For someone that is paid to speak and present and blah blah blah…I’m feeling out of sorts today. For the first time in a very long time I wrote a long missive, spilling thoughts that are tumbling about, emotions and feelings that have me on the edge, revealing insecurities, longing and a desire to hear assurances. Where is this coming from? Is it the convergence of everything? Is it the disconnection that feels like a new normal and unsurmountable? I don’t know. But for the first time in a long time I’ve written one of those missives. The one in which it’s so raw and real that it frightens you to reread it. And so it sits, unsent, in the drafts folder.
emotional intelligence and relationships
I’ve let this post marinate in my drafts folder much too long…
Meeting with our marriage counselor on New Years Eve seemed ironically appropriate to me. While we were still 5+ weeks away from the 1-year anniversary of D-day, it felt much longer. A lifetime ago.
Amelia doesn’t really greet us when she comes to get us from the lobby, she never has. Instead, DH & I walk the corridor to her office and take our respective seats. Only then, when she’s taken her seat across from the couch, does she reveal her “tell”. She lowers her head just so, and then looks at us over her eyeglasses, pen in hand, held up to her mouth. “Hello IsMe, Hello DH and how have the last two weeks been?”
I almost always wait for DH to speak, conscious of the fact that I talk. A. Lot. And, I know, that DH tends to wait until we have a counseling session to bring something up that he wants to talk about and or when he isn’t sure how he wants to approach a topic. DH looks to me, then at Amelia and back at me before saying “Good. Fine. It’s been a relaxing holiday season. Deliberately low key. I needed the rest.” Amelia looks to me “It’s been quiet. Part of it is that I’ve been ill and some treatments aren’t going as well and I find I’m fatigued more than usual. So, luckily for the kids and DH, I’m not pushing to go and do holiday things. Instead, being home is just where I want to be.”
She took this in and nodded her head, as if talking to herself. And then she looks up. “It’s been 10-months since the two of you started coming to work on your relationship, as it’s almost a new year. How would you look back and describe your feelings and emotions over the course of the year to this point? DH, let’s start with you.” Silence. Stunned, awkward, uncomfortable silence. “DH I’m asking you to start because you and I know, that once IsMe gets started, she might not stop and I know you have something to say.” More. Silence. I finally tapped DH on the shoulder gently and whispered “Breathe BD, just take a breath.” He inhales deeply and exhales but says nothing.
My mind is racing, words tumbling about, wanting to word vomit everywhere. 50-minutes is not enough time to recap every damn emotion, feeling, nuance of the last 11-months, let alone the last 10 we’ve been in counseling. Not. Even. Close. I wait, hoping DH will find his voice. You see, he dances around topics and emotions. Feelings. He will make comments or statement based on assumptions, he will deflect, but I know this. She knows this. He knows this. “DH, you know we have to work through your feelings and emotions individually and together right? If you can’t begin to reflect on the last year in relation to your feelings and emotions, you can’t move forward.”…”I know. I don’t know that I can. Move forward. I just don’t understand how IsMe can’t just go back to the way things were before she went off the rails.” all of that rushes out of DH in one long exhale.
*Sigh* and so it goes. Amelia isn’t easily distracted and pushes DH to expand on his thoughts using feelings and emotions to restate his thoughts. And I drift. I can’t help it. Much of our sessions in the last three months has been the same. My attention is brought back to the here and now when Amelia sighs loudly “Ok, let me ask you a different question. Knowing everything you do, every experience you’ve had good and bad, why are you here? What are you hoping the end result of all this work is?” A deer in the headlights. Amelia turns to me with an even more audible sigh
“Right now, my hope is that DH and I can keep working through the feelings that are surfacing and address them. I don’t know that we can talk about the end game, until we face the past. I know I want us to be healthy, individually and as a couple. Even if we aren’t a married couple. As DH has always said, we’ll always be intertwined, we have the kidlets. Do I want to remain married if we don’t continue to work through our stuff? No. It’s not that I don’t want to. I can’t.”
And with that, our 50-minutes were up. Happy New Year.
This article has been making the rounds of the various parent’s groups, support groups and other social media outlets. It resonates. Literally.
There’s been a bit of hovering these past several days, the freedom to post limited by a multitude of factors. But what I’ve noticed in so many is a recurring theme. Of moving onward, forward in the various journey’s that I follow.
