Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The art of ignoring

Note: This post ain't pretty. But it is where I'm at and honestly? It's where I have been.

When I was a kid, and other kids teased me, my mom always told me to ignore it.

"Ignore it and they'll stop."

The thing is, although she was right in that situation, it's not exactly a healthy coping strategy for things that bug me now.

So here we go...

I want to get married to Joe.  I want to have kids with Joe.

And, for the most part, Joe doesn't want that.  It's not that he does NOT want it, he just doesn't WANT it.  Make sense?

Basically, he's not sure.  And the not sure thing?  It's eating at me.  So I'm eating it.

When I went into surgery, I weighed the same as I did when I went to my mom's for Christmas.  Since then?  I've gained 7 pounds.  So you tell me how I can not gain weight in two months, most of which I spend as a sedentary blob, and now I'm gaining weight like a champ when I'm busy and active?

Ahhh...yes.  That would be me - bolting from the reality that is my life.

I use food to veg out.  To check out.  To take my mind away from the reality that I have a few outcomes in front of me - most of which involve my relationship going by the wayside.

"But you seem so happy!," you might be thinking.

And the kicker is?  You'd be right.  I am *SO* happy.  We laugh and have fun.  He fits with my family and I absolutely adore his family and friends.  We have a good sex life and we are there for each other when things aren't so great.  We take refuge in each other's arms - like ducking under a shelter in the middle of the sh!t storm that is life sometimes.

But he still doesn't realize that.

And I am left feeling like I'm not enough.  Like this relationship, the best thing I've ever been a part of in my entire life, isn't good enough for him.

Wednesday, the day of my interview (that I rocked), I came home in a foul mood.  We had gotten a few measly inches of snow which turned all the drivers around me into sliding, fumbling nincompoops.  The normally twenty minute drive took over an hour and a half.  It was, to be clear, a very frustrating time.  But as I sat fuming in my car, cursing the drivers around me, I realized that I couldn't possibly be *this* pissed about the weather and driving.

I walked in the door and found Joe who was making dinner (the first in our whole time together).  He was smiling, warm, and happy.  And I wasn't.  I was cranky and when he asked about the interview, I told him I didn't want to talk about it.  I told him that it wasn't him, it was me, but that I just needed a moment to myself.  I went in my room, changed into warm and comfy fun pants and then came out to talk to him.

At one point, when we were talking about the job, he encouraged me to do whatever it was that I wanted.  Calm, supportive, thoughtful, and sweet - that's Joe. 

But all of the sudden it was too much.

"I don't get to do what I want," I said. "Because if I got to do what I wanted, I'd marry you right this instant.  I'd have your babies.  We'd get a dog.  I'd move in more of my stuff into our tiny place.  I'd quit my job, become an elementary school teacher in the same district as our kids so I could have summers and holidays off with them.  Don't tell me to do what I want...because I can't do that."

He stared at me and then opened his arms, where he folded me - crying, sobbing me - into his comforting embrace.  He didn't say anything to refute what I said.  He didn't assure me that it would all work out.  He didn't tell me that he wanted the same.  He didn't tell me that he didn't want the same.  He just hugged me.

It's the same dance we've been doing for months now.  It's this THING in our relationship - one of the few things we actually disagree on.  But this thing?  It's becoming bigger and stronger than I am sometimes.

It's not that I have to have kids or I won't be happy married to Joe.  If we couldn't have kids, we'd find some way to have them in our lives - adoption, fostering, or being a Big Brother or Sister in social organizations.  I'm not interested in marrying him for his sperm.  But I'm not going to say that having my own children isn't a HUGE pull for me right now either.

It's that I feel like I have two chances.  The chance to marry Joe and the chance to have kids of my own. 

My worst nightmare is having my OB say to me that it's too late to have kids.  He told us when I was in his office (during the whole uterine fibroid thing), that after mine was removed, we'd have a few years in which to have kids.  Then, my awesome lady bits would likely keep growing fibroids - ones as big as the grapefruit-sized one that I had removed - ones that probably would crowd out any fetus wanting to grow in there.  Is he 100% right?  Maybe; maybe not.  Could I go to other docs to get a different opinion?  Probably.  But the thing is, he's the specialist I trust.  I trust that what he's saying is true.

