The Story I’m Telling Myself…

Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong played in my headphones for months on repeat after X left me. It was like therapy when I wasn’t in therapy. In this amazing book that everyone should read, she talks about the stages of rising up after falling. One thing she talks about is that people naturally tell themselves stories to explain what is happening. And that those first-draft stories are almost always wrong. Part of the stage she calls the rumble is to notice the first-draft stories, but also recognize that we don’t have all the information.

In my situation, I don’t know that I’ll ever have enough information. X and I do not talk. The couple of times I have tried to ask questions, tried to understand what makes no sense, his response is, “I’ve already told you.” To him, the conversation is over. There’s no reason to talk more. To me, it makes no sense. How can a person have difficulties in a marriage and not go to his partner to address it? What went wrong? I don’t understand.

The affair helped my story. It made him an easy villain. I know he was at fault for the end of our marriage to begin with, but the affair made him evil. Easy to hate. It’s a simple story. And while it is partially accurate, I think there’s more to it.

So I look at what bothered me about the last years of our relationship and it was the fact that he never talked to me about problems or responded with any action to my needs and concerns. It was like he was absent in a deep way. So I revise the story to include the idea that he left the marriage before he left.

Then today, as I was cleaning and purging, I found an old journal from 2014. Five summers ago, I went back east for two weeks without him, and upon my return, he went into the backcountry to do field work for his job for two weeks. It was a month of us not seeing each other. In that time, I wrote in my journal every day. I sat on the floor of my living room reading words I could have written this past year. Frustrations with his inability to talk about his feelings, about his refusal to address the failure he was struggling with. I had frustrations about how he wouldn’t talk to me, only saying “What do you want me to say?” when I would try to talk with him about his struggles.

I find myself startled to see how long ago these patterns manifested this way, with this intensity. I hadn’t remembered it like that. And now I’m asking myself so many more questions. Like, how could I struggle with this for five years? How could I convince myself that this was okay? And, why on earth didn’t he see me as his partner, as the one person in the whole world who would have had his emotional back?

God I loved him so much, I put myself through this in an attempt to make it work. What did he do to make it work? His only answer to that question, when I asked as he was leaving, was that he tried to ignore his feelings. I guess I tried to ignore the frustrations that he was completely disengaged from me emotionally. Maybe my role in this was to allow this behavior? It’s all so confusing. I tried to talk to him so many fucking times. I tried to share my concerns. I tried opening up to him. I just don’t understand. I still don’t have a story that makes sense. And seeing my words from five years ago just muddies the water even more.

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