We’ve been in counselling for a few months but he can’t tell me what we’ve talked about. He won’t admit to knowing what it is I’m asking him to tell me by April 30th. He tells me one thing and in the next breath says another. I’m confused as hell by him. Nothing is straight forward. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a play on words, a trip that he doesn’t want me to follow. It’s like a second person in the room. He says he loves me and just wants me to move home but when I ask him if he understands why I won’t he says he doesn’t get it. Worst of all, in the mess of his head, I’m starting to lose my own. I’m second-guessing myself in EVERY way.

What do I do?

I can’t believe I’m about to walk away from this marriage, this man that I love so, so much. But it’s not even him I’m dealing with and I can’t reach him.

Is walking away the right thing to do?

He hasn’t told any of his friends. I’m so close to disclosing to one of his friends in hopes a different voice might reach him. But I don’t even know if that’s the right thing to do.

I am losing myself the more I allow myself to try and find an answer that might never be found.

It breaks my heart.

This is breaking me.