Tag Archives: rebuilding

Pet Peeves

There seems to be this grand divide among those of us who attempt to reconcile and those who don’t. In fact, it reminds me of the same type of divide between stay-at-home-moms and working moms.

If we are confident in our decision for ourselves, then I do believe such acrimony would not exist. But, that’s just it, isn’t it? None of us knows what the future holds and that is scary. And, questioning ourselves is part of the process of choosing the best path forward.

Perhaps it is scary when someone chooses a different path. I do believe that criticizing another’s choice is actually nothing more than us questioning our own choices. No matter the choice made, we each need to know that we can and will be ok within ourselves, no matter what comes our way in this life.  And, perhaps focusing such evaluations on ourselves, as opposed to on another, could actually help us to reach that personal goal.

Here’s the thing, the goal of being ok within ourselves, does not happen just because one seeks divorce. How many times have I seen those in the divorce camp encouraging someone to leave to find someone new, because they deserve a healthy loving partner. I understand the sentiment, but I don’t really think that is healthy either. It still seems to be encouraging seeking happiness through another. If divorce is chosen, shouldn’t it  be the goal to be ok within ourselves, regardless of any partner that may or may not exist? If reconciliation is chosen, shouldn’t it be the goal to be ok within ourselves, regardless of our partner?

The way I see it, the end-goal is not different, it is simply the path chosen that is different. This applies to the decision to divorce or reconcile, but equally applies to diagnosis and treatment options as well. Like the stay-at-home-mom or the working-mom, we all want the best path forward for ourselves and our family. I don’t see why choosing a different path to get there should hinder our ability to understand, learn from and support each other.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel, learning from others that have faced these choices before us. But, at the same time, attempting to destroy another’s newly built wheel because it looks a bit different from our own, says more about our lack of confidence in our own wheel than it says about anything or anyone else.

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MC: “State of our union”

I don’t really have anything compelling to say today.  I take that as good news.  This morning I remarked at how much better I feel about us compared to two or three years ago.  Even a year ago, we had some desperate, painful episodes that kept us awake several nights in a row and seared like wounds for weeks at a time.

There are still moments when TL is overcome by fear, anger, or pain about our relationship.  But, now those moments last several minutes or a few hours.  They used to last entire days or several days.  Now those moments come every couple of weeks or so.  They used to come several times a week.

We still blog, pray, attend counseling, talk about accountability and fears, and remain cognizant of where we’ve been in our relationship.  But, today at least, I feel free of that serious doubt that we could ever again be happy.  Today at least, I feel I can relate to my wife with regard to sex, friendship, money, work, parenting, and many things like “normal couples,” without everything being tinged by the infidelity.

The toxic waste that I buried in our garden is still there.  It will forever be there.  We’ll never forget it’s there.  But, even in Chernobyl, flowers now bloom and animals now thrive.  Today I see some flowers in our garden.  Instead of fearing the next radiation warning, today I’m just going to smell the flowers.  I’m already past my half-life.

TL: Thinking it through

As we sat in B’s office yesterday, we talked a lot about our birth families. I feel such anger, and yet sadness, about MC’s mom. I know she is lonely, but I also know she is just not a healthy person to be around. She doesn’t get it, see it, understand it and she likely never will. I am sad for MC. I am sad for our children who do not have a close grandparent relationship in their lives. I am sad for MC’s mom who we, including B, truly believe is mentally ill and imprisoned in the loneliness of that mental illness.

My family was screwed up too, my mom was also mentally ill (actually diagnosed as such, unlike MC’s mom who would never see such a doctor). But, I had love and compassion at least from my father. I know what it is like to be loved and to be able to show love, I have a sense and inkling of what that feels like and looks like.

Still, there were many in my life whose love and approval I tried so hard to win. And, this was another point we talked about yesterday. I spent so many years trying to get MC’s mom to love me, approve of me, accept me. When the fight happened about our child, I threw that all out the window realizing she never would. Just for the sake of being MC’s wife, there is no way she will ever love, approve of, or accept me. I think I was also trying to win MC’s love, approval and acceptance. Upon d-day, I realized I must stop trying to win love and approval. People in this world, including MC, can choose to love me or not.

Yesterday as we talked about all of this, we talked about how MC and I are each broken in our own ways, but how we are each healing. B sees in me the person that I used to be, including the spontaneous free-spirit part of me that had been hidden for so many years. And, I saw MC talking about, accepting and loving that part of me yesterday, a part I felt I needed to hide for so many years. And, here he was talking about how that is one of things he found attractive about me when we met. He said it with love, not anger, not resentment, but with love. I felt ok to be me. I felt safe to be me. I felt that MC can actually love me for me.

I don’t feel the walls between us like I did before. Somehow the walls of resentment and anger between us were not at all there yesterday, not from him and not from me. I feel like MC is now showing all of himself to me, being vulnerable and exposing the parts of his pain that he hid from for so many years. He is allowing me in, not some fantasy version of me, but just the real me. And, I am starting to feel like I can let him in again too.

I don’t know if any of that makes any sense to anyone out there. I am struggling to explain what brought those feelings to the forefront yesterday. I think this is at least a big part of it. Perhaps as time moves forward those moments will grow in duration and frequency. Perhaps one day those moments will be our life together. I think that is what brought the thought “we just might make it.”

TL “Though my own eyes.”

Upon the realizations that all my sacrifices had been for MC’s dreams as opposed to “our” dreams, I was completely lost and lonely. I did not know who I was anymore. The strong, independent woman I had been was gone. My strengths had so atrophied over the years that I felt they no longer really existed. I needed to rebuild me from the ground up. I didn’t even know where to start, feeling as if I was only an empty shell.

When MC started his overseas career, I became “just a spouse,” someone who followed along and tried to make a home and life for our family with each new move. I had not been in the paid workforce for many years, except for some occasional jobs related to MC’s work that were more something to do than something with which to build a professional reputation. Inside, I knew that needed to change and it needed to change soon. If MC and I divorced, I needed to know that I had options. If we stayed together, I needed something that was mine and mine alone. I had been talking about working on a Masters degree for many years. But, MC had been rather ambivalent about the idea and I worried that without his unequivocal approval, I would fail. Why did I feel this way?

Through the years, as I allowed my strengths to die of disuse, I would ask MC what am I good at? What should I pursue? I should have looked into myself for these answers. Instead, I looked to MC. Why did I do this? I have really had to examine this closely and I think the reason was that I was afraid of bruising his ego. In a way, I was asking him what can I pursue, what am I allowed to be good at, that will not bruise your ego? Upon realizing why I had shied away from finding the answers for myself, I became very angry. I was not angry with MC, but with myself. How could I let myself become this person, this weak, scared, little girl? What happened to me? How did I ever let this happen?

I realized something. When I was a young woman I had seen myself through my father’s eyes. He thought I could do anything I set my mind to. He thought I was capable, intelligent, strong and wise. I was 19 when he died. When I lost him, I lost me or, at least, his vision of me. When I married MC just 5 years later, I looked for who I was in MC’s eyes. Only, it turns out the view was not so great.

When realizing that I was now this empty shell of a person, I also realized that I had never learned to see myself through my own eyes. It was time to change that for the better. I decided to apply for graduate school.