Learning Not to Feel So Guilty


“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death” -Auntie Mame

Today would have been Reg’s and my 8th anniversary. As things went, we would not have made it to this anniversary as we were well on our way to divorce when he died. Even though I lived it and even though I know why things disintegrated, I still wonder if somehow I could have done things differently. And the answer is, of course I could have, but would it have changed things? I sincerely doubt it.

You see, like a lot of women, I took on the responsibility of trying to make a marriage work that the other party was not taking as seriously. It was always going to be a losing game for me. I could have been the model wife, but without a commitment to change on his part, it would have been for nothing. It’s hard to keep reminding myself of that NOW after he’s died, when all the memories are good ones and I’m waxing nostalgic about how things were. Things were a little unresolved as well, and that never helps.

I am like that, though. I feel guilty STILL about being mean to a kitten I had once! I still feel guilty about mistreating my kids when they were younger even though I’ve apologized, they’ve forgiven me, and in some instances forgotten completely! The problem, I think, is that I can’t forgive myself. How does one forgive oneself? How does that work? Do you wake up one day, take yourself by the collar, and say, “Look, you’re forgiven!”? For some people I suppose it’s that easy, but it’s never been that easy for me.

I need to acknowledge that for 7 short years (although some seemed eternal), I lived an adventure I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken a risk. That risk didn’t turn out so well, but I learned much, traveled much, and loved as much as I could.

So, on our would be anniversary, my present to me is a big old package of forgiveness for not being perfect, for making mistakes, and for failing at a marriage with the cards stacked against me at the get-go! Now stop your wallowing and get your ass out there!


The Joys of Drugs

And by drugs, I mean antidepressants. It’s been a while since I last wrote; time enough for my antidepressants to kick in. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for things to start working after a long time without taking them. But, I can say that they’ve made a difference.

527920_499926106703100_362275096_nI am less despondent and less critical. I do not have those horrible cyclical mood swings associated with menopausal women. I can now speak to my husband without crying, which for the last year I could not do. I also think that it has allowed me to feel normal in my newfound take on the marriage. The jealousy that had plagued me is gone. Now that I know that nothing I say or do changes anything in this marriage, I have given up trying to change things. This also means that I have given up investing in it as well.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, but I can say that the advantages for me outweigh the negatives. I’ve always run my course of action in life through a list of pros and cons. If they seem balanced, I listen to my gut; my intuition. It has never steered me wrong. I’ve gone against my gut feelings and have lived with the consequences; one of them being this marriage. So I know them to be true. How I wish I listened to myself more. However, if I did that, life would be boring and I wouldn’t learn new things about myself and other people.

I’ve learned SO much in the last five years.  I’ve learned that perhaps I should not have been married. I bought into romance and not into real life. I was ill prepared for life as a wife and partner. Who is prepared really? We either set incredibly unrealistic expectations for married couples or we dispense with all the rules. No wonder people are confused. I also learned that perhaps I’m not suited to having a male partner. I’m not saying I’m suited for any sex or gender at all. All I’m saying is that I plunged headlong into a life that was expected of me and never once thought any of it through seriously.  I gave men what I thought they wanted to get along. I had no real desire for them. I’ve lived my life on automatic pilot; feeling nothing and now, when I actually took a chance on the feelings that I was swept up in, it turned out not to be for the best.

Tough lessons. But they are lessons earned and learned. They are mine and I am no longer going to do what anyone else wants me to do. Anything I do now is because it’s good for me and because I want to. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about others, but caring for others will be because I really care and not because I’m supposed to care.

If You Know What’s Good for You

bedsSometimes we don’t know what’s good for us. We think we do, but we don’t. My husband thinks he knows what he wants. No, I take that back. He doesn’t know what he wants. He just founders around saying yes to everything until something clicks. He’s stuck in perpetual childhood. If I am missing a father, he is definitely missing a mother.

