Well, the girls and I spent time with my husband over in the country for the weekend. It was nice to be together, but then when it got to be time for us to return to the city and prepare for the coming week, it was obvious that my husband needed to stay where he is and that I needed to come home with the girls. This separation seems weird, but it is clarifying things for me.
It is as if for a long time now we have been going along pretending that our family life was normal and working but all the while knowing that my husband has just barely been functioning as a participant in our family life.
Before we left, I didn't preclude the idea that he could come back with us for a couple of days, but he kind of started a fight that allowed him to stay where he is. He is talking about how is life is ruined, he owes thousands and thousands of dollars, he is "giving" everything he has ever worked for away, he is going to get a tiny trailer and live on his property . . .
You see, for a long, long time now my husband has not been able to sustain employment. He will start a job, but there is always a reason why he is "let go." He is a skilled carpenter, but I believe that one of the primary effects of his abuse is his inability to work with other men/take direction from anybody/relate in a positive way to authority figures . . .
I have tried for a long time now to sustain our family financially, but, as I said to him this weekend, I think that some emotional healing has to occur for him before he is going to be able to provide for us or contribute to our family.
The catch-22 is this. He owns property that is costing us money to own (by way of a mortgage). If he were able to pay for the mortgage and support us, I would not have any issue with the property but he refuses to let go of it and is sinking himself further and further into debt.
Which is why I have tried to separate our finances and separate our lives for a while (not to mention all of the interpersonal issues which had gotten to be so painful). He has blamed me for ruining him financially, but I am not a spendthrift.
I am going on about our finances, but this seems to be the primary area where his inability to take care of himself shows up. He doesn't pay bills, can't work, can't seem to organize himself.
It is very difficult to see him wallowing in his own grief, but, as my mom said to me over the weekend, "If you keep tripping over your own shoelaces, eventually you learn to tie your own shoes." I guess I have been tying his laces for a while and it is hard to not do that, but with this time apart I have been able to see how little support and love I have received. I think I have asked for so little.
Lastly, and I wonder if any of the other partners can relate to this, I am seeing very clearly the way that my own past and my own issues have created a relationship that, in some ways, has allowed me to remain "stuck" in some of my own issues. I think that my own inability to trust and my own fear of intimacy have allowed me to sustain a relationship with someone that puts me in the "driver's seat." In other words, if he always has an excuse for being less than equal, then I can be "in control," which is not healthy for me or him. Does that ring true for anyone else? I don't respect his personal space and privacy enough. I can be very "invasive," all in the name of creating an equal, honest relationship, but that is, in truth, not equal. That's me manipulating. I guess what I am saying is that right now I think I am really trying NOT to manipulate. I am trying to let go of results and let things fall apart if that's what needs to happen. My husband said over the weekend, "I feel like my life is falling apart, including my marriage." I responded that sometimes things need to fall apart (I am reminded of the book by Pema Chodron, "When Things Fall Apart"), and I also reinforced to him that our marriage, in my eyes, is not falling apart. I said, "Our marriage is big enough for this. I don't want to go fifty years and never address this stuff and then look back and go, 'Wow, we lived our whole lives in a dysfunctional pattern and never gave ourselves breathing room to grow.'"
My mom has suggested that I need to protect myself and the girls from the pain of not knowing how long we're going to be apart. That I need to set some sort of time frame, but I feel like that would not really serve because that set up an expectation that in one month, two months, whenever things will magically be what we need them to be. I don't know what's going to happen, I don't know what he is going to do, and I am open to allowing things to unfold as they will. Is that ok? I don't want to set up a false barrier against him, but my resolve is firm that I won't step back into the same set up that we had.
That's what's on my mind this morning.
Just a little, huh?