The One in Which I Let Fear In the Door and Sit Down for Tea

I’ve been feeling a lot of fear lately, which is an old familiar friend that I actually haven’t entertained in some time. In fact, I was fairly convinced that we’d broken up, and then at some point in the last week or so, there came a knock at the door. And who should it be, but Fear. Looking to come in, take a seat, and hang out for a while. Have some tea, even. I was so surprised that I went ahead and opened the damn door, assuming that maybe Fear had changed, and maybe was on my side after all.

Guess what? Fear is still the same toxic friend that it always was.

Here’s how the conversation went.

Me: “Hey! Fear! Old friend! Long time, no see. Whatcha been up to?”

Fear: “I’ve been worried about you. About CBG. About your marriage. “

Me: “Really? What’s there to be so worried about? Everything’s fine, isn’t it?”

Fear: “Oh…no…not really. I mean, you haven’t noticed?”

Me: “Well, things haven’t been the best lately, but everything will be fine.”

That’s when Fear sat down, leaned back in the chair, propping his feet up on the table. “Oh honey, we’ve got some talking to do.”

And well…you can only imagine where the conversation went from there. I’ve realized that I’m really pretty crappy at keeping Fear at bay when I’m feeling run-down like I have been lately. This week has been better than last in this regard, but since winter hasn’t even officially started yet, I’m finding myself rather concerned.

The truth is, there’s lots to be fearful of right now. Fearful of having to deal with depression — not just mine, but CBG’s as well. Fearful of the effect this all might have on our marriage. Fearful of how this might change us — good or bad — both as individuals and as a couple.

Recently I wrote about how I believe that we’re meant to grow and change throughout our lives and what a wonderful thing it is that we can, but right now, I’m scared of change. Even though ultimately it might end up being for the best, the road leading there can be rather frightening indeed.

And by the way, the worst part about that conversation with Fear? I looked down and noticed that he’d brought along his suitcase. I’m pretty sure he’s not going anywhere for a while.

The One in Which I Admit to Being a Kind of Crappy Wife Lately

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past few days. About myself and my winter funk. About CBG and what he’s going through.  About marriage – both in general, and ours, specifically.

I’ve come to an important realization. I’ve been kind of a crappy wife lately.

To be clear, this isn’t a “poor me” post. I’m not looking for anyone to reassure me and tell me that I’m a fantastic wife or anything like that at all. This post is about me owning my shit, plain and simple. This is about me taking a long hard look at myself, and realizing that I haven’t exactly been my best self lately when it comes to being a wife. Of course there’s good reason for it — it’s tough to be one’s normal effervescent self when you’re struggling to just get out of bed every morning.

But the truth is, that may be the reason behind it, but that doesn’t give me a pass. Yes, I may be struggling with some things, but that doesn’t mean that I get to be an arsehole throughout it. The harsh truth is that I’ve been pretty selfish lately. It sucks to have to admit it, but not nearly as much as it sucks to live through it.

It’s not like I’ve been a raging bitch lately or anything like that. I just know that there are things that I normally do, things that I should still be doing, that I’m not. I’ve been so focused on me — on my energy levels, my mood, on feeling sorry for pitiful self — that I’ve allowed some of my marital obligations to slip. I just haven’t been putting the energy and emotion into my marriage (and my husband) that is both deserved and required for a healthy, harmonious relationship.

Basically, it’s tough to be a good wife when you’ve got your head planted firmly up your own butt, which is where mine has been for the past while. I’ve allowed myself to ignore what CBG is going through, thinking way more about the effect it’s having on me and my life. Like feeling resentful that CBG isn’t keeping up his end of the housework, for example, rather than realizing that it’s because he’s depressed, not because he’s an insensitive dick.

Y’know….stuff like that.

I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect mother, wife, or human being. CBG is well aware of this fact, and I know that he’s going to tell me that I’ve been doing a great job as his wife (even though I haven’t, really) and that he doesn’t expect any more from me (even though he probably should). The thing is, I expect more from myself. I know when I’m living up to my own personal expectations, and when I’ve been falling short.