Passed off to a boarding school at an early age, my husband learned that pining to go home or be with his parents did no good. Reinforced no doubt by the teachers at the school, I imagine that the homesickness at age 5 was horrendous. They say that we cry to get attention and if attention doesn’t come, we make up our own things to comfort ourselves.  I think, without being a psychoanalyst, that he’s been trying to find a mother’s love, by feel, ever since.  In many ways this has made him unable to feel properly and in other ways it makes him want to make up for what he can’t be. You see, unlike other men I’ve met who were as self-absorbed, he doesn’t have it in him to NOT care and do things for me. He still will.  He’ll make me tea, or bring me water at bedtime.  He’s determined to feel useful and seem caring. However, I think he does mean it in his small way.

When we act as if all is normal and nothing is amiss, we are like any other married couple. We laugh over stupid jokes, talk about current events, see people who call or come over, fix dinner, watch television, work on things on the computer. I love him at those times. It’s when I come across clues of his ‘other’ life that I get upset and sleep elsewhere. But my doing this doesn’t seem to faze him at all.  All he has to do is ask me to sleep in the same bed, but he never does. It’s always me that gives in.

It’ll be four days until his cancer op. When I don’t sleep with him, and I do mean just sleep, he keeps irregular hours and is more tired than usual. I can tell recently that this is true. We haven’t slept together for about a month. Whether he admits it or not, sleeping together comforts him. I want him to be rested when he goes in on Thursday. It’s likely to be a long couple of days and we may find out things we don’t like. I need the comfort too and I’ll admit that.  But even after all this, I care enough about him to want him to be comfortable too.

So, I’ve changed the sheets on his bed, brought in my book and my evening pills and my glass of water and type this post. He is out playing at a gig, which was booked last year, and he won’t be home until late. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say that he wished it was over with and wasn’t looking forward to doing it.  Perhaps he’ll finally get some sleep.

The Importance of a Father’s Love

I think that my lack of a father’s love started this whole mess.

My real father abandoned my mother and my sisters, and I when I was just 3 years old. My step-father did not have a loving bone in his body and ate cruelty for breakfast.  I was ripe for someone to come along and make me feel as if I were the most important person in their world; something daddy’s do for their little girls. Normal daddy’s anyway.

My lack of a father’s love probably contributed to my conversion to Christ when I was 23 years old. Feeling out of my depth as a new wife and mother, one day I felt an overwhelming sense of love and well-being from a father/brother figure.  That sustained me for quite some years. My marriage was not a passionate love affair, but merely a remedy for small town boredom and we parted ways when our children grew up and moved out of the house. Notice I don’t say our home because I’ve never really felt ‘at home’ anywhere. We never jointly created a home like some couples do; putting their particular stamp on a place to reflect their budding love. Perhaps a father’s advice about any of this would have been invaluable.

It was almost inevitable that I dream of the perfect romance. My romance fantasies led me to a couple of affairs and later to the online ‘romance’ that landed me where I am today. All I’ve ever wanted was be someone special to someone else. I wanted to hear the words, ‘I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy’ or those coveted words, ‘you are so special to me’.  I’ve never heard that, or felt it either while growing up or in all the years I’ve been married. My sister, mother, and I have always dealt with our pain alone, probably because no one ever sought us out to comfort us.  But still one hopes.

Maybe I’m feeling a tad maudlin but when I read of other people’s marriages, of the love and care and the grief that happens when such lovers are apart, I mourn for what I never had or have never known. I worked so hard to be a good wife and failed both times. Now I just wish someone would care for me. Just a little bit. Some people say that God can fulfil that need in me, but how can you have a fulfilling relationship with an invisible person?  I’ve yet to master that, even after all of these years.

I am broken by this latest betrayal and although I KNOW that acting with love toward someone whether they deserve or not is the Christian thing to do, just once, I wish that someone would be more concerned about me than I was for them. Just once. Is that too much to ask?