So let's say I hang in there with Joe and hope that he comes around.  Let's say he never does.  Let's say I eventually leave him.  Let's say that a while later, I find someone who is ready to settle down and treats me almost as well as Joe does.  Let's say that then?  It's too late for me to have kids.  Now I don't have Joe or kids.

It boils down to this: I'm finding myself trying to choose between the chance to have kids someday and the chance to be Joe's wife someday.  The hard part is that I don't know what my actual chances are at either.

If I were given the choice to marry Joe or have kids, I would pick Joe every time.  But the very real choice of giving up the chance to have kids for the chance to be Joe's wife is too risky for me.

But really?  That's big talk.  Because I also can't see myself walking away from a relationship as wonderful as I believe ours to be.  That doesn't come along every day...so why would I walk away from it?

But then again, if it's so great, why can't he see that?

So that's where we are - in a crossroads of our relationship.

In the good news department, we had a big ol' fight mid-Decemberish.  Mostly about other stuff...like his inability to trust me with some parts/aspects of his life...but this issue came up.  It's not exactly a unique fight - with me or previous exes.  He's 44 and until I moved in, he'd never lived with anyone else before.  Never been engaged either.  Inability to commit isn't exactly a new thing for him.  Ultimately, he agreed (reluctantly) to see a therapist - both for himself and with me as a couple.

Those people are specialists too...and they should be able to help us figure out what we want to do or what we don't, right?

He had his first session with the therapist in December.  We had our first session as a couple on the 13th of January and all I can say is oh.my.gosh this going to be tough. 

In the meantime, it's me.  Me and a whole lotta' uncertainty.

Know what's easier to face than the uncertainty?  The plate full of food in front of me.  The drive-thru lady during my lunch break.  The supermarket clerk on my way home.

Because in those moments, when I'm hurriedly eating food, I don't have to face the fear that I'm not enough for the person I've loved most in my life.  I don't have to worry about how I may never feel a baby kick inside me.  I don't have to worry how I'm going to handle being the Maid of Honor at my baby sister's wedding in two months when what I want most is to getting married myself.  I don't have to weigh possibilities or plans to change anything.  I don't have to think about steps to leave the best thing that's ever happened to me.  I don't have to deal with the worry that I might be pushing and sabotaging my relationship for something that I don't even know that I can do.  I mean, it's not like I've ever TRIED to get pregnant anyway.

So eating when I'm hungry?  I can do that. 

But stopping when I'm no longer hungry?  When I do that, I feel empty.  Alone.  Foolish.  Left-over.  Passed-over.  Not good enough.

I'm not sure what the solution is.  I know that I'm actively doing things to try to figure myself and us out.  I know he's doing the same.  I know that's something.

I want to fight for this.  But sometimes?  I want to ignore the fact that I have to fight for this.  I want to ignore the idea that another sh!tty thing might happen to me in the long line of sh!tty things that have happened to me. 

I want to ignore the voice that's screaming "I told you so" when I had the audacity to hope.


Auntie Mandy said...

Oh, pumpkin! I don't know what to tell ya! So I won't say anything except not to ignore it. OR, come to Ohio!

Abbie said...

Girl, sometimes I feel like I'm in the same boat as you w/my relationship. Things are so easy between us that I keep waiting for the "other shoe to drop," so to speak. And then I get frustrated and end up taking it out on Justin. And although I know that queso, chips, cookies, etc., are not going to help me with this kinda stuff, I always forget that in the moment.

Plus, there's always the stupid girl hormones that get in the way. Sorry I'm not much help but I'm definitely here if you need someone!

Flabby McGee said...

wow. just..wow. I can't say I completely understand about the relationship chance vs. chance to have kids...what a sucky place to be. I'm sorry :( I DO understand the food thing..it's like if you're not full then ..you're nothing. Empty. Then when you are full to bursting, you hate yourself for it. Vicious cycle. I don't quite know what else to say, except that someone else out here is reading your stuff and rooting for you - one way or the other. :)

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

To me, being a complete "outsider", it sounds to me like Joe has some barriers up and stuff to work through...stuff that doesn't have anything to do with you.

To get to 44 without having lived with anyone is a long time; having trust issues doesn't help. It's not YOU.

If it WAS you, I think he'd already be gone...the fact he was willing to go to therapy is very telling to me - most men don't want to work on their feelings.

