What is your tipping point?
Have you reached it yet?
I am pretty open about sharing my life story. Maybe too open-LOL! But I never shared that galvanizing moment when divorce became a plan, not a threat, a dread, or a question.
I forget to mention it because it was such a small thing, a moment, a statement and suddenly after years of feeling like I was perhaps one of the most selfish, densest or biggest failures on the planet for not being able to keep what looked like the perfect family together, I got it.
All during my 18 year marriage, there was conflict. I won’t go into all the explanations, neither of us was right or wrong. We didn’t want to be unkind to each other, we just were. It was a lack of understanding about ourselves that grew into something bigger than the both of us.
But the catalyst for me was a day in a ceramic studio where I was thoroughly enjoying the pursuit of a second degree in Art.
I had been going off and on for several years. My ex was truly in favor of me finding whatever it was that made me happy.
So, I landed on going back to college and studying art. There were certain considerations to my pursuit of course, since he was paying for it. These included not neglecting my duties as a wife and mother, the house, our son, cooking, cleaning and the part time work I did for him.
Except that what would happen is at the beginning of each semester he would be so proud of me for doing what I was doing, handling my responsibilities and pursuing another degree. And that pride and support would last for a month or so.
About midway through the semester there would be in increase in tension. I couldn’t tell you why. But it happened every semester I was in school.
And then by the end of the semester, it was practically all out war. Even the smallest thing would turn into a big argument.
So, about the time I was supposed to register for classes for the upcoming semester, he would inform me it wasn’t working out. And since of course this was not tied to any type of career goal, but rather (in his mind especially) something I was just “doing” for fun, he would tell me there was no school for a while.
Which is exactly what happened this time as well. Only this time something else happened too.
I didn’t want to go
I was very disappointed about leaving school this particular semester because I was in three classes that had my artistic meter soaring – ceramics, creative writing and modern dance. And yes, I was frustrated. But I had spent so many years believing that he knew what was best for me, in other words, so many years of not taking responsibility for my own joy, that I just shrugged and resigned myself to it.
But when I went to tell my advisor I wouldn’t be returning he asked why. When I said, “because my husband doesn’t want me to,” he looked at me like I was an alien.
“What do YOU want?” he asked incredulously.
Just like that I realized I hadn’t asked myself that for years. All I had wanted for so long, since the divorce of my parents as a matter of fact, was a “normal” family, whatever that meant. And I had spent 18 years trying to create it, drowning out the voice inside that told me that the best way to do that was to be me.
I mean, isn’t that who my ex had married? As I began to look back over my life I realized that had also probably played a huge role in my first marital disaster.
When I was alone, single, listening to my own voice, being me, I had no trouble whatsoever knowing what I wanted.
But somehow in the context of relationship/marriage, I gave all that power for my happiness to someone else. Not only that, it was a huge burden for another person to carry.
That is what happens in most marriages, we give over who we are, what we want and what makes us happy – for the “greater good”. Until one day we wake up and have no idea who we are.
Trying to make a shift 10 or even 15 years later, once we realize it is like over correcting a car that hit a puddle. It usually ends up in a disaster.
Why? Because we don’t know how. Our only reaction is sadness, dissatisfaction, and anger directed toward our husband. And we don’t know how to manage that positively.
We forget that we are the ones who gave him the keys. Which is why our husbands then become defensive, bewildered, distant and angry as well.
There is a better way. It may save your marriage. It may not. But it will save you.
If you are ready, I mean, shockingly, I can’t believe this is my life, I can’t live this way anymore ready, do something about it.
Change will not happen by itself. You will not wake up one day magically ecstatic about your life. He won’t change. You are the only one who can make that happen.
Why aren’t you?