Wednesday, June 18, 2014

He didn't say anything

I last posted on this blog Feburary 11th. In the week that followed, some key events and "conversations" prompted some serious and sustained reflection on my relationship with R.

On February 20th I made the tentative decision to divorce R.
On February 21st I gave all my fears about that decision to God in prayer.
On February 22nd I told R I wanted to divorce.

I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that the lyrics to "Say Something" by A Great Big World PERFECTLY summarizes how my marriage ended:

"Say Something"

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all

And I will stumble and fall
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

And I will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye

Say something, I'm giving up on you
And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you
And anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

We lived together for the next few months in an in-house separation (with even more boundaries and distance) while he finished his degree and got a job. Looking back, it was one big blur of switching off with the kids, trying to hold it together in mediation, and holing up in my room with chocolate. Yet it was all strung together (tightly) with regular and persuasive manifestations of the spirit and the support of loving and generous friends and family.

On May 14th, he woke up early and drove a rental car to the airport to fly to a foreign country overseas where he has started a new job.

There are so many more details I could share, but just writing this is difficult enough. For this first month that he's been gone, I've done really well. It's been a honeymoon period. Except not. But as I've settled into life without him, I've felt safer and certain emotions I haven't had full access too are starting to stake their claim in my soul. Especially in the last 24 hours. Right now, I don't feel Victorious. I feel Vulnerable.

All I wanted was for the person I loved most in the world to stay in love with me. All I wanted was for us to keep choosing each other. Over and over again.

But he didn't choose me. He didn't even choose his precious children, who I will have full physical custody of once everything is signed and squared away (we're still working on the paperwork, but we're going no-fault and in my state you have to be separated for a year before you can divorce if you do no-fault).

I think I'm doing as well as anyone in my situation could possibly be doing. And I've said many times already, as far as being a divorced woman goes, I'm probably the most blessed/fortunate divorced woman in the history of the world. My children and I get to stay in our safe and comfortable home in our town where we have amazing friends; I don't have to interact with R except to help facilitate skype sessions with him for our girls; and in a couple months I'll be starting a full-time job which, with R's child support payments, will meet my family's needs.

BUT. I really wish there was a man who knew me better than anyone else and still loved me. And I wish that man could have been R. When I think of when we dated and early in our marriage---how he made me feel----oh, I miss that. And I can't pretend losing that interaction with him didn't affect me. No matter how strong your self-esteem is (and mine is pretty good, I think), there's something unsettling about your husband not wanting to talk to you anymore. And then there are my girls . . . oh, I can't go there tonight. Believe me when I say I have cried infinitely more tears for their sakes than for mine in the past few months. It could have been different. He could have chosen differently. He could have said something. I have to believe that. But I also have to accept that no matter what could have been, this is what IS.

P.S. In the last month the frequency with which I have used profanity has dropped precipitously. I can now authoritatively say that living with someone who doesn't want to live with you (and to be fair, that you no longer want to live with) makes it harder to be who you really want to be. I also consume far fewer calories (particularly in the form of chocolate) on a daily basis now that he is gone.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cursing and Blessing

Last Thursday afternoon I listened in to Dr. Kevin Skinner's online webinar on Intimacy and Porn Addiction. It was a great presentation, but listening to it was not a great emotional experience for me because it triggered some anger in me toward my husband. You see, about half way through the presentation, Dr. Skinner asked the spouses of addicts to consider if we were modeling healthy intimacy: were we giving love and receiving love with others in our lives? Or had the betrayal trauma we experienced caused us to isolate ourselves and not trust others?

I surprised myself by immediately muttering under my breath, in response:

"The f-er."

In reference to my husband, of course. And I said it a few more times. Rather calmly, pretty matter of fact. Seemingly without effort or choice, this sentiment just bubbled out of my lips.

I've never been one to swear much, until about 3 months ago when it became clear to me that my husband's continued inability to offer empathy, show appropriate remorse, and accept the consequences of his behavior was making couples therapy more hurtful than helpful to our marriage. I actually decided to stop participating in couples therapy (about a month ago) because of it. So until 3 months ago, I can count on just my two hands how many times I've sworn out loud (just don't ask me to count how many times I've sworn in my head). But I'm making up for lost time, and sometimes I even scream swear words. That's what I call "roaring."

