So, I married a selfish jerk. Who was a liar. Among other things. I just didn’t find that out until later. Turns out it’s not too hard to hide things away when a relationship is carried on via email and weekend visits. Which is how our “whirlwind romance” was, until he bought a house where I lived and proposed. We were married one year to the month we started dating. But I had fallen in love with someone who didn’t exist. I’d based my expectations for the future on a lie.
I found out the hard way. The big, ugly, God-awful, horrid hard way. And then I had to make a choice. Continue to love him? Stay and attempt to see this though? Or run screaming in the opposite direction? Common sense said run, but I thought of my parents. I’d seen them go through tough times, but I never saw them quit. Or give up. Or leave. And, after all, I had made a promise. For better or worse, right? And I was raised to stick to my word. So I stayed. And I made the mistake of asking “How much worse can it get?”
Um, worse. It got worse. Yelling. Screaming. Fighting. More really bad choices from him. Uncovering more and more and more secrets. Begging him to get help. It tested every ounce of strength and love and understanding and compassion in me. And my parents had to deal with me during that time. Dad had to ask, in all seriousness, “Do you need me to pound him?” The things I had to ask Mom to help me with. But I kept at it. I kept at him. Until finally it came down to what was, essentially, an intervention. Although at the time I just saw it as my breaking point.
Somehow, thankfully, it worked. When he returned from having stormed off, he told me he needed help. Professional help. And he needed me to come with so that he wouldn’t lie. I knew then that we had finally stepped on to the right path. I knew then that, eventually, we’d be okay.
Of course, “eventually” has no real time line. And the first years of counseling were, as they needed to be, about Hubby getting well, facing demons, fighting addiction, standing up for himself to his family, reclaiming (or really just claiming) his life. It was heart wrenching to watch. I did what I could to help. That didn’t feel like much. And it was hard for me, too, in very different ways. I hated to think of me, and hated myself for thinking of me, but I just wasn’t sure what to do. What did this mean for “us?” Would there still be an “us” when this was all said and done? What did this mean for me? Since what I thought I was getting into was a lie, what did I do now? It was like living life on hold.
But once he got through the worst of it, the focus shifted to us. And how to be us now. And we’re still working at that. (And, Hubby’s still working to figure out things for him and about him. It’s a lot to undo 35 years of crap being filtered in to you. To use his words “I wasn’t raised to be a decent human being.” So he’s still working on that. And probably will be for a long time.) But now we’re working for us, too. And, damn, that’s tough.
I still feel like I’m in a kind of limbo. I constantly, daily, have to rework my thinking and alter my expectations of what this life with him is. And since he’s working to change 35 years of bad information, I’ve got to be super extra patient (which I’m so not good at). And one-time possibilities like raising a family slip further away each day. Sometimes I still get bitter that my courtship and the first year of my marriage were based on lies. Sometimes I still get frustrated at his seeming inability to function like a normal human. And I still don’t know where it will all end up.
But I still know we’re on the right path. The peaks start to seem like plateaus (like, it stays good for longer periods of time). The valleys become less deep and further apart. We talk more and fight less. He is a completely different (significantly better) man than the one I married (although still super cute). There are (finally) no secrets between us (Amen.)
So, why do I blather on about all of this today? Not sure. I think maybe I just needed to say it and sort it all out in my head. It's just that kind of a day, I guess. But I think my overall feeling at this point is grateful. I know he's a better, stronger person for all of it. I know I'm a better, stronger person for all of it. I know we're a stronger unit for it. I'm grateful that when he fell, I was there with him. That he had a safe place to completely and utterly fall apart and start over again; that he had someone there with him, because he's told me many times that if I hadn't been there, no one would have been (and I sadly believe that) and that the outcome would have been far worse (and I believe that, too).
Instead the outcome is merely temporary (again, a very relative time term) frustrations shuffled in with the (increasingly plentiful) good times. Hubby and I both believe there was a greater purpose for us to have stumbled across each other when we did. And I'm so grateful, and I do believe, that when he said "I love you" that was never a lie.