Do you feel secure in your relationship?
“You’ve got to stop threatening that you’re going to leave,” he said. I chewed on my bottom lip, meeting his gaze.
“Even the doctor (his therapist) says that’s not good,” he finished. I nodded, but just barely.
Inside, deep down, I knew he was right. This is my husband, for God’s sake. I chose him. We exchanged vows. And most importantly, I love him. I want to be with him. I love our life. I love our baby girl. I love the way he has cultivated a friendship with my son. I know he is right on this point. And yet, why inside do I find it so difficult to concede?
Part of me feels like having one foot out the door is the only true power I hold in this relationship. I know that is fucked up. I get it. That is not the loving environment I want my children to grow up in. And yet, still, there is something in me that feels like he is going to hurt me so the only way I can maintain any sense of leverage is to keep something slightly outside … a big toe, a piece of my shoe, a corner of my heart—something.
Inside, this feels gross. It feels slimy. It feels raunchy like fake diamond earrings or plastic red Lee-press-on nails. It just feels wrong.
Unable to get to the bottom of this instantaneously, unable to look him in the eye and acquiesce to his request, I proceed. I go on about my day. I get on my mat. I practice. I teach. I drive four hours round trip alone and I teach some more. During the drive along the endless grey stretch of highway, I feel around inside for that piece of me that is just not clicking properly on this level. Where does this originate? And how do I shed it?
We go out on date night. I have to drag him. I arrange the sitter, find the band to see, drive —everything. He is rebelling on this through and through. He has worn his around the house wardrobe even though I’ve dressed up cute and done my hair and makeup. This is his way of showing me that he is not into it. We proceed. Eventually, the shells start to slip away. Eventually, he slips his arm around my waist. When the band is done, we walk arm in arm to the car. There he is. Here is my husband. He’s come back to me.
Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.”
I believe this is what I’m doing. I’m foreboding joy. I’m worried that somewhere in this relationship, my husband is going to wake up and decide I’m a wretched soul that he no longer wants to be with. And then, he is going to leave me. So, I am attempting to beat vulnerability to the punch by sabotaging my own relationship with vile, empty threats. This is not the person I want to be.
Last night, I hopped up on the kitchen island and I drew him to me.
“I’m never going to leave you,” I said as I looked into his eyes. “You’re a wonderful father. You’re my best friend. You’re an incredible stepfather. You’re the love of my life. You deserve better than my fear. You deserve my love. I love you. I promise, I will not threaten to leave you again.”
My husband is a big, strong man. He was crying. I wiped his tears from his cheeks. We hugged. We kissed. And we proceeded to have an incredible, connected evening.
All toes are firmly inside the door, as are the corners of my heart and the pieces of my shoe. I have laid down my arms. We’re here now. Let’s get busy living. This is where we are. Home.
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