The Middle Ground

Today, I have a sense of being okay with the now; being at peace with what is.

I am not the weight I want to be but I’m finally feeling the fire in my belly, and more able to resist stuffing my face with m&m’s all day long.

I am not sure in which direction my marriage is headed (although it feels more positive and healthy than it has in a long time) and I’m okay with it being where it is.  It is a work in progress.  Unlike the entity it was prior when it was just work.

I am in limbo with my soul.  Not stalled in my exploration, but rather floating on a sea of tranquility.  A real sense of now.  Here. This moment.  And this moment.  Peace.  Calm.

I’ve been on wp for four years; quite prolific for the first two but dropped off considerably after that.  When I return to occasionally purge, there are a few sites I gravitate toward and Val Boyko is one of them.  The very name of her page Find Your Middle Ground feels exactly where I am.

I like it.  No pressure.  Just being.

Happy.

 

 

 

Accountability

“Are you okay?”

An innocuous question but for me, it comes tethered to my husband’s emotions, and has done for many years.

It has always been my job to make sure that he was okay.  It would take many forms; making sure dinner was ready when he came home late, tired and grumpy.   Putting the kids to bed so that he could close his eyes for a while; taking care of the house, and just generally making sure that he had no responsibilities within the family unit such as school paperwork, groceries, sex, anything at all.

In these ways, I made sure that he okay.  And if he was okay, then I was okay but I really wasn’t, and I never knew how to express that I wasn’t.

I am learning to loosen my grasp on the honesty of my answer.  I don’t have to hold in the truth.  Don’t be afraid to say no, I am not okay, but I’m working on my shit and I will be okay in some form or another.

I am not responsible for how you feel, and I will not apologize for how I feel.

My husband is a lovely man, and would never make me feel badly about myself, but I know that when he asks me this question, there is an underlying reason for it.  He may not like what he hears from this point forward but opening up to the truth is not an easy thing.

We are accountable for our own emotions, not anybody else’s – not our children’s, not our parents’, our partners’, or our friends’.  It’s such a liberating thing to realize and become aware of and yet, we feel so intertwined and buffeted against each other, it’s easy to lose ourselves in those closest to us.

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So, I say this is my emotional well.  That is yours.  Mine had run dry for a while but it’s filling up nicely now.  Yours is, too, I see.  If you feel yours is murky from time to time, or dipping below the plumb line, do not look to me to clean it up or refill it.  We can share from our wells as long as it doesn’t compromise the depth or quality of the water.

 

 

Swings and Roundabouts

This process of reconnecting with self while at the same time, trying to find the connection with husband, oftentimes feels like two steps forward, a hundred steps back. The connections to husband are like rusty prongs which no longer fit the holes they once did, and no matter how I try to needle them in, they just won’t go.

Often, I’ll wonder if I will love him the same way.  In those moments, I really need to pay attention to the voice that says, “No, you won’t.  How can you?”  The old way was mothering; a trap I fell into, a trap many women fall into, though this was no fault of my own.

So, I guess I’m learning how to be a wife to my husband, and it feels a bit like the USS Enterprise saucer separation, which is an odd analogy, but consider this:  two months ago, I felt an absolute separation, as if all parts of me fled.  But perhaps they didn’t, perhaps they simply ran for cover when the reality of what I was saying sunk in.

He and I have had some frank conversations lately about sex, usually when we are drunk and/or stoned, which has led to things I truly was unsure about doing.  I know now that I am definitely not ready for that; it’s like running before you can walk.

So, how do we move forward?  Slowly.  Patiently.  Cognizant of the others’ triggers.  Not as mother and husband, but as husband and wife, as friends, as partners.

Of course, there’s the child in me that is quite petulant.  Her arms her arms crossed, and she is pouty faced.  She is stubborn and still thinks that she’s better off alone.  That no matter the changes in him, no matter the work they are doing, she cannot see the point.

She is the one who hears his I Love You but clamps the mouth shut in response.  She is the one that gets irritated when he walks on eggshells, or looks at her in that way that I can’t describe in words.  She is the one who balks, indignant at the thought of discovering him sexually.  Why should she have to find out about him?  She’s the one that’s done the work for all these years; she’s not willing to put in the effort.

It’s a constant conflict between the child and the adult. I am somewhere in between, muddling through.  Trying to reconcile, trying to connect with him sometimes and other times, not.  Working on not being niggly, trying to be aware of what I’m feeling or thinking and expressing them, if need be.  I’m not very good at the awareness thing because the child is still very much a wounded creature.  This will take extra focus.

