Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm just sad and I don't know what to do about it... (ETA)

I warn you - this is a little rambly - read it at your own risk.

There’s a fine line between wonderful and icky.  Maybe the line isn’t so fine.. I don’t know.  I do know that when I was younger, though it was all an act – an act I didn’t no any better than to continue with – people were often bowled over by the force of my personality.  I think I was a stay in the background kind of person, only throw in the well placed stuff so that people would see me enough not to notice that I just wanted to stay in the background.  (can you follow that?).  But, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t stay in the background – I was never allowed.  Anyway – people would never stand up to me, (as if I was something to be stood up to) they’d never tell me no.  People were always afraid of me.  To this day that totally baffles me, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s completely true.

So… and this is about my husband…  Beyond the initial click, one of the things that really attracted me to him was that he wasn’t afraid of me.  He wasn’t afraid to tell me no, to stand up to me, to argue with me, to push back.  It was amazingly refreshing and I guess somewhat intoxicating.  We’ve never argued much, really hardly at all, but I never doubted his back bone.  I knew he’d give it to me straight, whatever it might be.

So fast forward to our lives together.  We’ve been together for 20 year and like any couple we’ve had our ups and down and a lot of the down parts were me, early in our time together, especially.  I felt safe I guess for the first time – safe enough to freak out and the low grade depression I’d fought all my life turned into the big time real deal.  And I pushed him away during that time.  A year or so ago he told me he almost didn’t make it through that with me, though at the time I had no idea. 

We both made it – and were probably better for it – though who knows if that’s true.  He never made any demands of me during that time, just quietly supported me.  It’s probably what I needed.  When I came out of that, I had all these rules – things like no PDA and when I say no PDA, I mean I wouldn’t even sit near him in public.  Private was a whole different thing, but public… I just couldn’t handle it – the idea of people watching me – or of me doing the expected – like kissing him hello.  We’d greet each other in public the same way I’d greet any other acquaintance I liked.  “Hey Brad, how’s it going.”  There’s no doubt I was insane.  Slowly I came out of that – my depression, my rules the whole thing.  I slowly figured out or at least had a really good start on who I was and what I wanted out of life.  I kiss him hello – people think we’re really cute together.  Our kids have seen us make out more times that is probably healthy.

Meanwhile.  Brad was and is wonderful.  Everyone loves him.  I’ve always joked that my family likes him better than they like me.  I know that’s not true, exactly, I don’t have any deep seated issues about how much my family loves me – but seriously everyone thinks he’s just the bees knees. (how often do you get to use that in a sentence?)  And he is.  He’s kind and generous and ready, willing, and able to lend a hand to anyone.  I’ve talked about how wonderful he is for a long damn time.  The people in my office call him St. Brad because whenever they talk about the stereotypical man’s failing, I’d always pipe up with – Brad wouldn’t or doesn’t or would never do that.  And it was always true. 

He shares in everything; housework, parenting, whatever.  People measure their spouse or boyfriend against the measure that is Brad.  He is absolutely a 50% (or more) kind of parent.  In fact, I herniated a disc six weeks after my youngest was born and ended up having surgery for it when he was seven months old after all other treatments failed and my poor sciatic nerve was just slammed against a wall inside me.  And I swear he did flat out everything.  He changed every diaper, got up every night, cooked all the meals, did all the laundry, whatever had to happen – he did it without complaint for probably a full year when all was said and done. 

But – the point here is.  He does have all these wonderful external attributes.  I’ve not lied when I sang his praises.  But… just cuz he’s a good guy – does that mean he’s the right one for me?  And of course I know the answer to that is no.  But still. 

Over the years he bends over backwards to make me happy – or rather to do things he thinks will make me happy.  He spends a lot of time and effort taking things off my plate.  He keeps our calendar, he sets up babysitting, he keeps the household running far more than I do.  I think in part he does these things to please me – but he also likes to do them.  It’s an innate skill he has and for all my anal retentiveness I’m much more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind a girl.

