The life-line of survival

How come so many of us have ended up in the marriage cul-de-sac of disaster?  The place where  clear communication has been cancelled.

And what made our runners run?

I’ve stopped asking Why?  I now want to know the answers to:  What made you feel that running was the only option?  Was I such a nightmare to live with?  Such a bad listener that I had killed off all other options?

You see I don’t think so!

I read others’ blogs and so many ask the same questions, including The Why didn’t we at least have the “Big Talk” questions!

I’ve thought about this a lot and I’ve come to the conclusion that unless the “Big Talk” is held from a position of total security with both partners secure in knowing who they really are and feeling totally safe,  then I can’t see the answers will be that ‘truthful’.

Because the answers can be totally different if answered from a position of fear, guilt, anger, trauma….. the list is endless.

Alex accused me of being controlling.  Fine, I probably was – from his perspective.  The trouble is rather than say sorry I justified it – then.

Now all I want to say is.  Yes I was – and I’m sorry – I was scared silly. All I wanted was for you to throw your arms around me and protect me and ‘take over’.  But his interpretation of the ‘Controlling Caroline’ was I wanted to be in control.

WRONG!  I wanted the total opposite!

When I told him in May that I never wanted to see or hear from him again.  What I was actually crying out for was for him to be bashing my door down and fighting for us and our future!

When he said he hoped we could be friends and amicable, I wonder now what he actually meant.  Who knows!

I feel so stongly now that what we say and what we mean can be two totally different things.

So how come we fail to communicate in a way that our partner will understand?

What I don’t know is what he wanted me to understand about him when he was trying to communicate his needs. What I wonder is what interpretations was I putting on what he was telling me which meant I completely failed to understand him.

I think that’s where Life Coaches such as Stephen can help so much. Help bring communication back to its truest form.  Help with the understanding and interpretation of what we each needed to say and understand.  How they do this I have no idea because we never got to that stage. We never found out.  We never met half way.

And for me that is what is so sad and so incredibly hard to live with.  And part of the reason, I believe, that I (and probably many others ) still get ‘stuck’ days.   We never found out.  We turned our backs on the enlightenment of truly understanding each other – of really learning how to communicate – which in moments of crisis are invaluable and essential. 

Because communication is the glue which holds you together when things are tough.

The life-line of marriage survival.

The thing which is the main route back to a marriage full of passion and happiness.

The Black Umbrella syndrome

I’ve learned a great deal through my Life Coaching experience.  Things I didn’t even know I needed to know! So the experience has been enlightening in so many ways!  I do feel far better equipped to deal with a future relationship than if I’d just ‘got over’ the breakdown of my marriage and then – hopefully – found a new one.  Now I know what my needs are!

Stephen (LC) writes a great deal about this aspect of relationships.  Meeting each other’s needs is critical.  The problem I had in the beginning of my coaching experience was I didn’t really have a clue as to what my needs were.

Working this out took time.  What they truly are, rather than what I thought they might be.  Finding out what my needs were from a solid position of being the real me and not from a position of fear where I was trying to be someone I thought Alex wanted me to be.

I can now see that fears can appear when our needs aren’t met but I’m not convinced that it is truly possible to work out what our real needs are when in a ‘fear state’ – too easy to get them wrong!

So if it took me such a long time what about everyone else – does everyone else know?. Because for a relationship to buzz and be passionate I agree with Stephen you each have to meet the other’s needs all the time (or as near to it as you can get!).  And if your partner is not voicing their needs or – doesn’t truly know what they are – then you can both bash on day by day thinking you’re doing everything right for your relationship when actually you’re not because neither of you has clearly stated what you each need from the other.  And actually meeting each other’s needs is fun!!

So why the title of this post?

Well one Christmas many years ago my mother announced that amongst other things, she needed a new umbrella.  My younger brother said he would get her one.  Confident on the ability of her stylish daughter-in-law to choose something lovely and not wishing to be over prescriptive on what umbrella she’d like she said no more.

My mother’s favourite colour was red.  My mother NEVER wore anything black – ever – Brown Yes, Black No! (it really didn’t suit her – at all and she hated it – we all knew that!)

My mother’s old, broken umbrella was a telescopic one – easy to carry in a bag or her favourite shopping basket.

On Christmas morning my mother was given a very ordinary, long handled, BLACK umbrella! (a colour that said daughter-in-law loved!!)

She said nothing at the time but later told me how hurt she felt at what she saw as the lack of effort and thought that had gone into choosing the present.

Actually she saw the funny side of it in the end and it became a joke between a few select friends and members of the family every time one of us was given an unwanted  Christmas present – with questions like “How many black umbrellas did you get this year?”

So I now realise that I was probably getting too many “black umbrellas” on a day by day basis, and not enough “red ones” to be truly happy all the time,  in my marriage.  And I didn’t tell him as I didn’t know I had to.  As for Alex?   I don’t think he knew what colour he wanted – he certainly never told me.

