Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Six Months Later

Last August my husband embarked on two new endeavors, both of which meant a lot to him. He signed up for a once-a-week night class and started independently studying for a really intense licensing exam. As a man who works full time and logs in another part-time job's worth of hours in overtime, he's already stretched really thin. I didn't vocalize my concern at the time, lest I appear unsupportive, but I couldn't conceive of a world where he had enough energy to devote to all three commitments successfully. Unwilling to proclaim his ambitious efforts destined for failure, however, I refused to give breath to my fears. In fact I did the opposite. Like a good wife I shut my mouth, smiled, and threw all my support and encouragement behind him.

I also decided the only way to get through this next phase was to subjugate my own needs to take care of his. While there was some gallantry to my thought process, it pretty much lacked logic. The reality is I'm a high-maintenance trainwreck who's constantly sick and struggling to fight my way back from an atrocious viral relapse. Not exactly a model cheerleader, let alone life partner, to get someone through an intense time of personal improvement. Nor am I a person who has the luxury of not taking care of myself. Especially once the stress and exhaustion of his demanding schedule started turning my husband into an ogre...

Ultimately life became unbearable. Again. My reaction was to stop talking and retreat into myself. I felt increasingly trapped in a life I couldn't stand and had no control over. But my husband was near the end of his commitments and struggling to stay afloat, so I couldn't very well say anything to him. The last thing he needed as he raced toward success was a nagging wife to distract him with her whiny little problems. Isolated, alone, and angry, my mental health took a hit.

He passed the flippin' licensing exam last Friday. The floodgates of my misery burst open on Saturday. For the past week we've done a lot of talking. I'm sitting on months worth of unexpressed anger and resentment that has turned me bitter and hostile. He's got an entire life he's been avoiding and has to start participating in again.

While I'm relieved things are on the right track, I'm disappointed in us. We've been together nearly nineteen years and have had more hard times than most people have hairs on their head. You'd think we would have learned how to navigate life's challenges without falling apart, as individuals and as a couple. But instead of coming together, we both retreated into our own individual survival modes and wreaked a fair amount of havoc in our own lives. That havoc has to be cleaned up. So while it seemed like passing that licensing exam meant the hard work was coming to an end, I'm quickly realizing it's only starting to begin.

Thanks for joining,