Anyway, the point is, the webinar ended and I was pissed. (Ok, there's another word that hasn't been in my vocabulary for over 10 years. This wopa lifestyle is really affecting me, can't you tell?) Why was I pissed? Because I knew that I was capable of intimacy, but my marriage was failing because my husband isn't. He has refused my gifts of love and loyalty for most of our marriage. I knew I needed to pray, but I wanted a moment of distraction first. I checked one of my favorite blogs, and watched the video included in this post by Glennon Melton of

And then I knelt and prayed, with stone still in hand. There are still many aspects of my prayers that could use improvement (like the frequency of them, at least ones where I take the time to kneel), but honesty in my prayers when I'm feeling emotional is something I've gotten good at. I'm so thankful that God welcomes these prayers. Oh, it's such a relief to be able to be honest with God about my anger and my pain. As I explained my feelings to Him, I felt that yes, I need to work to resolve my anger toward my husband---that I need to work to not judge my husband (as in, condemn him), but to focus my efforts simply on making "reasoned choices about how to proceed" (this is how a religious marriage therapist named Blaine Fowers explains the role of judgement in our relationships). God was telling me to put down my stone. But I also felt that He knows how scared I am and why it is I picked one up in the first place. So I felt that He would be patient with me in the process of feeling safe enough to put that stone down.

That evening, I got to attend a group yoga class at a local studio. I've had some very emotionally healing experiences doing yoga in the past few months, and it's been over a month since I last did yoga, so I was anxious to do it again. The session was challenging physically since my body is so out of shape and so needy, but it still felt good. And then the end came, and as I transitioned into the corpse pose (shavasana) and started to focus on a powerful personal visualization, my entire soul was flooded and I felt this truth with my entire being:

I offer so much love. So much. To so many. I have offered so much love to my husband throughout our entire marriage, and continue to do so. My offering has been more than sufficient, despite my weaknesses and mistakes that have sometimes interfered with my relationships. The distance in my marriage relationship has nothing to do with me---I offer more than enough love to create a healthy, happy marriage.

Except of course, I didn't actually formulate all those words. But I did very strongly feel the concepts of "offering" and "love" with the implicit notion of "being enough" and sensing the circle of supportive, loving friends and family I have that are a testament of these truths about myself.

As I have reflected on this experience since Thursday night, I have been able to deepen my internalization of these truths. It is such a relief. Of course I am not fully healed of many of the emotional effects of my husband's betrayal and the distance in our marriage, but my anger toward my husband has been softening (although my enforcement of boundaries has not slackened). My fears have been shrinking to the shadows. My feelings of peace, contentment, and happiness with my life are becoming more prominent. I feel so secure. I feel so confident. It is wonderful.

Of course, there is some sadness in this. The anger toward my husband is softening because I can see how sad, how downright tragic it is, that his addiction has made him incapable/unwilling to partake fully of what I have to offer to our marriage; he will not have access to much of what I can offer unless/until he figures out how to be capable of making (or becomes willing to make) similar offers of love and loyalty. But my sadness for him is not impinging on my own feelings of happiness for myself. I think I'm experiencing a new level of "detaching with love." And it's so much preferable to the versions of it I've experienced before.

I'm so grateful for this blessing that was administered amidst my cursing.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why I hate sushi

The first time I tried sushi was in the summer of 2006. H was at a undergraduate engineering competition in California. I was at a cheap buffet in Orange County with his parents and siblings. The same parents and siblings that had been playing into some significant emotional distress for me in the past few years, the past few months, and especially in the past few weeks (all of which, sadly, would be surpassed by the emotional distress they would contribute to in the future). Some of them were eating sushi and talking about how great it was. I decided to try some because I like to try new things, and I hate to be seen as close minded, even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it. I tried a California roll and something else. The California roll was ok. Not great. But edible. The something else was not. So then I knew. I didn't like sushi.

I don't know when H started eating sushi. But he always liked it. It was probably sometime around then. But definitely by the time we left school and moved out of state, he definitely liked it. In 2009, when my first daughter was a few months old, we took a short trip to Montreal, Quebec, in Canada on the way to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. She was happy in her stroller while we spent the day walking around, eating good food and seeing pretty things. That evening, she needed to nurse and go to bed, so we decided to take turns staying with her while the other went out to dinner.

H let me go first.

It was exciting to be out by myself. I could go where I wanted. I didn't know where I was or where I was going, but I was excited. A woman tried to ask me for directions in French and for the first time in my life, I spoke French conversationally (no, HS and college French class conversations do NOT count). This is what I said:

"Je ne sais pas."

Which means: I don't know.

Which very accurately sums up my life at that point.

I kept walking in the light rain, and after a few blocks of wondering which little eatery I should enter, I saw a cafe on a corner. By that point I was pretty hungry and the food looked marvelous. I went in and had a fabulous dinner. Bruschetta salad and a panini sandwich on homemade bread with pumpkin seeds baked in. When I finished, I looked at the pristine rows of tiny, rainbow colored cookies lined behind the counter glass. I wanted to try ordering in French, but I was too shy. So I asked in English, "What are those?" Turns out they were macarons. "Not macaroons", he said, "Macarons." They were beautiful and looked perfect. So even though they were $2 each, I picked out a few, from the dozens of flavors the baker hastily listed off twice when I asked. I resisted the urge to eat them by myself and brought them back to our hotel room. I told H I had a surprise for dessert for after he came back from getting his dinner.

