I had an big, blessed rant planned for this post. I was going to share all of the ways I've been told throughout my life that I'm too much--too loud, too bold, too smart, too strong. I was particularly revved to point the finger at "someone close to me" who gives me that message to this day, someone who tells me my feelings are too big, I make too big of a deal of things, I'm too intense.
Until last night, when I was offered an ice-filled glove to the face as my conscious mind snagged something my subconscious has been holding tightly for, oh, I'd say 5 about years. I'm still going to write that post, because much of it remains true and there's a message there I very much want to share with you. But for today, we're going to talk about that sneaky bitch in my head, my subconscious...
I shouldn't call her names. She's only trying to protect me. But lawdy, that girl is sneaky with a capital SNEAK! Here's the back story: in 2015, the year I turned 40, my husband left me. Things had not been good, there was a lot of tension between us. I kept asking what was wrong, he kept making excuses, saying it was work, he was tired, it was his chronic illness. Then, one night in March, he came home very late and announced it was over. He no longer wanted to be with me. No, it was nothing that I did. No, he would not go to counseling. No, we could not talk about it. No, there was nothing that would change his mind.
Thus began the most horrifying and painful year of my life. Over the next six months I struggled to find a rental that would accommodate my prickly dog, eventually moving into a rental that he owned. He vacillated between accusatory and cruel to sorrowful and guilty. He missed me, he couldn't see me. He loved me, he was done with me. He might have made a mistake, he couldn't be with me. To say I was emotionally and physically drained would be a bit like calling the Grand Canyon a sidewalk crack.
My weight, normally a trim 130, dropped to a skeletal 119 pounds. A dear friend called me three times a day and made me eat while on the phone with her. My stress level was so high that my memory was shot; I had to carry a small notebook with me to remember the most basic things. Thoughts passed through my shattered mind like water through a colander. If I didn't catch it on paper the moment it poured in, it would be gone in an instant.
In August of that year, still living in his investment property and paying him rent, I learned the full truth, that there had been another woman since the night we split. He'd assured me many times that his leaving had nothing to do with anyone else. But this lie wasn't the worst part. The worst part was, I'd always known. I knew what was going on, on a soul deep level. I just didn't WANT to know it. So I pretended I didn't. Yes, he betrayed me. But the deepest cut? I betrayed myself. I turned my back on my own inner knowing and I let myself be lied to. I was crushed. And pissed. At him, at myself, at the world.
Hell hath no fury, as they say. I might have needed a notebook to remember why I had left the house, but I had plenty of paper and a bonfire under my ass. I was confronted with what I already knew while he was out of town for a week. In those 7 days, I found another rental, signed a year lease, and packed. I'd hoped to be gone from his place before he returned, but I didn't quite make it out. At least the plan was in place and the countdown to the final goodbye was on.
Meanwhile, the trip he was on was a back country trek with his brother, his closest confidant. My man, her man, confided to his brother that he knew he'd made a huge mistake in leaving, in lying. He wanted me back, but didn't know what to do. "All you can do," big brother replied, "is go home and tell her the truth."
So he did. He came home to his rental full of boxes and a woman full of wrath. He told me everything I already knew, twice over. And I told him to go to hell. He begged me not to move out; I told him he should invest his energy in therapy. I moved out. He kept up. After several months his persistence paid off and I agreed to go to counseling, though not to move back home. It would be another 6 months before I was ready for that.
The years since have been full of growth and challenge, joy and grief. I have never regretted my decision to recommit; he has never waivered in his commitment to own his choices and accept their consequences. We've floated in an ocean of love, we've drowned in the river of doubt. But we're still swimming.
I'm here, in my marriage. I truly want to be here. But lately I've noticed that I seem to be swimming upstream. There's a lot of struggle. I feel unheard, unnoticed, like some of my needs aren't being met. I'm an easy talker, so I bring these things up, this sense of struggle I'm feeling. He listens. He offers suggestions, things he can do differently. But he also offers the idea that maybe I just need to relax, that perhaps I'm creating struggle where there doesn't need to be any.