Some are making deliberate choices to forge ahead, even leaving their blogs as a way to move forward. Others are taking tentative steps, some painful, some resigned and yet others unfettered in a way they haven’t been in years.
And a small few are struggling mightily, for a multitude of reasons to make any moves at all. And yet, each are determined to persevere, to stretch and grow. I find each of them inspiring in their own way. Brave with courage in their hearts.
I’ve been asked to speak on a panel for a charity that I’ve been involved with for the better part of the last 18’sh years. This would be at their International conference in late 2015. I’m humbled and a bit flummoxed; my contributions have been administrative in nature not monetary and certainly others have been more generous and involved. Nonetheless, I’ve found myself reading the letter over in contemplation. Not yet responding. Why? It isn’t about the charity or the distance I’d need to travel.
I mean, I’ve nothing against Melbourne, it’s a lovely place. Truly. And the Langham is often ranked #1 on many travel sites. However, Melbourne is one of the cities that dh and his long-ago ap traveled together for work and yes, you guessed it, they trysted at the Langham. Eight nights in a five star resort down under. Melbourne is also the destination of which I found the plane tickets tucked into the book he was reading at the time. And the Langham, well it’s their impeccable customer service that sent the disposable camera to our home by way of the lost & found department, because Mr. Smith had accidentally left it in the suite he and his wife had just checked out of. The housekeeper very concerned it may have held some pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Smith together of significance so they turned it into lost and found and they in turn sent it back to the states. There’s nothing like going to Coscto to pick up pictures you were never meant to see.
Granted, that over 12+ years ago now, but it all came flashing back when the official invitation showed up. Why? Ah this is where Karma drops the wicked punchline…
She, yes she, *that* ow, the one dh was madly and passionately in love with has also been invited to be a guest speaker. Yes, of course she has. OMFG yes, yes only in real life can this happen.
I shouldn’t be surprised as she became involved with this charity early on as a way to get to know me. I was naïve at the time & didn’t realize that there was more than just a work friendship developing between dh and her. So when dh asked me to bring her along to one of the monthly volunteer events and introduce her to the President and others, I did. Enthusiastically! *I type with one hand as I slap my forehead with the other*
To her credit, she has remained actively involved in their business development from the country in which she’s lived for the last few years just as I’ve remained involved from the region I live in. The fact that we’re both considered experts in our common area is funny. How can it be anything different?
DH asked if I was going to accept the invitation. I was honest and said I didn’t know. Seeing her name wasn’t what brought it back. It was seeing her picture in the invite, one she must have submitted, of her at the Langham those 13-years, 4-months and 3-days ago (hey, but whose keeping track of that week?). The one of her in her “junior” business suit, looking every bit like the eager 28-year old she was at the time, standing amongst her colleagues near the stairs, one of which was dh. There he was, looking so much younger and his eyes were glued to her, rapt. Shining with love, his face flushed, his posture straight, making him appear even taller than his 6’3″ frame. I held the invitation out for him to see…”You know, it’s a fantastic picture of you hon. ” Because it is. It is a good picture of him, just seeing the love he had for her in that moment, and never seeing that depth of emotion for me, makes me question as to whether or not we are meant to work it out. He was happy in that picture. I want him to be happy again, with me or without me. He deserves to be happy.
….and or saved in the drafts folder in order to write more later. the next few posts are likely going to reflect this habit of mine.
posted these image quotes to my drafts folder 4 February 2014. (side note: three days before D-day.)
I was going through very regular and arduous chemo treatments every other week and unlike previous treatment plans, this round was kicking my ass. There was surgery at the end of December and the healing from that was taking longer than I expected. I had once again brought up the subject of counseling to dh, testing the waters if you will, again. And again, he wasn’t interested at all. And even went as far as to say he wished I would lean on friends and my therapist for emotional support because as he said at the time “it’s not in my wheelhouse, you know that.” I admit that in that moment, I already knew who I could lean on, even from three thousand miles away, I was just hoping dh would be the one.
