Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “family of origin

Easier To Be Quiet

the off parent - being quiet

I know it would be easier for everyone if I would just shut up about my divorce. We’ve rehashed all the problems, all my perceived injustices, all the ways I’ve been wronged. I know I keep telling the same story, over and over. I know, I hear you.

And I won’t shut up. Sorry.

The beautiful thing about anger, that I did not know until I had unleashed some of it… Anger is healing and powerful.

In my marriage I learned to cope. I learned to nurture myself in the absence of love. I self-regulated and made due with less and less affection. But the education, the pattern that I learned about what love looked like didn’t begin with my ex-y. Nope, I learned how to be disinterested and disconnected from my parents, just as you probably did. I mean, they were the only examples we had. And boy did I learn how not to do a marriage. But of course, my images and imaginings were done by the time I was 8. It was all over by then, for my mom and dad. And everything else I thought I knew, I made up.

We are not ready for the changes of marriage. And we are certainly in no way prepared for parenting. It changes everything.

In my marriage, the changes were too much. We lost touch with one another and learned to be quiet even when we should be shouting at the top of our lungs, “This is hurting me.”

Anger was a form of control in my family of origin. My father would rule his house with rage and yelling. And we would hide, tremble, and obey. But this is no way to behave. But what it did to our range of acceptable emotions, was to limit our own access to anger. What it did for me was teach me to be agreeable, at all cost. To even lie if it meant I could avoid a fight.

But in a healthy relationship we need to fight. We need to have access to our full-range of emotion. And when I started getting angry about what wasn’t working, I learned that it was okay. Of course, my ex-y would’ve loved me to stay in the submissive mode, I started to draw boundaries for the first time in my marriage. I started expressing what wasn’t working. I started to express my anger at being ignored emotionally and physically. And I demanded a change.

Of course the change I was hoping for would’ve come in the form of realigning our marriage, and what I got was an exit request. But I was no longer willing to just be quiet.

So sure, I could shut up about the divorce, the depression, and the anger. And it would be a whole lot easier on all of us. But the beautiful thing about anger, that I did not know until I had unleashed some of it… Anger is healing and powerful.

Anger does not have to be abusive or rageful. Anger can be a consistent request for love and affection. Anger can be a demand for the other partner in a relationship to wake up and relearn how to express joy. Anger gave me back my balls, so I could express what I really needed in my marriage.

I am still embracing my ability to ask for what I need, to seek truth and connectedness, and to find another person who expresses themselves easily through physical affection.

Try as I might, I was not able to call my ex-y back into love with me. Perhaps things had gone to far by the time I started fighting for my rights as a lover and husband. Perhaps my attempts to ravage my beautiful wife were no longer welcome. But I did not give up. I did not back down. I was no longer willing to masterbate alone all the time and wonder why she never had a sexual impulse. There I said it. I wanted to have sex and for some reason she didn’t.

And it wasn’t the typical dude grabbing at his woman daily for gratification. It was not a rutting sex I was after. I genuinely needed to feel skin-on-skin contact. I needed to affirm my warmth and closeness with my lover. I needed to be a lover and to reignite the lover in her.

I lost that negotiation. And ultimately I lost my marriage and the full-access to my kids. Bummer. But I was not willing to just be quiet and bear the coldness and aloneness that my marriage had become. And while she ultimately was the person who asked for a divorce, I was the one who had finally begun speaking up. And even in the face of her divorce request, I was certain I was fighting for my marriage. I wasn’t. I was fighting for what I wanted my marriage to return to, or what I’d hoped my marriage would become.

It’s not easier to be quiet, actually. It’s devastating not to speak your truth and be embraced. It’s debilitating to ask again and again for affection and be given all number of reasons that it’s not the right moment, or that I didn’t ask in the right way. I was starving to death while lying next to the one person who could nourish me.

Well, fortunately I learned my lesson. And I am still embracing my ability to ask for what I need, to seek truth and connectedness, and to find another person who expresses themselves easily through physical affection. It’s simple when you both crave the same Love Language. It’s a stretch and a negotiation if you don’t. But it’s never easier, in the long run, to be quiet.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: lovers, alice313, creative commons usage

+++ for a moment of comic relief


Stay At Home Mom: A Dream Unfulfilled

mother staying at home
I wanted my wife to be able to attend school functions, meet the bus after school, provide the stay-at-home lifestyle that was so common in our neighborhood. And for the first 5 years it was almost so. I went off to work with the expectations that she could provide a nurturing landing pad for them in and around school activities.

We lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood with plenty of affluent families who could afford the one-income lifestyle. And again, we were close. But for some portions of that time she was a part-time working mom. Booking any where from 10 – 20 hours a week.

We could’ve lived across town. We could’ve decided that our time with our kids was more important than the great schools we were affording them. But we didn’t. I soldiered on with my big job with big benefits while she went to mid-morning events at the school, and chummed up with the other less-than-full-time moms. And perhaps that was a sore spot for her too. We were surrounded by couples that had made it. Our’s was a different path.

And she was much better at school events. She handled proctoring the table of first-graders much better than I did. She was never short of ideas for kid-friendly activities. She never passed up a kid’s request, “Can we paint?” It was one of her gifts. She was fearless with the kids.

So it was a slightly dogged dad that I had become trying to support this selective imbalance. And for the most part I was fully on-board and supportive and happy that she had the extra time to be with the kids. But there was a sadness too.

I was sad somewhere deep inside, about not being able to provide as well as my dad did, making the nice home, nice neighborhood, nice stay-at-home wife. And sometimes when I would visit the school in place of my wife, I would feel guilty, like SHE was supposed to be there not me. And somehow it was my fault that she was having to work and I was filling in.

But the reality is this: I deserve time with my kids as much as she does. I gave up my ability to proctor classroom activities for a shot at allowing her to be there. There are plenty of families in our school district who have two working parents. And we had certainly achieved an agreeable fit. At least that’s what I felt about it.

Today I visited my daughter at school for lunch. She didn’t know I was coming. I didn’t really plan it out, I just looked at the schedule and noticed that her lunch was at 12:4o and off I went. She was delighted to see me. She proudly quizzed me about her friends names and laughed with them as I couldn’t remember any of them. And we sat and chatted with the group while she ate.

Looking around the cafeteria there was one other man in the room. I was in the realm of women and children. But the sad tone did not creep into my thoughts. I was happy to have the time to visit, I was happy my daughter was doing well with the divorce, and I was happy to be able to know that the value I provided was over and above any income bracket or nice house. What I provide for my daughter is a solid male example.

I left before the lunch was completely over. The table was getting excited at the anticipation of going out for recess. I high-fived my daughter and said, “I’ll see you after the bus today, at your mom’s house.” I was picking up my son and my daughter was choosing to stay at home with the very cool babysitter. And we were happy with the arrangement.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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