The last week has been crazy in so many ways. But I’m going to focus on a major decision I’ve made with regards to my marriage. Let me see if I can piece together all the processing I’ve done during the last week into something coherent.
Last Thursday, I woke up with one of those rare (for me) feelings of unease. Like something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I hate things like this. It makes it really hard for me to focus on anything else, and I obsessively process and try to work my way through things. I don’t do well with not understanding my emotions. As soon as I realize I don’t, I have to figure it out. At first I thought I was just nervous knowing that I was going to kiss G. Then I kissed her and it was still there, no change really.
Then I did some more processing and thinking and came up with a few twisty bits about A. I tackled one of them. I talked to G about the other and I still have to talk to A about it, and call me crazy, but I think it’s better if I talk to him in person about my Twisty Bit than publish it here to read. I do have a post almost entirely prepared about those Twisty Bits though. (Sorry A, you’ll actually have to have the serious conversation with me!)
So, that meant processing more. I spent the entire weekend, except for Sunday night, alone with the kids. This meant a lot of time to think and work and think and work. One of the things I did was tell my four best friends from when I lived abroad that I am polyamorous. I did it in the best way possible. Bandaid style. I posted a picture of me with A and D and said “This is a picture of me with my boyfriends…” and explained the whole thing. In true friend fashion, they were all really supportive. But my best friend there had the best thing to say:
Ahhh. I’m actually not surprised. And I’m not surprised that as soon as you were happy and confident in your professional and emotional life your hubby couldn’t cope. I’m glad you are finding yourself!!
Then I had a long chat with her on messenger and she pointed out a few things. Patterns of behaviour that suggest that those bizarre boundary pushing behaviours, passive aggressive control manipulations, and general douchiness were actually present all along, not a product of the last six months. She pointed out some situations where it was quite obvious that he was trying to control me. Where he said things that were so critical or manipulative or just a little too far past the truth to really stick. As I thought of it, I realized a few things.
When we were just the two of us, for the first 7 years of our relationship, I was strong and independent, but I made so much less money than he did that I was dependent on him and his support. He could still be a real jerk, but it was seldom, because let’s face it, when you don’t have kids, things are a little easier to manage in life. But there were times he accused me of trying to control him, or spending his money frivolously, or using him for this or that. He guilted me about sex and he was a very selfish lover. But it wasn’t that bad. All of it could be excused by his challenging job, the fact that he was going to university full time and working full time, and the fact that he worked shift work and was often very tired.
Then, we had four kids in five years and four months. I had two miscarriages in that time too. I was depressed in the months leading up to getting pregnant with #2. I’m a strong, independent, career minded woman and I was at home on maternity leave for 4 years. I sacrificed a lot to be home with my kids. It’s OK, it was a choice I made, but it was still hard. In between, I worked a job that I like, but didn’t give me the fulfillment that my job, in my chosen profession, that I have now, gives me. I was unhappy. Then, after #4 was born, I finally realized that I was depressed and went on medication. It changed my life. I was more engaged in life, I worked at making things work with hubby more, it was great. In the end, after a year and a half on meds, I thought he and I were in a really good spot. We weren’t really, but I thought we were.
What I realized is that there was a lot of passive aggressive and outright aggressive criticisms of me taking place during those years. Comments about how I shouldn’t be having a hard time and needing him at home on his days off because I was “just” at home with the kids doing nothing all day. Comments about how all I did was “spend his money”. Comments criticizing my diet, exercise, and appearance. Recently, a lot of these things have really exploded. Yesterday he blamed me for all our financial issues and the told me that his mental health issues were because of the finances.
Hmmmmmm…..sounds like I’m being blamed for his mental health issues.
These comments served to destabilize me more. It was a way to control me. To keep me unhappy and “stuck”. For him to feel needed by me. He knew I was unhappy being at home full time with kids, so he played up my dislike of it. He knew I wasn’t fulfilled in my other job in emergency services and criticised me for taking a job in my chosen career instead. He still criticises me about my job, complaining I work too much, complaining that I don’t make enough, complaining that I work and “let someone else parent my kids” (never mind that he is also working and letting someone else parent his kids….). Then this crazy ass thing happened. I was professionally fulfilled for the first time since I graduated from grad school. I found a job I love, doing what I want, with amazing coworkers, and great work/life balance.
Then I reconnected with X. He introduced me to polyamory. I went through the growth of the heartbreak with him. I met A, B, C, and D. All of them have given me so much in my life, even if B is now a friend and C has disappeared because he’s W’s other partner. I became happy. Really, truly, deep down in the darkest corners of me, happy. I found a part of me that I didn’t know was missing. I felt (and still feel) complete.
What I didn’t realize is how destabilizing my happiness and fulfillment in my professional and emotional life was to hubby’s mental health. He no longer could control me. With my happiness came the ability to calmly and patiently deal with life’s issues. I had perspective and meaning and balance. But hubby didn’t. My happiness rocked his world view. I stopped responding and getting angry at the little pokes. So the pokes got bigger. He started stomping right through my boundaries. He had to work harder and harder to get a reaction out of me. Then, at a certain point, I couldn’t help but react. I’m human. I got pushed to the point where I couldn’t be calm any more. And I lost control. And that was horrible.
Inside all that conflict there was one thing that still was obvious. I was happy. Complete. In love with D and living my life exactly how I wanted. Then I crossed the couch and ended up with A. My happiness and the ease with which I slotted A into my life was hard on hubby. He didn’t realize that I still loved him and wanted to be him, and that upped his boundary pushing to a point where it couldn’t be sustained any more. Because of all that pushing, I reacted and our relationship exploded.
The last weeks have been interesting. Hubby is not doing well. He’s quite obviously stressed – not sleeping, looks exhausted, unkempt and stressed. He’s having a very hard time with me not reacting. Except this week, I haven’t been my best and have reacted a little too often. Mostly, he’s challenged by my calling him on his bullshit. He’s complained that I’m not a stay at home mom, that I’m responsible for all the financial issues we have, says I’m abusive, he’s told me that I lost the right to be upset about the fact that he forced a situation where I had to tell a friend and my mom about being polyamory because I hit him. He’s told me he doesn’t feel like he’s ever had any control in his life. He’s got a cloak of victim wrapped so tightly around himself that he can’t see how he is manipulating and being passive aggressive. It’s sad.
What I had to ask myself after all of these realizations was:
- Do I think that hubby can do all the things I need him to do if we are to fix our marriage?
- What are all the things I need hubby to do if he decides he wants to fix our marriage?
- If he does decide that he wants to fix our marriage, do I really want that?
It’s sad that this is what I’m thinking about. But what it did was help me figure it all out. The thing is, when I thought it was just hubby going a little crazy over a short period of time, I thought we could solve things. Now that I realize it’s a pattern of behaviour that just amplified, I don’t think we can.
So, I’ve decided to formally separate from my husband. I’m stressed about the details. I couldn’t be more certain of my decision at this point.