Finding my way back to a cohesive, loving partnership seems like a nice goal.  With fifteen years of backlog, we both have to remember to be patient with each other.

Pieces.

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What courage have I?  In the moment, it is simply a thing I have to do.  Tired of picking up pieces; the result of others’ choices, I made my own, and scattered my marriage, my life and his life to all points and corners.

I had envisioned months and months of civil side-by-side living while I cultivated the desire to live away from him.  I was shut down, closed off, impenetrable, had made my decision and dammit, I’d had enough.  I loved my children but I did not love my husband anymore.  Even the little, familiar things we shared seemed inconsequential and did not affect my ambition.

Six weeks later, I find myself rummaging for all the pieces.  Slowly, deliberately, even perhaps letting them come find me for repair.  As in Kintsugi, we are reconstructing in new ways.  Our marriage from before is dead; exploded, and the new one is beginning to look much different.

With this slow repair though, comes a devil on my shoulder.  The doubter, nagger, and all around pessimist.  She is obstinate and doesn’t want to move forward.  She is petulant and refuses to show any kind of affection.  She throws emotional grenades that make me break down in counseling sessions.  But what she fails to realize is that her work aids progress; she is part of the yin and yang of me.  However, she’s been the larger of the two for a long time and she’s not keen on sharing power.

So, I am struggling with conflict.  The desire to move forward and to not.

These are interesting times.  I see my husband in a new light but I don’t yet know who I am, or who I am in this relationship.  It’s a new thing, but not.  It’s not like a new relationship that’s thrilling and butterfly-inducing; it has a history.

So, I work on myself.  Or sit with myself.  Do nothing.  Think nothing.  Feel nothing.  Other times, I do, think and feel it all at once.  It’s still choppy waters.

But that devil…..boy, she’s had her way for so long.  I mustn’t fight her, but allowing her just to be makes my life quite challenging.

 

Life evolving

I’ve been sick this week, and had stayed home for two days, pretty much reclined on the couch with tissues, liquids, tv shows, and furry kitty.  My husband was home sick too; a rare occurrence by itself, but the two of us down?  Unheard of.

As long as I can recall, if I am ever sick enough to be home, I will reach a point of utter despair when all I can do is weep.  I would slide into a well of weakness, feeling pathetic; self-judgmental, really just the lowest I could ever feel about myself. It wouldn’t matter if I was home alone or had company, sooner or later, it would hit me.

On the second day this week, I realized that I hadn’t cried.  At that point, I was still feeling shitty but over the worst, so was a little surprised.  I attempted to evoke pitiful feelings but they just wouldn’t materialize.  This has always been one of my traits and yet, it appeared to no longer be of use to me.

Life, when allowed to evolve on its own is a beautiful thing, the realization struck last night whilst driving to pick up a friend.  Perhaps the reason I didn’t feel like crying was because I’d given myself permission to be empowered, to make a choice, to take control of my own life.  That being sick was just that; a period of time when the body is fighting invaders and nothing more.

It may seem like a small thing; to feel no need to cry when sick but it’s a step, and that’s what evolving is, right?…steps toward change?  For a few moments yesterday, I felt in such a positive place.  I knew with clarity that life can’t be forced.  I have set things in motion, I have dealt my hand and now I am witnessing my life blossom, apparently without my even knowing.

Marvelous!

 

On no pressure

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We have to remember that it’s okay to not know the outcome of something right now, or now, or now.  That we are good and fine with each moment, and that the answers will arrive in their own time.  No matter how long that time may be.

This week, I have neither retreated nor come forward.  I am seemingly in stasis, whereby I can neither give to nor receive anything emotional from my husband.  He gives to me, I see it, but I am unable to absorb it or let it be what he wants it to be in me.  I can give him love and gratitude and friendship but I can provide nothing more.

I am at the beginning of learning to be okay with relinquishing control.  No easy feat when it has been the driving force for so long.  It feels foreign.  At times, as though I am floundering.  Am I doing it right?  Shouldn’t I be feeling this, or that?

There is no right or wrong to what you feel.  You just feel.  Or you don’t.  Perhaps the feeling will return.  Perhaps it’s the same but coming at you from a different angle.  When it reaches its destination, hopefully you will know what to do that is best for you.

