Two years ago this month, I started this blog to spare my brother. In 2011, I had a VERY hard year emotionally and I found myself calling my brother a LOT to cry on his shoulder. My brother is kind and patient with me and always willing to give me his perspective and his encouragement, but he also has his own life. He has a wife and children and a job and a home and his own things to deal with. I realized that I was being unfair in unburdening on him so much, so I started this blog.
Prior to this blog, I had a blog (still do, but not so much) about my garden. I loved blogging about my garden and I thought my garden blog was beautiful. When I started working, though, I didn’t have time to work in my garden and then there wasn’t so much to blog about my garden. So, my garden blog sits there and occasionally I will add another post, but not very often – sadly. It is a much prettier blog, though, than this blog.
This blog I do anonymously. It just is my place to cry my heart out without anyone having to listen to me or to know that I was crying. It is a virtual journal. It is its own hidden and hiding place.
There is benefit in writing what one is feeling, experiencing. I have found that writing helps me to sometimes see conclusions that I might not have otherwise. I also believe that writing helps release thoughts from staying inside and festering, even in a way that talking about those thoughts does not.
My blog was only for me. And born out of kindness to my brother.
But, my blog was “out there.” A few people started reading my blog. Some people started commenting.
It both comforted me and saddened me that there are other people, mostly women, who are going through what I am going through. I also discovered that my writing, my sharing what I am struggling with, was a comfort to some of those who read my blog. That amazed me. I also felt glad that my blogging was benefiting others in some small way.
No, I don’t believe myself to be a heroine. Not in the least. Mostly, I just feel like I am pretty scummy, that I’m just here, trying to do the best I can at the moment, often falling flat on my face.
You know, all of my life I have believed I should do better. I almost constantly “beat myself up” for not doing enough, for not being enough, for not being good enough. But gradually, I am realizing that I am pretty much doing the best I can for the moment, for right now. I do not have to be perfect. I don’t have to have it all together. It’s okay to be where I am today. If I stretch a little farther tomorrow, that’s okay, too. But it’s okay to be where I am today. Yes, I do try to make things better, to improve myself. But I also try not to beat myself up for not “being there” already.
The family life and church life that I grew up in, inadvertently, taught me to hide behind a mask of “everything’s okay.” No sins were allowed. No mistakes were allowed. It wasn’t “okay” to be who you really were. So I learned to put on a brave front and not share doubts and fears and sins and hurts. This blog has been a place where I have opened up – anonymously and yet to the world – in a way that I never have been able to before. Yes, I have family and friends that care for me, but it still often hasn’t been “safe” to say what I wanted to say. And maybe, in some ways, my blog isn’t “safe” either, but it has been a very good exercise for me to be able to express pretty much what is in my heart. I have received comments thanking my for my openness and my honesty. I think many people must live behind masks because they, too, don’t feel safe.
I appreciate more that I can possibly tell you all the comments left on my blog. Most of them are encouraging. Often, they tell their own sad story. You know, as an aside, sometimes I think I distance myself from my life, from what I write on my blog, like somehow I don’t let myself feel my pain. And yet, when someone writes on my blog what they are experiencing, my heart cries for them in a way that I don’t cry for myself. I don’t know if that makes sense.
When there are harsh or negative comments left on my blog, I do have the power to not publish them and/or delete them. But I don’t. This is a public forum. There are a couple of things that I think when someone is unkind in their comments. One thing is – it shows a lot about the person making the unkind comment. The other thing I think is – Wow. That hurts. Sometimes a lot. My instinctive reaction when I feel attacked is to curl up inside and withdraw. To doubt myself. But then my wonderful blog friends come to my defense and I am moved to tears by their eloquent support of me. And I am greatly comforted and thankful.
I have found that I cannot fix anyone else’s life. When someone shares with me, all I can do is encourage them and let them know some things that I have found to be a little helpful. (If you want to read other people’s stories, look at the comments left on my page titled “Passive Aggressive Behavior.”)
Living with a passive aggressive husband is living in one of those “fun houses” that are sometimes at amusement parks. (Or used to be – I don’t know if they still have them!) Nothing is as it seems. You don’t know if you are coming or going. You don’t know if the floor will be stable or not. And if the floor is not stable, you don’t know if it is going to go up or down or right or left. The mirrors are distorted. You try to see yourself clearly, realistically, but you simply cannot. You live in a house like that long enough and you simply start accepting that you are crazy.
