What’s Your Flavor?

My husband’s favorite ice cream is vanilla.

As luck would have it, that’s the very flavor that I have. I willingly serve it and it makes me happy to give it away. It brings me joy to see my husband experience such pleasure.

It’s no wonder he thinks there is nothing wrong with our marriage. He’s got a belly full of creamy vanilla ice cream.

On the flip side, my favorite is strawberry. The problem is that my husband only has chocolate and not only is that the only flavor he stocks, he is unwilling to stock anything else. It doesn’t matter that I want strawberry; he either can’t, or won’t, stock it. Either way, I’m left craving strawberry ice cream.

Don’t get me wrong, he serves a beautiful chocolate ice cream and sometimes it really hits the spot and I am satisfied. But, at the core of my being, I crave strawberry ice cream. The desire always returns and often with a fierce intensity.

I am sad.

It seems a little more understandable that he feels bad. He continues to offer the best he’s got but I keep asking for something different.

I’m starting to get a sense that in continuing to ask for something that someone can’t provide, I’m hurting us both.

He can never please me. And I can never be fully pleased.

I wish I could be happy with chocolate ice cream. I really do. I wish I didn’t want something different. But, the truth is I do and I can no longer ignore it.

I can no longer ignore the true essence that flows through me.

It’s neither right nor wrong. It just is.

Continuously returning to the chocolate ice cream vendor is never going to net me strawberry ice cream. This I now know.

 

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.

Unpacking

I was standing at the sink last night washing up some dishes and I was doing the usual shrugging and neck rolling to release the stress and tension in my back. I’ve had the pain for a long time and have simply attributed it to having to work at a desk all day.

But something hit me. When the pain arises – or should I say is noticed – I’m always looking back. Yes, that’s where the pain is physically but I began to wonder if perhaps I was holding on to more back there. Yes, I think so.

Every single thought of mine is rooted in the past – even the immediate moments that have just happened. Those have passed too yet those are things I still find myself thinking about.

In a brief, split second moment I brought my vision forward from back to front. Pain gone. I tell you though – it was for the briefest of moments – but there was real Truth that existed in that moment.

Tonight on my walk I felt teary. I felt sad – I miss my dog. I felt sad – my husband has given up on a 20 year relationship. I felt sad – life as I have almost always ever known it is, essentially, over.

As I sat on a park bench at the end of my walk and let my naked toes dance in the green grass, I felt the sadness crawl up my back. And there began the pain again. I tried to bring myself to the front of my life again but I struggled.

In focusing on the now, I am essentially letting go of the past. But that means saying goodbye to my husband. I cry now as I type. I’m so painfully human. It hurts.

I realize I must unpack and leave the past behind. But this is going to take some time.

Hey? Becoming Me? Guess What?

I want a fucking cigarette!

Right now! I’m tempted to walk out the door and go bum a smoke off some stranger off the street. I can feel the release coursing through my veins. Fuck!

I just got off the phone with my husband. Every word he spoke was laced with evasion. He tried to turn every corner so that I couldn’t follow to find the truth. But I see it, clear as day.

He said he wants 2 more months to make a decision. Fuck that. That’s avoidance. I called bullshit.

I think he knows. He said it himself – he doesn’t want to decide. Hah! There it is!

The conversation wraps up with the woe-is-me, just-know-that-if-I-get-hit-by-a-truck-tomorrow, “I love you” story of crap.

I’m not having any of it. I was thinking I needed to be patient but the more I listened to him, I realized it was all just an illusion, his denial.

I think he can decide by tomorrow. He wants until Sunday. Okay, fine. Sunday it is. What time? He says we’ll play it by ear. No. What time? Late afternoon, before dinner, I suggest? He doesn’t know. Maybe 3:00 p.m.? He won’t even commit to a time.

I push. I will see him at 4:00 p.m.

After seeing this, hearing this, I hang my head. I hope on Sunday he says he doesn’t want to get help. I’m not sure I can handle it – only because I don’t really think he does want to get help. If he says he’ll get help, I fear it’s just another way for him to prolong admitting a problem that he doesn’t really want to change.

I’m tired. I think it’s over. I’m sobbing. I’m weak. I’m human.

I want a cigarette.

Choice

We met with the psychologist today. That’s when I laid out the options, the things that I need to see happen if we can even begin to think about reconciling the marriage.

I spoke the words. I admitted the possibility that our marriage may dissolve, depending, of course, on what he ends up choosing.

He was blind-sided. In shock. He didn’t have much to say. I’m not so sure he gets it. He said a year was too long for him. I reminded him that one year is a drop in the bucket when you’re talking about a lifetime relationship. He didn’t quite see it that way.

We agreed he would take a few days to think about things. Either way, I’m not going home anytime soon.

After our session, I stopped to pick up a couple of things. Wandering the aisles, I began to feel very alone. The reality that I may never go home washed across me. All that I have known may be lost forever. I cried in the store looking at a jar of peanut butter.

I feel sad for us but mostly I am sad for him. I’m his support and now I’m not there for him. He’s heartbroken. I don’t think he sees this as a fresh beginning. I think he sees this as an end. He’s sad and afraid. He feels like a failure.

There is no failure in these difficult situations of life. Only choice.

Now I wait. What will he choose?