He went because you ARE the one, and he doesn't want to lose what you have. His lack of response when you said exactly what you wanted was probably because he's scared out of his mind. (Even after being married for several years, talking about babies and stuff was scary for my husband - and scarier for me!!! Turns out, I had fertility problems when I finally decided I wanted kids...the joke was on me, huh? Anyhoo...)

You're not married and you don't have kids, so he could leave very easily (and so could you). But he's not leaving. He sounds like he loves you very much but has his own crap to sort out.

Maybe you're MORE than enough...maybe it's him who doesn't think he's good enough.

This is the thing...like you, I have problems (some big) that I have to deal with on a continuing basis. Either there is no solution I can think of, or it involves enormous disruption of my life (and others'), or heartache.

It can feel awful to want to DO something about these things...you want answers and solutions. But when it's circular in nature, and so very important, it is so easy to numb out with food.

The problem is, when you've stopped being numb, the solution-less problems are still there - only now you're stuffed full of food or have gained weight.

Try (tryyyyyy) to not numb out the next time you're upset or have those niggling thoughts that won't go away. It feels awful. It won't necessarily give you answers. It feels empty and scary.
But it helps break the connection between emotions and food.

I still don't have the answers I'm looking for. But most of the time, I can now feel that the answer is not in eating, even to be numb.

You ARE enough. We all are. Oddly, that is one of the things I do feel...the more I break the connection between food and feelings, the more I feel "enough".

Sorry this is so long...I just had a lot to say.

You're gonna be okay. Get back to that therapist, and get that man of yours talking. You've said what you want. He needs to figure out what he wants. (It sounds like he already knows - YOU! - he just sounds scared to death.)

Thrice Blessed said...

I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I'd do, and what my niece did just a few months ago.

My niece was in a very similar situation, except that she was not afraid of it being too late to have kids because she is young and healthy, with no fibroids! But anyway, she was with a guy for several years, and wanted to get married, but he didn't want to. She waited and hoped and talked to him. Then finally she told him to choose. She stopped seeing him, and told him he needed to decide whether he really wanted her in his life or not.
He lasted about a week, and came back and asked to marry her. They got married this month.
That is more or less what I would do too.

Missy said...

What Debbie said. Sounds like he really does love you, otherwise how would he do therapy?!!

Of course, doesn't make it harder on you. :(

Have you asked your therapist about this? What does he/she say?

Polar's Mom said...

Hmmm...this was me and Hubs before he was 'hubs'. And you know what? We almost died in an icy car accident, and he proposed to me in the car on the way home from the body shop that night. It wasn't romantic, because we were still both shaking-but he knew. He knew after he almost lost me that it was right. My mom left my Dad because he couldn't commit, and a year later he was knocking at her door telling her he couldn't live without her. BUT someone and I broke up before I moved up to Iowa-I was SURE he was the one, we had been together a long time, I was sure we would get back together. We didn't, and I met hubs who was a better match and the rest is history.
So is giving Joe an ultimatum the way to go? Not sure. But you can't make him see what you see, and you can't force your expectations on him (baby, marriage, etc-I learned that from OUR counselor). But it sounds like pressuring him in this situation won't help him see your light. SO what is most important? Having Joe-regardless if you ever get married? Having your happy relationship together that really sounds great and healthy? Or only having Joe if it means getting married one day? Because if it is the latter, then that means it's not really Joe that is the clincher, it's marriage. Same thing for kids. Playing the devil's advocate here-it's not Joe's fault that you have fibroids and they are making your clock tick faster and louder than before-and let's face it he might never really know how that ticking clock feels. The urgency may be lost on him. SO when it comes down to it, we have a guy who has never lived with anyone before you, but who loves you, and who you are very happy with, right? So are kids and marriage actually missing from your relationship, or is it complete as it is and you just want more? Wanting more is perfectly acceptable, but men will rarely fix what ain't broken. So if you really would give up kids and marriage for a happy life with Joe, then he is the clincher and you need to loosen the grip on the marriage/kids argument and let it happen, if you must have kids and marriage with Joe to be truly happy, then he is not the clincher and it may be time to take a step back. Sorry for the long post, it is clear for me since I am an outsider I think...

Polar's Mom

Maggie said...

I'm in a Women, Food and God book group, and this week, one of the discussion questions seems very relevant to your post.

