A Confession

I have been silent.  I haven’t meant to be.  I love blogging.  I have been trying to find my voice.  I didn’t lose it.  I just found all my energies drawn into other places.

I was diagnosed with Lupus.  All the testing was completed.  It takes time.  I’ve been very tired.  I’m not surprised.

I injured my hip.  I feel elderly just admitting that.  Limping around the house and about town has gotten old.  I had an MRI last Friday.  My lovely rheumatologist will call me with the results.  There’s nothing like a hip injury and a Lupus diagnosis at the same time to make one feel terribly mortal.

This is not what is emotionally exsanguinating me.  It’s something else that I don’t speak about here.

It’s my husband.  I’m not sure why we silo off our lives as we do.  Is it because we fear telling the whole truth as if somehow that will make it all the more real? Is it shame? Do we become so familiar with patterns of behavior that we normalize them? Is it all of the above?

My husband is very passive aggressive and avoidant.  Since Grace’s diagnosis two years ago, it has reached epic proportions.  It has become punishing.  I have overcompensated for this for as long as we’ve been married.  I thought that if I tried harder, made excuses for it, lost weight, gained weight, looked prettier, kept a perfect house, made perfect meals, left him alone, let him do whatever he wanted, justified his behaviors, explained them to the kids, or ________ (fill in the blank) that he would get better.  He would change.  He was just tired.  He had worked hard.  He just needed something else.  More time alone.  More space.  More of something that he wasn’t getting, and I made it my goal to find it, get it, and provide it.  Essentially, I enabled it.

I tried every sort of communication that I knew.  He only said that no matter what he did he just couldn’t make me happy.  It was my fault.  So, I swallowed it.  I didn’t ask for anything.  I stayed out of the way, but I couldn’t stay quiet when he directed it at the girls.  I wouldn’t do that.  And, looking back, I can see the cycle.  He withdrew.  He punished.  I tried harder.

Doireann told me last week that I could stop overcompensating for him.  She knew what I was doing, and she could see what it was doing to me.  She knew that I was sick because of him.  I was shocked.  All this time I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps.  She knew? She told me that she didn’t want him to die, but, if she had to choose, he could.  She really just needed me.  Our family would be fine without him.  I was stunned into silence.  “What does he do around here outside of working anyway?” she nonchalantly asked.

I took Eadaoin to see her psychiatrist last Friday.  Eadaoin has been cutting again, and her psychiatrist wanted to talk about it.  She wanted to dig deeper into the issues behind the cutting.  She mentioned that some of the deeper seated issues behind cutting are often rejection and abandonment.  Eadaoin was silent.  She didn’t want to talk about it.  I mentioned her dad.  We talked about it anyway.  Her psychiatrist talked to me.  It became a family session.  We were there for an hour.  I wanted to protect Eadaoin.  I didn’t want her to know just how deep this issue really went for me.  Her psychiatrist told Eadaoin to continue to develop insight into her motivation for cutting.  She then turned to me and said, “You don’t have a relationship.  That’s not what you have there.”  I just quietly said, “I know.”

On the way home, Eadaoin said, “You can stop explaining away what he does. I’m done with him anyway.  He’s ignored me my whole life.  I’ve got you.  That’s enough.”

And then she came home and threw up in the kitchen sink.  She was so sick to her stomach what with having discussed her dad with her psychiatrist.

Grace asked me yesterday if it was her fault that her dad was always in our bedroom.  She wondered what he did in there all the time.

Sometimes life moves slowly.  Sometimes it comes at you so fast that you can’t keep up.  I’m not keeping up right now.  I have always known that something was wrong.  I think that I’ve always believed that the problem was me because that’s what I’ve been told.

  • You expect too much.
  • You’re broken because of your past.
  • I try so hard and nothing is good enough for you.

I just realized that it’s not me, and three of my daughters are coming forward separately at the same time confessing the same things.  We are not crazy.  It’s not us.

It’s hard to talk about difficult things.  I know this.  I’ve lived with this for a very long time.  I feel like I’m walking on ever-shifting ground.  I don’t know what to expect.  I’m very anxious.

There are resources.  I’m starting here.  My first line of defense is always to educate myself.  I cannot fix him or make him change, but I can change what I’m doing.  I have played a role in this.

I am certainly not the first person dealing with caregiving to come forward with the, “OMG! My marriage is falling apart!” This is the reality of experiencing high pressure within a relationship.  If there were problems there before that were flying under the radar, then you can bet they won’t stay unnoticed for long once a life-altering illness enters the scene.  You simply can’t overcompensate for a spouse once you are forced to do so for an ill child.

You will end up with an autoimmune disease.

So, here are some resources in case passive aggressive personality issues are at play in your neck of the woods:

Do you know what the good news is here? I know a shitload of mental health professionals now.  All I have to do is pick up the phone.  I know that, in this sense, I’m not alone in this situation.  I know where to go if I need help.  And, I’m pretty certain that I will need some help getting my head screwed on straight at some point in the near future.

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10 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. You are very brave to write about this. You can spend years thinking you are the lightning (the cause of the passive-aggressive behavior) when you have actually been the lightning rod (the nearest recipient/conductor of the behavior). So sorry to hear you are also dealing with Lupus on top of all of this but I bet it answers some questions for you and gives you some peace of mind regarding how to address your health.
    Sending lots of love your way.

  2. Wow, just wow. The strength it takes to admit this, write it. And then carry the fact that your daughters all feel the same way is an immense feat. No one can tell you what you should do, but following your heart and doing what is right for your and your girls. I feel for them that they say they basically don’t care for their father, and have no issue if he weren’t there, that takes courage on its own to admit and say.
    I believe you will do what’s right, no matter how hard it will be.

    • Well, it’s hard to communicate 20 years in a blog post, isn’t it? I just needed to get something out. It was weighing on me so heavily. I can’t do secrets. They do love him, but they are defensive. They are protecting themselves. It’s hard, you know? It’s hard to grow up with a parent who has an attachment disorder. But, I will keep going because I love them all. And I want what is right, true, and integrous. And I don’t want to live in denial or perpetuate cycles. So, I will go forth with as much courage as I can. Thanks for reading as always. xo

  3. I could write a book. My daughter and I both have mental health issues. I also am disabled (have home care workers that help me). I used to think that divorce was for the weak and for quitters. I was so wrong. Getting a divorce was the hardest but best thing I did. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be divorced. It isn’t your job to become an expert in your husbands issues–he is a grown man and you have your plate full. I want to say so much more but I don’t know if it would cross a line or not. Good luck.

  4. Having just left a relationship, one very much like you describe I read this with tears in my eyes. I can only say to you I am sorry you are living this and wish there were a way to fix it and make it better.

    • One day at a time. I’m not a passive person. So, now that I see the dynamics, I can change my role. That will undoubtedly do something. For worse, for better? I don’t know. We shall see…Thanks for reading.

    • So far, it’s not so bad. I just have a name for how I already felt. And, a plus, I won’t catch malaria! The drug I’m on is an anti-malarial. So, you know, there’s that. Big hug to you!

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