“So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.”
~from “When Things Fall Apart” by Pena Chodron
Men are analyzers.
When we’re not feeling our best or something isn’t working, we try to figure out what’s wrong. We think the situation through. We calm ourselves down and look at problems systematically. We look for root causes or missing parts or broken pieces. Then, after identifying the cause of the issue, we usually come up with some sort of solution.
We decide, after thinking on it for a day or so, that we need a new fan belt, more vitamin C, or some vodka and a 50 dollar bet on the number six horse. We apply the solution and, before we know it, the car is running great, our sinuses have cleared up, and we’ve blown off the steam we needed to blow off. Problem fixed—except for the hangover.
Issues start when we try to approach our relationship problems in the same way, when we try to project our way of doing things onto the women in our lives.
It might look a little like this:
We come home after work or go to her place after school. The moment we walk through the door, we notice her foul mood. Frustration is built up in her furrowed brow. She is a storm cloud ready to crack. Even the room seems to have darkened with her anger. Her wrathful silence is so foreboding that we find it repulsive. A primal part of us might even be a little afraid at these powerful and dark emotions.
“What’s her problem?” is the first question that pops into our heads.
We immediately go into problem-solving mode. We assume there is a specific cause. We assume there is a singular issue that can be addressed that will fix the situation. We rack our brains, but can’t think of anything. Did we forget a birthday? Forget to call? Not notice a new haircut? We can’t figure it out, but no matter how much we ask her what’s the matter, she constantly tells us it’s nothing.
Why does she have to be so complicated?
We sit with her in silence. Maybe make a few more attempts to find out what the problem is. Maybe she lashes out at us because we keep asking, and we don’t really know what’s going on. Maybe we make the terribly silly mistake of telling her to calm down. Eventually we walk out, telling her we’ll come back when she figures out what her issue is and can talk it out like an adult.
At this point, we’ve not only failed our woman, we’ve failed ourselves.
We’ve wrongly assumed her situation is the same as a bike with a broken chain. We’ve wrongly assumed it’s as simple as finding the right piece we need to fix it. We’ve wrongly assumed, like all the other problems in our lives, that it’s our time to take control of the situation.
Like a ship’s captain that finds his vessel has strayed off course, we attempt to change her direction. We’ve tried to steer her, but our woman is not a ship. We are not her captain. She’s the ocean that we’re sailing in—vast and mighty. If we try to wrestle her immense waves we will lose every time. We will drown. She might not even know she’s doing it, but she will swallow us.
Our job is not to be the captain, or even the ship. Our job is to be the rock standing strong on the shores of the ocean that we love. Our only job is to be there, and to be there for no reason other than our love for her waters.
Like any other body of water, there will be days when she crashes against us. Wave after wave, it might feel like the ocean will never again be calm. When her tide is high we may feel like we’re about to drown. Sometimes she hits us so hard we think we might crack. But if we remain full and abundant in our love for her, and constantly present in our masculinity, it will pass.
Her waters will quiet. She will once again lovingly caress us, her waves gently lapping at our ankles. She will completely open her heart in response to our stubborn love. She will trust in our strength, and feel safe in showing us the depths of her dark and healing waters. She’ll let us dive into her completely and we will taste her salty kiss. She’ll show us just how much we have to learn from the mysterious gifts she has to give us.
Until, of course, another storm brews on the horizon. But, our job as the rock never ends.
So if you cannot love her stormy weather as much as you love her sunrise , she isn’t the woman for you. If you cannot find humour in the situation and her need to close up, lash out, or walk away, you’re not the man for her.
If when her waters get rough you cannot give your unconditional love to her, you’re treading in an ocean too deep and powerful for your swimming abilities. It is better for you both if you find a smaller pool to dip your timid feet in, and for her to find a man willing to embrace her inherently wild and endlessly passionate nature.
Author: Michael Giorgi
As my marriage was ending, I struggled with shame, feeling alone in my own personal hell.
However, as my journey continued and I started to heal, I connected with others who had walked a similar path, and I discovered that I was not alone. Many voiced similar feelings experienced during their divorce, and more than once I heard “if only I had known what to expect.”
As homage to those that have split from their spouse, as well as those currently on their own divorce journey, I offer this communal list of what to expect:
1. We will doubt ourselves, and feel so afraid of the Unknown that we will reason that even though we are miserable, we are at least comfortable, and that we can endure an unhappy marriage.
We will try to convince ourselves of this, even though in our hearts we know that it isn’t true. But we will tell ourselves lies and reason with ourselves that we shouldn’t split—for the kids, for the finances, etc. We will bargain with ourselves because we are scared. Know that this is normal.