H left and while my daughter slept in the dark closet, I laid on the bed with a small light on and tried to draft a blog post for my personal blog about my experience speaking French for the first time. I knew it was meaningful. It felt meaningful. I knew I was supposed to write about it---blog about it even, but nothing worked. I mean, everything I wrote was terrible. So terrible I couldn't even pretend it wasn't. Finally I stopped pushing it and did something else.

After a long time, H came back. He had trouble finding a place to eat. It was late, so a lot of places were closed. But he finally found a Japanese buffet with a fresh sushi bar---everything made to order. He ate so much sushi. Just ate and ate and ate. Couldn't stop. It was so good.

I was so happy he had found good sushi and that even though we didn't get to eat dinner together, we both got what we wanted without having to compromise for the other. We ate the macarons together and loved them.

In the fall of 2012, H had been really busy, stressed, and depressed. We don't usually do much for each other's birthdays, but I wanted to do surprise him with something special for his birthday. Since he loves to cook, I asked a friend who went to culinary school to help teach him how to cook something new. When she suggested sushi, I knew that was perfect. He loved learning how to make it, and he has made it about once a month since then. He doesn't usually tell me when he's going to make sushi, but I can always tell when he is making it or when he has because the kitchen smells like vinegar and seaweed and steamed asparagus that is too smushy. For a long time, he kept urging me to try sushi again, hoping I would like it. A few times I did, but my reaction has never changed. Finally, he backed off.

About a year ago he made it when I had some friends over. He was supposed to be out all night, getting some work done. But he came home early and instead of going up to our room to hang out to give us space, he came down and went in the kitchen and started making sushi. One of my friends went in the kitchen to get a snack and told him how much she loved sushi and he invited her to have some. Instead of putting some on a plate and sending her on her way back out to us, he set her a place at the table and she sat and ate sushi with him. Twenty minutes later, she rejoined us girls in the living room. A couple weeks later, she spontaneously apologized to me one day. Her intent was pure, but she realized what happened was awkward and could be considered inappropriate. I told her it was no big deal, to not worry about it. But it was a big deal, and I was so thankful she apologized. I knew then that I could trust her. Unlike my husband, who never brought it up.

Last night I really needed good sleep because I've been up a lot with my girls in the mornings and during the night. So I turned on my fan for white noise and put in my ear plugs. But at 3am I woke up to my youngest daughter screaming---so loud that I was surprised how well I could hear her with my ear plugs in. I brought her into bed with me and she kept me up and my older daughter got us both up early. Finally I shooed them in the direction of their dad's room (he keeps his door shut because he leaves his window open at night because he likes to sleep in the cold) and he got up and took them downstairs so I could rest. But I couldn't rest because I'm anxious about so much right now. At 9:45, my oldest knocked at my door, wanting to see me, so I decided to go downstairs to be with my girls and eat breakfast.

As soon as I entered the living room, I was greeted by the smell of vinegar and seaweed and steamed asparagus that is too smushy wafting from the kitchen. "Are you making something?" I asked H, incredulous that he would make anything with vinegar in it so early in the morning. "Yeah, some sushi." After a few minutes, I steeled my senses and went in the kitchen to make breakfast. I needed to make my oatmeal and take it back to bed, where I could eat without my senses being assaulted from the sushi and before I snapped at my sweet but too-energetic-for-me-right-now kids.

As H tried to clean up some things to improve the smell, he got in my way. And after he got out of my way, he hovered. He knew I was on edge. The edge moved closer to me as I saw the plate of too-smushy steamed asparagus and remembered. I remembered sushi. I remembered Montreal. And I remembered last summer when he told me that it wasn't a sushi bar he went to, but a strip club.

I hurried. It felt like a race to get upstairs before I lost it all, including the contents of my stomach. He offered to help. I said no thank you. I was civil, but curt. He stood behind me and looked on. He inhaled deeply as he put something in his mouth and swallowed. I was just about to leave when I remembered something I forgot. Again he offered to help. This time I was more clear and more curt: "No thank you. I don't want anything from you right now." He said, "Okay, okay" in his best I'm-an-innocent-guy-just-tyring-to-be-nice-but-I'll-back-off-because-I-can-see-you-are-clearly-annoyed-at-something-out-of-my-control voice.

I went upstairs. I ate my breakfast. I'm trying to relax and rest. But even though I can't smell it up here, all I can think about is sushi. And how much I hate it.