My husband and I have been going through a really rough patch lately, that started around the time I found out I was pregnant. We haven’t been connecting, our communication has been off, we haven’t been intimate for months. We’ve been bickering and lost as we try to determine how we move forward. I found myself snapping at him for anything, arguing over nothing and blaming him for everything. I felt completely isolated, especially after losing a child, and we started having issues with one of our animals—and we couldn’t agree on how to handle it so I lost it. I realized that so many of our beliefs have been growing apart. We even started talking about possibly separating.
I watched a video from Mel Robbins the other day about recognizing if your relationship is over. As she discussed ownership and letting go as needed or trying to make it work, it hit me like a lead balloon that I am toxic. I have allowed myself to become exactly what I have been trying to avoid: a nit-picking martyr hell bent on being right all the time, blaming everyone but myself. I placed an expectation on my husband to know everything I was feeling or needed and I felt I was owed that for the behavior I’ve endured throughout our relationship. I expected him to bend to who I am and to behave how I expected him to. I still felt the need for him to perform penance over things we have said we resolved years ago—and that was so wrong of me.
Worse, I’ve spent so much time thinking I’m perfect, that my way is right, and that people need to conform to what I’m saying at all times. Part of that is a trauma response because I spent so many years cleaning up after him. I know I could have chosen to leave and not be the martyr (that part of it is my upbringing) but I so desperately just wanted him to be appreciative of what I did, of what I sacrificed, and to recognize that I was (legitimately) the only one there no matter what he did. That isn’t what happened—I taught him he could do whatever he wanted and I would always be there. I digress.
I started believing he had to be a certain way and that he needed to make me happy because of what I did for him. I spent more time criticizing him than I did loving him and I felt like it was my right to do so—I was the wronged victim every time. I’m ashamed—and relieved—because I know we couldn’t go on like that. I’m ashamed because I can no longer identify as the “right” one. Because I really caused him pain without realizing it. I made him give up his identity to conform to mine because I thought I was owed. I was so focused on controlling the outcome and his actions, I made him into something he’s not. I lost myself because I focused on him and his actions and what he was “supposed” to be doing rather than make any real progress on myself. I’ve done that to everyone to a degree.
I allowed myself to feel hurt when they did what was right for them—because I made the choice to do what was right for them, I expected them to do what was right for me. I could have accepted them and moved on with my life, learning to fulfill my own needs. But I’ve never done that so it was painful to be anything other than what I’ve always been. I’m afraid letting that identity go will open me up to hurt. Is being hurt better than being lonely? I’m around people I have no real connection with. It’s like being a lone in a crowded room.
I’ve been afraid of connection because I never moved on from the hurt those closed to me caused—and the early losses of those I loved most. My grandpa’s death, my siblings leaving the house, overly connected to my parents, Chris cheating, buying things behind my back, Jason talking about me, Jerry dying, my sisters and their additions and my brother almost dying (twice). Seeing the life I thought I’d have slip away. Realizing how much I relied on my parents. Knowing I’d have to learn to rely on myself and fearful I couldn’t do it. Chris’s spending legitimately getting in the way of a future we could build together. Feeling like he only used me for my money. Insecure and frightened that I didn’t bring anything else to the table but money.
Is this starting over? Uncovering whether or not we are together or alone or alone together. Determining if I’m trying to make a bad thing work. Or if this is genuine healing. Fear has come up more often than not, fearing that, as we are discovering ourselves, we will discover that we don’t want each other anymore. At this point all I can do is continue on in my discovery and let him be. If we are meant to be, we will be. As painful as this realization is, it feels better being authentic because this is genuinely something that can’t be forced. I know I need help because I don’t want to repeat the cycle—I want to heal.