2. The roller coaster we feel when the decision is made to separate is unlike anything we ever experienced.
The regret, the grief, the pain, the confusion, the overwhelming, the fear, the desperation of wanting to be loved after our spouse is gone.
But even though we don’t know it, there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from our shoulders—the same weight that we denied all this time when we told ourselves nothing was wrong.
3. Our self-esteem may shatter, and we will be desperate for love and validation.We will think that nobody will ever love or want us again, and we may be tempted to date immediately and latch on to the first person who pays attention to us. We must resist this urge to attach ourselves, even if we have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs us of the chance to heal.
4. Although we may tell ourselves that we’re fine, we will need a support system.
A therapist, a support group, good friends, or the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems we choose should help us attain two objectives: creating a safe place for venting, and helping us find constructive, healthy ways to cope with the divorce.
5. We will feel like we are getting sprayed with an industrial fire hose.
The number of “to-do’s” and “should-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody and other logistics will come with incredible urgency. We will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed.
Understand that splitting is a process. Like any process, there are things to address immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address a little bit later (understanding legal and custody issues, finding an emotional support system) and there are things to address longer-term (ensuring our separation agreement is something we can live with, making sure we and our children are adjusting). We will need to remind ourselves that divorce is like a marathon and it requires patience and persistence. We must save ourselves the stress by accepting that not everything has to be done right now.
6. We will have no control over our spouse’s behavior.
For serious offenses (threatening harm, cleaning out our savings account or wracking up debt on a joint credit card), we will absolutely need to take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger us, but will anger us. It may seem like they are trying to make our life as miserable as they possibly can, which could result in a long, drawn-out, expensive, soul-sucking divorce—if we let it.
We will need to remember that although we can’t control their behavior, we can control how we react to it. Our decision to take the high road despite how they act is entirely up to us. Like most things during the split, it will be easier said than done.
7. We will be tempted to make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic.
We will forget that divorce is a business transaction––a splitting of assets and incomes. The logical part of us will understand this, but the part of us that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business at all. During the legal process, we will be forced to choose our battles. Choose wisely.
I’m a love cartographer.Each of us has our own internal landscape to navigate when it comes to loving another person.
Each journey into love is an opportunity to map out new territory, to discover and navigate parts of ourselves previously untouched by another, and perhaps untouched even by ourselves. Some of these territories will be blissful and others terrifying, but as we get to know our internal landscape, we begin to gain mastery of it, no matter what it is.
We learn how to work with ourselves in all of these places.
I spend my days helping others map out the landscapes of love and relationships in their own lives, and every day I expand and detail my own map, too. Every day I’m inspired by just how much adventure the land of love can provide, and at the same time, I feel a sense of urgency.
I see so many people with tiny little maps. I see so many people spending their lives never venturing out past their own backyards. I see so many who never risk finding out what’s possible.
Each time I sit down to write, I ask myself what I want them to know. I ask myself what I would want someone to tell me if I didn’t already know it.
Today, what I want you to know is that everyone has at least one spot where we always get lost.
We all have that spot where we’ve eventually gotten stuck in every relationship. We all have that empty space on our map; that unexplored, uncharted territory just waiting to be understood and filled in. It may be that a little corner of our map remains an empty mystery as we’ve struggled to get the lay of the land, or it may be that most of our map is still empty because we’ve never ventured to navigate outside the comfort of the world we already know.
We tend to have a hard time acknowledging that our sticky spot has anything to do with us. We like to think we just haven’t met the right person yet. But the truth is that no matter how promising a new love seems, no matter how different this one is from the ones that came before, we will always end up at the place again eventually. We can hope and pray that this time the road will lead us somewhere new, but the truth is it won’t because this is the map of how we navigate love and we haven’t changed yet. So when we get there (and we will get there), we still won’t know how to make it through the terrain.
After enough times, we begin to believe this is just how it is destined to be for us. We begin to accept the current boundaries of our map as our fate. We begin to assume that we’ll never make it any further than we did in the past, and when we believe that, it becomes true.
I lived inside of my patterns for so long. For most of my life, each one of my long-term relationships ended up with the same feeling: I felt bored. The respect and adoration I’d once felt was gone, and the spark in our sex had died out.
This was where all my relationships had ended, each one like the one before. This was as far as I’d ever drawn my map. For all I knew, this was all there was or would ever be for me. I didn’t see that my apathy was keeping me locked in a cycle that I completely had the power to break out of. I didn’t see that I could change it by changing myself.
No, I just saw the challenge as the end of the road.
I stopped trying, so I stopped getting feedback. Without feedback I didn’t learn anything new about my situation that could help me see solutions. And then, eventually, my feeling of hopelessness was validated by my failure. Giving up was a dead end.
Until I finally admitted I was stuck.
Being stuck isn’t the end of the road we paint it out to be.