Well, just walk out the door, someone might say. Simple enough, right?
I can’t tell you why someone else stays. I do not walk in their shoes. I do know, from comments, that people are faced with financial issues, with health issues, with children, with commitment to their spouse, with any number of difficult situations.
Let me just tell you about me.
Growing up, the word “divorce” was said in hushed whispers. My church did allow divorce, but it was greatly frowned upon. It was scandalous. It was something that wasn’t talked about, or if it was, only in the shadows. After all, “God hates divorce.” (I could say a bit about that verse, but maybe some other time.) I have an aunt (Susan) who has been divorced. I could hear the disdain in my parents’ voices whenever she was discussed. I remember one time my mom telling me that Susan’s husband had hit her, but my mom figured that probably Susan provoked him and that she just got was coming to her.
Back to divorce and my church. After all, a wife is to be humble and submissive and if she is humble and submissive, then everything will be fine in the marriage. So if you divorce, well then, you must be a terrible wife.
I’m not saying that I agree with any of these things any more. But it is difficult to overcome ideas you have spent your whole life with. And part of my brain still struggles with these concepts. After all, what if they really are right? And I really am terrible? Fun house again.
I struggle with things like hope, doubt, guilt, fear.
Struggling with hope might sound funny, but for so many years, I hoped that things would get better. I would tell myself that tomorrow would be better, or next week would be better, or next year would be better….. You get the picture. I had hope. (The book, “Necessary Endings,” discusses the need to become hopeless. I highly recommend that book.)
I have struggled with guilt – “if only I hadn’t….” – and I have struggled with doubt – “if I were a better wife, then….” I still struggle with these things. “Maybe I should try harder…..”
I am scared financially. Maybe I make enough to leave. Maybe I can make it work. Maybe at some point I will earn more money. But I am scared. I am forty-seven. Starting out on your own with basically nothing is scary enough in your twenties when you can still run back to mom and/or dad if you need to is scary enough. But now, it is terrifying. In theory, I should have a church that might assist me a little for a time if need be. The reality is, though, that that is not the case. And I probably make just a little too much to qualify for any kind of government assistance (although I haven’t looked into that), but honestly, and this is NOT a political discussion so please do NOT make it one, I do not want to place my trust in government assistance. That is simply my personal preference. I think too often in many situations I have trusted where I shouldn’t have and I am trying not to make that mistake any more.
I do have a home. It is usually fairly warm and cozy when I come home tired at night. It is familiar and comfortable in its own way. Yes, I do want a better home, one that is not in disrepair, but at the end of the day, I am usually too tired to even think about it. So I end up thinking, maybe this isn’t so bad. Maybe I’ll just put up with all of this and be glad that I have hot running water and a flush toilet.
And my husband. Usually he is nice enough. Often his conversation is tedious. And there is no sex. But like the house that is falling down, I am used to it and even though I want more and better, sometimes I get to thinking that maybe I should just be glad that he doesn’t physically beat me up. Fun house again.
It’s hard to think clearly in a fun house.
I’ve been blogging about my situation for two years now. Yes, sometimes I am ashamed that I haven’t left yet. In some ways, I should have left fifteen years ago. But I haven’t. A month ago, when I went to a workshop on divorce, the lawyer told one lady, don’t be ashamed that you haven’t left. But a year from now, if you haven’t left, then you can be ashamed.
Even though I haven’t left, let me say this. When I started blogging, I didn’t have a full time job with great benefits. I do now. I hadn’t joined the gym or Toastmasters. I have now. I hadn’t considered talking to a lawyer. I have now attended several workshops on the legal aspects of divorce, I have the lawyer’s card, and am closer than ever to calling her. When I started blogging, I hadn’t looked at housing options. I now look at craigslist at least a couple of times a week. Even though I haven’t delivered it, I have written a letter explaining what I am looking for to a realtor who said he could help me find a place to rent. No, I am not there yet. But I am making progress, however slow it may be.
The really cool thing about my blog is that nobody has to read it. You do not have to subject yourself to my tales of woes or my pathetic pity parties. But if you do read my blog, and comfort me, and/or are comforted yourself, then it is a blessing to both of us.
And if you do read my blog, but don’t like my blog or my life, all I have to say is, it is what it is, and I am happy for you that your life is going so well for you.