“All great changes are preceded by chaos” – unknown
- complete disorder and confusion. Synonyms:disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, madness, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, frenzy, uproar, hue and cry, babel, hurly-burly
There is not one word in that list of synonyms I wouldn’t use to describe years three through six of my marriage. Most of you reading this are probably not surprised by that statement. You may be here to revel in the juicy details, you may be here to justify your own marital chaos, or you may be here because you need to know you aren’t alone; Whoever you are, I’m glad you’re here.
Last week, I built my foundation; this week, I’m building walls. I’ve mentioned briefly my weakness for love, but I don’t think I’ve done it justice; this weakness of mine. I have a character defect, and it is believing in love TOO much. It’s the idea that love is unconditional that’s a real issue, because its not.
I think, although definitely improving, I still struggle with the belief that if I alone, can love someone enough, everything will be okay. I function, even still, in all facets of my life, on others stability, and if others aren’t stable, my whole world is rocked
In regards to my marriage, however; I became aware very early on, that I was going to be the initial stability ( v scary folks), and if I was to be the stability, I was going to rock that calling – by loving (LOL). If I could just use my love, and adoration, and be so dedicated, and overlook every slight and cruel remark and if I could leave every transgression unscathed and move forward with my head held high, I could keep on being the foundation of our home. If I just made us LOOK like the all American family, the heart of our home didn’t matter.
The problem with that thought process, is this: That type of love and dedication to a facade comes at a high price. A cost that didn’t make itself known, until we could no longer afford it. It was the start of the foreclosure on our home, if you will. I only saw the role I played in our marriages destruction AFTER I self-destructed.
Here’s the thing; while I was busy thinking I was doing a fab job of providing the love and support my spouse needed, I was pushing him further and further away, causing some serious knock down drag outs; primarily because neither of us understood each others needs, wants, dreams, goals, desires etc.
While I was busy doing my “best”, I was really turning into my worst self, further imploding my marriage. I loved every bone in my husbands body, but I could also take or leave him at any given point. What I mean is, I was consistently ready to throw in the towel, and his attitude and behaviors towards the type of love I knew how to give, only further drove my flight or fight response, and for a time I was always ready to rumble. We could go from a discussion about needing diapers and formula to divorce in 30 seconds flat.
The very real truth is, that part of our demise was on me.
Some of the anger I felt came from him, but most developed from my underlying baggage. Aside from having never faced the grief of my father and grandfather’s deaths, I gave up what I believed at the time to be my future. I quit beauty school (my dream job then), and left the only place and people I had ever known, only exacerbating the grief. Instead of reflecting inwards, I brewed hatred towards Robbie and blamed him for it all. In addition to that, I housed the chaos of my family history and coming into my marriage I had an expectation that Robbies love could fix it and me. To add salt to the wound, I carried the typical false expectations that come with today’s marriages, and I had set him up for failure before we even started.
I relied heavily on Robbie when we got married and moved. I expected him to be every type of person I needed at the time, because I didn’t know anyone in the town we lived in and I lived that way for years. Add that pressure to a man who already had too high of expectations for himself, and it’s pretty obvious why his addictions kicked into overdrive. I truly believe, looking back, that we were thriving on the continued chaos. When I say this, what I mean is, we constantly pushed each other in a circle of crazy. We pushed each others buttons on purpose because we didn’t know how to properly care for ourselves, and by default each other.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and take all of the blame. Robbie had his fair share of issues, but I’m not here to point out his flaws. The cold hard truth, the one we don’t want to hear, is that there is never one side to the story, and it’s important we remember that, because we often fail to share the blame in the bad (in all relationships, not just marriages). The reality is, marriage is hard, and it is hard regardless of infidelity, financial strain, kids, deaths and addictions, but what happens when we forget that we also carry some of the weight, is that we begin to build walls, brick by brick, to keep the other person out and away from our hearts, which only further compounds the issues.
When we build walls out of fear, around our foundations, we create impenetrable boxes around our hearts. Instead of working through issues and frustrations with the other, we instantly start to exile them; not only because we aren’t allowing entry to our “homes”, but also because we aren’t willing to exit, further pushing ourselves into isolation.
Now, I don’t think isolation is always a bad thing, actually the opposite. Personal isolation and meditation for the sake of self discovery and cognitive functions are very important to our sanity and growth, but not when it’s driven by fear.
Building walls is a requirement when building a home and having walls is important for your foundations sustainability. Without walls, you have nothing but a concrete slab. Your walls are your safety, and they are needed to support the heart of the home, but they must be built to keep your heart protected, not isolated.
The positive is this, sometimes it takes a tornado to sweep through and tear down your walls, leaving nothing in its wake, to make you realize you need to rebuild.
I know that I am L U C K Y. I am lucky to have had the tornados, the loud and disruptive signs that reminded me it was time to rebuild. I am lucky that both myself and my husband believe in seeking help, and that we know we cannot change alone. I am lucky that we both understand addiction; and that we both know what it means to forgive. I am especially lucky that we both believe in self-awareness, and that we are both WILLING to look at ourselves in the mirror, and that we are both willing to accept criticism without instant defense (mostly). I am grateful that my husband traded his toxic addictions for crazy ones, like running marathons and ultra marathons and 200 mile bike races (and don’t forget ice cream), and I’m thankful that I have a tribe who is willing to remind me instantly when my own addictions begin taking over again.
I am lucky, that I married the man who lets me cut my daughters hair and holds me while I cry afterwards. The man who doesn’t always like my big picture ideas, but LITERALLY always supports them. A man who puts up with me bringing a new dog or two home every other month, and who doesn’t yell at me when I send designer dog food to a shelter (“Sarah, we don’t even feed our own dogs that well.”) I am blessed to have married a man who is a SUPERB girl and toddler dad (this is important cause I am not) and the guy who puts up with my boujee coffee addictions.
Most importantly, I am lucky I married a man that treats me as his equal.
Take a look around your home. Are there some walls that need knocked down and rebuilt?
Disclaimer: I, by no means, condone or support staying in a toxic relationship IF you AND your partner are not self aware or seeking action to correct the toxic behaviors.