NOTE: VERY controversial subject matter. Read if you want...but you've been warned...
Yesterday was a hard day. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the state of my self and my marriage. Our marriage counselor asked us to write out two different items:
Number 1: write out, in detail, what we think it would be like to
a) stay together and "make it work"
b) stay together with the express understanding we'd be living
'parallel' lives in the hopes we're doing the best thing for the kids
c) separate with the intention of divorce
Number 2: write out, in detail, what we think we'd like in a mate; all the qualities
we believe to be important to us...e.g.: personality traits, hobbies,
sexual habits, etc...
I've been considering these items in my head the last couple of weeks since our appointment. I've been trying to do an outline in my head before I put fingers to keyboard. Because I haven't written a book yet, the husband thinks I'm stalling in an effort to allow us to slide back into our untitled "paralleled/roommates" lives. Wrong. He's super anxious for me to give him an ANSWER: stay together and TRULY make it work, or, get divorced. ("roommates," for the kids's sake is a scenario he won't even THINK about, so that eliminates one option for us--less "homework," eh?) He's chomping at the bit, ready to zoom out there and find himself another woman who will fulfill all of his needs. I'm not joking here, friends. He's felt so unfulfilled romantically for so long, he just is busting at the seams to have someone love him in the manner he wants. That's fine. I understand. But I'm not going to take 2 weeks to decide what to do with a 17 year relationship, and, more importantly, the lives of two innocent kids. I WILL take my time and make a CAREFUL inventory to try and come up with the "best" answer. But he's very pushy. All the while saying he LOVES me and he wants to be with ME. Hmmm...
Ok, so I'm guessing these two "assignments" may not sound too difficult, especially the one where we write out what we think makes an "ideal" mate for us, but, let me tell you, this is VERY difficult for me because I have NO idea what I'd like in a mate. I know what I DON'T like in the one I chose, but is that the same thing?
The husband sent me a "relationship survey..." a type of questionnaire where you answer a variety of questions relating to (drum roll) your relationship. Questions such as: what type of hobbies or leisure activities do you enjoy as a person, and what type of activities do you enjoy as a couple? Who handles the finances and how is the division of household labor divided? That type of stuff. It was all very dry and straight forward until I got to the question that said: Life Traumas: Past & present grief, loss, death issues, divorce, separation, molest/rape? Well, FatMom friends, I practically wrote a book there. And I cried the ENTIRE time. Is this where my "issues" can be traced back to? As you may be able to guess, my childhood was a &%*#ed up mess. While it is still very painful, I don't blame anyone. But I do wonder how it affects my life and my marriage today. I wonder how watching my mom have one abusive relationship and one relationship where they simply co-existed has affected me. I'm sure that having two alcoholic dads has colored my view of the husband's alcohol consumption quite a bit. I also wonder how having a mother who was absolutely DEVOID of emotion has affected me. I loved my mother so much, and I still do...I think of her daily...but I'm an honest person: she wasn't a good mother, but she did the best she could with what she had available to her. She was a person...not a fictional character and she had a lot of flaws. And that's ok. Am I screwed up because my dad molested me? Then, completely rejected me? (I haven't even spoken to him since I was 18; his choice) Perhaps it's because I've always felt as if people use me, and I let them because I just want to be LOVED.
Or is it because I had an abortion when I was 22? Friends, let me tell you in plain English: THAT single event destroyed me for the next 10 plus years on a DAILY basis. I'd never really liked myself all that much up until that point, but I was just learning to when I discovered I was pregnant. I was just learning to respect myself and make healthy decisions based in reality and not emotion. But, ya see...the (future) husband and I were dating at that point for a year. He'd just broken up with me a few months earlier for a nebulous reason, which turned out to be another girl, but...I don't want to get off track...we got back together a few months later, and whammo! I must have gotten pregnant the first time we had sex. How? Besides the obvious, I don't know how. I was always very careful about birth control. But it happened. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I couldn't have the baby because what mattered most to me at that point was keeping my relationship with the future husband together. I knew if we had the stress of a pregnancy and birth at 22 (remember he already HAD a 2 year old and a fresh divorce under his belt at that tender age) we'd never survive. So, I had an abortion.
He never said a word about it. I felt as if he pretended nothing was going on. I'm guessing he was having deja vu...3 years earlier his girlfriend told him she was pregnant, and he married her so they could provide a "legitimate" family for the child. I'm guessing he was freaked out and didn't want to do THAT again, so, he stayed silent. Didn't say one FREAKING word.
I just wanted my "body" back, and wanted to have the abortion as quickly as possible so that I could forget about it. I counted down the days. Then, I did it. I remember practically skipping out of the clinic, deliriously happy it was over. Over the course of the previous month, I'd entertained the option of having the baby and raising it with the (future) husband, but knowing that wouldn't work out, because there's no WAY we could survive such a stressful situation. I thought about just raising it on my own. My family would help. But in the end, I decided my relationship was more important than a child's life.
