It’s no wonder I love to blog. I’m a talker. Look at the length of my posts. It’s rare you’ll find one under six hundred words. Communication is vital to me. It’s why I created family meetings when the kids were younger. They needed to know they had a safe place to talk when things were on their mind. This past weekend was one of communication.
No, wait, allow me to rephrase that. It was one of heartbreak. It was one of constant derailment. It was one of teaching and one of learning.
My husband fails at communication. This is of no surprise to me. It is also no surprise to him. It is something he is working on and he has made significant progress but something he needs constant improvement upon. No, it’s not because he’s a man. It’s because of how he was raised. FOO issues. “Children should be seen and not heard.” – That’s what he was taught.
Over the last couple of months I’ve noticed he’s begun to withdraw inside himself. I thought it was stress from school; his term lasts five weeks and the classes he was taking were difficult but the last term wasn’t as stressful and the term he’s in now isn’t causing as much stress as the previous term. I married a very smart man.
Of course the doubt and fear set in for me. The withdrawal equated to the old days. My increase in Migraines, my inability to work, led me to wonder if he was slipping again. I counted the months since his last relapse with porn and knew he was at a crucial point in his sobriety; I worried about his problem with his step work and it kept leading me to believe a slip must have occurred or was about to happen.
I decided to dig my heels in and really talk to him after he came home from his meeting the other night. It began as it always does between the two of us. Me letting him know “reason for the talk”. Him “denying any problems”. I do my best to remain patient but it’s hard because of the nagging fear he’s had a relapse and hasn’t told me.
We derail from our point of conversation by discussing my own withdrawal away from him when he comes home. I admit he’s right and tell him why; because when this topic came up a week ago we agreed to touch base every night before sitting in front of the television, opening up laptops or even getting involved with the kids’ day. We agreed to spend just fifteen minutes of “us” time. The very next day after we had that talk, he came home and turned on the television and ignored me. I was pissed and withdrew. I let him know I was tired of being the one to make the effort of communicating all the time.
In that same conversation last week, we agreed to get back to FANOS two or three times a week. We didn’t FANOS one time. He blamed me because I didn’t initiate it. He explained he is afraid to initiate FANOS because he lied to me during it and it pissed me off. Fair enough, I can see how this would cause him to hesitate beginning the conversation.
However, we were still diverting away from the original topic at hand – his withdrawal and his lack of communication.
I tried again. He blamed school. I tried again. He blamed something else. Until finally, after derailing half a dozen times, we got to the heart of the matter:
The man I am so proud of lacks self esteem and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. To hear the things he said about himself broke my heart. As I pointed out all of the good qualities he had, he countered with something bad. The uniform he wore so proudly for twenty-four years is now hanging in the closet collecting dust and he lives in the past. Instead of holding his head high for the medals and ribbons he earned while serving his country, he focuses on having to start over in his forties and the hatred people feel for America and the military. It brings tears to my eyes just to type it because he’s right. We hear it and see it every day.
I am left to wonder if he is unable to forgive himself for what he did during our marriage although I have forgiven him. Or was his upbringing lacking the love he needed, now that he’s sober and working on his steps, facing his demons he’s lost. Perhaps that’s why he’s having such a hard time allowing God to help him? He kept telling me he couldn’t release anything to God because it was his responsibility, his burden to carry. God didn’t do it, God gave him free will and he took it and fucked it up all on his own and to let it go would be the coward’s way.
Somehow, I think the low self-esteem and his step work go hand in hand. I just wish I knew how to help him aside from reminding him how much I love him and appreciate him.