What Used to Be

Budapest Opera HouseI used to be a woman of faith. After a spiritual experience in 1983, I began going to church and the rest  I’ve written about extensively on this blog. Since then I’ve given up my religiosity and my beliefs in certain dogma.  I no longer go to church per se, although I’ve been going to the Quaker meeting house with my husband for a few years now.

I still cling to some notions about Christianity, but the one thing I don’t believe in any longer is prayer.  By prayer I mean an action the believer takes to attempt to move the Maker into changing the Laws of Nature or the minds of other people to affect an outcome.  Now, I believe in meditation and silence and prayer in the sense that it helps the person praying, but I don’t believe that some Divine Being is listening to our prayers and deciding to rearrange the universe to answer them.

What made me realize this is that in times past, my first inclination when faced with bad news is to pray for the a positive outcome that happened to suit me at all times. Now, faced with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I realize that no amount of praying will change the news of how large or small this tumor is. It just is. It’s been there unknowingly and will continue to be there no matter what I believe in my mind about it. No amount of prayer will affect that. No one will hear this prayer but me.  I don’t mean to say that prayer is not good, but I believe it’s only good for the one doing the praying. It acts as a meditative tool to calm one’s nerve, bolster one’s resolve, and to give someone the much-needed cool-down time before doing or saying something rash.

The reasons I came to this conclusion is by observing the world around me.  Despite a prayer force of billions of people in the world, we still have death, famine, abuse, rape, murder, cancer, wars, and all the evils that man can devise. Despite faith in a Divine Being we still have those idiots who believe that God wants the deaths of everyone who doesn’t believe the way they do. Despite billions of the faithful praying daily we see no discernible difference in the outcomes of cancer deaths or salvation from it by miraculous means. No, I have faith in medicine and science to find the cures for most ills before I have faith in prayer.

Now I know all the arguments for and against such things, but this has come from years of experience and it hasn’t come lightly. I’ve struggled mightily to keep an innocent faith in God, Jesus, and prayer, but at some point I had to face the cruel facts of reality. So, as I face the cruel facts of an uncertain future with a cancer diagnosis, I will face it with prayer like I always do, but I have no expectation that the cancer will disappear. I don’t believe it’s some kind of test or sent by God to make me more faithful. How awful to believe such things! I am of the idea that we will do everything available to us to stop it or at least slow it down. I have every expectation that prayer will make me calmer and able to face it. I suppose that makes me the double-minded man in the book of James, doesn’t it? Ah well, better that than be in denial about the cruelties of nature.

If You Could Just Be More…

fat_women_by_a7med47-d4qttthWomen have always been more (or felt more) responsible for their relationships than men. Women are held to a higher standard. I think I am being held to such right now. Only, rather than being too fat for a good marriage, I’m not interesting enough.

When we were conversing via Skype long-distance before I came over here, my husband claimed later that he thought I would be good for him, help him not be so complacent, and provide so much excitement intellectually that he would be distracted enough not to look elsewhere.  The one thing I didn’t have to worry about was my weight, because my husband is an FA; Fat Admirer in fetish-speak. I was delighted to find this out.  I then came to realize that I could lay my fat in the bed next to him and he would be perfectly happy that the rest of me wasn’t there. It’s all about the feel of fat on a woman, not the woman herself.

He claimed that he could not help discussing his fetishes and other things with others because he just NEEDED to. He claimed that he thought I would be interesting enough to keep him from turning to others. I feel like the wife of a husband who says that if I hadn’t let myself go, he’d be more interested. In other words, it’s my fault that I haven’t lived up to his expectations.  Sometimes I wonder who it was he thought he was getting because it surely was not me. I never offered to be a world traveller, fascinating conversationalist OR fetishistic. The assumptions we make when we are in the fog of infatuation.

