Thursday, December 02, 2004

I'm drowning.

It feels like my life is completely out of my control, and I don't know how to stop the skid. Work- I feel like the red-headed stepchild of my team, I'm dreading my review next week, and it's so overwhelming I'm having a hard time getting a toehold to try to make some progress. Finances - I have no money, and can't really figure out any way to get more. Sure, I have my Pampered Chef business, but it's hard to find time to really try to develop it. And unless I get really good at it or bring in some recruits, it will continue to be little trickles of cash here and there. I do calligraphy, but there again, I'd have to find time to practice and work, and ways to bring in business for that.

And then there's my marriage. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head, I'm not even sure if they can come out in an organized fashion. I've been flipping through a book called Are You the One For Me? by Barbara De Angelis, and a couple of things have hit me. I don't have the book here, so I can't quote directly, but I'll go from memory as best as I can. One section talked about the wrong reasons for being in relationships, and one of the reasons was guilt. There were ten statements at the beginning of that section, things like "you grew up in a situation where your feelings didn't count (i.e., alcoholic, critical or controlling parents)" and "you have a hard time identifying what you need and an even harder time telling the ones you love what you need". If only a couple of the statements applied to you, the book said you probably have a normal amount of guilt attached to your relationship. If four or more applied to you, then you might have some problems with guilt in your relationship. I think eight or nine of the ten applied to me. AACK. So am I staying with K out of guilt?

There were some other things that struck me, too, but it's hard for me to talk to K about them (this ties in with the guilt - one of the statements that applied to me was something about not expressing opinions if you saw it would hurt or upset the person you were talking to - yeah, I do that). Some of them had to do with respecting your partner. I can't remember the specifics, but reading it, I thought that maybe K doesn't respect me, or at least not enough for us to have a healthy relationship. If nothing else, it's at least something we should talk about. Some of it was about your partner needing to grow up, and I thought some of the things mentioned there might apply to K. But how do you bring that up, how do you tell a 35-year-old man that he might need to grow up?! It will upset him, I know that - it would upset me if someone told me that. So how do I get past the concern about upsetting him to talk about this?!

And taking all this into account - do I owe it to J to try to put the marriage back together, even if I don't think I'll be happy doing that? Does K owe it to J to try that, even if he doesn't think he'll be happy? I'm getting back to what I talked about a while back - I grew up with the example of parents who were together but not happy. If I try to mend my marriage, am I doing it out of love for K (the kind of love that a marriage should be based on, not a friend type of love), out of obligation to J, out of just falling into the pattern I saw my parents demonstrate? If I decide I want out, how do I know I'm doing the right thing? Or *is* there any way to know? Is it all one big crap shoot, based on what you think seems like the right thing to do at the time?

I wonder, too, what effect the end of his friendship with JG had on his feelings about us separating. I asked him once if the fact that she was separated from her husband around the same time he said he wanted out (I don't remember the exact timing, but JG and her husband had been having problems for a bit, and he'd finally moved out) had anything to do with him wanting to separate, and he said not really, that anything to do with her was maybe 10% of the reason he wanted out. But still I wonder - on some level, does he think the separation isn't such a good idea now that she's not in the picture? And if he does think that, does he think that because he's decided he might want *me*, or because he'd want the security of the marriage rather than me specifically?

And then I feel guilty for even thinking all these things. Damn, I have some serious guilt issues. It's true, I do feel responsible for everything and everyone, and how everyone around me feels. How do I get over that?

Then there's the question of, are my thoughts skewed by society's notions of romantic love? Am I foolish to even dream of/think about/hope for a relationship where I feel swept off my feet, where my partner absolutely makes my toes curl? For centuries, marriages weren't commonly based on love - they were based on other, more practical considerations. Would a marriage based on friendship and a desire to raise our son be enough? Is that something I could live with? Is that something K could live with? Would it be fair to either of us to even try it? I don't know. And if the two of us could live with it, would it be right or fair to J to give him only that example on which to base his notions of what a relationship or marriage should be like?

And in the middle of all my musings, I'm trying to get stuff packed up for the big move at work, answer phones while the people who normally do that go tour our new space for a bit (we all get to do that today, but I'll miss my scheduled time because I'll be at a lunch meeting), and put out fires that are biting me in the ass. I feel so inadequate and incompetent at this job. I could just cry.


Tommy said...

You and K could probably co-habitate fine and raise J to be a fine young man; but would you be teaching him what love is? I consider myself a helpless romantic and want to teach my son through my actions and love towards MG how to truely love someone. I believe that two people who are not "in love" should not stay together for the children. Kids pick up on things more than we know. If you love the man then go for it, but I would be hesitant because just as you stated; does he love you or is he just comfortable with you? Will he leave at the first sign of trouble or the next hot pair of legs? Could you go through him leaving twice?
Just be careful, this is your chance to call the shots so make sure that its good for you and J before jumping in.
Wow, maybe I would make a good Dear Abbey.

Jay said...

I would hate to be where you are right now. It must be hard to consider reconcilliation after so much has slipped away.

But back to your post:
"But how do you bring that up, how do you tell a 35-year-old man that he might need to grow up?! It will upset him, ..."I get told that all the time. It always upsets me; I always get defensive too. As I reflect there are occasions where the criticism was warranted and I think about how to improve myself. Other times though it seems unwarranted or hurtful and that bothers me. Every time that I decide the criticism was not warranted makes it harder to acknowledge those times that it was warranted.

If telling him has any chance of being helpful you need to do it carefully. He needs to learn what the problem is, why it's a problem, and how to improve on it. But if you say, "You're immature, you need to grow up, grow up now" it won't work. A very carefully written, thrice edited, thrice slept on, letter might be the way to go.

Show that your motives are pure, show why his behaviour is destructive, and give him the chance to come to his own conclusions regarding a remedy. Hint but don't instruct.