It’s June 2nd. Wow! The 6th year anniversary of my husband Dave’s first attempt has come and gone. (I’ve been posting about my experiences after his first attempt in the “aftermath” thread).
The significance–this is the first year that I didn’t count down to the anniversary date. Instead in the month of May I counted down to my daughter Beth’s 12th birthday. I enjoyed Mother’s day. I mapped out and watched for Beth’s end of school events.
I lived life.
Life’s going well for us.
1) Dave’s taking his anti-depressant medication consistently. He really is a different person off of it or maybe withdrawing from it. Edgier. Irritable. Irascible. In both attempts he went off his meds.
2) I started individual therapy in October, a few months after his second attempt. It was a self care move–I needed the extra support. I needed a dependable safe place to cry, to vent, to process, to validate, normalize, but also to grow, strengthen and develop my voice.
3) Dave started individual therapy a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been encouraging him to do some individual work. I hope he will explore his tenuous self esteem and develop a strong core where he doesn’t go to “I’m a failure, they’re (Beth and I) better off without me.” I hope he will strengthen his voice.
4) We’ve started to conflict differently. Not censor so much. Not stuff feelings. That’s always been our work. But our fears kept us from coming in fully with each other. Throughout our time in therapy we’ve definitely moved on the continuum of being honest with each other. But there were still a few topics that I’ve tiptoed around: our finances, needing help with chores, “minor” irritations. I thought I was protecting him. I didn’t want him to go into “I’m a failure” mode. But by stuffing, censoring, hiding my feelings, I got the very thing I was trying to avoid–all the build up led to a blow up, sending Dave into his “I’m a failure mode.” If it doesn’t work do something differently. I thought I was, but I wasn’t being completely honest and the small stuff isn’t small if I’m still harboring resentment.
Dave’s not keeping stuff in either and he’s persisting to be heard. Last week after church, I thought he was mad at me. Something I interpreted in his tone. He said he wasn’t. I didn’t believe him. We arrived at our destination. As I was exiting the car, he told me to stop. Get back in. He needed me to understand that he was not mad. He was upset that I didn’t understand that he was not upset. His tone was firm, assertive. “Really?” “Really. I’m not mad.” And that was it. We got out of the car, sat across of each other. No heavy silence. No ruined lunch. We shared a laugh or two. Nice.
In couple’s therapy we’re processing what we’re doing differently–bringing the steps leading to new outcomes into awareness so we can replicate the behavior. I sit in sessions and think is this it? Sessions feels so drab, mundane, tedious. But then I step back and I realize–we’re moving toward normal. And normal feels drab, mundane, tedious to me. I’m used to life being edgy, chaotic, tumultuous. I can consciously or unconsciously self-sabotage and create drama, create the chaos that I’m used to. Or I can recalibrate and reset my “normal” so that I can sit in calm, peace, and bask in it. Enjoy it. Feel blessed for it.