The Walls Between Us
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my ideal partner, Jason, my husband. I know I want to be both vulnerable and careful when I talk about walls in a relationship, especially my current one. Today on our long run I made a comment "you don't have to worry about me leaving you for a woman (made around mile 9, we still had some time to go)." I was joking a little because I was listening to Glennon Doyle's new book and she talks about leaving her not-working marriage to her ex-husband and finding her new love, her wife Abby. Also, Jason's first wife is a lesbian and they broke it off for the same reason. So I just wanted to reassure him in a joking way.
But something else lingered in the silence after my joke. He finally spoke and said "I'm not worried about you leaving for a woman, but I do get worried you'll leave me for another man sometimes." I joked back to lighten the bomb by saying "Oh really Jason, who has the time haha." No laughter, just silence...So I said "Babe, I think we both worry about that from time to time, that the other person will find someone new, but I want to work on deconstructing the walls we have built or were built into us by our trauma and get closer to you." He said "Yeah, me too babe." Then I went on for a little while talking about how he really is the best partner for me. I talked about the fact that I can be a tough person because I can be severe in my convictions and standards and hold others to a high mark as well and that not just any partner would be able to support my whims and needs, but that he was there for me, he was my rock.
But I know there are walls. I want to break them down, but I know they have kept me safe for so long so I avoid the hard work and brutal honesty sometimes. I want to start out by saying that a therapist once told me "The only people who really know what happens in a relationship are the people in it, no matter how well you describe a situation looking for sympathy or advice, ultimately only you and your partner know what is best." And that hit me so hard, because he was right. I have tried to explain or help other people understand my relationship, but I will never tell it 100% as it is. Also, when I think I'm helping others with their relationships I always tell them this and I can see the relief come across their faces, and sometimes that is mixed with sadness because they know ultimately the responsibility for the continuation or demise of the relationship is theirs and theirs alone. The burden cannot be carried by anyone else. I say all that to say to anyone reading and judging my relationship or comparing it to their own, know it's only a half-truth.
Jason and I have been married for 7 years in October and were together for a little over a year before that. We love each other. We are also in the "dark-ages" of child-rearing meaning our youngest is a year and our oldest is 3 and we are many days knee deep in ponies, diapers, cleaning, laundry, sleeplessness and also trying to manage our own lives and self-care. Oh yeah, and we own a business that is 24/7.
So what are my walls? And what are his? How can we get closer? All worthy questions that need care and tenderness. I can start with mine and guess at his. I'd imagine talking about them and staying solution-focused instead of problem-focused would help. The truth is talking about walls feels like I'm talking about problems. But denying there are things that could be better is a lie. Okay, so a big wall for me is sex. It's one for both of us. But I'll talk about my walls, and where I think they stem from. I want to take the blame out of this, but I'm afraid I'll probably place some on Jason, even though I think he's unaware of some of it, I think he knows some too. Someday I'm going to write a post about my father's use of pornography and subsequently mine and how I think that contributed to an extremely stunted sexuality for me but I'm not sure I want to go all the way down that road today. But in a nutshell, my dad is addicted to porn and I found it. Also, he was so far into it, he often didn't hear us coming home and it was out in the open a lot growing up. I wasn't fully aware for a long time (maybe 30), that this was abnormal or problematic. So I used this pornography from the time I was about 11 until last year to reach orgasm, on my own. I still to this day cannot orgasm from sex, even though I have not used porn in a long time. I just thought it was normal. But at a conference for addiction professionals, I attended a lecture on how addiction shapes and changes the brain, and sex addiction and use of porn was brought up and I wondered if it was my porn use that messed up my entire in-person intimate experience, from losing my virginity to now. In fact I'm pretty sure it did. I didn't grow up in a household that talked about sex or sexuality or any related subjects. I was on my own. So me not being able to orgasm has been known in my relationship, and mostly forgotten I feel. And I'm sad. I'm sad and angry that I feel this has been robbed from me by addiction and dysfunction. In the beginning of my relationship this wasn't a big deal because sex was still so exciting and new. Now it feels so awkward, we are trying so hard not to hurt each other any more and yet, there is a wall there. For me, my sexuality was something that was shameful and private for the majority of my life, I cannot fathom letting it out in front of anyone, even if that someone is my husband. Also, another wall, I don't feel totally safe with him emotionally (physically he'd never ever hurt me). But in our day-to-day lives we can be snappy, and short. No time to treat each other with the respect that the other deserves. We don't treat each other as sacred, the sacred space that we are. Wall. All those interactions add up. I don't want someone to touch me who isn't even nice to me during the day. But I have a feeling it's not just Jason, I think it goes both ways. I can be harsh, it's a skill of mine. Over time, it's hard to repair the dings. We need to do that. Then there's the business. We own a treatment center and Jason is, what I will call, over-involved. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. I feel at times he gives it twice the attention he gives me or the girls...wall. He feels like the only one keeping it together, and in his defense he's not totally off the mark. We've been open 5 years and struggling a little and he feels so responsible for us and all the 20 plus employees. Not to mention marketing, insurance, referral sources, families, and all the other myriad calls and texts he gets on a day to day basis to keep it all afloat. I can see him drowning in it at times, and I feel helpless. He has a lot on his plate, and he comes home and tries to be a good dad and partner, but he also just wants to veg out and I hate the place sometimes. Sometimes I want it to fail, and that hurts him, wall. Man, this post is kinda heavy, sorry.
There is so much good between us, I mean we ran 12 miles together today and enjoyed it, because we were together, doing hard things. We have so much fun with our babies. We cry together almost every time we are away from them together and talk about them. We love the ocean and making bomb vegan food together and really love who the other person is becoming. We are in it together. We love each other so much. But we come from difficult places. We were never taught how to love with respect. We will keep trying and keep talking, the runs help with that. Finding someone else will not heal the little broken pieces of us that we had long before we came together. Jason is so deep and real, the truth is I am afraid of how powerful he is sometimes. I am not afraid of failure. I am afraid of responsibility. Of rising to meet him, look him in the eye and dive into the unknown with him. I know that the gold is there waiting to be mined, but oh, I will need courage. God, if you are reading this, I'm game, but I need you to help me. I am afraid. But you are the battering ram.