I own the fact that I wanted to see the good in him. Isn’t that what we’re taught? To see the good in other people? To give them the benefit of the doubt? To see beyond the brokenness? To help them to heal? To be a giver not a taker?
On the surface, our relationship looked good. When the red flags popped up, the good (or so I thought) outweighed the bad and I thought I was being picky. Because who’s perfect? Surely, not me. So how could I expect him to not have some flaws. Right? But the flaws weren’t just skin deep. They went to his core, but I wasn’t about to start digging because he had a wall around them. And in no uncertain terms he let me know that there were some parts of him that were private. And I accepted those terms even though I felt like there was something sad and lost in him and all I wanted to do was help him, to fix whatever was wrong.
He got quieter as the years rolled on and more aloof. Angry when I asked him to connect with me. Belligerent about silly stuff that was just a bluff as to what he was really angry about at the moment. Because that went deeper.
I gave him freedom thinking that he needed some time for whatever was stressing him out. I made his favorite meals. I didn’t pepper him with questions. I watched whatever tv show he wanted without complaint. I stayed home with the kids when he came home late. I was miserable. But I kept hoping he’d come around and talk with me.
Until he finally did – stopping my world on its axis in one fell swoop. And when he finally left the home that we’d been in for 20 years, the following day, I awoke and felt like I could breathe again. I could breathe freely without his shadow lurking because it had gotten to the point that the whole marriage, family etc. ran by his rules, his schedule and his likes/dislikes. And I own that because I did it. I made our family run according to his world in hopes that I could help him to be happy.
But that’s a mirage. Underneath all the work I did to make him the king of his castle, there was only sand that shifted as his moods did. We hardly fought because the underlying anger was so controlled that he didn’t dare let it escape, especially in front of the kids and they were always around. He wouldn’t want to be alone with me for fear that I’d ask him something and there was nothing else to say except What’s going on? and he’d already let me know that he wasn’t telling me.
It was as if I were on a mission to save the marriage by keeping up the mirage. But that’s not possible when it’s a mirage. I was so entrenched in it that I couldn’t see the chaos. A friend once told me what she saw when we were together. It took a lot of courage for her to reveal the ugly parts that she witnessed, but I was too blinded to see. And I was grateful to her because I had been closing my eyes to the red flags and sticking to the fairy tale story I had in my head. And she was right. So the mirage melted away along with the marriage.