In light of the Wirral Globe article printed earlier this week, I thought I would update you on where I am in my relationship with my husband now.
We are all products of our childhood beliefs. I wrote about some of mine in this post.
At 19, I took those beliefs with me into our marriage. By this time, I was terribly co-dependent and worked hard at giving, mistakenly believing that this would make him love him more. I didn’t know until recently that love can only be given, it cannot be earned – what a revelation!
So, I was always looking to him to validate my existence and acknowledge my worth, believing that if only he would do that, I would be ok.
Cripplingly low self-esteem meant that I was always caught in an endless struggle of seeking approval and reaching for recognition. But this never-ending merry go round was always fraught with disappointment because try as he might, he could never ‘fix’ my self-esteem issues.
That was my responsibility but again, I didn’t know that until recently.
Understandably this caused tension in our relationship because when he couldn’t fix me, I thought he just didn’t do it because I wasn’t worth the effort.
Understandably this stale mate put some considerably strain on our relationship. At a time when it was already under pressure, we both witnessed a traumatic incident and his reaction to it was very different to mine.
This plummeted my trust in him because suddenly I felt, that our moral compass and values might be not aligned too.
I now know that subconsciously, my mind started to look for evidence of these differences in an effort to keep me safe. And, of course what you look for you find.
Within weeks, our relationship had broken down and then knowing I felt suicidal he gave me the tablets believing he would be ‘putting me out of my misery’ just as you might do for a beloved pet.
He left the house that night and for the next year, I barely managed to stay alive. Exhaustion overwhelmed me as sleep was an infrequent visitor. If I did manage to fall asleep, I would wake up with a start believing that someone was sitting on my chest. It was a messy time and the struggle was real.
Him leaving also fulfilled my belief that all men leave, even if it had taken 28 years, he was now firmly in the category of leaver just like my father had been during my childhood.
After the train incident in the article, and I began to recover, I was able to identify how my childhood beliefs and his, had impacted our relationship from the very start. Beginning the work, at some considerable pace, to change mine had me doubting we could ever live together again.
We were no longer those two teenagers that had met looking for substitute parents and I was certainly stepping into my power.
However, something extraordinary began happening as he watched me, he began to do his work too.
Throughout our separation, we had been in touch. Sometimes more than others as I moved my attention to looking after me. Neither of us looked for love elsewhere and as he began to do the work on himself, I found a new respect for him. Rather than being angry because he couldn’t fix me, I admired his commitment to change and to our family.
As lockdown happened, he was on the inside of door and we had to make a decision about where he might spend it. He stayed with us.
Lockdown helped me to let go of my abandonment wound, essentially because he was stuck with us, but it gave me the space to understand it, accept it for what it meant to me as a child, and then let it go because I was no longer in that place of danger.
It also gave me time to look rationally at our situation and assess it for what it really was. As a key worker, his response to the potential threat that the pandemic might pose was also admirable, he remained calm, sensible and focused.
I quickly realised that we had become a partnership again, I felt safe in his company because I know that I am more than capable of looking after myself now. I no longer ‘needed’ him in the same way and so it allowed us to begin a new relationship with each other as equals, on the same wavelength with the same morals and values.
Now just to clarify, we are completely normal and have our disagreements, but we no longer feel the need to defend ourselves and that allows us to listen to each other and sometimes, change our point of view. But actually, we accept that its ok to not always agree.
So, I feel I am in a new relationship with my husband of 30 years.
I guess my message is, if you are in a long-term relationship and you are struggling on the never-ending merry go round of repeat patterns, something has to change. Maybe if you start with understanding yourself, your beliefs and your behaviour, your partner might begin to do the same.
Also, I hope this chapter in my story, gives you hope 💛 x