A couple of days after the abortion, a wave of realization came over me: I killed my baby.
That thought haunted me and tortured me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally on a DAILY basis for 15+ years. The depth of my self-hatred could not be described. I was the lowest of the low to kill my child. I didn't deserve to be happy. Jeez, I didn't deserve to live myself. Those particular thoughts weren't really solid in my brain, I just couldn't believe I could do such a thing. I was a "good" person. I wouldn't hurt anyone; I wouldn't lie or cheat or steal. I picked up trash on the street, even if it wasn't mine. I saved injured animals. I wrote poetry and grew flowers. I bought gifts for homeless children. And yet I killed my baby.
That, FatMom friends, was the singular most traumatic event of my life; it was truly the unravelling of my psyche for many years. While I have not forgiven myself, I have learned to live with the guilt. And, do you know, the husband and I have NEVER talked about this, save for one TINY sentence about 8 months after the abortion when he said: "Gosh, I wish we hadn't done that." I recall my response: "You tell me this NOW? After I've tortured myself for 8 months?" More pain flooded in at that moment. It took a loooooong time to learn to live with that...Oh, wait...we did touch on the subject again a few years later when I found out I was pregnant with our second child, our daughter. The husband agreed to have our son the previous year, but didn't want more children (our son made #2 for him). So, he had a vasectomy. I supported the decision, but...I wanted to have more than one child, but...ok...at least I got one of my own... well, the vasectomy wasn't a total success, and we knew that. We continued to have sex unprotected and I wasn't worried because a) the doctor said the husband was 'technically' infertile...though there were a few live sperm and I COULD get pregnant, and b) it was no secret that I wanted to have one more child. The morning he said: Wife, I don't want to have another baby; we have to use birth control until I can get another vasectomy, I had a feeling I was already pregnant. And, yes I was. When I told him, he said: Wife, I DO NOT want to have another baby. I said: Husband, I know you don't. He looked at me again and said....No, you don't understand, I DON'T want to have another baby (meaning: have an abortion). My eyes flew open wide and I said: I will NOT do THAT again. You can leave and never come back, but I will NOT do that again; I cannot live through that again.
So, he just didn't talk to me for 3 weeks and I spent the whole of the pregnancy quiet and not wanting to share any of it with him (though he wouldn't have wanted to hear of anything anyways, considering he didn't even care about the first one he said he WANTED to have)...and I've spent the kids' whole lives feeling like they were MY responsibility because I wanted them. Kind of like a dog, I guess...he loves them, no doubt. But he would have been perfectly happy having none of them.
But to back up slightly, it was around the time of the abortion that I really began overeating. You may recall that I was anorexic before, and that even in the young adult years (say 19-21), I would revert to anorexia on periodic occasions. But, I suppose...I couldn't partake in anorexia anymore at that point in my life because when I was thin, people (read: everyone, but especially men) found me attractive. And when people find others attractive, good things tend to happen to them. Well, I couldn't LET good things happen to me. I needed to do what I could to ensure BAD things happened to me, and everyone knows fatties are mistreated, ignored, misunderstood, and taken for granted.
And that was my life until I was around 29. Then I became seriously depressed because my mind was growing tired of pushing my true feelings down. My mind was wanting to LIVE. What's depression? (everyone together, now: depression is anger turned inwards) Too painful. Bring on the medication. After a couple of years of that, I just (subconsciously) decided: this isn't the life I want to live, but I made my bed, so...get comfy! So I did. Still continuing to overeat to soothe myself. I didn't like being fat, but I couldn't muster up enough energy to do anything about it.
Yet again, the mind is a powerful thing. My mind knew I could be better. So I (mostly) stopped overeating, started exercising and enjoying my life. I realized no one was going to make it better for me, so I had to do it myself. And I have.
Except now, I'm in a mess because my marriage, and the person I chose to be my spouse, was a mistake. The husband isn't a bad person, he's just not what I would have chosen if I were older than I was at the time (21), and if I actually LIKED myself. But now we have two kids, and how do you do that to them? I already destroyed one child's life...how can I do that to two more?
Can I "make it work" with the husband? Setting the kids aside for a moment, do I want to make it work? We're vastly different people...is it possible to have it work? Or would I just be ignoring my true feelings again? That's not fair to either of us. But, yet again, it's the kids who are my focus. What do I want in a spouse? The romantic/sexual part is the most difficult aspect for me to define, because I've become SO out of touch with my romantic/sexual side for SO long, I feel like I don't need that in my relationship. But is that REALLY true? Or do I just not feel that I need it with the husband? Would it be different with someone else? There's no way to know without getting divorced. Is sex/intimacy important to me right now? No way. Did it used to be? Oh, yeah. What changed? Can I get it back? Or is it really ME now...did I change because I got older? Did I lose my "romance" gene? How does one get their "mojo" back INSIDE of a damaged marriage, anyhow?
These are the deep questions I am to ponder today while I paint our backyard fence.