When we jointly decided at the end of the year that we needed and wanted to work on our marriage, I took it to heart, and actually tried, and I’m still trying. But the trying is one-sided, with no results, no positive feedback, no reward for my efforts. One book I read, A Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra has been really thought provoking, and has made me look deeply at myself. I can’t be loved if I’m not loveable, and if I don’t love myself, then who else will possibly love me? How can Lou love me if I let myself be so mistreated? It isn’t loving on my part to let him do things and treat me in a way that makes me so sad and then resent him for it. I say I love him, but I question if I’m actually even coming close to giving him the unqualified love that I so desperately want in return. I need to give it first. But at the same time, I have to be a loveable person. One who respects herself; one who is deserving of respect.
When we argue over Tanya and he again tells me that she is the only good thing in his life that brings him happiness, I now ask him “What about me? What about the happiness I deserve in life? What kind of respect does it show to me? How am I expected to be able to look myself in the mirror knowing I’ve allowed this to happen?” But every fight ends up with his anger beating me back down. He starts pounding on things and yelling at me; I can’t compete, I can’t deal with it, and I just give in. I want him to calm down and for the yelling and the aggression to stop, so I throw my hands up and say to just go ahead and do whatever he wants, but that it doesn’t mean I agree. All he hears is that I said he can do whatever he wants and it’s okay. He seems to honestly think that I will believe him when he denies that I’ve objected in the past, and claims that my protests are always news to him.
I thought that a letter would be better, because he couldn’t deny that I said what I said. I could just pull out the documentation. I’ve also been reading a lot of Wayne Dyer books, including Wisdom of the Ages, which includes a poem by William Blake, A Poison Tree, that hits home the message that holding onto anger will fester to a deadly end, while open communication will quickly resolve it. Lou was away, so I stayed up most of the night writing an e-mail to him about how I was feeling. I directly asked him to either stop his relationship with Tanya, or to just go with it and I would release him in good spirit without any fight or animosity. I spent hours writing this letter, and tried to be as honest as possible in a non-confrontational, loving way that I thought he could hear:
First, Last, and Always, I do love you.
I know that you love me, but it is entirely clear to me that you are also in love with Tanya on many levels. I tried and obviously failed to communicate to you all my feelings about your relationship with her. Your perception and memory are very different from mine. I can tell you from my side that I felt completely helpless and hopeless in dealing with your feelings for her. You need to realize that from the beginning your “connection” with her was strong and came through loud and clear to me. And whether you understand it or think it is unfounded or stupid or irrational, it was devastating to me.
When we talked about the relationship of the sadness I had in the past to today’s situation, I tried to explain to you that I’ve felt for a long time that you’ve been searching for something else. Someone else. And it appeared to me that you had found it at last in Tanya.
From my perspective, when I objected to the relationship with Tanya, you would get mad and I would feel like you expected that I should allow you to do what you wanted, because she made you happy. And I would fall apart inside and give in. You gave me positive feedback when I helped you or agreed with you, and would get mad when I didn’t. I ended up giving in on things because I could not bear the pain of you being mad at me, and feared you blaming me for denying you the happiness Tanya brings you. All I agreed to was to avoid pain. There was nothing in it for me. If I wasn’t an emotional wreck, I would never have tried to appease you and say that I could make it work. In one sense, I was sincere in saying that if she was in trouble and needed a place to stay we would help. But in another sense, I can tell you that it is humiliating to look at myself allowing this to happen. My self-worth is clearly in the toilet for me to say that it is ok for you to have another love in your life. I was not thinking healthy. I felt that I had no choice but to accept what you wanted. And further, that I was responsible for you needing this in your life. That may be the case, but the solution is not that I need to step aside and share your love and affection with another woman. It isn’t workable for me. Maybe I love you too much, or maybe you think I don’t love you enough to let that happen. You could argue that if I had more self-esteem that I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but I think that anyone with an ounce of self-esteem would have rejected this relationship from the start, and that you would be the one who would be fearing my anger, not the other way around.
So you say you didn’t understand all of this, and that you looked only at the outcomes of me letting you do what you wanted, and helping you in a couple occasions. I don’t understand why you don’t remember all the tears and discussions of heartache over this. And you don’t understand why I don’t remember all the times I helped and empathized with you. I remember those times, but I can tell you that I did it as the lesser of two bad alternatives (and I remember telling you that directly also), and that I felt trapped with no alternatives. I thought that perhaps I could just let go and let it happen and not care anymore. But that’s not a way to live. I do care, and it has been pain every day. I’ve tried to pretend it isn’t, I tried to convince myself that I was wrong to feel hurt and jealous. I love you and want good things for you and for you to be happy, even if I couldn’t be the one to make you happy.
