It’s been nearly a week since Q asked me for a divorce. I have moved from shock to total acceptance. I had a call with a mutual friend of Q and mine this morning, and I feel like my eyes are opening to the realities of my relationship. This mutual friend believes Q and I were in a codependent relationship. Were we?
The internal dialogue of my post-mortem analysis thus ensued. It’s clear that Q is lost. He doesn’t know what he wants in life, in his career, or with kids. Have I been the one constant for him in these past nine years? Did he place so much of his self-esteem on our marriage that when I “rejected” him in sex, his ego took a beating, and he ended our marriage? On the night of the culling, when he asked for a divorce, he explained that he would “likely spend the rest of his life trying to figure this out.” I demanded an answer. I demanded an answer without a bullshit explanation.
He explained that in his being committed to us, he had lost his commitment to himself. Because of my not desiring him enough sexually, his confidence had been brought to such a low that he felt unloved and unseen. He saw his constant initiation of discussion around our sex life as him working on our sex life. I saw it as a continual statement of his dissatisfaction and my inability to please him. In my eyes, our sex life became all about his desires and his needs, and I began to see sex as a duty.
When Q provided me pleasure, it was not without strings. He would bring up his willingness to please me in our next discussion,”Why are you not able to give me back what I provide to you?” How could I desire him when sex had become all about his desires and about none of my own? He put me in a catch-22 situation. He was desperate for me to desire him and for me to express my desires, but how could I do this when there was so much weighing on my desire, when my ability to say no was taken away because his entire self-esteem was weighing on my yes? His constant need for reassurance smothered my sensuality, my sexuality, which in turn reinforced his feelings of rejection. In my anger, my brain shouts, “My being tired and not wanting to have sex with you when you want sex should not break you as a man!” This catch-22 is what Stephen Snyder, M.D., in his book Love Worth Making calls a “sex knot”. Sex knots are cycles couples find themselves in that, while they take effort, are breakable, fixable. They are common.
Q’s explanation of why he would like a divorce did not make sense to me. You’re going to end our marriage over something fixable? No. This is not logical. My post-mortem thus moved to other potential explanations. As our mutual friend had suggested, were we in a codependent relationship? How many times did Q use me/us as his basis for making decisions? I wanted a year long fellowship and went for it after college. He didn’t know what he wanted to do after school and thus followed suit, applying for a different fellowship as well that would put him abroad for a year. He didn’t know what career path he should be on and thus he followed me to a new city where I was taking a new job. He then proceeded to start and stop three different business ventures, none of which panned out. Now, he wants to go back to grad school for a completely different career though I have financially supported us for the past three years as he groped blindly for what might make him happy.
If we were truly in a co-dependent relationship, I want to own my piece in creating this. I want to learn from this heartache, this wrenching apart of my soul. I want to grow and feel powerful in taking responsibility for my actions. But, how did I contribute? I gave, and I gave, and I gave. I thought, “If I continue this giving, I will be worthy of love.” I did not realize I was already profoundly worthy of love. I still do not feel innately worthy of love. Why do I feel this way? This is mine to own. What else is mine to own?
Grief is strange. It is a capricious experience of moving from utter heart-wrenching sadness, to feeling rage, to feeling hopeful and excited about my future. One moment I’m collapsing onto the floor, tears streaming down my face, shoulders slumped over. The next, I’m dancing and singing in the bathroom, closing my eyes and letting waves of joy wash over me. One moment, I’m wondering how I will be able to renovate our half finished house on my own, the next I’m reminding myself that I’m a badass bitch that can do anything I set my mind to.
Grief is a portal to the past and the future. In this space, you stop noticing time and only notice feeling and thoughts, memories and pain. I find myself sucked into these portals, losing track of the days. When I land back in the present I marvel, “How long have you been thinking? How long have you been feeling?” In my grief, the hours and minutes cease to exist and time is boundless, smothered by the ferocity of feeling. How did I make it onto a plane to fly to my sister? I will never know.
I have always been acutely aware of time, as any organized type-A personality type might be. Before the culling, my day began with a to do list followed by the creation of an hour by hour schedule, managing my tasks. The grief portal does not permit such type-A behavior. But, I think I am emerging from the depths of darkness. Yesterday, I began to notice time again. I’m not ready to re-engage with my task oriented mindset yet though. I just focus on doing the next right thing.
To quell the grief and find respite, I’m taking these sleeping meds that have oxy in them. Oh boy… they are goooood. Kind of like slipping into a warm pool of light and love. Everything around you is beautiful and you feel safe, sheltered from the scary thoughts that barrel into your brain late at night. These meds are a shield that shout at my thoughts, “You shall not paaaaass!” I’m worried I will get addicted to them, but then, my sister tells me I shouldn’t worry because I AM worrying about getting addicted. My father tells me I don’t have an addictive personality. So, I take them.
With these meds in tow, I’m already feeling the grasping tendrils of my relationship with Q loosen. I know that to fully release him will take time, but the fact that this is already occurring for me makes me hopeful for the future.
I know Q is lost and in pain and for that I have the utmost compassion. I pray for his healing. I pray for him to wake up for his own sake, for his own peace. Perhaps this is his rock bottom, and he needed to hit it in order to come to his senses? Yet, I still struggle with my own anger towards him. I pray for my own peace. I pray for strength and bravery to face each day, to face each capricious expression of feeling with open arms.