I wish we’d discussed “umbrellas” before it was too late!  I wonder if my older brother and his wife have ever done so?

The spotlight

Finally this morning I experienced a feeling of incredible relief.

Relief that the spotlight of “marriage failure” has been removed from on me and transferred to the latest casualty – my brother and his wife.  (Not that I wish it on them).

But that’s how it’s felt these last 32 months.  As far as the people living close to me – my neighbours, family and friends,  I’ve been the one who has been the local casualty.  The one who needs nurturing and caring for.

The one in the spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve been stunned and humbled by their kindnesses and concern. The way they’ve been there for me to help me through. The hours they’ve spent listening to me go over and over the same ground – especially that first year of indecision and trauma – as I  floundered around lost in my own despair.  Then the encouragement and nurture as I fought my way through to where I am today.

The fact they thought I was worth it.

But today the sense of relief is incredible. A big weight has suddenly gone – one which I hadn’t realised was there – I am no longer weighed down by being the latest statistic.  Someone else has taken my place.

I have now moved up a rung on the statistical ladder.  I am a survivor.

In this new place I feel released from the limelight.  I have learnt so much.  And actually hope I still have more to learn.  I’m finding it all too fascinating to stop now!

I can turn to my sister-in-law and listen and listen.  I can empathise like no-one else near her can.  I know what it’s like.  The fact that my experience is still so new.  OK I’m not in her shoes. She will react differently to the way I did.  We are, after all, all unique. We will react in our own unique way. But hopefully  I can help.

I also know what NOT to say or do!

I hope she allows me to be there for her.  I don’t envy her.  I wouldn’t wish the spotlight on her at all.   But I hope her ‘journey’ is enlightening as mine has been and still is.

I still have my goals to resolve – which with Stephen’s help and guidance I hope will truly make me buzz.

Today for the first time I felt that my own personal mountain top is finally in sight.  And when I get to the top I’d like a new spotlight turned on and a banner across the sky saying “Sensational Survivor” – because for my sister-in-law (and hopefully my brother) that might be the incentive to get the help I feel will help them both!

Time could be the only answer now

My prolific blogging phase of the weekend seems to have dried up!!  I’ve been left without anything much to say!  Which as most of you know is very unlike me.

I’ve decided to spare you all the day-to-day run of the ups and downs of emotions I seem to go through and only write about them when they really hit!  Phew!  I hear you all say!!  Well it was becoming rather repetitive (and I have a shrewd suspicion that if I wade back through my posts I will find I’ve said this before!!).

So I will accept them for what they are and weather each storm quietly on my own!  (Or I may blog them – who knows!!).

I do believe that only time will really heal how I feel. It already is.  The acute pain I felt 2 years ago when I didn’t think I would ever recover –  the pain which lasted right up until about September last year – has gone.  I’m left with a dull ache.  An ache which jars every so often and reminds me it’s still there.

I have to live with the ache.  Ignore it as much as I can.  Exercise my mind to happier thoughts.  Don’t look too far into the future as that’s too un-nerving.  Live.

Enjoy your day everyone.  It’s yours and mine to do the best we can with it.

There are days when….

There are days when I’m not very impressed with me.  When I feel I should be doing better.  Today is one of them.

It’s now over two years since Alex left and yet I am still so sad. Still feeling this is all so wrong.  Still feeling so alone and not enjoying life as I should be.  Happiness is created from within you not by others.

I should be over this by now.  I shouldn’t be longing for something I cannot have. That I won’t get back and which won’t happen. And yet I do.

My LC will, no doubt,  say I’m stuck.  He’s probably right.

But as I approach my 60th birthday this weekend everything seems so wrong, so how it’s not supposed to be.  Which is incredibly self-centered of me.  I have so much.  Much more than so many people in the world.  I am not impressed with me tonight – or the thoughts rushing round my mind.  I don’t think this is self-pity, or seeking sympathy.  I am not feeling sorry for myself.  Just incredibly sad.  And a strong, sort of surreal feeling that I’m in the wrong movie!!


Give not take

I’ve just been reading “back on my own’s” latest post and it got me thinking.

I believe one of the problems men of a certain age seem to have is this feeling they need to take all they can in order to be happy.

They ‘take’ a new love (actually it’s far more likely to be lust!) in order to give themselves happiness.  But how often do these men actually find that the destruction of their marriage, home, lifestyle and all the other things they have built doesn’t actually give them what they want.

So much of all this comes down to sex.  And rather introducing some long-needed spark into their marriage they opt out and go off in search of sex with a new partner.  They take, they don’t give.

In Alex’s case I am sure this was the lure.  He also said he couldn’t talk to me.

Well there are none so ‘dumb’ as those who will not speak, none so deaf as those who will not listen, as well as none so blind as those who will not see.

I was ready and willing to listen – but first he had to speak.

I was ready to give – but he had to do that too.