I have remembered this in a mantra form quite successfully this week whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed.  I breathe deeply, pause, and accept the dull ache in my solar plexus; the worry, and I give it space.  In this way, I will avoid becoming wound up in it.

 

On dead things, and anger, and boats.

He said to me, “our marriage is dead.”

And, I agree; three weeks ago, I cut the head off.

In truth, our marriage had been a ghost of an idea for a long while, and I had exhausted myself being the one to propel us in whatever direction we could go.  He was a ghost of man; an invisible husband whom I recognized every now and then when we shared funny things, or when he would fly off the handle at something.  Mostly though, he was unrecognizable underneath his shroud of bitterness and resentment.  It was so heavy, it burdened both of us.  I tried for years to help him exorcise it but he seemed determined to hold on tight.  As if letting go would expose him, would force him to see outside of himself and thereby, see who he was on the inside.  Perhaps he was afraid of who he might discover?

But, I was tired; I couldn’t carry him, or us any longer and I let him go from my heart.  I didn’t know what to expect when I went home that day to tell him that I was unhappy, and that I wanted to leave.  Had no expectations for the future except that I knew I didn’t want to be in this union anymore.

He will crumble and wither away, and I will be the cause of it, I thought. Seeing him weep in front of me, alternately wishing to hug me and push me away, was horrible.  I didn’t know how to help him.  I only knew that this was the path I had chosen and I was resolute in my decision.  That first week was incredibly painful for both of us – sleepless nights, tearful talks.  I cried so hard that I thought I might puke, and I knew I was crying for the loss; it felt like grief, the sudden first stage when all you feel is heartache and sorrow, and all you can do is stand in the grocery store wondering what the fuck you went down this aisle for.

We both started seeing a counselor separately (ironically, and I think now, universally intentionally, the same one) during the second week.

My resoluteness remained.  I had clarity and peace of mind, and I attended the first two sessions with a sense of “I know what I’m doing, so why am I here?”

Then something happened to him that I was not prepared for; he discarded the shroud. After the initial flood of emotion had subsided, he saw clearly, and for the first time how he had been living his life.  And, how it had affected me and our marriage.  He talked, he wrote, he opened his heart and his eyes.  Within these three weeks, he has almost made a 360 within himself.

At first, I was glad for him.  After all, I had tried many, many times to remove that fucking shroud myself.  I had suggested, cajoled, tried to help find ways for him to be who he really was meant to be.  But my efforts had been fruitless, and I knew that only he could do it for himself.  So, yes, I was happy to see this man emerge, become brighter, happier – in just three weeks.

Yes, as he grew, I felt myself deflate.

I went away by myself for a weekend in the mountains to hike, and to contemplate…things.  But it didn’t go as planned.  On the Saturday, I got sick and ended up unable to move from the bed or the couch.  I was quiet all day.  I stared out of the window at distant bare branches and trees writhing in the wind; it was a gloomy day, reflective of my mood, and I thought nothing at all.  I missed my family, I knew that.  Not necessarily him, but my kids definitely.

The next day, I came home and felt no leap for him when I saw him in the driveway.  And, it wasn’t until we were alone that I felt absolute sadness again.  I cried and cried, thinking I was grieving still, but the words that came to mind were filled with the disbelief that we’d gotten things wrong for so long.  How could I have spent the last fifteen years like this?  How could we?

Since coming home this Sunday, I have been skating a well of tears.  Every act of kindness he shows me, every thing he says, everything that proves he had discovered his truth, pushes me over the edge and I couldn’t figure out why.  Until today.

My session began before she even opened the door because I sat in the waiting room in tears.  Here he is, my husband, becoming the man I’ve always wished him to be, and I am angry.  I am so angry that this didn’t happen sooner.  That he didn’t hear me all these years.  That he didn’t have the strength to do this before I let my love for him go.

I know quite firmly that this could not have happened any sooner; I wasn’t prepared to make the choice, and he wouldn’t have been prepared to deal with the fallout.  It would have been contentious and ugly.

So, what do I do with this anger?  I have to let it go, too.

I don’t know how yet.  And I don’t need to know yet.

What will become of our marriage now that the old way no longer works?

I don’t know yet.  And I don’t need to know yet.

My heart is sore.  My eyes prickle with tears a lot.

I have set my boat afloat.  It was a bit rocky at first whilst it found stability, but now I’m on open water.  I need to learn how to sail by myself, and how to judge my environment before I plot a course.

Where will I go?  I don’t know.  And I don’t need to know yet.