When I explained my feelings of sadness, lack of self-esteem, feeling that you were looking to fill some void that I could not fill, I felt that you dismissed my feelings as being old feelings that have been a trouble for many years, and not related to Tanya. I acknowledge and agree to having a level of depression and sadness and self-esteem problems over time, and I shared with you the feelings and events from the past that I recognize as contributing to my feelings and depression. Not to try to blame you for things done or not done in the past, but to try to put it all on the table so you could talk to me about those issues from your perspective and hopefully help me to let go of them once and for all. I think it was good for us to do that, and I did and do feel we could put all that to rest and move forward. I did and do fully recognize that I had a depression problem and lots of unresolved issues that needed to be dealt with long ago. And I think you could see that I love you and I wanted to change and for us both to have a different and renewed relationship and marriage.
The situation with Tanya was and is unbearable emotionally. It is smack in my face that I am inadequate to you as a wife, friend, and lover. And that very quickly took my depression from one level to a much deeper level. Which certainly doesn’t help my ability to be a good wife, friend, and lover to you. I’m not saying you were not justified in feeling like you wanted and needed more. Like I said, I agree that I have problems that need to be fixed so that we can have a fun, loving, affectionate, passionate marriage. I love you completely, but we can’t fix our relationship and gain the love and passion and romance we both want to give to each other, while you want to be with someone else. Because it just means that I am not enough, and I can’t get to feel good about myself as long as that is staring me in the face. I can understand why you feel as you do about Tanya. But you have to know that I can’t live with being only partially enough for you. If there is room for you to love two, as you said there is, then it isn’t a marriage between you and me. It may work you for you, because you get the best of everything. But it doesn’t work for me.
I hear you say that you’ll go to being “just friends” with Tanya. But I also hear the anger and frustration in your voice, and the intonation that I somehow “set you up” for things. I should have had the courage to deal with your anger, but I didn’t. I was weak and stupid. But I did not set you up.
I don’t want you to stay with me out of any obligation or desire to avoid the hassles of a change in our lives. You’ve got reasons to be dissatisfied, and have an opportunity to go on to a fresh start with someone who you can love and who loves you too. (Don’t bother denying it). And I love you enough to let you go without any trouble, and will stay as your friend. But I need you to think about and decide what is most important to you to have in your life. And if our relationship and marriage and family life is what is most important, then it would seem to me that you would choose that in a positive spirit, and not be mad and sarcastic with me. I’m not looking for you to cut your wrists and beg forgiveness for your behavior. But you don’t seem to have any empathy at all for my position and emotions, and are just conceding because I won’t let you do this – like Tanya is seemingly conceding to her husband. But we both know that you and Tanya think her husband is wrong, and that you should be allowed to do what you want.
My position is that you can do what you want. But don’t think that I approve and that I’m fine with it. I’m not. And I’m not going to pretend that I am anymore. If you’re going to be mad at me, so be it. I’d rather deal with that than how I’ve been feeling.
I know how we got here, and it has been a long, long trip, that long preceded Tanya. But how do we get out from here?
I’m doing my part in dealing with the depression and speaking with you as openly and honestly as I can and listening to you as openly as I can.
I love you and want us to devote ourselves to each other and our daughter. I can commit to loving you as completely and fully with the care and trust and lust and desire I have for you already.
In your deepest heart, what do you want? What do you need? Do you think I can give you that in your life?
With my love,
I e-mailed it to him in the middle of the night. The next day, when I talked to him on the phone, he didn’t mention the letter, but was clearly irritated, and so I asked if he got the e-mail. He said, “Yeah, I talked to Tanya and we decided there is too much pressure on us, so we won’t see each other at all anymore.”
Not the reaction I expected. I don’t for one minute believe he will stop seeing her, either. I did everything I can think of, and I’m still in the same place, except now he will be sneaking behind my back, and will still be mad at me all the time. Great. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Dyer didn’t tell me what to do next. Guess I’ll have to keep reading.
Regardless, I will not give in any longer. If necessary, I will put up with his anger for a while and regain my own sense of self. I don’t know exactly when I lost it, but I feel like I can actually get it back now. I’ve been trying out what seems like an endless stream of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs. Perhaps they are starting to work, but I don’t think so. Instead, I feel more like a junkie drug addict or alcoholic who has finally reached rock bottom in her life, and has to change or will die. I’m not afraid of dying literally. I personally don’t think death of the body is a horrible thing, and believe our souls are eternal. I am terrified of the near death of my soul while my body is still alive. I feel I’ve been slowly killing myself over the years, and that I finally reached the point where my soul’s breaths are few and far between, and that if I don’t do something now, I will soon walk dead on this Earth until I am released from this life. I don’t want to die. Not spiritually, not mentally, and not physically. There is so much to live for.
Anjelica is truly a joy in my life. I want to continue to give her all the love and support she deserves and needs from her mom. I want to be the grandmother and great-grandmother that her children are excited to see, and to shower them with love and hugs and kisses. I want to be a very happy old lady when I die. I want to have been a good role model for Anjelica in life. She needs to know that she deserves to be treated with the utmost respect by anyone fortunate enough to receive her love. I can only do that if I show her through my actions that I will not accept less in my own life. As the proverb states, “physician heal thyself.” I can’t teach her to live her life with self-respect until I take care of my own.