A week or so ago I decided to sort through and clean out my e-mail accounts. I am terrible at deleting things and had stuff in there going back over ten years...some sweet e-mails from FWH, some e-mails from my late father, old photos I thought were lost for good, and responses/links to some of my old posts from SI.
I found a "where we're at at 6 months out" post that laid out all of the good, bad and ugly of those first six months...not gonna lie, the bad and ugly were a tough read (TT, inconsistency, verbal/physical fights, drinking, suicide attempts to name a few). I ended that post with the following:
The past six months have not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, and there have been many times where one or both of us have been ready to just give up. The roller coaster that everyone speaks of has been an incredibly hellish ride at times.
Many people would probably have walked away at this point, and rightfully so, but after almost 18 years together, raising our children, becoming grandparents and seeing each other through some incredibly dark moments (addictions, multiple deaths of loved ones, disabilities) I think there is something there worth fighting for.
We are both deeply flawed, imperfect, broken individuals and we have done a lot of hurtful things to ourselves and to each other, but at the end of the day I believe that we both have the capacity to become better and stronger, both individually and as a couple.
At six months out we are both works in progress. We are both still making mistakes, but we are growing and learning from them. We aren't going to get it right the first time, or every time, but we keep trying.
At six months out we are able to have more good days than bad, we still have moments where it seems like we are taking more steps back than we are forward, but the fact is that we are still moving forward. We get impatient at times with how slow this process is, and we get tempted to rugsweep, but we both know that the only way through this is to actually go through it - with all the good, the bad and the ugly.
At six months out I am not ready to give up on myself, on WH, or on our marriage. I have hope. And, in six months from now I hope that we can come back to this post and say "Wow, look how far we have come".
We recently celebrated 20 years together and I am glad we didn't give up. I am glad that we kept pushing through and didn't take the easy road of rugsweeping like we had in the past.
We are both so much stronger, wiser and healthier now, and we are continuing to learn, grow and evolve every single day. Our marriage is strong. Real. We both feel safe to be ourselves. Our love is mature now. Empathetic. Compassionate. There is complete openness and honesty. There is trust and respect.
We don't plan date nights. There are no flowers or gifts or grand gestures. It's about just being us. It's about being vulnerable and authentic with each other. It's about being there for the good and the bad moments. Being present. Being absolutely real.
And, it has been hard fucking work.
Work that I didn't even believe to be possible, because at 3.5 months out I was hopeless. So completely hopeless that I took an overdose of my antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds and ended up admitted to hospital.
It was during my time in hospital that a slight shift happened. My grandparents had phoned our house and BF13 had to tell them where I was and why I was there. When they asked him why I had tried to kill myself he told them it was because he had had an A.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that this was a turning point.
His ownership of the A to my grandparents, whom he deeply respected and adored, who reminded him of his own (late) parents, was really a pivotal moment. He could have lied, or not said anything, and tried to protect himself and his relationship with them, but he chose to be honest.
A week later he quit drinking.
I could tell you it was all sunshine and roses after that, but I’d be lying.
He still trickled the truth out to me. Shame and fear beat out vulnerability and courage more times than not in that first six months, but slowly a shift occurred. He listened to a lot of Brene Brown and Pema Chodron (and still does) and their words really resonated with him. He began getting real, not just with me, but himself.
The fallout from the A – witnessing the depths of the pain and devastation he had caused me, seeing and hearing the disappointment of our kids, of my mom and grandparents – were his “breaking point”. His wake-up call. He began reflecting back on his life and didn’t like what he saw. He was not the man he had wanted to be. He wanted to be better –a better husband, a better father and grandfather and a better person.
I know now that that was the “metanoia” that is described in the ‘Beyond regret and remorse' thread. I was still too raw and in too much pain for the first two years to really see it, but I know that it was this “metanoia” that lead to a fundamental shift in BF13 – what can best be described as a “psychological metamorphosis” or a “spiritual awakening”.
This man, who had spent his entire life running, either physically taking off or through the bottle, learned to stay. He has stayed present with me through all of my pain and anger. Validating it. Owning his role in it. Apologizing. Empathizing. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Almost 3 years out and he still stays.
He not only learned to stay, be present and help me to heal, but he has been doing the work on himself too.
He is honest now, not just with me, but in all areas of his life. Times where he would have taken the easy road and lied before, he has bravely told the truth, even at the risk of losing something important to him (job, relationship).
He works on facing his fears and addressing his shame. Most times he has the insight, self-awareness and mindfulness now to catch his thoughts as they come up, see why they have arisen, and not run away with them and feed them anymore.
All of the resentments he had built up through the years were reflected upon, and he found that the common denominator in all of them was him - that underlying all of them was anger at himself for his response (or lack thereof) to situations that affected his life. He has learned to be assertive now and has developed boundaries of what he will and will not accept.
He has worked through and processed the grief that had him buried under a mountain of pain, and feelings of emptiness, aloneness and despair. The losses of his parents. The abandonment by his family and friends. His [dis]ability and its impacts on his life.
He often says, and I totally agree, that we don’t ever stop doing the work on ourselves. There will always be opportunities for us to learn and grow throughout life.
And it is his example of personal growth, healing and transformation, that has inspired me to want, and work for, the same for myself. Now it is my turn. And, let me tell ya this shit isn't easy.
I know I've got some pretty big hurdles in my way - a personality disorder, a shit ton of trauma and a lifetime of feeling/acting like a victim and harming others. And, sometimes I get discouraged and I wonder why BF13 wants to stick it out. He tells me he's not going anywhere. He has been telling me that this is a "three-legged race" and that he will be here to support me when I am struggling. That he will stay right here beside me and not give up.
He continues to keep his word.
I'm glad that neither of us gave up and I can honestly say
"Wow, look how far we have come!"
[This message edited by onlytime at 5:56 AM, August 13th (Sunday)]