“In the last 18 months, you have hurt me more than helped me.”
That is the truth my husband shared with me today.
“You belittle me.”
Another heartfelt truth.
Know what. He was right.
Can I come back with “buts”? Of course, but the answer here is not negating his feelings with mine. It is listening and figuring out how we got to this place. Whether I meant to make him feel that way doesn’t matter. The point is that I made him feel that way. The exact opposite of what I wanted.
Of course, we need to communicate more so I can find out some specifics on what I did to belittle, and more about things I said or did to hurt him. I do not want to repeat these grievances.
So here’s what I have come up with so far, and recognize none of these could even be the issue.
- I stopped tip-toeing around him. My reasoning is two-fold. First, it is exhausting to walk on eggshells and worry about upsetting someone when it seems like everything is a trigger. Second, I stopped thinking about him as something “broken” that is going to magically be fixed. He’s not. This is who he is. Scratched. Dented. Faded. Worn. Melancholy.
- I selfishly want people to focus on me. Depression has controlled our home for 6 years now. For the last year, I have also struggled. But I haven’t felt the same courtesy. So I push and become more dramatic to get attention. I know this is my ego, and I know it is out of control.
- I have been very vocal about going and doing. I am dying for adventures. Again, my ego isn’t remembering that he may be doing all he can. Just getting out of bed may have been the most he could handle that day.
- We started playing the “pick on each other” game. I only played because he loves this game and is thrilled when I can dish it out quickly. But I really think we are just hurting each other’s feelings. Jokes have a bit of truth to them, and so do jabs.
- I have been hyperfocused on getting a job because I was the main money maker in the house. By repeating this statement over and over, and continually stressing about it, I am not helping his confidence at all. I am hitting him over the head repeatedly that he can’t take care of us alone. I am also not present because I am always worried about it all.
- I used his depression/condition as an excuse and a justification for changing jobs. He never asked me to. I made assumptions. I showed a lack of confidence in him.
- I need help too. This unemployment thing is just kicking my ass (sorry).
So, what do I do?
First, I have to find a way for us to communicate better. I think I am going to bring back “the notebook.” It works for us. We seem to do a better job at leaving notes for each other. It helps us initiate tough conversations. I hope we can travel the path towards “emerging butterflies” instead of “broken people.” I hope we can learn to build each other up.
Next, I have to help myself. Step one is backing out of social media for a bit. Step two is talking to my mom more. Step three is to go do and stop being mad at him for not being able to. I am a big girl, I can do by myself. Step four is checking out my hormone levels and working on healthy living.
And finally, if I want to be the center of someone’s attention, doesn’t it seem fair that I make him the center of mine occasionally? He has pointed out that I stopped getting up with him in the morning so I will start there.
This was just the wake-up call I needed. I share it here not to air our dirty laundry, but to provide an example of how two people can be very wounded but still find a way to work together and not give up on each other. Twenty-five years of marriage is a long time. Much too long to give up. We are far from perfect, but together, we can be amazing.