Friday, April 23, 2010

The Problem Isn’t Solved

This morning I woke up feeling listless and numb. I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but the feeling grew increasingly familiar. It was the sort of “going through the motions” feeling that I felt during my prolonged bout of clinical depression.

Last night was not a good night for my husband and I. We didn’t have a big fight or anything as we rarely have that kind of conflict. He had been caught up over the last 5 days or so in a drama related to the professional training he has been undergoing. The people he is working with are in a situation where they are privy to the most intimate thoughts of the people they are training. Supposedly, thoughts are shared frankly and in the utmost confidentiality, but the people conducting the training are being rather unprofessional about some of the negative comments made about them in the journals they have asked people to submit. While my husband’s journal hasn’t been at issue, some vindictiveness toward one of the other people in his training group has been alluded to, and he was sucked into the whole drama when he attempted to be supportive of the women who are being victimized by the unprofessional behavior and postures of the powers that be.

Since he has been so wrapped up in this drama, there really hasn’t been any room for me in his life. He goes to work and works long days, comes home and reads e-mail related to the drama, writes responses to the drama, and eats dinner. Then, we go to bed. Anything I say or do pales in comparison to this situation. Any need I may have, like having my husband inquire after my day’s diet progress as I asked him to do when I had my “cry for help” binge eight days ago, has fallen utterly by the wayside. For the last three days, he hasn’t asked me about my diet, despite my request that he simply ask one question to help me get a little more accountability. It would only take a moment of his time, but his brain is so crowded with helping everyone else that he can’t help me.

This morning after he headed off for this training, I sat on the bed and my morning numbness cleared as I reached the previously detailed realizations, and I started to cry because I feel so utterly isolated and alone. I feel as though my concerns don’t matter, and even if they do, he’s too stressed by the immediate situation to have me pile my issues on top of his. Last night, one of the problems he had was that he suddenly became acutely aware that his e-mail-based support of the women who were caught up in the drama could cause him serious problems if they were accidentally passed on to the wrong people. He had been preoccupied all day with this, and when I mentioned that he hadn’t done what very little I had been asking him to do in regards to asking about my day’s eating, he cried.

My husband rarely cries, so it is very devastating for me when I do something that upsets him this much. He then became very hard on himself about how good a husband he is in general (and he is a very good husband, the best I believe). This made me feel petty and terrible for heaping another concern onto him, and making him feel so bad about himself. I felt I should have waited to mention my feelings about his not asking me about my diet progress until this evening, after the last day of his training when any concern for his involvement in this drama blowing up in his face would have passed.

I’m a strong believer in communication with one’s spouse, even when there are difficult emotional accompaniments. That being said, I believe that it is important to use discretion about the timing of that communication. And, that being said, I think my sense of depression, isolation, and disconnection this morning was related to the fact that lately I feel there is no good time for my needs to be dealt with. What is more, I feel that the mundane nature of dealing with my issues and needs pale in comparison to the complex interactions and ensuing drama of the people that he is dealing with now. I can’t help but feel boring, unimportant, and superfluous. I’m also resentful that he’s spending so much time and energy supporting and helping other people while ignoring my request and needs. He tells me I’m more important than anyone or anything, and then goes on to help everyone but me. This disconnection between his asserted wishes and actions has been an issue for us before, and it is now again, but I don't know if he has the mental energy at present to even begin to deal with it at present.

I don’t mean to paint my husband in a negative light. It is difficult for him not to be involved with these people, and he cares about them and wants to build meaningful relationships with them. It’s all very exciting and fulfilling to be involved in this training and to get to know these new people on the deep level that he has. I have tried very hard to allow myself to be marginalized to some extent with grace throughout this process, but I’m starting to feel entirely pushed out of the picture. I don't want to be one of those women who needs some sort of proof that she's more important than anything else in her husband's life, nor do I want him to drop all other concerns for me. However, I'd like to feel that I'm in the mix at least, and I'm starting to feel that not asserting myself in the interests of not being a type of person I'd rather not be is harming me, my self-esteem, and ultimately my relationship with my husband. I don't want to insist on him putting me first, making me a priority or whatever one wants to call meeting my needs, but it is starting to look that there is no other way that I'll have my concerns dealt with or needs met.

I feel trapped. I feel alone. And I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it except cry and feel pain in my stomach and hope that writing about all of this will provide enough catharsis that I don't develop an ulcer or go on another mechanical binge in order to cry for help again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a very touching post! We have extremely similar husbands, re. their sensitivity, willingness and ability to "hear" us and our needs, as well as the occasional difficulty with following through on their desire to "be there" for us.