Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent Day 2

My efforts at demonstrating affection for my husband yesterday were small, but significant. I sent him an affectionate text message from work. I got a babysitter for tomorrow evening so we can be alone. I showed him physical affection when I got home from work while he played with the baby.

We had a nice evening together, mostly. He had made dinner for me and the baby, and he played with her a little while as I packed her lunch for today. He also has been keeping the house nice and tidy because his work is very slow. It is nice to come home to a clean house. He went to bed early because he wasn't feeling well, and at one point, as the baby got fussy, he asked me what I was doing, as if I were making the baby cry on purpose. I snapped at him in response, but that was the only negative interaction we had yesterday.

This morning, I also snuggled with him a bit before getting out of bed. So that's my start for today.

I was reading an article this morning about making relationships last. One psychologist observed that the relationships that last longest have about 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. We're a long way from achieving that ratio, but, perhaps, if I keep up this discipline of loving my husband with intention, we'll get closer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent.

So yeah, I've been out of it. For almost two years. My baby is born and beautiful, and she has consumed a lot of time and energy. She's actually not even a proper baby anymore, but a toddler, full of movement and life and mischief.

I've been trying to integrate writing into my life in a less anonymous way, but it just isn't as successful as I'd like it to be. So, this morning in the car on my way into work, I remembered this little corner I'd carved out for myself, and thought I might take it back up.

I've been struggling lately with something that is difficult to express. My husband is sober. He's not perfect, but he is keeping himself clean and trying to stay on the right path...trying really, really hard. He's working on himself and trying to show up for me and our daughter. He's still inconsistent and backslides in a lot of areas, but overall, I recognize so much growth in him.

And I'm not happy. I know that I love him, but I'm having a hard time expressing it and feeling it. When he was using and doing other things that were so destructive to our relationship, it was easy to feel a white-hot love burning for him in my core. I believed in him, and I believed that he could do better. It was easy to be in his corner, even when he was hurting me.

But these days, I have a harder time loving him well. My emotions are lukewarm. His little setbacks, which are so mild compared to infidelity and raging heroin addiction, make me so angry. The kind of thing that will make me furious is if he spends an evening watching television instead of hanging out with me and the baby. I'll feel my heart growing colder and colder.

I'm also still struggling financially, and he's struggling to be able to contribute. This area of our relationship is one of the hardest lately for me to put down. He's made some bad financial choices that affect me, and I feel like it doesn't matter how much money I make, he'll have some need that sucks the money away. If I get a freelance project that promises to provide a little relief, he'll come up with a need that requires me to put my extra toward him. He also gets very upset when I don't cover his personal expenses, and expresses a sense of entitlement toward the money that I earn that I find extremely unattractive. I've told him how much this is damaging my esteem for him, and he has been trying to do better in this area lately...but I'm still struggling to recover from the damage done.

I think being a mama has changed some of my focus, which accounts for part of my heart's change. There are behaviors that I would put up with for myself, but I will not put up with them for my daughter. I also have a real baby who actually depends on me to survive and who needs my care and attention, so the caretaking needs that I have are being met in a way that are more genuine and fulfilling. It makes the sick, codependent aspects of my relationship with my husband stand out as a parody. That kind of caretaking is not authentic, not helpful, and not life-giving.

I don't know what it says about me that I had no trouble feeling deep passion for a man who was cheating on me, stealing from me, and committing slow suicide before my eyes, but that I struggle with the day-to-day drudgery of being married to a person in recovery. I don't like this in myself, and I've been trying to pray for ways to work it out.

I want to grow old with my husband. I want him to be healthy, whole, and able to support himself. I want him to feel good about himself, and I want him to be my daughter's hero. He is already her hero, and I want it to stay that way even when she's old enough to see more parts of him. I want to live in a rage-free home, and he still sometimes struggles to control his anger over how frustrating his life situation is. I want these things very much.

I'm going to commit to a disciplined love for my husband during the season of Lent. No matter what he does or says or how he behaves, I'm going to love him every day in some tangible, self-sacrificing way. I'll start small, but I wanted to commit here, semi-publicly, to practicing this discipline, and I'll do my best to record it. I believe discipline is powerful, and I trust that my heart will follow my actions. If anyone is reading this, please pray for me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Worst Time.