Actually, stuck is a pretty good place to be. It’s a lot better than denial. As long as we live in the delusion of hoping for change without making a concentrated effort to change ourselves, the pattern will play on repeat forever. Being stuck, on the other hand, is quite a sobering wake up call. It’s an alarm bell telling us it’s time to do something different, and sometimes desperation really is a great motivator.
I got stuck and it totally changed my life. I reached a breaking point; a beautiful breaking point where I grew more courageous than I’d ever been. I realized that anything would have been better than the way things were and I decided that no matter how hard it was and no matter how much courage it would take, I’d do whatever was required in order to finally forge a new path for myself.
We all have that place we get stuck and the sooner we acknowledge that it exists, the sooner we are going to figure out how to get through it.
All those stuck places are actually beautiful opportunities.
They’re difficult for a reason. They stand guard to the deepest, most tender sort of love and they’re there to make sure we are truly ready.
He never really loved you. He loved the idea of you: a woman who is an amazing mother, the kind he never had, someone who would love him unconditionally in all the ways he thought himself unworthy, but not you. His love was always conditional. As long as he got his way. As long as you made it easy on him, do the heavy lifting and be thankful when he wipes your brow and pats your back. When he said he would never hurt you or your children, he just knew what you wanted to hear…needed to hear, but he would never even bite his tongue to spare any of tou the lashing. You know what you did wrong? You closed your eyes. You stopped watching and you listened and you choose to believe what you wanted. Dont upset the apple cart. Listen to the sweet nothings. He enjoyed it while it fed his own ego and made him look good or polished his reflection as a narcissist. He loved the way it made him look like a better man but he wasnt. He wasnt even a man. He was a trapped little boy, scared to really ever take the chance you gave him to have all the things he *said* he wanted. Facade. Smoke and mirrors. Masks. Everything you didn’t want or need.
Maybe you’ve never really been loved by any hand that has touched you. I mean, Jesus, look at the things you’re own father, saint to others, has done to you even recently.
Maybe those things never existed or will. Maybe they don’t make men like they used to. Maybe they never did.
My words have been stuck in my head for awhile. I’m half dead inside my mind. It’s definitely not a lack of things to say. I could scream for days and there’d still be more but it feels very futile.
Then this time of day rolls around. The time of day I used to look forward to getting into bed with my husband about an hour before falling asleep just so we could talk. We’d lay in one another’s arms talking and laughing. Im a girl who enjoys sex but this type of intimacy is beyond that and I cherished it. But now I try to sprawl myself out to cover as much of his empty space as I possible. Another act of futility.
The tears well. The thoughts race.
How long has it been since he held me here? More than that though, how long since he wanted or needed to just be next to me?
How long did I pretend we were being sheltered and cared for by piecing together the scraps of attention and affection that were haphazardly tossed our way? Why was that acceptable to me? To him? When exactly did I accept this shell of the man, husband and father in place of the genuine? How did he keep turning up less accountable and proactive yet more burdened and resentful? And why? Always, why? All we wanted was him. He was gone.
The environment became too toxic, the stakes too high. It reached a boiling point. The kettle screaming and by that time too hot to handle. We were burned and my reflex was to let go and guard the wound.
I told him he needed to leave and I didn’t care where he went. An obvious overshot released venomously, with teeth and claws bared in perceived threat to child that has since been labeled “unacceptable” and even “unforgivable” that I am struggling to wrap reality around. I question things that I actually witnessed happen which leaves me feeling untrusting of myself and because he’s taken all of this and made them into logic and reason to stay absent from home and family, untrusting of him as well.
I mean it can’t be both something that didn’t happen the way everyone perceived it and the reason for a realization that you need to step away and work on yourself to have any chance of us being a family again.
There’s so much more to say. So much to be done. And here I am. Just me.
I went and woke jer up and I told him.
I told him that I couldn’t do this anymore.
I told him that it’s been more than a year since I went to him and laid out all the issues and he made promises to fix things and make efforts
I told him its been all talk and no follow through.
He said he thought he’d been doing better and if it made any difference he had planned to call and set up therapy tomorrow
I wont let him hurt the kids anymore.
I told him so. I told him that I didn’t know who he was anymore. He’s not the man I fell in love with. By always having my EX to compare to …well that’s a pretty low bar and I can’t stay married to you because sometimes you pay attention to me and it’s nice when you’re hurting my kids. I said I never imagined Id say this to you but I don’t like who you are and Im watching my son turn into you and it makes me sick to my stomach. I said that the kids are an extension of me and when you hurt them it hurts me. It’s selfish of me to consider anything else.
Then I came back upstairs, climbed into bed and now Im laying here with a million things going through my head and tears … so many tears.
Everything is going to change but it has to.