Yesterday I opened up about how I failed Husband #2 in one aspect of our relationship. I made some pretty bold assumptions, which could be 100% wrong. I’ll never be sure since he’s now Gone With the Wind.
Ah, but tomorrow is another day so I continue my task of self discovery to make future Marriage #3 a better relationship.
On a recent episode of Married At First Sight I heard a phrase that I related to strongly. Dr. Pepper Schwartz talked about a participant who was used to taking care of herself emotionally and who never had anyone there to support her in that regard. I was on the edge of my seat. This is where Husband #2 let me down.
My childhood was filled with abandonment. My dad was an alcoholic and somewhat hands off when it came to me. I’m not sure if he knew what to do with his bookworm daughter who had little interest in hunting and fishing. And my mom walked out the door one day and spent the rest of her life in the garden, leaving a 7 year old Deja in charge of the younger kids and household chores. Emotions ran high in my family but they all revolved around anger. Whoever shouted the loudest was the boss and crying was weakness to be mocked.
For my entire life, I’ve searched for someone I could spill my heart to and not get ridiculed in the process. You see I’m eternally optimistic… I didn’t have trouble telling Husband #2 I felt lonely or sad or disappointed. I’ve learned to handle these emotions on my own. It’s what happened after these confessions that fell flat. I was hoping for a partner that would help me carry these things so I wasn’t so alone.
He took my emotional confessions as proof I was never happy… with him, with work, with life, whatever. And that fired up his defensiveness. But I was happy (I just didn’t say it enough). I was also sad, disappointed, and lonely at times. My hope was by telling him when I was down, we could work through issues, or at least he could be there to help me, to have my back. What I wanted from him were statements of support. He didn’t need to feel the same way I did, I just wanted to hear, “I understand. I see why you feel that way. What can I do to help you work through the disappointment (or sadness or loneliness). What can I do to show you that you’re not alone?“
Because of Husband #2’s defensiveness, I got the “you’re never happy” speech and was labeled as needy, bipolar, and suffering from borderline personality disorder. These were personal attacks on me when all I wanted to do was to talk through issues. I felt abandoned.
I continued to try and talk to him about issues, but it was shrouded in my own anger and frustration (remember, he who yells the loudest is right). I felt him stonewalling and shutting down. It was like I was this crazy woman banging a turtle shell on a rock trying to get him to come out. I got to the point where I was throwing around the D-word, not so much because I wanted a divorce, I just wanted to see if anyone was home inside of him. I never gave up trying to voice my concerns about our relationship but after a while I didn’t trust him with my feelings anymore. In his eyes, there was something wrong with me.
From my vantage point, I felt that I was (reasonably) presenting my vulnerability and it appeared as if he was (unreasonably) beating me up for it…. Sound familiar?
Again, I can’t go backwards in time, only forward, so what would I do in the future with mythical Husband #3?
Let Husband #3 know that there are many things in our relationship that make me a happy woman and I bring up issues because I want us to work through them together before they become really, really BIG issues. i’d much rather fix a slow drip than a burst pipe.
susan koehn says
Thank you for writing this. This is identical to my 2nd marriage too. your ex could be a narcissist and they have no empathy. At least that is what I have been learning.