A Love Story

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A story courtesy of my therapist with quite a lot of embellishment on my part.

Once upon a time there was a couple, who like most couples, were as different from one another as night and day. The man was sturdy and pragmatic; a man of few words. He loved to take things apart to see how things worked and LOGIC was his middle name.

The woman had an openness with people and was sentimental about those things she deemed important. She was a lover of words and was as bohemian and adventurous as her husband was stalwart and they lived together in a rather small house, that was dominated by a rather large hutch, that the wife inherited from an uncle she met once when she was four years of age. As often happens in these cases, a large piece of furniture like a hutch can rarely be left to stand empty; so the wife slowly began to fill it with cups, which after several years became a collection of sorts.

The first cup that was bought came from a grand old lodge in the Adirondacks where the couple spent their honeymoon. It was a good solid cup in a rustic and homey sort of way. It cost $20 which seemed wildly extravagant in those days but she loved it and so her husband surprised her with it when they got home so “our honeymoon can continue forever,” he said.

The second cup, the one with a small chip on the handle,  was picked up at a flea market at a small country church. The couple had stumbled upon it on their way home from the annual pilgrimage to his parent’s farm which was located in the boon docks of the state. It was a place people rarely visited and home to more cows than people but the imperfect cup needed a family and so it came home with them and their new puppy, a mottled brown dog that they named Boonie.

About a year later the third cup was won at the local county fair by the husband after he successfully threw a ring around a bottle. It surprised them both because neither had known that the man had a talent for this particular kind of endeavor. It was an ugly pea-green color that was too big to hold a decent amount of coffee without going cold and it was too small for a pint of cold beer but nevertheless it was given a place of honor on the shelf.

And so it went…a fourth cup soon joined the third and the fifth came after the birth of their first child. Soon the top shelf was filled with cups of all shapes and sizes and every morning the wife was delighted as she opened her hutch and studied the cups pondering which one she would use that day.

As the years went by upon occasion the wife began to ask her husband  to buy her a cup when he was away on business. But he was a pragmatic sort of chap and didn’t see the need for yet another cup in the house. He always used the same cup day in and day out and saw no reason to change. He was baffled about his wife’s cup “obsession” and began to resent the money she spent buying them and the time she spent taking each cup down for a decent dusting and so he refused to indulge in his wife’s request for more cups.  But sometimes when he went out-of-town on business he would remember her request and bring her home a piece of homemade candy or something that the area was known for instead; but he never brought her a cup. And while the wife appreciated his gesture it sometimes hurt her feelings that he would not give her her hearts desire…a cup that he had taken the time to pick out just for her just as he had on their honeymoon. Then after a while she began to wonder if he even loved her at all because he wouldn’t give her a cup when he knew how much she desired this of him. And while she knew her worth could not be measured by the appearance of a mere cup sometimes it felt as if its absence spoke volumes about how her husband saw her and it validated her belief that her husband didn’t love her enough to do something as simple as buying her a cup. Slowly their connectedness to each other began to diminish due to her resentment and his withholding.

One day, as the woman was dusting her collection, her husband asked her, “Why is it that you seem to delight in taking each cup down and dusting it? It is a lot of work to keep those cups clean. Why do you do it?”

“I do it because everyday when I open the hutch our story together continues. When I reach for this one, she said, pulling out a dark purple cup covered in roses; I remember the first time we went to the public gardens over by the shore. I bought it because it reminded me of how you picked that lily and handed it to me with a flourish. Then we left immediately, afraid we would be thrown out of the gardens forever and hauled off in the paddywagon. We laughed hysterically as we made our getaway….remember?”

Her husband chuckled. Yes, he too had fond memories of that summer’s day.

“And this one with the hearts on it is from the time you surprised me with tickets to see my favorite band.”

“Let me guess. Was that the time I took you to see Heart?” he said with a laugh.

“Of course” she said with a smile.

As his wife shared her memories about each cup her husband realized that he had not understood his wife’s delight in each cup because he did not understand the story. His unit of measurement of love was different from hers. While he had just seen cups; she saw more and she remembered the closeness and the joy she felt when she was with her husband and bought a cup in remembrance of those special times together. To her the cups were proof of their love story and for that reason she treasured each and every one.

The next morning the man watched as his wife opened the doors to the hutch and pondered which cup she would use that day. Her face lite up with delight as she removed the tiny white one adorned with four-leaf clovers and his did too as he remembered the trip they took to Ireland for their 20th anniversary.

