This weekend it felt like the closest that we have come to splitting up in a long time. In that vein I felt I needed to write this letter to share what was on my mind.
When I asked you if you minded sharing with me the text conversation you had with your sister that effectively destroyed my relationship with Kayla and you refused to share what you had written; I think you need to be aware of why that is so devastating to me besides the obvious loss of a relationship.
What I am about to explain to you is something I am just beginning to recognize and understand myself. Yes, this is my issue but I need you to understand why your reactions to a request like this increases my anxiety.
As you are aware, my sibling was very ill from the time I was 7 -10 years of age. During that era parents kept secrets from their kids in an effort to protect them from adult concerns. At the time I remember being very aware of these “secrets” even though I did not know what they were but I know that they produced a lot of anxiety in me. Both the “secrets” and the vibes that my parents were putting out that I did not understand. Now I can say they were worry, heartache, fear amongst other things. They had already lost one child and were very likely to lose another. Their fear was palatable although at that time I was too young to name it. I could only feel it and I felt it keenly.
I have shared with you the fact that children could not visit their siblings when they were in the hospital back in the 1960’s. It was not allowed. But after my sibling had been hospitalized for months my parents, with the help of some nurses, arranged to sneak me in. I was about 9 at that time. Unfortunately, my parents did not prepare me for this visit and when I saw my sib in this ancient 100 year old scary hospital my sib looked like death. My Sib was a skeleton and looked like they would die the next day.
Now that was bad enough but what was worse was that because of my sib’s illness I was shipped off to relatives, friends, and strangers to me to take care of my for 24 to 72 hours. I heard the whispers but no one ever talked to me about what was really going on with my sibling. As a result, I made up my own interpretation of those events in my mind which were probably 10 times worse than what was really happening because I didn’t have a reality to compare it to. All I know was many times during these years I felt terror. Terror at being with people I did not know, terror at not knowing what was going on, terror at seeing my very ill sibling and being afraid of being caught sneaking in to see my sib and not knowing the consequences of that action. I felt terror that my sib was going to die, that my mother was going to die when she donated her kidney, terror that after my sib was home I would give them a cold that might cause their death when my sib was immniocompromised. For those years I lived in a constant state of anxiety that I did not understand, could not comprehend because no one was telling me the truth and that people whom I loved were dying around me.
So granted, this is mine to deal with. This is my issue. These events over some important years of my life changed me. They led to my needing to control as much of my life as possible so that I would not feel that terror again, that hurt again, that abandonment again. Obviously, that has not always worked though I did manage to keep some of that at bay to the detriment of myself and my family. I wish I knew then what I am beginning to understand now. Perhaps I could have made fewer relationship mistakes and felt less angry in my life. But I am working on all of this and as I do I find that I am being able to understand and with this understanding comes a sense of peace that I had been lacking in my life. It is amazing how something so early in your childhood and effect your patterns of interaction.
So now, to the part I need to try to get you to understand so perhaps you can think compassionately when these types of issues happen. That perhaps you can grant some grace as I work through these issues and maybe consider how your reactions may trigger reactions in me.
I would like to talk about me asking you if you minded showing me what you wrote to your sister. Through no fault of my own, a relationship was destroyed. It makes me anxious when I do not know what is going on in relationships and bad things happen. When something happens like that my anxiety carries me away. Why? because it takes me back to all the things that were beyond my control when I was a kid. It takes me back to that terror of the unknown. Then, the not knowing, pushes my imagination to full throttle to things that are probably 10 times worse than the true reality. I think “Well, if it is all innocent as B says, then what is the problem with showing it? And since you will not share it makes me think that there are other things like perhaps you are discussing a divorce between the two of us with your sister. It does not help alleviate those thoughts when you asked for a divorce in January, when your sister’s ex husband called last month saying he heard we were divorcing and when two weeks ago I find out you had Kayla lined up to come out here and take care of the kids because you felt a divorce was immimant.
When things happen that are out of the norm and then you are secretive it effects me in ways I don’t completely understand. In produces fears that I am trying to work through but when they keep hitting me in the head time after time it makes it difficult to know what are true fears and imaginary. It sometimes feels like I am that little girl again who is terrified and alone in a bed with the covers over her head in a house that is not hers with people who are not her’s. And while that is indeed my issue and something I am working very hard at understanding; I do not need that anxiety constantly hitting me in the face because you do not understand what your secretiveness is doing to me. So I wrote this in an attempt to explain.
I want a relationship that is devoid of secrets to the greatest extent possible. Because of my childhood secrets and not understanding what is going on makes me anxious. Sometimes this anxiety turns to anger. Since I am beginning to unpack all of this and understand it a bit I know that it is me that must do the work on this. All I ask is that you not make it harder for me. That you show me compassion and understanding and honesty so I do not have to invent things in my own mind as a way to explain the “secrets.” I need a relationship that is built on truth not secrecy because that builds trust for me. Secrecy builds distrust and at this point in my life trust is very important to me.
You say that I have been distrustful our entire relationship and to some extent that is true. That distrust came before you. But too many times in our relationship your secrecy, your unexplained “cards and absences” have fed into my fears left over from childhood. All I ask is that in the future you try to understand what secrecy triggers for me and that you try to respect that and not do those things to the greatest extent possible that contribute to my childhood wounds.
I am working hard to try and reduce those childhood wounds impact on my current life but I have a ways to go before I handle them in the best possible way for myself and others. I would like to think that you will keep this in mind and realize that my lack of trust may not always have something to do with you but with myself and the terror I felt as a child.
I realize you have your own process and issues that you are working through. I am not sure why your defensiveness rises up when I ask for something that will produce understanding and closeness because I know the truth and don’t have to imagine the worst; but I hope that you might explain it to me so I have a better understanding of you.
I love you and hope this letter will help you understand me more.