I swear I have a point here.  I’ve been thinking about him and me a lot.  And one of the things I’m thinking about lately is the ability to tell me no.  The ability to stand up to me.  The not being scared of me.  The thing that attracted me in the first place.  I think it doesn’t exist.  Maybe it never did.  I am so firmly in charge of every damn aspect of our lives it’s suffocating me.  I can and often do sit by silently and let our life pass by in front of me – and Mr. Scheduler makes sure every damn thing happens when it should without a peep from me.  But on the big stuff… how we parent, how we connect, how we live – it’s only a look from me – and he’ll change direction.  We’ve had a lot of fights or at least heated discussions about me not signing up to have three children.  He blusters against that, but I think he knows I’m right.

I never wanted to be that person.  I’ve never wanted to be in charge – for all my blustering – for the way the world always saw me – I don’t want it.  I want something from him.  I want to know he’ll rein me in, he’ll have my back, that he’s be my safety net.  That he’ll tell me no when he feels it.  That’s he’d feel it in the first place.  That’s he’d do something, do any damn thing that let’s me know he has his own mind, his own thoughts. 

There’s a fine line between doing things to please your spouse and being a limp noodle.  I used to think he was on one side of that line and now I’m not so sure.

The last time we had a discussion about the shit that is our marriage.  I told him clearly and in no uncertain terms that if it were not for my youngest child’s separation issues, I would leave him.  I honestly believe it would break Jackson if I left and it’s a long way from bad enough for it to be worth that kind of cost.  It’s not so much bad as it’s nothing.  I told him as I’d told him before, because I’m not at liberty to leave right now, you have time to fight for me – but I’m done fighting for us, I need some effort from you – anything.  It can’t be all me, it has to be both of us or what’s the damn point.  At the time we talked about how months earlier he had said he was going to contact a therapist for us to go see and how him not having done even that was yet another example of what I mean to him, what our marriage means to him.  But no, he said, I’ve been playing phone tag with the therapist just this week. (he often says this kind of thing – where once I would have said he was the most honest, the most moral man in the world – I’ve heard an awful lot of ‘the check’s in the mail’ from him in the last five years.).  I told him how hard it was for me to believe that, but that I’d certainly welcome at least that level of effort.  I also told him – being mad at him, staying mad at him, keeping my walls up to high, was too damn much energy and I just couldn’t sustain it anymore.  I told him I was just going to go about our lives and I felt confident once I wasn’t acting mad or unhappy he’d just assume all was right with the world and he’d go back to his world of denial and not do a damn thing.  And how I’d interpret that, as I have been for the past five years, as exactly how much he listens to me (not at all), exactly how much our marriage and me are worth fighting for (not at all).  And I’d add those new messages to all the others I’ve been hearing.  “No, no, Read, I swear.  That’s not true.  I’ll get us scheduled with the therapist – we’ll figure this out if you’re still wiling.”  I am, I told him.  Well I was.

So – a few months later.  I guess he and the therapist are still playing phone tag.  He’s continuing to go about his business of keeping our calendar straight.  The fact that his extremely passionate wife isn’t even slightly interested in sex with him isn’t sending off any warning bells in him that I can see.  I think he’s scared of me – of what my reaction will be – but really – his lack of doing anything – of throwing me even the smallest crumb – of doing even what he said he would.  That’s the biggest sign of all.  So now – I’m just sad.  I think I’m mourning my marriage even though I’m still sleeping next to him every night.  I wish him well, I wish me well, but if he can’t lift a finger, then he can’t lift a finger and I’m worth more than that.

After some lovely comments, I feel compelled to add - I am absolutely going to go to therapy just for me - there's no doubt I need some help deciding what I need to do next - how to proceed - where I want to go - that kind of thing.  I've already made some calls and intend to make an appointment as soon as possible.


Lyla said...