I can’t win really. I firmly believe that even if I kept him busy, stimulated his mind with scintillating conversation all day and night long, dressed up in nylons and girdle and bustier, and was pleasingly fat, he would STILL find others online to share his fetishes with. The problem with this thinking is that there is no incentive for me to even try. He’s not trying.  It’s a vicious cycle. If he wants me to start investing interest, he’s going to have to do the same. I’m supposed to go fishing and hope to catch a fish, even though the fish isn’t interested in the bait.

I’m done thinking that it’s me that’s the problem; that it’s me who isn’t trying hard enough to fix things. And why am I always responsible for what happens in this relationship? My husband typifies the sentiment, ‘Look at what you made me do’.

Somewhat Better & on the Brighter Side

Okay, thblackdoge black dog has retreated a little and in my good periods I can see the practical side of everything that’s happened over the last 6 years.

For all of the minuses attached to a marriage where one spouse is unhappy with the situation, there are always pluses, if one can find them.  One plus is that I am a person who never gets bored. I can entertain myself endlessly with writing, reading, watching movies, playing video games, putting puzzles together, and coloring in adult coloring books (yeah it’s a thing).

Therefore, I am fortunate that I do not have a 9 to 5 job. I can get up when I like and go to bed when I like. I am my blind husband’s support worker, which means I support his job by being his eyes when he needs them. This has given me a lot of freedom. It also means, however, that we are together 24 hours a day.  While being extremely grateful for NOT having a job in an office cubicle, it is tiring to be ‘on call’ all the time for his assistance needs. Even though I shouldn’t be, my job and being a wife become inextricably entwined. Having another interest for him to focus on, frees me up from the constant feeling of being on the job.  That also means more time for me to do all of the things I listed above.

Another reason it’s good for me for him to have other interests, is that we are not very sexually compatible.  Not to put too fine a point on it; he has fetishes that I don’t share. I tried to share them, but they did nothing for me. Yep, I am a plain vanilla kind of woman when it comes to the bedroom.  My simple need for just the basics puts undue pressure on him, or so he tells me. I’m not sure what ‘pressure’ I’ve exerted except to say that when I first came over I was gung-ho for some bedroom play. The more gung-ho I was, the more he retreated. But that was before the evil specter of menopause showed up.  I know waning of sexual desire and other physical ailments is normal for women going into menopause. I know my hormones are decreasing and my body is wearing out.  I also believe that issues from my past are at play here and I resent the medicalization of women’s sexuality. Not interested in sex, they ask, let’s fix that with a pill or with psychiatry. Nope. Let’s not. How about we let things be? How about we don’t assume all women want to have sex whenever and wherever men do, or (gasp) maybe not even with men at all?

This has also been a time to actually discern whether I WANT sex or whether I am conditioned to want it. This is a very complicated issue stemming from my past  It’s true that I have personal issues of my own when it comes to sex, and I do not obsess about it like he does. I do not turn every bodily function into a sexual action. As a blind person I understand his need for touch and sensuality, but it seems to drive him relentlessly. With my history (which one can probably read on past posts on this blog), I am at the point where I don’t want or need anything that puts the main focus on sexuality. I have begun to wonder whether I was actually feeling desire or I was conditioned to make myself sexually available to anyone who came along. My focus has always been on the romantic, and I think that’s where our problems began. I yearned for understanding and someone to romance me. My husband could talk a good talk before I became his wife. I fell for that immediately. I do love a man of words. However, it can make me blind to other things as well. That makes two of us. Perhaps all I wanted was the chase and not actually being caught.

So, looking to the plus side of things, I think a combination of my mourning for a fantasy romance that never was, my feeling of being betrayed with secrets and lies, and my hormones have all contributed to a whirlwind of hostility that I cannot seem to control at times. I also believe that what drives him forward is precisely what drives me backwards and into retreat. I am just now fully coming into realization about what I may want in a relationship; sexual or not. I think this is important to work through. Fortunately, in my calm times I can remember the good that comes of it all. Perhaps I shall explore this in future posts.