Preposterous!! There it is again, that message that I'm too much. I want too much, I expect too much, I feel too much. Or, that's what I heard, anyway...
Until last night. Remember that ice-filled glove? The one that rocked me across the face? About that...
I've been working diligently throughout my life, including in my marriage, to accept ALL of my own responsibility. For me, as a coach, that means giving up the illusion that other people including my husband, "make me feel" anything at all. Which is not to say that I don't have feelings for the hubs or others, but that my feelings come from my own thoughts, not from anything other people do or do not do. I've become quite skilled at applying this to other areas in my life, but in the area of my heart, it just won't stick. I'm aware that I'm not using my skills well here. In fact, I've been pondering hiring a new coach to help me in this arena. I can see what's not working, but I can't seem to affect any change to it.
After a row yesterday morning about chores and communication and my feelings, I spent the day fuming. We talked a bit in the evening, the resolution was much like it often is: I struggle, he offers to help, I cling to my struggle. Following the execution of the pattern, I went upstairs for my meditation. Immediately upon beginning, I felt the presence of "my wings," my symbol that it's safe to surrender. I felt my guides gather around me, offering to help me solve this struggle, to show me how to let it go. The moment I said "yes," they told me this:
You create problems to keep yourself safe. You believe that if things are difficult in your marriage, it won't hurt as bad when he leaves again.
I do what, now? I make problems, I cling to struggle, I make things in my marriage harder than they have to be? Is that true?
And I do that because it makes me feel safe?! Is that true?
There it was. From the depths of my subconscious. This ridiculous belief that I could save myself pain by creating strife in my marriage. That somehow, if I could convince myself I was unhappy, I would be saved unhappiness. Well. Isn't that a cute trick? I see what's going on here. I see what you're doing, you sneaky little...
As I've already said, I shouldn't call her names. And in fact, as tears streamed down my face and I struggled to continue chanting through my meditation, I thanked my subconscious. I thanked her for trying to keep me safe, for keeping watch over this wound in my soul for so long. And then I told her no more. It's time to let go of this belief. This is not serving me. In fact, it's hurting me.
Also, it's not true! This is my truth: if he leaves me again, I will be heartbroken. And I will be fine. What is going on between us when he leaves doesn't change either of those facts. We could be rainbows and unicorn farts or a smoking hot mess. My heart will break, and I will survive, either way.
The work to heal this belief is not done. In fact, it's only just begun. Identifying a subconscious belief is the start of a process of healing. Now I will dig deep to find all of the aspects of this pattern that may still remain hidden. I will use my tools to release them, one by one. I will muscle test my way through the layers of this belief until it is fully and permanently cleared from my mind and my body.
And I will rewrite that post about being too much. Because, as it turns out, that's not what he was saying, at all. He could see what was still hidden from me, that I was making things harder than they had to be. I'm sure he didn't know why, but I'm just as sure that he could see this pattern. He could see me clinging to struggle, and he was telling me in the only way he knew how that it was safe to let go. That I didn't need the struggle, we didn't need the struggle. In this case, it WAS too much. Too much effort, too much rigidity, too much force.
It wasn't criticism, it was a message. A lesson I was being offered, but wasn't ready to learn. The "too much" post is still on my heart. You'll read it soon. But it will be minus that part about someone close to me suggesting I'm still too much. That was on me, a misunderstanding created by what was going on, beneath the surface, in my mind.
Today I have #allthefeels. I feel guilty for the pain I caused, for both of us. I feel a bit abashed. When I shared what I'd realized with my man, I felt downright silly. "I've been causing problems between us to keep myself safe" feels pretty ridiculous to say out loud! (My subconscious is sneaky, NOT logical.) I feel tremendous relief to know the source of all of the struggle, and hope for a lighter, easier future. I feel deep gratitude for the knowledge and skills that will allow me to clear this belief completely from my life and my soul. And I feel a bit mystified by, but still thankful for, for that sneaky bitch in my brain.