There is a song that goes,
I’d rather be dreaming than living. / Living’s just too hard to do…In dreams I can fly. / In dreams, I don’t die.
I do not want to die, but I sometimes wonder when I’ll start living into my dreams.
I’ve had some beautiful moments this week. I rediscovered a long-forgotten online account holding 905 photos from my first years as a mom. I found myself able to emotionally detach from a very negative coworker. I practiced self-care. I had a near perfect, heart-swelling text conversation with my second-oldest. I received a Mother’s Day card signed by all of my kids. I’m expressing my needs to know shared schedules so that I can plan other meetings. I decided to–though haven’t yet–rejoin a gym. With. A. Lap Pool.
But the more I act independently, the more the codependent in me seems to fight for air. I’m learning that it’s ok to express these feelings. “I’m feeling the codependent itches,” I texted my sponsor. Even last week, I felt myself so much on a codependent bender–triggered days before by unkind words about my weight–that I took myself out to dinner and started with dessert first.
(Note to self: We’ll tackle emotional eating later.)
Many of my CoDA friends understand the difficulties of being in a relationship with someone who is not in recovery, and I feel I’m living with those realities on an almost daily basis.
Last night, I was admittedly feeling insecure. He has decided to pay more attention to his health: eat healthier, drink more water, rejoin a gym, too. I began asking questions about his health goals, including when he expects to join the gym, what workout routines he’ll use. I knowingly and fully revealed my insecurity when I asked him half-jokingly: “Are you planning to leave me?” He responded with a joke: “Yep, I’m getting in better shape for all them hoes”–a reference to a joke he recently saw on Facebook.
Dinner was lackluster. I planned to eat my Chinese leftovers from Mother’s Day. He scrounged up an assortment of things I know left him unsatisfied.
When we left to work on our side job, he acted as if I was intentionally delaying our start, insinuating through various comments that we had to get the work done. So, when I started walking past the truck and to the shed, he asked me where I was going.
“To get the shop vac,” I said. “We’ll need it.”
He had forgotten.
As we began driving away from the house, I asked if he had grabbed the underlayment from his work truck.
He had forgotten, so backed up, and retrieved it.
Halfway down the road, I surmised something was off. When I asked, he said I was getting on his nerves because I was “bossing him around.” Quietly, I tried to review my words and actions from the evening.
“How have I been bossing you around so I can be more aware of what I’m doing?”
He went on to explain: I was asking him questions, I was interrogating him, I was talking about our relationship, I was criticizing him.
“I ask questions to learn more about the people I care about,” I said. “It wasn’t my intention to interrogate you.”
We went back and forth. At one point, I expressed how small I was feeling.
He became increasingly animated, his voice raising, until he was hitting the steering wheel with his open palm.
“I’m getting so angry!,” he yelled. “I’m angry all the time!”
Then he backed off. “I’m sorry I’m getting frustrated. I need to stop. Let’s just get to the job so I can get a break from all these questions.”
I grew silent then. I did text my sponsor.
For the rest of the evening, I intentionally avoided asking many questions. I rephrased everything in my head before opening my mouth. If he wanted a reprieve from questions, I’d give it to him.
When we tucked into bed, despite my own focus on emotionally detaching from him, I laid my head on his chest. He kissed the top of my head.
I do ask questions. Though, I don’t think it’s the questions that aggravated him. I think it was his own insecurities about forgetting things we needed for the job that I–not he–remembered.
Still, I do not deserve to be the scapegoat for his insecurities.
I’d like to think that by speaking my truth, giving voice to my feelings of insecurity when present, and sharing with him the fear-ridden narratives I’m silently telling myself, I’d be creating between us an intimacy where we can both practice authenticity and vulnerability.
Instead, I feel as if it only repulses him.
He is emotionally unavailable when I need him.
As my sponsor says, “This 100% belongs to him. He needs to figure out a different way. This lack of control of his emotions is not OK. You are not required to take it.”
And I’m not.
And I won’t.
And sometimes I wonder if choosing me will be our end.
And if it is…