I'm sorry you're struggling with this, sweets. Maybe it is time for you to pick up the phone and call the therapist-- for yourself. It looks like you might need some outside support to muddle through this.

Theresa aka Tessie Rose said...

That just sucks, I've been there, when you just want something to show that they get you? I think Lyla has some good advice, at this point, maybe just find someone who can help you concentrate on healing you!

Laura Belle said...

I also agree, get on the damn phone yourself. Therapy isn't just for couples or for the person in the relationship that's 'doing bad', it's for anyone. And you never know, the therapist could give you really sound advice about what to say to Brad and how to deal with this. It might end up being the best thing for you both!

Stephanie said...

i just emailed you...hugs to you sweetie!

Ronnie said...

*hugs* I don't have any advice, but just know I support ya, sweetie.

Amanda said...

I agree with the ladies that said for you to go see someone. You pick up the phone and fight for you. Then perhaps that will put a little fire under him too. I am sorry you are down and I really hope you can work things out! For all involved!

Jacquie said...

By speaking to a therapist you will be doing the right thing for yourself and your boys! I am here for you as is everyone else! Hang in there, believe me, better days are coming!

Sandy Lee said...

And I will jump in here too. Marriage is so hard. I'll send you an e-mail as I don't know how long this will be.

Miss Vickie "The Queen Bee" said...

Sorry Read. I think all couples struggle with being complacent. I am a firm believer in therapy. I have gone many times for many different reasons and it has always helped. I always learn something about myself. God luck and don't give up!

FitBy40 said...

I have to give you a lot of credit for being strong enough to stick around for your son. You know him best, and you're doing this for him, that's big.
Best of luck to you!

♫ Drazil ♪ said...

My little buttercup...I'm so sorry your heart is hurting. Therapy is a good place to start. I know as women we hate being controlled and such but there is something about a man being a man and standing his ground and standing up and taking control because as women MY GOD it seems like all we ever do is control and make sure everything is alright and just once it's nice to hand over the reigns in EVERY aspect. I get it. There's such a thing as being too's kind of the term "wussy" I think. Like grow a backbone...don't be scared of me and dammit - love yourself and love me enough to fight with me about it. I get it - totally - and your feelings are valid. He can be perfect in every way but your needs are your needs...don't settle for less...because you deserve the best.

Band-Babe said...

There's so much I want to share with you- but I took my sleeping meds... I'll write more tomorrow.

Dinnerland said...

I'm sorry you're sad and going through this difficulty and agree that getting yourself to a therapist is a really good idea... you'll see what happens from there.
It sounds like you are her are really disconnected at this point and it is hard right now to build the bridge back. But that doesn't meant the marriage has to be over-- it just means that if you begin to work on yourself and deal with your feelings to begin with, you may be able to figure out what to do next. Brad may need to be led to a therapist, rather than the other way around. In many ways: he sounds like he does have some great qualities, and perhaps the interactions of your personalities is not working well in the context that you're both in right now.
I hope that you'll find some peace soon-- even if it is peace knowing that you're working on moving ahead towards some sort of progress. xo

Debi said...

I too am so sorry that you are going through this difficult time. I went through 3 failed marriages before I met my Night In Shining Armour. But even so, he isn't the prefect guy either. However, I do love him, and I do not intend to end this marriage too!

I am sure that the Therapist will help you to figure out what is best for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Can I be the voice of experience? I'm older (hated saying that!) and have several failed relationships behind me. The one thing that I've learned from my failures and a few friends' failures is: Men are Slow! They seem to run about 2 years behind reality. I begged my husband to go to marriage counseling w/me to no avail. 2 years later when he was served w/divorce papers his 1st comment "Lets go to marriage counseling". Sorry, I'm no longer interested in resurrecting this marriage, it's dead and staying that way for me. I've seen the same thing happen with friends. My advice is to seperate (not divorce) from your husband. When men realize what they're about to lose they're willing to do some work. You've got a lot of years in this marriage and kids too. It's a lot to give up!