During this time of trial and tribulation, I’ve been able to look at my life in a very interesting but revealing way. From the outside.
There is something about being a step away from your troubles that puts a different perspective on things. I’m talking about a perspective that shows not only the problems from an outsider, but shows you how deep your involvement with those problems really are. You know that saying “you may be too close to the situation to really see the danger” – it has a meaning that I could not begin to fathom before.
Having this apartment room has changed my perspective. Not just about my marriage but about my life en toto. I see how much different things are when I’m here, how different everything looks and feels from here and I realize that my perspective may have changed but its my attitude that has changed the most.
I realize, as does my ex-husband, that the majority of my life has revolved around our marriage and worse than that, the majority of our marriage has revolved around his illness. I took a vow that I would see him through sickness and health and that includes mental health. So I felt bound to stay, continue to work on “things” and hope for the best. Over and over, I hoped for the best. I hoped for that change, that epiphany, that dawning realization that he needed to have in order for us to really move forward. Over and over I waited for that moment. I did everything I thought was “right” and “supportive”. I was always there for him. I was always “the good wife”. It wasn’t just a role I played, though, it was the real me: supportive, loving and ready to give up luxury for progress.
Except the progress never happened. In fact, the only thing that really changed was me; my belief, my love, my dedication, even my loyalty were all withering away, dying for lack of sustenance. All my expectations and dreams were put aside and they were growing dust while the promise of collecting on those dreams was getting fainter and fainter by the day.
Every now and then I’d rebel, sure. I know, deep inside me, how important it was to keep something for myself, something true and real, something that was purely for me. So every now and then I’d rebel and insist on having something just for me. School, theater, an evening out with my friends – all these were granted. But I always paid for it. Always. And I took the punishment as if it were my due. Because how dare I want something for nothing. If I wanted to chase my dreams, my happiness, I had to pay for it. TANSTAAFL Meanwhile, my sense of “self” was dying. I was becoming mean and hard, sad and meek, fragile and weak. So rebelling, while helpful, was not the revolt I hoped it would be. It always came back to his illness.
Let me repeat: it always came back to his illness.
One way or another, life was his illness. My life, meanwhile, and my childrens’ lives were both being wrapped up in our continual merry-go-round of drama that was his illness and getting distanced from us as they scurried mightily to avoid the fall-out from our continual battles. And I don’t mean screaming fights (although we had those sometimes too) I mean, battling (say it with me now) HIS ILLNESS.
Life goes on in the meantime. Children grow up, circumstances flex and change and one must always be ready to flex with it. That was my daily knowledge of this life. But revolving your life around someone’s illness means it can be very hard to get around to anything else with more than a superficial attendance. Day by day, I did not fail to notice how hard it was to get on with the simple business of being a parent and running a house.
Living in this apartment has given me a view from an angle I was blind to before. I know this because during the course of a conversation with a friend the following took place:
“so how are YOU feeling? how are you doing emotionally.. with your life?”
“well I actually feel terrible saying this but… everything absolutely everything in my life that has nothing to do with him? Its fantastic. Everything in my life that has anything to do with him? It’s horrible. That’s it, that’s where I am”
Now I don’t know about you, but when I find myself telling someone a truth that brazenly, a part of my brain wakes up and starts poking me. “did you hear what you just said? Did you? NOW is there any doubt in your mind that this is what needed to happen? ANY DOUBT?”
No. No more doubt. This is what needed to happen. I hate how its going down, I hate how much it has hurt some people, but this is what had to happen. I’ve met myself along the way and I made promises to my self. One of which is that I will never starve my spirit again. I cannot realistically plan to do right by my family if I am dead inside.
I may not be free and I know there is probably more problems to deal with ahead but I have already realized how much I needed to get away. So here I am, recreating my life.