"Is this the worst part?" I asked a friend. My husband was gone. This girlfriend has been with me through the preceding years of addiction. She said that the worst part was when I'd kicked him out, finally, after months of promising him I would if he didn't quit using. That part was hard, but my friend was wrong. It was not the worst part. The time when he was gone with the other woman was, definitively, the worst part.

Two years ago tonight, he went on his first date with the other woman. It was her birthday. Her fiance was in another country, and she'd met my husband, fancied him, and asked him to accompany her on her birthday. I found out all this because he'd left his email account open, and I'd read their correspondence.

He asked her what she planned to wear. She replied that she'd wear a cream dress.

I confronted him, and he said I was crazy. It was nothing. She was a nice girl and she was lonely. She needed friends. She might want a tattoo, so it was for business.

Oh, but I knew. I recognized his tone. I'd seen it before, having been the object of his desire. I knew what was coming.

He didn't come home that night. For the next month, he spent about half his time at home with me, sometimes affectionate and sometimes cold or angry or scary, and he spent the rest of his time with her. Every time I confronted him, he denied he was with her, but I knew it. Finally, the evidence was incontrovertible, and once there was nothing left to lie about, he stopped seeing her. Just like that.

That month is so vivid to me, still. I went about my business, and I mostly pulled it off. No one at any of the several jobs I held down at the time had any idea what was happening at home. I'd come home, though, and fall apart. I couldn't eat. I had a hard time seeing anyone. I spent my time in bed, waiting. I planned what I'd say to him whenever he came back home.

Please, will you hold me? That's what I planned to say. And that's what I said, too, when he came home from the longest stretch of days he'd spent with her. He sad down on the stairs of our home and put his arms around me. I lay my head on his chest and listened to the beating of his heart. There was nothing to say.

I don't want to know her birthday. I wish it washed from my memory. It's too close to Cinco de Mayo, though. It's too easy to remember.

Later, I saw pictures she'd posted of the evening. He'd dressed up for their date. He had a sweater he'd bought one day about a month prior when he'd made some money doing an odd job. That same day, he brought home a new pair of shoes for me. That night, we'd made love. He'd told me how perfect I was, how supportive, how wonderful, how he'd never forget. It all came unglued so easily.

And that's what's so scary, I think. I was doing the best I could, being the best wife, the best lover, doing everything right...and it wasn't enough. There was no warning, no action on my part, nothing I could do to keep my heart safe. The girl was unremarkable and, apparently, easy enough to forget, at least for him. There is no predicting when it could happen again, and there seems, at least so far, to be no hope of complete healing.

Tonight, two years later, my husband is clean. I have learned through the years not to count his clean time, but I think he's somewhere around 100 days. He's working some, and he's giving a fair share of the money he makes to me. I'm pregnant, and we're having a happy time. But tonight, it hurts still.

I feel our baby moving, and I want to tell her that I'm so, so sorry that everything could come undone. I want to promise her that I will protect her from that kind of pain, that I will be strong, and that it won't happen again. I can't, though, and for that, I am so, so sorry.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boundaries

I'm marking this here. I need to remember it:

Biblical compliance needs to be distinguished from [non-Biblical] compliance. Matthew 9:13 says that God desires "compassion, and not sacrifice." In other words, God wants us to be compliant from the inside out (compassionate), not compliant on the outside and resentful on the inside (sacrificial). Compliants take on too many responsibilities and set too few boundaries, not by choice, but because they are afraid.

-from Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Sunday, January 30, 2011

So Much.

My husband is back in treatment. I don't remember if I wrote that or not here. I went to see him today. He seemed clear, sane, and himself again. It is hard to see him, though, because he had seemed clear, sane, and himself again the last time he was in treatment. I pray it will stick this time. He is so miserable, and he is losing himself. There's so much to say. I want so many things.

I love him so. No matter how frustrating the situation, there is something easy about his physical presence. His hand on the small of my back, his forehead against my cheek...it brings me comfort. I miss him, but I'm glad he is where he is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My People.

It helps to have people. It helps so much.

A group of friends have been fasting and praying for us this week. People check on me all day. They call. They email. They eat with me. They do what friends do.

I am not alone in this fight. Thank you, friends, for loving me so well.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Rope.

I came home tonight. My can opener didn't work. I nearly lost my mind.

My husband started begging me to help him get back on methadone.

No. NO. NOOOOOO. NO. I am not throwing money at the problem of fixing him anymore. I told him that if he mentioned methadone again, he'd have to leave.

I am at the end of my rope with all of this. If something doesn't change soon, I'm going to explode.