Since Al and I made the decision to tie the knot, I have been thinking so much about love and marriage and what makes marriages work and what makes marriages fail and the dangers of repeating bad patterns and if it is possible to love someone too much and how it is that you can love someone without really being friends and is that really love anyway and many other assorted love type thoughts. Whew my brain has been busy!
I’ve been trying to take myself back mentally 17 years
(via Wayne’s World flashback)
to when I was engaged to Stanley.
I remember being happy and wanting to marry him but I don’t remember having confidence in him if that makes any sort of sense. I think I knew that I was the strongest one in the relationship. Not the strongest minded, because he is very strong minded and does what he wants to do. He was fine to do what I wanted to do if he didn’t care one way or the other, but if he had a preference, it was a strong preference. I think in retrospect I didn’t have confidence in something but I haven’t yet put my finger on it. Was I not confident in his love? I knew I wasn’t confident that he felt protective of me because he showed me that before we got married when he didn’t protect me from his mother. He didn’t defend me. He threw me to the wolves.
The Big Bad Wolf
Maybe the answer here is simple. I wasn’t confident in his love because I saw he wasn’t protective of me. Maybe you don’t love someone that you don’t feel protective of. The people that I love, I feel fiercely protective of. He said in our couples therapy that he never felt the need to protect me because he thought I was capable of taking care of myself.
Yes, but not always.
Even strong assertive women want someone who will fight for them.
So why, after I saw him throw me to the wolves during our first visit to meet his parents, did I not call it off? I remember being very disappointed and to be honest I think I held a piece of myself back starting then. Why did that seem okay to me? Well, Stanley is an island. He isn’t very emotionally connected to anyone. He was stunned to hear in therapy that he wasn’t my best friend, because I was his best friend. I was the person that he would shout greetings to or shout information about his day when he needed to communicate but it was always from his island.
It was just details, not his hopes or fears or how he felt about something. I spent 14 years not knowing how he felt about anything. If I had a dollar for every time I asked him, ‘are you okay?’ or ‘what are you thinking?’ I could probably retire. What was I thinking to have married an island? Over time, I think I became an island with him too. I was engaged emotionally with my family and friends and kids, but with him, we were two people on two separate islands calling out to each other from across the sea.
Over time I became miserable. He, who had always been an island, was fine and stunned to hear that I was unhappy.
I have a habit of choosing emotionally unavailable men. They are, to some degree, comfortable to me, the daughter of an emotionally unavailable man. I fear remarriage for fear of again finding myself with an emotionally unavailable man, with the same sort of issues wrapped in a different package.
Then there is Al.
He is completely emotionally available. He talks about feelings. Because he is so open emotionally we are just one big ball of feelings. Note, I said, “we”. I don’t think when talking about Stanley up there, I used that word, and that is significant. There was no we in that relationship. There was him and there was me. Happily married couples are a ‘we’.
Last week when Al was here, I had a happening. Something happened to me emotionally that is hard to put into words but I am going to try. We were lying there, all intertwined, post-coital (as usual), and I felt such an overwhelming rush of emotion for him that I felt almost out of body. I could only explain it to him (because we share feelings) like this:
It’s like I was underwater.. but happy, not alone, not drowning, safe, and looking up, I could see the light.
Well, that sounds insane. It wasn’t. It was profound and meaningful.
Like I said, it was almost an out of body experience.
My interpretation of it is that I am off the island, but safe, not alone, and happy to see the light. That still sounds insane. Or maybe it means that even though the water is deep, with him, I feel safe. Still kind of crazy.
Oh well. Maybe out of body experiences aren’t supposed to make sense to others. Or maybe that is how everyone feels that makes love to their best friend. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had that experience before.
Whatever the reason, I’m off the island.