While packing this evening, with no kids around, we started talking the Leaver and I. It got emotional but in a good way. There was alcohol to help break down some barriers but it didn’t go to extremes. Just enough to make her open and me a little less trepidatious.
Will our aggression even if mitigated by alcohol and or our general crapulance overwhelm the little time we have together before her move out date? There’s been a lot of hostility and aggression — a lot. And that’s been probably the hardest think to take is the Leaver’s hostility to me.
I’m not trying to deny that there must be a whole host of reasons to want to bite my head off, there probably is.
Every little thing I do, every way I say something seems to be deeply aggravating. So she assumes the worst in anything that I say. The high road is consistently barricaded and mined.
Perhaps there is an unavoidable need for an enemy? Maybe I just have to be in that role.
Leaving, is a sort of suicide — an unimaginable extreme step.
(Look at this article in the New York Times recently about the reactions to Divorcehttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/fashion/how-divorce-lost-its-cachet.html?_r=1&ref=fashion)
If you were having an affair and you have to leave because of that, it’s kind of analogous to killing during war– incomprehensible but you have to do it. Or if you had to leave because of abuse that’s like killing someone in self-defense — extreme, you wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but what else can you do?
But Leaving the way, my partner is — due to issues of identity, fulfillment etc. (which sound terribly short shrift but really I just don’t want to speak on her behalf. Suffice it to say her motivations lack a satisfying tangibility when trying to explain it to other people. I think I get it — but I’ve known her for over 20 years. But it’s hard for other people to get it.) is much more like a sort of suicide. It’s profoundly difficult. It makes sense to her but very difficult for anyone else to get and at times, hard for her to wrap her brain around it.
So I can imagine that it is a natural reaction to treat me, at worst, like the enemy and at best the opposition. I can see the “fight” mechanism tripped with a word, a look, or a phrase from me that seems innocuous. There are plenty of things I say that aren’t innocuous to say the least. That are accusatory, insulting etc. (see all the other posts in this blog…) and those of course turn atomic very quickly. I don’t say this lightly but even if she loves me, she really can’t stand me right now.
I enter conversations overtly well-mannered with exaggerated caution. So she thinks I’m being sarcastic, or insulting or condescending and reacts accordingly. And I absolutely lash back. I’ll hold it in for a bit, but then it rips. Problem is I’m very good and I can fight back very, very effectively.
But I can’t seem to get her to give me the benefit of the doubt anymore before we get to the trigger point, to avoid the trigger. Frankly, I’d be happy if she just gave me the same civility she would to a stranger. To just wait if you think I’m going to say something stupid to make sure it is what you think it is. Just cut me a little slack. It’s not weakness just empathy.
Actually I’d be cool with a dash of sympathy and a dollop of pity too. I think pity has been given a bad name in our day and age — but I’ll save that for another time.
So I’m hoping that in the sun of Cuba (flight leaves in 4 hours), the subtraction of stress, the clean air (the booze??) we’ll unearth and restore some more of the same emotion we had this evening. The good sadness. The resolution to do well.
I know there’s love between us, absolutely — that (I firmly believe) will last our entire days, regardless.
But we also need to empathize, and sympathise for each others plight.
It’s fucking hard on both of us. Really, really hard. And we’re both good people who are doing the best we can. That’s the gist of what our friends and family keep telling us. Okay so how can we get to the point where we see that when we look at each other?
How do we internalize that:
- That person’s life sucks right now.
- I love that person
- Therefore I should be nice to the person I love while their life sucks.
We can’t seem to get to #3 very often and not without a lot of angst and a sense of territorial relinquishing first.
But we really, really need to be decent to each other if we’re going to make it through this without our family’s lives turning to shit.