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:
- Living with The Passive Aggressive Man by Scott Wetzler
- Is Your Passive Aggressive Husband Withholding Intimacy
- Passive Aggressive Behavior defined: This is a blog post that does a good job defining PA behavior and also explains PA behavior in terms of our rights. It’s well done.
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.