The weekend’s snowfall has turned into thick layers of ice. The heat is still out and the nights are extremely cold. I’m grateful to have him in bed with me. Though emotionally he seems a 1,000 miles elsewhere, he is here and he is warm.
In her writings for this morning, Melody Beattie suggests that we ask God for direction in our daily lives. Simply, what does He want us to do today? And then, she stresses, ask Him for help doing it.
My faith, along with my heart, have taken quite a beating this year. Church is something we did together. Every Sunday. Communion taken hand-in-hand. We met with the rector to share our story, had her to dinner at our home, and when everything fell apart, I reached out to her for help. I remember arriving at her office barely able to speak through the tears and her immediately wrapping me in a prayer shawl.
As humans are inclined to do, she took sides. This created a strong distaste of the Church for him, and as I begged him to love me again, created a conflict in me–who do I choose?
In the end, I chose him. I tried to go to church a few times alone. And I couldn’t stop crying. Taking Communion alone made me feel small and vulnerable. When things steadied some for us–and after the rector retired this past summer–we went to church together. But the memories of happier times, the uncomfortable dodging of questions about where we’d been were too much. I broke down on the ride home, pressed him to talk about our relationship and getting back together, and he quickly swore off ever going to church with me again.
It was only recently, after meeting a church friend for dinner, that I began praying again. My prayers sound more like conversations with God–usually on the way to work, and usually about the most mundane things.
But even that has quieted again. I listened to the radio yesterday and as the country songs played, my thoughts turned to him and the good times we’ve had. I sent him a quick text about how I was grateful he was my best friend. But I received no response. No message that said, “You’re my best friend, too.” No, there was nothing for two hours and when that notification finally dinged, it was a brief apology for not responding sooner, that he was busy with a few emergencies at work.
Sometimes, I wish my emotions could be frozen like the ice that covers my small part of the world. I try–I get quiet and I retreat emotionally. It’s my attempt to regain control over a deeply felt hurt. Unfortunately, he views it as unpleasant to be around, not fun, and not easy to tolerate.
And for all intents and purposes, we are there now. Last night, I shared with him the conversations had in my weekly counseling session and I again reiterated my need to move forward into 2019 with a commitment to each other to work together on becoming respectful, healthy partners….or, to leave the hurt and us in 2018.
He wanted a detailed outline of what he needs to do in 2019, should he decide to commit. I stressed that a relationship is fluid and should naturally evolve as life does. No, he wanted clearly define dos and don’ts, and the only one I could say with complete conviction was…in a committed relationship there is no one else.
But he doesn’t think cheating is a deal breaker. In fact, he said many times that he feels like I cheated on him a lot–“even though you may not have, I feel like you probably have.” I didn’t, but this seems to be his soapbox. This seems to separate us by miles. He believes that two consenting adults can do as they wish, should be able to do as they wish, even if one–or both–is in a relationship with another.
And furthermore, he added, he wants to know that if he does commit to me in 2019, that there’s an exit clause–an agreement that we can end things peacefully if he “misbehaves.”
What is that?
I know he’s thinking of our breakup, when there was another woman involved, when I was so blinded by hurt and anger that I acted out against him in ways I shouldn’t have. I gave into wanting him to hurt the way I was hurting, and I did things that I’m not proud of. I did things he deems unforgivable. I did things that drove him to make me an invisible part of his life.
“I know you don’t want to be the invisible girlfriend, and I don’t want an invisible girlfriend.”
In my head, I hear, “When I do find another, I’m going to proudly display her for everyone to see, parade her around, and fill Facebook with photos of us together.”
Sometimes, I wish I could quiet my mind, steel my heart, and shut everything good and caring inside me down. Because it’s the drive to care for another that makes me an incredibly good punching bag. Hit me and I’ll get back up again. And again. And again.
And maybe that makes me a great partner to some.
But it makes me a horrible partner to myself.