And well, lately, I’ve been falling short.

I realize that my resources are limited. I only have so much energy — mental, physical and emotional — and that lately I have a whole lot less of all three. But the thing is, even though the energy pie as a whole may have gotten smaller, that doesn’t meant that CBG & my marriage gets a smaller piece. It’s not fair of me to steal energy from my husband in order to hoard it for myself. That’s just not how this marriage thing is supposed to work.

It’s not comfortable to admit, but I can be a selfish person sometimes. This selfishness shows itself more when I’m in a funk, like I have been lately. When this happens, I’m used to just being able to curl up inside myself and just do what I like, think what I like, and feel what I like. I know that this kind of behavior has no place in a healthy marriage.

I know that I have no choice but to kick this to the curb. Put on my big girl panties and just suck it up and do what I need to do, lest my marriage suffer the consequences. And since neither one of us has the energy to deal with a marital crisis on top of everything else, looks like I need to do this sooner rather than later.

Sigh.

The Perfect Storm

I wrote last week about how I’ve been struggling this last little while with the whole changing of the seasons, decreased daylight, and all that. It happens every year, so it should be expected, but every year there’s always that hope that maybe this year things will be different.

Last week it felt like everything hit me like a ton of bricks. I was completely drained — mentally, physically and emotionally. I’ll be honest, it kind of scared me. I haven’t felt that rotten in a long time and anyone who has gone through a major depression knows that even after you’ve recovered, you’re always kind of looking over your shoulder, paranoid that it’s going to happen again.

I worried about that last week.

To make matters worse, I’ve known for a while now that CBG hasn’t been feeling himself. I tried talking to him about it weeks ago and he basically gave me the brush-off, telling me that everything was fine. I let it go because, well, I wanted it to be true. Because that’s all we want, isn’t it? For our spouses to be fine, even though our gut instinct might be telling us otherwise.

So I ignored my gut. Like an optimistic dummy.

Things sort of came to head at the end of last week. Everything had started sliding downhill rather quickly. I was feeling steadily worse, physically. And things with CBG were reaching a point where I no longer felt comfortable ignoring them. I began poking at him and that’s when it all spilled out onto the floor. He IS struggling. Things aren’t the greatest for him right now. He finally opened up and started sharing with me.

And so, here we are. Heading into my worst season, where I traditionally struggle with my mood and energy levels until March or so, and my husband is struggling with issues of his own. Normally we experience a back-and-forth; he’s been there to support me during the winter when I’m feeling rotten, and I’ve supported him when he’s had issues to deal with before as well.

It’s just never happened at the same time before.

And I’ll be honest: It’s kind of scary for me. I’m worried about the possible effect this may have on our marriage. I worry about the effect that this may have on each of us as individuals. It’s hard to provide extra love and support to your partner when you need your energy stores for yourself. But yet, at the same time, turning inward and only thinking about oneself is a surefire way to make things worse.

It’s a marital perfect storm, with the potential to create a lot of damage. I’m optimistic, of course, that nothing irreversible will happen, but I’ve admitted before to having a rotten tendency of sticking my head in the sand when things get uncomfortable sometimes. So there’s always that to consider, too.

Lots on my mind these days, folks. You may just be hearing from me a little more often than usual lately, as we work through all of this.

Send positive thoughts our way, okay? We need ‘em.

 

 

Shedding

I believe that throughout our lives we’re meant to grow and learn and change. We’re not meant to be the same people at 40 that we were at 20; imagine how boring life would be if we were! Though I’m sure there are lots of people out there who haven’t changed at all (In fact, I think I might even know a few). I’m just glad that I’m not one of them. Life is meant to teach us, challenge us, cause us to grow. I’m not certain what the point is, otherwise.

