Friday, November 17, 2006

Back to the Wife

A new carrot is being dangled in front of me.

If I change the way she wants, she’ll stay.

If I don’t, she’ll leave.

I can’t help but think I’ve been surrounded by carrot dangling people my whole life.

I’m tired of carrots.

It doesn’t work on me anymore. I won’t be held prisoner by someone else’s needs. She should not feel held prisoner by me. If she is unhappy with the very best person I can be, then she should leave. Threatening me will not make me change. I know it did before. Which is probably why she’s trying to see if it will work this time.

I don’t feel so empty. So alone. I understand my need to rush and take care of someone else. It’s not helpful. And it never works in the long run. (See November 1st blog, Take Two.) I end up drained and resentful.

I love my wife. And I will not back down. I realize love does not mean giving until there is nothing left in an attempt to avoid confrontation.

The fighting between us- and the silence- is starting to take a toll on the boys. They are quiet at times. Too quiet. As if they are holding their breath, waiting for the next outburst.

Ben made his bed, brushed his teeth and didn’t fight once with his little brother this morning. He said to Jeanine on her way out, Have fun today!

He is trying to be the caretaker. On my way out to couples therapy last night, he hugged me and would not let go. It’s okay, honey, I said. I’ll be home in an hour or so.

I know, he said. He still held tight.

I’m not leaving. I’m not walking out the door. I am not, as my friend says, writing the story before it takes place. There is no rush. Taking careful steps, pausing often, will help me choose the right path.

For the first time in my life, I’m not angry. I’m not anxious. I can wait to see how this works out. The huge black hole, the void from years of abuse shoved deep into the farthest corners of my mind, is gone. All my tricks to avoid it are like a magician’s hat and deck of cards finally held in the audience’s hands. Not so tricky after all.

I have said before, and will say again, I am not a perfect person. I hold equal responsibility in my marriage for its success or failure.

I am, however, a different person now.

One who does not respond to carrots.


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