For a while I have understood that I am in a codependent relationship. Perhaps to begin to work on my issues (or, even, distance myself from them), I have been reading material about similar situations, what they mean, why they happen, and their consequences.
My research has brought to light many things I didn’t know – or, perhaps, I did know, but I convinced myself that I didn’t (in order not to suffer them so profoundly). There are the normal concepts – fear of abandonment (both of being abandoned as well as abandoning my partner that is hurting), the feeling that I’ve held on so long that if I just wait a little longer it will all get so much better and have all been so worth it, letting myself be convinced that I deserve the treatment I’m receiving because he’s having a bad day (everyday), fixing all of his mistakes because he doesn’t care about consequences, and letting myself be controlled by the fear of what he’ll do and the mistakes he’ll make if I ever truly leave…
But what I wasn’t considering,
was the fact
that I have boundaries.
Or, perhaps even more importantly, the fact that they are being grossly violated.
When I met my husband, he was so respectful towards me. One of my favorite stories is about how the first kiss we shared was over the turnstyle at the Metro in Rome when he asked my permission to kiss me then leaned delicately over the barrier and softly kissed me on the lips. He was such a gentleman. He was about to turn 23 and I 19 – I was vulnerable, alone, across the globe from everyone I knew, having just had huge (fiscal) changes, somewhat lost (although, never scared) – and he wanted to protect me.
And that’s how it was until the months after our marriage when we had moved back to my home town in the States. This place has had such an adverse effect on him (as has always been the same for me) – you know, so I kind of get it. We’ve faced a lot of hard and unfair stuff together. Even as a legal immigrant (married to an American), he was treated unjustly (and even illegally) in many situations. We were desperate, young, and confused. And he fell prey to a terrible Beast.
A lot of my trepidation in separating myself from this situation comes from feelings of guilt that I put him in this situation; the knowledge that he was so different until we had to face this situation. So, when he says to me, “I’ve become a monster; this is not who I am,” I am inclined to believe him. However, 5 years later, I have to ask when you can decide that
someone is no longer
who they were
who they have become—
But, back to the idea of boundaries. I’ve always had them – we all do. I guess what it all comes down to is that, because of the mutual respect my husband and I initially shared for each other, I never had to enforce them, per se. Because he never encroached on those boundaries, I never had to really think what they were – and he was so quick to defend me if he felt somebody else was overstepping.
However, I have come to realize that, because of this Monster in our life, my boundaries are pretty constantly violated. Whether I am made to feel bad about myself because of his words or actions, whether I am made to feel afraid because of his outbursts, whether I am made to worry because of his erratic phone calls followed by extended periods of radio silence, whether I am made to lie to people that I care about when we don’t show up somewhere, etc, in order to sweep his mistakes under the rug, whether I am made to set aside my feelings, emotions, depression in order to tend to his (or avoid a flare-up)…everything that was me is no longer.
I feel kind of like
two Rorschach images
that began to bleed together
until one completely absorbed the other —
I feel like I am no longer. This has to do with boundaries of respect, about my comfort, about my freedom and individuality, about my ability to need or want that which is specific to me. And I have to wonder if this idea will be the one that finally pushes me to take steps to liberating myself from this constant depression that I live in that is not even my own. Yes, I will always live in the arms of my own Monster, but there is no reason why I should be unreasonably controlled by somebody else’s.
I love him. I want the best for him. I want him to feel better. I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to hurt. But I have to be able to live. A marriage is about being there for each other. A marriage is a union of two people that want these things for each other; not of a giver and a receiver. I absolutely know he loves me and wants these things for me, but, in the moment, all he does is destruct his life and mine.
In the moment,
all he thinks about
is himself —