Gil just took the boys to the store to buy a filter for the vacuum cleaner. The last week has been interesting. I’m writing this quickly, so I’ll do my best to summarize the main happenings, particularly the situation with Gil.
I noticed a difference in him last weekend when he arrived to pick up the boys and me from our friends’ house. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but he seemed lighter. I mean this in the spiritual sense, as if he had put down his burdens and was truly living.
My first thought was that it had been nice being away from all of us for an entire week, and I still don’t doubt that this is partly true. We can be a boisterous and demanding bunch. The kids have boundless energy, which can be somewhat draining when you’re an adult with a demanding career who pretty much stinks at setting limits and sticking to them.
I have never proclaimed to be easy. I need ample amounts of emotional intimacy, and I know that Gil often finds my method of existing in the world exhausting. There is no doubt in my mind that he relished coming home, lounging on the couch, and turning out the lights early.
No baths to be given, meals to be cooked and cleaned up, no bedtime stories, no waking up to Wallace’s morning seat-drops on his face, kidneys, name a body part.
Just rest, and doing exactly what he felt like doing. I’m almost hesitant to go on — no flippin wonder he appeared lighter. I could use a week like that.
We spent a lovely evening with our friends and hit the road early the next morning. Gil and I didn’t talk much on the six hour drive home, but there wasn’t that festering, resentful disgust that has become a constant interferer in our marriage.
Everything felt lighter. I just couldn’t put my finger on the reason and I certainly had no way to explain it.
From my end, it had been a lovely week. Although I was traveling with Piers (age 5) and Wallace (age 4), it was energizing. We hiked, road horses in the mountains, swam in beautiful lakes surrounded by some of the most breathtaking mountains imaginable. I spent time with my god-daughters and Ani and Zip. One night I watched all four kids while Ani and Zip went out on a date. Another evening Zip stayed with the kids while Ani and I went out for dinner.
The trip was recharging. I had adequate time to ponder my work situation. On the drive up, Gil and I discussed my desire to return to working outside the home. I have several leads, and for the first time in years, I feel excited and hopeful.
Zip and Ani are very similar to Gil and me in personality, approach to child-rearing, and just the overall way they live their lives. I do think Ani, especially, is a bit more laid back than I am. She’s less hyper, more patient with her children and just naturally calmer.
It was fun interacting with another family for over a week and getting to participate in their everyday life. I came away from the visit committed to actively practicing patience. I saw Ani step in and work with my children when I was at the point of throwing my hands in the air in defeat. She swore that I did the same with her children, and we both observed that it’s often easier to be patient in dealing with another’s conflict as opposed to one with our own children.
Even still, I want a calmer, less-irritated household, and I made a commitment to practice this on my return home, not just with my children but also with my husband — in spite of what ultimately happens in our marriage.
We got home, and went on with our week. I worked on being happier and patient in spite of the little things that often annoy me around our house. Another thing I noticed while at Zip and Ani’s was that their disorder didn’t phase me the way it does in my own home, or maybe I just couldn’t voice it since I was their guest. Where in my own home, I’m more likely to comment if I’m irritated by our clutter, I overlooked it with my friends. There’s also the issue of not feeling responsible for it in someone else’s home. Whatever it was, I vowed to take a calmer, more accepting approach once I returned to my own home.
The strange thing that happened was that Gil and I started getting along better. He seemed happier and so did I. Finally, on Wednesday I had to ask what the heck was going on with him. He didn’t come right out with it but continued to say things like that he missed me and us, and while I didn’t doubt that he was being truthful, I could tell that there was more to the story.
After the kids were in bed, he and I sat on the couch and I knew he had something to tell me. He looked straight at me and announced,
“I found your writing.”
Well, I assumed he meant this blog, and although I keep it anonymous, I really do not care if Gil reads it. I don’t go to great lengths to sign out on my computer, and I can only hope that his reading it might be the inspiration he needs to take my unhappiness in this marriage seriously. My reasons for keeping it anonymous have more to do with other family members, and especially my mom. Her emotional state is delicate, and I have to take that seriously and I know that certain topics are hard for her. I also just enjoy having a space to sort through my thoughts, and if I thought too hard about having certain people in my audience, I would spend way too much time worrying about how I come across. Ultimately, I understand that anything I put out on the Internet is not private, so I recognize the risk. But as far as Gil, I’ve told him from the beginning that he’s welcome to read it, and he’s always declined. He agrees that I need a private space. I will say that as I’ve delved more into our marriage problems, I’ve had to ask myself again if I’m truly okay with him reading it. I can’t say that I’m 100% comfortable with the idea.
I asked him if he meant my blog and he said no, my poetry.
Here’s the thing. I like the idea of poetry, but it’s not my first choice when it comes to writing. I’ve only recently toyed with it because there are some subjects that are so painful and life-sucking that I can’t get all the words out.
I’ve found solace in poetry that I never expected. I turn to this type of writing when I’m pretty low. It’s a way for me to express hurt but still a healthier outlet. In the past I’ve turned to starvation, exercise addiction, shopping, moving, severe over-analyzing and isolation. All of these unhealthy methods inevitably rictochet me into a dreadful depression.
The poetry he found was heavy. So heavy that I only use pen and paper. I have no interest in publishing the poems I write, and I have a hard time even calling what I put down poetry. It’s just random wording that can be interpreted however one might like. Some of it is gory and thinking of it as I imagine Gil reading it, I can see that it can be perceived as unstable, miserable, and possibly suicidal.