Several weeks later the man headed off on yet another business trip. But this time when he arrived home he decided he would surprise his wife with a cup. So he searched high and low until he found the perfect one at an old antique shop on River Street. It reminded him of the weekend they had traveled the South searching for the perfect painting to go over their mantle but brought home a four-poster bed from Georgia instead. A bed that had brought each so many nights of pleasure since the day they hauled it, huffing and puffing up the stairs and through the hall to their room which lay furthest west from the front door.

As she unwrapped the box her husband felt a kind of happiness he hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a sort of hungry anticipation for seeing the delight he knew his wife would feel when she saw the cup and he wasn’t disappointed.

“Georgia?” his wife said as she admired the cup and her husband’s good taste.

“That was one special weekend, wasn’t it?”

“I think about it every night we lay together in our bed,” she replied with a shy grin.

These days, when he goes away, the husband, upon occasion,  looks for the perfect cup to give his wife. Sometimes he comes home with one and other times he doesn’t because he hasn’t found one that would be meaningful to them. But when he does arrive with the perfect cup in hand he savors the simple delight of his wife has when receiving her cup, while his wife savors the connectedness she feels with him as they discuss each of his finds. Because once the husband understood the entirety of the story sitting within the hutch it allowed him to give his wife her hearts desire and she began to see the other things her husband did to nurture their relationship. Their story was no longer about the absence of a cup. Instead, it was a story that morphed into the connectedness and delight  the couple felt towards one another that was renewed once each understood and appreciated the other’s story and soon they begin living with hearts wide open towards each other just as they had when they were first married .

It never really was about the cups after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Need From You

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I talk to B everyday I am gone. Perhaps it is a mistake. Perhaps he needs to “feel” my absence instead of my presence for a while. Perhaps he needs to miss me…if he ever would.

I say, ” Love You.” He repeats it back when what I really want to hear is:

“Well, Dad and I had a good day today. Blah-blah-blah.”

“Honey, I just want you to know that we are really missing you here. Especially me. What I wouldn’t give to have you in my arms right now. I  love you and need you here with me, now and forever.”

What I wouldn’t give for those kinds of loving and reassuring words. Words that say that I am appreciated, treasured and loved. Words that tell me I am still his girl and he is damn glad that I am. Words that make me feel his love for me here in Michigan or Paris or anywhere I happen to be. Words that he would say during my eulogy to pronounce to all in attendance that I was who he loved and letting go will be hard.

Why is it so hard for B to say them? Is it because he doesn’t know how or that he can’t because he doesn’t feel that way and saying them would be a lie?

This 30+ year love affair shouldn’t be so difficult. It SHOULD be easier than ever to whisper sweet nothings. To let a person who feels they are teetering on the edge of your life to know how much they mean to you, how much you desire them, and that their absence makes their heart ache.  For we are getting to the age where death begins to watch you from the shadows and you never know when you might be taken. And of this I am sure: When you leave this earth you should know without a doubt who loved you to the end of the rainbow.

Perhaps this kind of talk is unrealistic. Perhaps it only happens in fairy tales. But if those things are true then I want to re-write my story because this is what I need. This is what my heart longs to hear and my soul craves. Words that are meaningful, loving and make a future with B obvious. A future that is mutually desirable, sought-after and protected.

Do you love me B? Then let me hear the words. Let me hear them said from that place in your heart that is occupied only by me and that is reserved for my love only. That place in you where I anchor you to our love both past, present and future. That place that says I am still the only woman for you. That place that says you want me to be the one holding your hand when you pass into another realm.

Let me know. Before I forget and slide into a place where I can no longer feel your heart connected to mine or feel our souls slide gently together throughout the day. Let me know so when I lay my head down on my pillow tonight I can rest so peacefully that angels would come and I would not fight them. Let me know so when the sun rises tomorrow that I know your love for me has risen with it just like it will the next day as well as the next.

I need your love but right now I need your words more than I ever have. For they are a gift that is not meant to be withheld but given freely and in love.

So be it!

Trust

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T – Truthful

R- Reliable

U- Uphold

S- Steadfast

T- Take For Granted

 

This has been a week where I have been put in the position of feet to the flames in regards to trust.  I have been in a situation where I have had to CHOOSE to believe or not. A test for my soul, my heart, and my head.

You would think that trusting would be easy. After all, we enter this world as trusting human beings and if we are lucky we maintain that trust in ourselves and humanity at least until we get into school and we find out what “mean girls” are. But then, as we age, life begins to teach us that trust is not as easy or forthright as we once imagined it to be. It no longer is blind or innocent and often for many of us it becomes something that has to be earned rather than something that is freely given.

