I need to let you in on a secret. As I wrote my last post, I cried, and I cried, and I cried. Because while most of it was true, in that I’m managing difficulties as they arise and continuing to reduce meds, there was one huge part missing, one huge aspect of my life that was falling apart off the back of my transformation.
I sat Ronan down a month ago and told him I didn’t love him anymore, and that I wanted a separation. I had changed so much over the preceding months that nothing about our relationship made sense any more. We’ve always prided ourselves on being really honest and communicative with each other, it’s what kept us going through ten years of crises. We’ve never shied away from having difficult conversations, and there have been more than I care to remember over the years.
Time and time again, one or other of us wanted to run. We didn’t though. We talked, we figured out a way forward and we carried on. For years, that dogged determination served us well. However, over the last year, cracks started to appear. Patterns of behaviour that we had fallen into, that made sense during times when I wasn’t well, began to cause problems, until it reached a point where those problems could no longer be ignored.
I couldn’t see a future for us. We had gotten so used to our caregiver/patient roles that we had forgotten how to be husband and wife. Over the last few weeks, and after many, many, many conversations, we’ve come to the conclusion that really, it’s quite remarkable we got as far as we did before the cracks appeared. Or maybe a better way of putting it is before the cracks became so big that there was no avoiding them any more.
The difficulties I was having with my mental health didn’t just affect me. They affected everyone around me. They shaped my view of myself, of the people I care about and who care about me, of the whole world. My perspective on everything has been so clouded, filtered by so many preconceptions and beliefs. And of course, the same is true of how people have been perceiving me, because on top of everything I was bringing to the table, there was something else – the belief that I was sick. That there was something intrinsically wrong with me, that I was someone who needed to be taken care of, who couldn’t be relied on, who’s judgement couldn’t be trusted, who was impulsive, who could become emotionally unhinged at a moment’s notice………….how could any relationship survive that?
No more than the extremely unhelpful coping mechanisms I had developed to manage emotional pain, as a couple we had developed habits that however well intended, were breaking us. The better I got, the more apparent these problems became. We had a horrible, horrible few weeks while I insisted there was no way back. I was too different, had changed too much, while he hadn’t changed at all. We always knew there was a chance this could happen – after all what’s therapy for but to change people?! – but we still didn’t see it coming, not really. When it became apparent that we were no longer able to talk about the situation at all, we decided to try couples counselling.
The last thing in the world I wanted to do was engage with another therapist. I want to close the door on that part of my life, leave behind the diagnoses, the doctors, the drugs, the therapists…….all of it. This is different though, because it’s not just about me. It’s about us. It’s also not about blame. Hindsight is wonderful, but far from helpful. We can look back and see so many things that could have been done differently, so many mistakes that we made. The problem is though, at the time all of those things seemed right. We absolutely did the best we could, under horrible, horrible circumstances.
I hit my lowest point mentally and emotionally a couple of years ago, and it had to happen so that I could get myself to where I needed, and more importantly, wanted, to be. Turns out exactly the same thing had to happen to Ronan and I. We had to break as a couple.
But, that doesn’t mean our marriage is over, or at least not in the way I thought it did. We couldn’t carry on the way things were, for sure, so that leaves us with two options. Separate, or find another way. We’ve chosen to try and find another way. He wants to close the door on the last ten years as much as I do, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We need to get to know each other in this new reality we find ourselves in, one where I’m not sick, not in need of care, where he’s not constantly on guard watching for signs that the wheels are about to fall off again. He needs to get to know again the parts of himself that were forgotten in all the drama.We need to learn different ways of relating to each other, to bring compassion, understanding and kindness back into our lives. So yes, our marriage as it has been is over, but that’s no bad thing. In it’s place is something very new, very different. Something hopeful and optimistic for the future.
I heard a lovely saying recently……….good endings make for good beginnings. That’s what this is. No pressure. No stress. Just one day at a time, getting to know the people we are now, reconnecting, appreciating the small things, appreciating each other – starting our marriage all over again.