Lately I’ve found that I’ve been feeling a little extra navel-gazey. I go through periods like this from time to time, when I find myself doing a lot more thinking and questioning about myself and my life. This usually happens during times of personal growth, when I’m being challenged and forced out of my comfort zone for one reason or another. Sometimes there’s a reason for this — some kind of major life event that causes me to stop and re-evaluate. Other times, like now, it’s like it’s part of a natural growth process, not really happening for any one specific reason or other…just simply “because life”.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past and the person that I used to be. I’ve found myself being visited by old ghosts. Last week, while CBG and I were on vacation, we spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing and decluttering and painting our house. I’ve really been feeling the need to clear out the “old junk” that’s been hanging around.

Hellooooo, metaphor.

I can feel myself changing. Nothing big or drastic. Nothing earth-shattering or dramatic. Just a small shift beginning deep within myself, as I shed another layer of “who I used to be” to make room for “who I am now”. Much like a snake shedding its skin to allow for continued growth. I’m happy to say goodbye to that “old layer” so that I can make room for the new. I don’t want to be that same old person. I’m NOT that same old person.

I’m ready to move on.

Marriage: The Reality

CBG and I fancy ourselves good communicators. The truth of the matter is that while yes, we do a lot of communicating about many things, there are still plenty of instances where we actually kind of suck in the communication department. We both have a tendency to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to certain topics, which then do not get discussed.

We’re also a pretty low-conflict couple — for the most part. I’m not going to say that we never experience conflict because that would be an outright lie. Sure, we have arguments and misunderstandings from time to time. Using my own previous relationships as a barometer, I would say that our level of conflict is lower than average.

Which is good, right? Except that it isn’t. Because here’s the truth. We use our head-in-the-sand technique to avoid conflict in a lot of situations. If we don’t ever talk about it, then we don’t have to have an argument, right?

Wrong. This is a perfect recipe for anger and resentment to brew. And I’ll be honest, there’s been some resentment brewing in our house for a little while now. Nothing major, certainly nothing marriage-ending, but definitely enough to be a problem. A problem that should likely be discussed. Except…we’re not talking about it.

Fall and winter are tough months for me. I have issues with Seasonal Affective Disorder. So that means that starting early November-ish, there is a marked drop in my energy and enthusiasm levels. Now that we’re into our third week of November, I am exhausted, irritable, headachey, and over-sensitive. I am entering my season of, “just trying to make it through the week”. I have a SAD lamp that I use every morning that helps a bit. I am still running every morning — for the time being. I am taking vitamins and have done some research on some others that I should start taking.

These things will all help, marginally, but basically, life will be a struggle until about March, which is when I start feeling like myself again. This is my yearly pattern. Some years are better/worse than others.

I bring this up because I know that this adds to our problems with communication and conflict. I am irritable and over-sensitive a lot these days, making it difficult to avoid conflict. A lot of days I’m either ready to pounce, or I just don’t want to be spoken to. Dealing with SAD adds a whole other layer of difficulty to an already uncomfortable situation.

And it sucks.

But I guess that’s what marriage is all about, isn’t it? Recognizing that sometimes things suck and sometimes the person you’re married to kinda sucks. Sometimes you feel resentful toward them. Sometimes you say hurtful things and fail to apologize. Sometimes you just don’t particularly want to be around them. But still, through it all, you love them.  In marriage there’s this whole thing about “for better or for worse”. It’s easy to love someone and be there for them when they’re easy to love and everything is going great. The true test of a marriage, commitment and love is when things aren’t quite so easy. That’s what separates the good marriages from the not-so-good ones.

I know our marriage is one of the good ones. I know that we will get through this, like we get through everything that life seems to throw our way. At this point, however, I’m not even sure where to begin. And wow…that really stinks.

What I Always Wanted

As difficult as life has been over the past 6 or 7 years, when I really stop to think about it, I know that despite the difficulties (and there have been many), I’m also pretty stinkin’ fortunate. A big spotlight was shone on this yesterday afternoon, when I sat down with CBG, my ex husband, and my girls’ teachers for parent-teacher meetings.