This week as I contemplated the issue of trust I decided I needed to understand just what that word meant to me. I discovered there were some essential ingredients that I feel must be evident if trust is to be maintained.  These are:

Truth- For me trusting means that your words and actions must be truthful. NO games, no secrecy, and no purposeful omissions. I want to know that what you say and do is based in truth.

Reliable- I must know that I can count on your words and actions to mean what you say they will mean and that those words will be acted upon and be done.

Uphold-In the old English sense of the word it means to maintain in good condition;to take care of.  It means that you will be constantly doing things to take care of our marriage. To me this fundamental if a relationship is to grow and thrive.

Steadfast- Unwavering in purpose, faith and attachment. Firmly fixed in place or position. You are not going anywhere.

Take for Granted- To accept without question and being able to believe what is said or done is true.

I suspect there is a whole lot more to trust than the things I have written and I know that trust is not just a one way street. Trust also involves making yourself vulnerable by believing in your partner when circumstances appear that it would be in your best interest to protect yourself. It means opening up your own heart, taking off the armor, and allowing possibilities to drift into your life when it makes you uncomfortable. It means looking for the best in the person or situation rather than the worst.

In theory, I believe that trusting with all your heart and soul is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationships.  I would rather have my heart broken than to never have tried to trust.  But in practice, trust takes two, and you have to know that your partner is trustworthy in all realms of your relationship in order for it to survive.

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

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Today B left on a 5 day business trip. Now to most, this would sound mundane. Five days. Big deal. But for me that is exactly what it is…a big deal.

Almost two years ago B came home while the rest of us vacationed for an additional 10 days. A few days after I arrived home is when he said he was wanting a divorce. Fast forward marriage therapy, individual therapy, meditation, Marriage Encounter…you name it we tried it. It was a merry-go-round of great successes followed by some major failures.

This past January, after coming back from a business trip to China, once again B stated he wanted to separate. Then I went away and realized I did too. I was done with all this back and forth. Either you want to be together or you don’t. I wrote a five page note putting my feelings into words and the actions I wanted to take, out there, in plain site, for him to read…only now he didn’t want to separate. So we made a deal. No more talking about divorce for 6 months and things seem to be better.

Now three months later B is alone on another business trip and, frankly, it made me a little nervous. So as we were walking to the other night I decided to be honest and spill my guts. I said to him:

“You know you are leaving and the last two times you have gone away on your own you have come home wanting a divorce/separation. Obviously, I have some concerns because being alone seems to take you to a place of not wanting to be together. So I wanted you to know if you are even thinking this again don’t bother to come home because I don’t want to deal with it and your indecision. This is a scary thing for me to say this but I am dreading your time away because I don’t want to be hurt again.”

“It sounds like you are scared,” he says using a phrase that he has learned at the therapists office.

He keeps walking. I do too but immediately feel my stomach clench.

“Really! That is all you are going to say!” my brain almost exploding with these type of thoughts.

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And so I stopped walking.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” B says to me.

“Honey, this is the point where you are suppose to offer reassurance. I appreciate you recognizing my feelings but you need to go further. Just recognizing what I have said isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to react, reassure, or explore a little more. This is a pattern in our relationship. I express myself and you barely react to what I say. You could say more but you choose to withhold words that could be helpful, kind, or could bolster our relationship. You have gone away twice for periods of a week or more and both times have returned wanting to be single. I need honesty and reassurance from you that this isn’t going to happen again.”

B looks perplexed. He stares at me like I am a alien from Mars. But then he pulls me close and gives me a kiss.

“You don’t need to worry. I will be excited to come back to you.”

Okay, he’s not the best with words but it is a start.

This morning B left. When I went downstairs I found a note by my computer which read:

HONEY,

HAVE A GOOD WEEK AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE WHEN I RETURN. THANKS FOR GETTING THE KIDS AROUND WHILE I AM GONE. LOVE YOU, B

Maybe he is starting to “get it” after all.

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Understanding

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If you have read this blog before you know that I have been struggling with B’s decision to take a “business” trip to Asia without me. For the past several years we had gone together to try to build closeness in our fragile relationship. I appreciated those times together, the shared experiences and, of course, time away from the kids. So I was hurt when he said he was going alone. Then when I asked about something that seemed odd he admitted he was going somewhere else too. I fretted and wondered if he would have even told me about this new itinerary and I felt betrayed because it brought back past business travels in which odd things had happened. But it was more than that, this anxiety I was feeling, anxiety that felt all consuming and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Until one night I realized it was rooted in fear from the past. Fear because the last time we were apart for 10 days, when I arrived home he wanted a divorce and it brought me back to two years ago when I lost my rudder. I can only imagine this is what PTSD feels like. Bleak, scary and uncertain.  And while I knew that our relationship wasn’t in the same place it was back then my raw emotions couldn’t process that fact for emotions are funny things and whether accurate or not they pull at the soul and can stretch you out of shape.

