Hello to all who have read my thoughts over the years. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written. A lot has happened. I’m still living a state away from my children. My husband who is now my ex-husband has moved a mile away from me. He says he is desperately still in love with me – but can’t seem to stay sober, even now, any longer than a month. Sometimes just a week. When he moved here I decided that I had given him the year I promised and now needed an escape from the dysfunctional pattern that had developed between us. I sought counseling to help me learn how to separate myself emotionally from this man who had brought so much pain into my life but who I could not help still love.
I continued to commute by plane once a week for work meetings. I worked on growing female relationships. I went to church. Those are the positive things. I also lashed out at my husband frequently when I discovered him drinking by joining dating websites and figured that the only way I was going to be able to let him go was if I could replace him. I vacillated between wanting to be single and alone forever, to toying with the idea of finding someone new to love, to desperately wanting my husband back. In my attempts to move things forward all I did was create more chaos on my life.
I’ve been on several dates at this point all of them eventually ending in a parting of the ways. I’ve been stuck in the catch and release phase of dating life. This is how it plays out. I search, I fish, I find someone who might be promising and I ask a few questions. I ponder their image again and ask myself if this person is worth risking my heart. My answer is always no. But that doesn’t stop me.
A select few men have taken me out on a few dates. One was boring…oh so boring. One was a peacock who puffed himself up so much with lies they became absurd. One lied so craftily almost everything about him was a LIE, including his last name, where he lived, and what he did for a living. Why lie about such basic things? Only one reason…he wasn’t interested in a LTR as they call it. See I’m learning the lingo too.
I’ve been so terrifically disappointed so far. My heart still loves my husband. I know it does but that love has been incredibly damaged. We are locked in a somewhat paternal relationship cycle. Until he gets control over his life, I know we have no hope of it breaking. But when other men prove their lameness I turn my gaze back over to him and wonder if I’m trying too hard to leave him and maybe we really are meant to be together.
I’ve been told I’m in a codependent relationship that is unhealthy. And that is why leaving him feels so difficult. I’ve been told I’m drawn to him for unhealthy reasons. I want to help him, take care of him, make him happy. And he behaves as if I’m the only one who could make him happy. If I take steps away he falls. If I take steps toward him there is fear behind every new day that this will be the last day of peace.
Something interesting has happened since our divorce. Now when I tell him that I love him or that I want to spend some time with him he believes me. Instead of testing it he is starting to trust it.
He never trusted my love before. I don’t know why. Possibly because deep down he knew he didn’t deserve it. He knew what he did when he was alone. He knew what he was hiding. He wanted me to keep proving to him that I loved him enough. “You’ll just go away and leave me.” He would say. And then he’d do something terrifically absurd that any other woman would leave a man for as if to test me to see if I would too. Eventually it worked. He got what he wanted so-to-speak. He proved I have my limits. And of course I do. I’m a human.
Only God loves us truly unconditionally. Humans need to be treated well to stay in a relationship. Trust has to be present. Respect for the other person’s needs have to be present. If those things aren’t there, that relationship is abusive. And I was living in an abusive environment. Even still there was love. I know this to be true. And that is the argument he would always circle back to. “BUT I LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING. That should be enough!” He would say. And to that I would disagree.
Love is not enough and not in it’s proper place can actually be harmful. In fact you can have very successful relationships without love. A relationship needs trust and respect. I believe that is why the Bible tells Christians not to be unequally yoked with non-believers. If people are working under a different value system it is difficult to trust them in all things…especially in marriage. Love is icing on the cake. Real love decorates your life – as Kenny Rogers says – it shouldn’t destroy it. My marriage was full of icing. But no cake. If all you eat is sugar you will die. You need the cake to sustain you. That is what my ex does not get…AT ALL.
Cake is tasting pretty good without all that extra sugary stuff these days.
I once wrote that you know you love someone if you are willing to do battle for them and with them. And I still believe that, only, I have to qualify it with the statement that love becomes abuse if your partner willingly puts you in the line of fire over and over again and does nothing to take himself out of it. Doesn’t seek help at all. Just expects you to keep getting hit by bullets. That is not love. That is abuse. He’s abusing himself and because you are in his world you get abused too.
He has always been the one in control of what happens. It’s completely up to him. And that is what he is missing. He allows himself to be so affected by the circumstances of the day…something a colleague says to upset him or me leaving for a week to California, or any number of other things…to give him an excuse to drink. Perhaps for negative attention. To SHOW THEM how much he is missed and needed. But all it is really doing is embarrassing himself and teaching people that they cannot rely on him. Every time it happens he hurts himself with his own actions. Whatever he thinks he’s proving from disappearing for days at a time is undermining any potential for success.
So it’s up to him to believe he deserves to live a happy, healthy, sober life. Just because he is worth it. Not because he made points at work, or got my love and attention. Just because. On good days and on bad days. He has to believe he deserves a happy, healthy, whole sober life.
And it’s up to me to believe that I deserve one too. That’s where the codependency comes into play. I deserve to be happy, healthy, and whole. So I have to make the choices that are best for me so that can be true in MY life.
This week he did it again. And so did I. Catch…only this time the guy might have some potential. It’s going very slow. And this time, the guy isn’t boring, hasn’t puffed himself up to be something he’s not, and hasn’t lied. Could I love him someday? Maybe. But it doesn’t even matter. It’ll be a long time coming if it does. Cause this time around. I don’t want the kind of passion that destroys lives. I want love in its proper place; after honesty, respect, and trust. Then and only then will love have a chance to decorate my life again with its beauty. Icing should only come after and with the cake.
My lesson learned is that love I lifted up so high and celebrated with my ex was destructive. It wasn’t healthy. The passion was a form of addiction for me. I’m not reaching out for my quick fix anymore. I want to do things right this time.
And my ex-husband will either learn that the only way he can have what he truly wants is to surrender to the fact that he is an addict. So far he hasn’t been willing to admit that to himself. Even though everyone around him sees it clearly. He just wants the pain to go away so he’s reaching out to his quick fixes. Alcohol and women. He will be doomed to this cycle for the rest of his life until the pain that these addictions brings him is greater than the pain he’s trying to make disappear by abusing them. Only then will he ask for help for real. Until then it’s lip service that does him no good.
I know someday I will look back and wonder what took me so long. I do realize I’m not quite there yet. I used to think it was admirable how long I was willing to stick with someone who was hurting me. Now I realize my part in my own pain. Had I left sooner…I wouldn’t be as emotionally scared as I am. It’s amazing how different my perspective is having been through the 9 years of life since my first divorce. I accept that responsibility every time I call him.
This time the hope that I have isn’t in finding love again. This time the hope I have is finding balance, peace, and respect for myself first. Perhaps these mistakes I keep making aren’t all for nothing…if I keep learning from them.