So I reached out to the Spouse. A conversation with open heart about our missing connection, his long hours, my fear for his health, my loneliness, how we live two lives, how return to work scares me that it will get worse, about what he is missing with the kids. It was a good talk--not with solutions--just concerns. What I did not anticipate was the response.
The next day he came home from work and shared with me his horrible day. He alternated between heated phone calls, staccato texts and pounding keystrokes on his laptop. I pointed him to the basement so I could help the Youngest with homework without the pacing loud voice echoing in our small living room.
Chest tightening, air hot, hard to breathe, what is going on? Muscles burning, head buzzing. Please just go. Disappear. Stop.
Black History Month work completed, lunch made and hugs and kisses accomplished the Youngest was in bed when the Spouse emerged from the basement to update me on what was happening now at work. I nodded. I said little. He kissed me on the forehead and headed to bed.
I stayed up for 2 more hours knitting; literally shaking my arms out as my body buzzed with adrenalin. My skin felt too tight. Deep breathing, deep breathing. Finally, once I was exhausted, I went to bed.
By morning I felt better, but a small part of me was now on high alert; ready for something....anything.
That night I put on my pj's early. Being on high alert is exhausting, and at nine, I was ready to pile into bed. By doing so, I would also avoid The Spouse who was not home yet.
Wait, didn't I want to feel more connected? Why was I shying away? Why was I avoiding? Hadn't I invited this?
I lingered over the end of TV show and The Spouse came home. He stood in the doorway of the darkened bedroom and regaled me about how he almost quit. His emotions pushed into the room and I physically staggered back. I was trapped. I felt nauseous.
He kept talking and I kept nodding, praying he would stop. It got later and later and he seemed oblivious to my pajamas and the dark. My mind raced, One more word and I will have to push past him and vomit. Please stop, please stop, please stop. I cannot feel this. I cannot hold this.
Finally he noticed me. Saw me ready for bed. Gave me a kiss and headed downstairs to get something to eat. I dove under the covers and pulled them over my head.
What was happening? I must be able to calm down. I have a million tools in my belt that can help with this. My Youngest, having had bad dreams, was in my bed. I reached over to feel his warm skin. I found his heartbeat and worked to match mine to his. I slowed my breathing and eventually, I slept.
My vision of how this was going to go was that The Spouse and I would talk about plans for the future. We needed a new roof. Should we put up the new gazebo cover this summer? When are you travelling for work again. Instead it has felt a bit like an emotional hijacking, and I was caught totally unprepared for what he considered getting closer. He was sharing...I just didn't want any. I felt that I had opened up and now sat raw, vulnerable and hopelessly confused.
Brene Brown defines vulnerability as "...uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure." She notes, "Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can't ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment's notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow---that's vulnerability". (Daring Greatly, Brene Brown).
My Sista Perfectionista and I talked the next day.
I hate to say this, but this is kind of what you wanted.
WHAT? I did not want THIS! THIS is horrible.
I dunno. You spoke with him about wanting to get closer. You feel vulnerable right now having put yourself out there to discuss your disconnected, relationship where two strangers share the same house. So he is trying to bring you into his world a bit more.
He is communicating in the only way he knows how and you, being so vulnerable, are having a hard time hearing how miserable he is because a) you know you have been in a similar situation and it is bringing up old feelings and b) because you cannot help him and finally because you thought that being vulnerable was the hard part. The hard part comes now--where you find the courage to listen and lean in to whatever happens next.
Damn she is good.
I am learning. I need to participate in my own work. It is harder than I thought. That one conversation is only the beginning of being vulnerable, not the end. Can I do it? I don't know. The hardest part now will be letting go of my expectations; of him, of me, of our relationship, to see it for what it really is at it unfolds over the next bit, while continuing to be vulnerable. Scratch that---starting to be vulnerable each day. It sounds yucky and hard and right now I would rather be having a root canal.