Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead
Day 122 – Tuesday, 12 Mar
I’m feeling defeated. A week since getting out of jail and I can’t seem to get my legs back under me, or my mind back onto the book. The forced idleness of jail has settled into my bones.
Even worse is that I’m alone. My wife and family are gone.
I met with Matthew Parks today, and I was all over the map. Sometimes talking to him is such an exercise in being sure he cannot misinterpret what I’m saying that it’s hard to get any value from talking to him. Plus I’m split over how to feel toward Maria.
So much of what happened during our marriage is a result of both of us making mistakes. We both needed help and acknowledged that, but we didn’t get the help. So we’re both wrong, and I don’t think we were trying to be mean to each other. But now Maria is telling lies to get what she wants, and that makes me angry. I want us to be together again, but I’m not willing to let what has happened since November just slide.
There's a story in Dr. Glasser's book about a woman who is unhappy with her husband. That triggered a memory about Maria asking me to go to bible study two or three months before all this happened.
When she asked, I was happy. She asked as I was walking past the kitchen. I kept going and went into the bedroom. When I got into the bedroom, I started thinking about her request in terms of all the efforts I had made that she undermined and all the efforts she had made and failed to sustain. I also thought about having told her we were through because of all the pain she had caused.
My attitude was very 'blaming" and I wanted to push her away and hurt her.
Instead of saying yes and making the most of the opportunity, I said no. More specifically, I growled at her and said "The only thing we have left to do together - if it's required - is the immigration interview." Then I walked away.
When I think about it now, I wonder how hard it was for Maria to invite me. I wonder whether it was hard for her to speak up. Whether it was or wasn't, it's certain I shut her down hard.
There's no question in my mind that I was hard on Maria during the last year of our marriage. I was angry and hurt after absorbing two years of abuse. I had given up on our marriage.
That Maria has resorted to lies to achieve her objective hurts now, but I can't do anything about someone else's choices. It’s something I know in my head, and have a hard time taking action on. It's a lot easier to just blame her for doing things that are clearly wrong than it is to focus on the things I could have done better. That's the big trap, isn't it?
I think of times when the kids were fighting; especially Skyler and Skyler. One time Skyler wouldn't give back something of Skyler's, so Skyler hit Skyler. That started a fight that carried all the way into the bedroom where Maria and I were lazing about with the cat and dog. I stepped into the door of the bedroom and called the girls.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Skyler has my game and won't give it back."
"Well you hit me!"
"Hold on. Hold on. One at a time.
"Skyler, what's the problem?"
"But she hit me," Skyler interrupted.
"Okay. And you'll have your turn in a second. One of you has to go first, right? And all I'm asking Skyler is to explain what happened. Then I'll ask you, okay?" Skyler still wanted to go first, but she accepted the situation.
"Skyler, what happened?"
"Skyler had my game and wouldn't give it back, so I went in her room and got it."
"Okay. And did you hit your sister?"
"Alright. Skyler, what do you say happened?"
"Well, I wasn't finished with her game, but she didn't have to hit me."
"You're right. Skyler should not have hit you. In fact, she shouldn't even have gone into your room if you didn't want her there. So let's see if we can work this out.
"First, Skyler, do you now have your game back?" I could see something in her hand, but wasn't sure if it was the game.
She held it up for me to see. "Yes."
"Okay. So here's how I see it. Skyler, you had something of Skyler's and didn't return it when asked it that right?"
"Yes." Then I looked at Skyler for an answer.
"And Skyler, you went into your sister's room to get it. When she wouldn't give it back, you hit her, is that right?"
"Yes." Skyler agreed when I glanced at her for an answer.
"So you both did something wrong, and instead of getting what you wanted, it started a fight. Now we're standing here talking about it." The girls were watching me, wondering what would come next.
"You're sisters, right?" They nodded. "And I know you love each other. You're always doing stuff together, but today you got on each other's nerves.
"So, do you think you can go back to your rooms and work this out without fighting?"
That was all it took; a short conversation to help both sides see what they could have done differently. Looking back, I think I should have hugged both girls, given them a kiss, and told them they were loved, but I didn't. It just didn't occur to me at the time.
When I think about things like this, I wonder what makes it so easy to help someone else solve a problem that I'm not solving for myself. Maria and I were doing the same sort of thing, and I kept reacting with anger instead of trying to find a solution. Or no, it wasn't just anger. I was also blaming Maria for hurting me and then letting that justify the anger instead of looking for a solution.
Ever notice how often we all do that? It's entirely correct to say that Maria did things that even she agreed were wrong, so I feel good about blaming her and being angry. When she "reacts poorly" to my blame and anger, I feel justified in telling her she can fix it all by just correcting what she's doing wrong. And it all ends up in divorce and hurt feelings.
Now, I'm not saying that Maria and I would ever have ended up with a happy, healthy marriage. It's possible that we would have ended up going our separate ways anyway. But I am saying that I could have given her my love instead of anger, listened instead of complaining, and support instead of nagging.
All week - to be honest, for about the last two years - I had been choosing what felt good today instead of what's best for the long haul. I had been wallowing in trying to figure out what I could have done differently, pitying myself for things having gone wrong, and blaming everyone (including myself) for not having made their best effort.
I want different results, so it's time to make a different choice.