So now he is away on “business”and not a “vacation” as I insist it is. And B didn’t bother to tell me that even though he would arrive in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, he wouldn’t actually be engaging in any sort of business activity until Tuesday. I’m sorry, in my mind that is a vacation. Now I could be really upset about this. Not that he wasn’t really doing the business that he insisted he was but upset because once again the pattern of 1/2 truths has appeared to prevail. But this time I am working on really trying to see this in a different light…I hope I can succeed.

It has taken me a while to realize that not everyone loves us in the way we think we need or in the way we would like. Often, they just love us in the way that they are capable of loving us often to our disappointment or dismay. If life were ideal I would have complete and utter honesty but that is uncomfortable for B because he grew up not being allowed to express his feelings and he doesn’t feel he can express his feelings to me.This hurts though I have brought some of it on myself. B feels that to express his needs is shameful or selfish and as a result he hides them to himself and from others. So while I would have loved for him to be honest and say “I don’t have any meetings until Tuesday but I have decided that I need a few days to relax and have a few days of ME time,” he couldn’t allow himself to do that even though I asked him to just be honest and admit he wanted time alone.

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So instead of being upset about the fact that he was a little less than honest I am trying to see his actions as those of a man who cannot ask for what he needs. A man who does not believe he deserves time alone. A man who believes anything he wants that does not involve his family is selfish on his part. Sure, I wish he had just been 100% honest but if I look through into his soul I know he is incapable of focusing on himself. And so I am trying to let go of the fact that he cannot love me as I wish but instead loves me as he can. It is flawed and sometimes it hurts but at this point in life this is how he loves. So I can choose to be angry or I can choose to accept knowing he is doing the best he can at this point in time. Today I choose acceptance…I hope I will choose it tomorrow too! For I deserve it and so does he.

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Closeness

*The other day I posted about the distance I was feeling in my marriage. A very smart reader inspired me to write about what I want. Here it is.*

I would like to feel the kind of closeness with you that you feel when a newborn baby is first placed in your arms. The feelings of awe and beauty in what you have created make you feel elated.A sense of total dedication and belief in all the possibilities that lay before you open to you and bloom like a rose. The total acceptance of this person and the belief you can handle whatever lays before you with them. The way they fit so perfectly in your arms and automatically snuggle in, burying themselves deeper into your heart and soul.

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I want the sort of closeness with you that feels peaceful and reassuring. A closeness in which what what I see before me is truth in all its glorious nakedness and not something dressed to cover it up.

I want a quiet and dignified closeness in which you know the person so well that they will tell you when you are wrong in a way that allows you you to hear it and know it is true because they love you enough to tell you. In a way that in reaching for your hand they are actually grabbing onto your heart and holding it gently in their hands.

I want a closeness with you in which your love knows and acknowledges my flaws while gently trying to lead me to a better way, not through superiority but through genuine good will wished for me. A person who tries to concentrate on the good and not only acknowledge the bad in me. The kind of closeness that encompasses true forgiveness and understanding.

I want a closeness with you in which if I had to have a mastectomy in wouldn’t bother me that I had missing parts because I know you could let those go knowing that I have other parts that were just as precious and wonderful.

I want to feel a closeness with you in which talking to each other throughout a work day feels like a bonus, like a 5 minute picnic in a meadow full of warmth and happiness instead of feeling like a chore.

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I want a closeness with you that at times needs no words. It is just strong and steady and something we can hold onto while feeling safe and confident when the gales of life threaten to pull us from one another.

I want to feel a closeness to you that feels like the biggest and best quality feather bed ever made. It feels light  and airy and its a place where deep rest and relaxation can be found.

I want to feel a long-term closeness with you not something fleeting and temporary based on whims and moods. But something strong and sure  like a Boy Scout knot that won’t come untied unless you release the ends with purposeful intent.

I want to feel a closeness with you that is steadfast and steady like a dogs love and admiration to his people. No questions asked, it is just there unwavering.

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I want to feel as closeness that is devoid of fear, mistrust and hidden agendas. I want this closeness to be pure and bright like a guardian angel or like the closeness God shows us when we are open to seeing it. Closeness that you guard with your life because you both feel that it is precious and worthy.