I don’t believe I’m any of those things, and if you’ve read much of this blog, you might have more of an understanding of my mental/emotional state. Since my dad’s suicide, it’s been a life-mission of mine to seek out help when I’m depressed. I don’t take depression lightly and I’m not afraid of being perceived as crazy. I have no problem going to extreme lengths to make sure my children don’t lose a parent to mental illness.
But…writing is an OUTLET for me, and I have to understand that and be willing to accept consequences when people read things I write from a troubled place.
I was still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was careless enough to leave my ramblings in his car in the same notebook as a random grocery list. I swear, y’all, I’m so ADD at times it’s ridiculous. Well, Gil reaches for me, buries his face in my neck, and proceeds to tell me how worried he was the entire time we were in the mountains.
“Honey, I love you so much, and your poetry made me ache. It also made me feel like the biggest rat ever that I have the ability to make you feel so awful.”
I thought about the poem to which he was referring.
I considered posting it, but I’m seriously self-conscious about my poetry. Basically, the one he was talking about was one I wrote after our last heated argument. The gist was that it was a good thing that I don’t believe in owning handguns and he better be glad because the sound of him breathing stirred up homicidal thoughts in me.
I look at it as a healthy way to express angst. Perhaps I should look at it (as Gil did) from the perspective of someone investigating a murder/suicide.
OH MY LORD!!!
Gil went on to talk about his feelings about the other extremely HEAVY poem. This one was more from a place of self-loathing. I described the disgust I feel with myself for not being able to fix our marriage. There were references to me watching myself — as if I didn’t know what I was doing and feeling a release of pain and then nothingness as blood poured from my wrists.
Again, from an outside perspective, I can see where this poem looks like it’s written by someone who’s suicidal. In actuality, I wrote it, got out my angst and immediately felt better and ready to actively move forward. I really haven’t thought much about it since I wrote it weeks ago.
I sat on the couch in silence. It’s rare that I’m speechless. Gil continued.
“I thought maybe you were at your breaking point. Then, I saw some pics you posted on Facebook and I got weak when I saw that you had chopped off your hair.”
I just stared in disbelief. The haircutting was impulsive and daring, but I had been considering going super-short for some time. It had nothing to do with my mental state. Or perhaps it did, but it would be more along the lines of making a healthy change as opposed to resorting to some other less-healthy alternatives. Gil went on.
“Honey, I’ve just been so concerned about you. I know sometimes I gloss over your strong emotions. You’re such an emotional person, but I’ve never been truly concerned that you were mentally unwell. I’ve always just seen you as someone who feels emotions deeper than most, or at least deeper than I do. But when I read your poems, I was so afraid. Afraid that I was overlooking how much pain you were in.”
Again I just stared in utter disbelief. Gil went on.
“I don’t know, I just started thinking about your dad and your family and all the crap y’all have been through dealing with the aftermath of his suicide. It just hit me how dismissive I’ve been of the impact of all that on your life. Reading your words just made me want to help you. I want to convey to you how sorry I am and how important you and your happiness are to me.”
It was strange. I was hearing his words, but I can’t say that I was feeling them. Don’t get me wrong. He WAS saying them with feeling, but I think I’ve become so numb to Gil in general these last few years. There would have been a time where he could have given me that heartfelt apology, and before he was even done I would have been straddling him on the couch — probably frantically thumbing his fly.
Yeah, we were once pretty physical like that. Not so much anymore.
I’m damaged. I no longer wear my heart on the outside. It’s still in there, but surrounded by the toughest shell imaginable.
I just stared. I did have a sort of out-of-body experience. I felt like I was watching the two of us from above — not like from Heaven, but more like I was perched on a blade of our broken ceiling fan. All of it was very bizarre, I tell ya.
“So, all of this is why you’ve been so nice this week?” I kind of drilled him.
“No….well, yes…sort of. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t really sleep well while you guys were away. I just thought about you and what a jerk of a husband I’ve been in many ways. So, I just decided that I need to make a point to not contribute to your pain. I can’t take it away, but I can certainly do my part to not make it worse. I don’t know if you know this, but I bring a lot of my shit home.”
Hello?!! Yes, I know this!! Pretty obvious, Dear! I just listened.
“So, I came up with a plan. I decided that I could be kind and positive and helpful for thirty days. I really want to put love out there. I don’t want my work stress to interfere with our family life. I know you take that on. I just want to walk in the door to our house and bring love, even if you’re pushing me away, but I really have to embody it. I can’t just pretend, but seriously, I’ve thought about this all week. I’ve spent the last few years taking out a lot of stuff on you, unintentionally of course, but I’ve still done it and I’m responsible for making it better. I figure if I start with thirty days, I can go from there, but by then it most likely will be a habit. I think we’ve both gotten in the habit of taking out our frustrations on each other, but we’re both waiting on the other person to change. From this point forward, I’m not going to concern myself with your behavior. I can’t control how you feel or act, but I can do my part from my end. Sometimes I feel like it’s my job to fix you when you’re unhappy, but I’m realizing that that’s not my responsibility. I can only control myself and not make you feel worse.”
I have a lot more to say, but this post is already longer than I wanted. It’s been three days and I still feel like I’m processing this conversation.
I want to be hopeful, but I still feel a bit numb. He just got home and brought a new mattress pad and pillows. We had been discussing earlier that these were items we needed. He’s now cleaning up the kitchen preparing to cook dinner. He’s been cheerful and genuinely kind for a week. I can’t help but hope this will stick, but I also know both of us well enough to know that we often have good intentions — strong beginnings, but we struggle with follow-through.
Before I left for the mountains, I was actively looking for lawyers.
Is this just a test? I really have no idea…….