Both girls got glowing reviews. Glowing! And it really made this momma pretty stinkin’ proud.

During Kiddo’s appointment, I mentioned to her teachers that I felt we had it pretty easy with her, since she is very good about taking responsibility for always getting her homework done. I mentioned that because she is at each house for 50% of the time, there is a lot of potential for chaos. Both teachers told us that there was absolutely no evidence of her having any problems at school because of this.

That was always one of my big worries. That I was somehow screwing up my kids because I didn’t want to be married to their father anymore. That maybe what that dark voice inside me said — maybe I am selfish for getting a divorce. That conversation yesterday really helped lay those fears to rest — at least for a while longer.

As much my ex and I have experienced difficulty in the past — and still do from time to time — I am grateful that the three of us are able to sit together in room at a place like parent-teacher meetings. It’s important for CBG to be there; he is as influential in the girls’ lives as their father and I. I him in their sense of humour and certain turns of phrase that they use. I see it in their values and the things they hold dear. He is providing them with yet another example of how a man should behave. Together, he and I are demonstrating what love and marriage is. He is an important adult in their lives.

Becoming a stepdad wasn’t something that came easily or naturally for CBG. It took time and effort — for him and for my girls, too. In the past he struggled with his ability to step-parent; we don’t always see eye-to-eye on every single thing. He is also a different kind of parent than their dad is. But different is good, particularly when it comes from a place of love; it is good for them to know that there are different ways of relating to one another and many different ways of showing love.

Because he loves them. And they love him right back. He brings many wonderful things to their lives: laughter, silliness, compassion, enthusiasm, kindness, respect.

When we all parted ways yesterday after the parent-teacher meetings, the girls went off with their dad and CBG and I headed back to work. But not before we both got big hugs and kisses and “I love yous”. When I became a single mom, I did it without a clear picture of what my life would someday look like. But now that I am here, it is better than anything I ever could have conjured up for myself and my girls.

family

Crazy In Love

Marriage has its ups and downs. I fully expected it, having gone through a marriage before, and having dated CBG for almost four years before we said “I do”. I’d like to think that we entered into this whole thing with some realistic expectations.

I will admit that there’s one thing I didn’t expect. I never really expected those moments of complete and utter clarity where I can feel the love I have for my husband expanding tenfold…in the blink of an eye. They don’t come along often, and many times happen when I least expect it, when he’s not trying to be particularly lovable or sweep me off my feet. They come in those instances when he’s just busy being himself, and it touches me deeply in some unexpected way.

I experienced one such moment on Monday.

CBG and I have taken this week off work together. Originally we’d wanted it to be our family vacation to Disney, but even though that wasn’t in the cards this year after all, we decided to spend the week getting some long-overdue chores completed around the house. De-cluttering, organizing, a few home repair jobs, and most importantly, painting those last few rooms in our place that we hadn’t gotten around to painting.

We started with our girls’ rooms, since we’ve been promising them for the last two years that we’d paint their bedrooms. They were both really excited about it, particularly since we’d promised them that they could help. We started with Lil’ Mo’s room first. I did the cutting in, and then when the time came, CBG helped her with the rolling part. I was in the room finishing up my part as he talked her through how to fill the roller with paint, roll off the excess, and then start rolling the walls. Throughout the whole process he was gentle, patient and encouraging.

As I listened, I found myself being filled with love and gratitude…love for my husband, and gratitude that my girls have such a loving, patient, encouraging and generous step father. A man who has learned to love my girls like his own; who stuck with it even though it wasn’t something that came easily to him.

And in that small moment, in the middle of an ordinary un-glamourous moment, my husband made me fall in love with him all over again. He swept me off my feet without even trying…and I realized, yet again, how incredibly fortunate I am.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,324 other followers