On this particular day, it had been several months since we’d seen one another in real life and yet he had found a way to connect with me that I had come to look forward to. He would leave me a daily greeting the moment he went to his office, knowing that I would wake up to a voicemail from him every day had become the highlight of the two months he’d been doing it. It may seem small or insignificant to some, maybe even most people, and of course horrible to those that don’t approve/agree of our mutual admiration society. But to me, especially to me it was his way of giving to me, what I needed at the time.
Outside of the guilt and the remorse, and yes, there is guilt and remorse. There is also love. I recall starting this post with the three images below because the words resonate and because regardless of who you are, who you love and who loves you back, it’s different for everyone. it’s nuanced. it’s flawed. and it’s messy.
this is the weather out my way today and it makes me deliriously happy. truly. rain is appropriate for any mood when applied with the right perspective.
today is marriage counseling day as well as a day when we have the quarterly check-in with the aba program manager for our son as well as a myriad of his other providers. it’s during these when dh and i are completely in-synch. when it comes to parenting; whether our neuro-typical kidlet #1 or our quirky kidlet #2 we are a team. most of the time i’m the qb and he’s the point-after kicker, it’s just the way it is. that said, we are so good together when it comes to our kids, that he nor I take that lightly. it weighs heavily in our decision making as a team, as a family and whether or not we remain married.
for a variety of reasons related to having a child with special needs; ours is a family that has availed itself of counseling and therapy in that regard. dh has never pushed back or resisted when it comes to our kids. not when our oldest suffered a medical trauma that has had lasting effects and certainly not with our youngest and all of the nuances that comes with therapy, support systems etc. to answer some people’s question around staying/leaving: this is a large reason why neither of us, that’s right, it’s a choice either one of us can make, it’s a big reason neither of us has left. believe it or not, together, as parents we are a good team. we recognize what each of bring to the table in terms of strengths as well as tolerance level for particular activities and or situations.
if dh would have invested and leaned in, as he has as a parent, over the last 13 years when it came to us as a couple i’d like to think we wouldn’t be where we are right now. but we won’t know that, will we? no. he has always resisted and flat out refused to do any work when it came to us, whether together, with counselors, mediators, self-help books etc. steadfast in his determination. even all of those years ago, when his affair with a then colleague turned into a full on love affair and we hired a mediator to form a parenting plan in preparation for a divorce, even then dh refused counseling. of any sort. even as we worked to rebuild our marriage and family when he ultimately decided to stay; counseling to address what got us to his stepping outside of our marriage in the first place was never part of the plan. until D-day 6-months ago.
and then it was suddenly “let’s go to counseling” because in his mind; since counseling is what i had been asking for all of these years if we go to counseling “it” would be fixed. to dh, who is a very good and well-rewarded engineer, he sees our marriage as a project, complete with a gantt chart, deliverables and milestones. if you check off a box then it’s forward on a timeline. but real life isn’t a project plan, gantt chart. especially when you add the complexities of emotions, feelings, childhood histories (and for one of us, sex abuse as a toddler) and a shared, past history into the mix. i recognize counseling is incredibly difficult for dh and it’s selfish of me to not have more patience as he works through understanding and internalizing that emotions are very real and very important to people. to me.
when dh had his affair(s), he was safe in knowing that i didn’t want our marriage to end. but i also had to take ownership of my role in what led him to a relationship outside of our marriage with a colleague that he fell in love with. a big problem is that we never worked on repairing our relationship when he decided to stay in our marriage. instead we let life become the priority and when we had kidlet number 2 everything else but the kids, our careers and our community service took a back seat.
dh never expected me to stray. hell, i never expected it of myself. and now that i know what mutual desire, emotional connection and emotional intimacy is, the question isn’t whether or not i can go back. i can’t. the question is do i move forward with him and we do the heavy lifting together knowing that nothing is guaranteed and it’s a crap shoot. or, do i move forward, alone, and forge ahead.
someone asked if our counselor or my dh knows about this blog. all three therapists (our mutual marriage counselor which dh chose, his therapist and my own therapist) know of this blog and one of them has commented here and there. they all know that i also have a nsfw tumblr and dh knows i have a couple of blogs but only has access, that i know of, to my professional blog, the one i get paid for.
i’m happy because it’s been brutally hot for the greater pacific nw over the last month. unheard of. cold, heavy rain is refreshing to me and while today is going to be a tough day all around. it’s also a good day because it’s a new day of fighting the good fight for our son, together.