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I want to feel a closeness to you like I never have. I want to have a deep never-ending connection with you.

Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

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I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

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So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

Forgiveness

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Tonight it was my turn to pick our dialoging question and I chose one to address something that has been weighing heavy on my mind. It was a difficult statement which forced nothing less than that kind of down-on-your-knees honesty and a period of tough introspection on my part. The statement was:

Please forgive me for ______________.

As part of a married couple, I think that way too often we just expect to be forgiven for our misdeeds because, well, isn’t that what you are expected to do for someone you love? Too often we ask for forgiveness without stepping into our love’s shoes and trying to image the pain we may have intentionally or inadvertently caused them. Too often we expect to be forgiven when we have not taken the necessary steps to repair the damage we have inflicted. Yet, when we really stop to consider what we have done and ask for true forgiveness we find it harder than we ever could have imagined. Why? Because we  have to really look inside of ourselves, examine our motivations and sit with the various hurts that we have caused others by our actions. It is tough slogging-through-the-mud kind of stuff.In addition we often fail to:

  1. Consider how our actions were responsible for the feelings invoked in both parties
  2. Think about why we did what we did and then take responsibility for it
  3. Examine how our past has influenced our present day behavior and in order to do better in the future we have to unpack the past.
  4. Recognize our actions as continuing pattern of behavior and then evaluate if it is serving us and our loved ones well
  5. Notice how our actions may have led to a reaction from our spouse that is justified under the circumstances; but then turn around and use their reaction to justify our own less-than-stellar behavior

I have to confess that I often find asking for forgiveness to be difficult but not for the reasons you might think. I find it difficult because by asking I am risking that the other person may say “No I don’t forgive you.”  Or I might have to change. In addition, by asking for forgiveness it forces me to examine those parts of me that I do not enjoy recognizing in myself which then forces me to abandon the luxury of blaming my spouse and instead I have to look inward…which is not always an easy place to go.

Asking for forgiveness is scary. Asking for forgiveness is humbling.Forgiveness takes practice. It is an art. Yet, asking for forgiveness by our mates is also necessary so that we can forgive ourselves and move on. For it is only in moving on that we can become all we were meant to be.

Please forgive me for_________. It is the only way to start.

 

Can Lost Love Be Found?

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I have lived these past 12 months with so many conflicting emotions. I have changed. I have bent. I have been driven down on my knees so many times that sometimes it feels like they are calloused and worn. Yet, through all of this I have had to believe that this work was important for me and for my marriage. And it has been for me…not so sure about the marriage.

Yesterday, B and I were talking and I said something to the effect that it must be hard living with someone who you wanted to love but just didn’t feel the kind of love you wanted to. I got no reply. That hurt. Just like the chandelier…still not hung… and numerous other things I try not to dwell on. But the fact is, it is hard to keep trying when it feels like nothing you do makes a difference. And sometimes it feels like I am getting closer to the point where I am not sure I can keep trying.

I am a good woman. I am a great wife. I am a good mother. I am determined. I am stalwart. I am fun and I am sexy and I can tell a great story. I am not a drunk nor a big spender. All together I am a pretty good package… NOT perfect but desirable and loving and the real deal. And here is the thing…I want someone in my life who appreciates this. I want someone in my life who knows that he is a lucky man because I am in his life. Frankly, I deserve to be loved fully and completely and I am just not sure that I can settle for someone who loves me out of obligation or “because of the children.”

Sometimes, there comes a point in time where you begin to recognized the futility of the situation. You realize that you cannot make someone love you especially if they don’t want to see the goodness in you no matter what you do or how you change. I am a woman who loves deeply and passionately and I want to receive this back. I want to be loved for who I am just the way that I am. I want to be loved because I am me.

In a few weeks we arrive at the end of the ONE YEAR TO FIX THIS. It will be 365 days since this saga began and we are still not healed, not head over heals in love, not repaired. Sure things in our relationship have improved.A lot. I like him more and I think he likes me more. We spend more time together. Our communication has improved but still isn’t where it needs to be. The sex still remains combustible. And one thing has remained the same throughout… I do love him deeply and I still think he is a sexy man after 30 years.

I wish I could say that I understood where this was going. I wish I could say that B loves me the way both he and I would like. But he doesn’t and I am no longer sure if that is alright with me because now my heart and soul believes that I deserve better…because I do. Yes, I want that fairytale ending even though I know at my age that you may be riding on the back of a mule to a castle that is a money pit. I want to know that my true love is true and forever. I don’t think that is too much to ask.