[Caps are mine]: There are many ways to bolt. Blaming someone else for your feelings, getting into a fight, comparing yourself to someone else, DREAMING ABOUT LIFE IN THE FUTURE, regretting or resenting the past.

The question goes on, but that's the excerpt that seems most connected to what you wrote.

You used the word "bolt" in your post so I'm wondering if you looked at the next deeper layer of what you're running from if you might find another layer of truth.

What are you trying to avoid? I don't know you very well (actually, not at all, although I have followed your blog for a while and love your writing) so this is a wild guess, one that may be more of a description of me than of you, but I'll put it here anyway as a guess: how comfortable are you in being in joy and receiving love that is pure the way that you describe Joe's love? Can you open yourself to absolute and amazing experience of it and really, really feel it?

I hope you find what you're bolting from because I don't think it's the thoughts that you're not good enough for Joe. All of us (including you, I suspect) are pretty good at being with The Voice (as Geneen Roth calls it), that critical pain. You're bolting, all right, but mabye there's something deeper that's making you want to eat.

Mrs. D said...

I'm so sorry you're struggling with this right now.. I don't have any good advice (my husband and I were in the same boat a few years ago, but it was reversed). No one can advise you on what's best for YOU. That being said, you're working so hard to make the best of the one and only life you get- don't let it pass you by. Just like you've done with your health, decide what you can and can't live without, and make a plan to get there. Sending hugs and happy thoughts your way!

SJB said...

I'm sorry you're going through so much. Its horrible to feel not good enough and I know it's hard to shake that feeling, but I hope you do soon because you're better than the emotional eating you're doing. But I understand.

~ Darla ~ said...

Very powerful post and I'm sorry you have so many thoughts swirling around in your head. I was in the same boat as you with a former boyfriend, but now I am married to the love of my life. Only you know what's right for you. Trust your instincts, they never fail you. People rarely change, unless they want to...we must be the change we want to see (((big hugs))).

Lesia said...

Look at all the beautiful supporters you have. I agree that Joe HAS the issue NOT you. Support him in his therapy sessions. I hope and pray you get answers soon. smiling down on you.

Duddes02 said...

Relationships are complicated and they hard to understand unless you are actually in the relationships.

The only thing i can tell you is that he should CARE that you are unhappy. He should really want you to be so happy. I"m sure he knows nothing will change if you do get married. Your relationship will be the same. He just needs to know that.

mffallaw said...

What a gut wrenching post. I wish I had words of wisdom or the perfect solution to make it all better. It's so hard to be with someone and not have them love us the way we need them to.
It makes us feel inadequate or like we're the problem. It's clear that Joe loves you very much, but in his way instead of your way. But is that enough?

You are amazing and worthy of being loved and finding happiness. But, no matter how many people tell you that, it isn't going to matter until you believe it. You have to know that you are absolutely good enough...more than good enough like Debbie said.

I agree with everything Debbie said. It sounds like this has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with Joe and his issues. You know his past better than we do, so you know the root of his issues and whether they are things he can get past or not.

I wish you all the best. And, even though it may not comfort you now, know that things will work out the way they are supposed to. It's just hard right now to see what that "supposed to" looks like.

kristi said...

I agree with what everyone else has said here. I feel so bad that you have these feelings that you're not good enough because YOU ARE! I have been going through similar feelings with a certain person. I realize now that THEY obviously are the problem because they can't see me for the good person that I am. I've had to come to terms with that and move on, even though it's really REALLY hard. If I was there, I'd give you a big hug and then take you out for a few pints ;)

Crys said...

My stomach sank as I was reading this. My last post is about ending a relationship I've had off & on for almost 15 years (and I'm 29). It's so hard when you're sure and someone else isn't... I spent many, many years at that impasse. Not marriage because I'm afraid of marriage but I was ready to be a grown up and he wasn't.

What I did was hold on until I couldn't another day. And although I should regret that approach, I don't. I have no regrets.

I wish I could give you hug. I so know where you are.

FattyMcFatPants said...

Hello fellow Coloradoan! :)

(I have nothing useful to say about the post itself because I'm totally ignorant about relationships but I hope you figure out what's right for you. :) )

reeceh22 said...

Wow! Your post really hit home with me. I'm going through a very similar situation right now. Reading your posts and all the comments left by others is helping me see things in a different light.


Lanie Painie said...

Your mom, of course, was wrong. Ignoring things doesn't make them go away. You know that.

I have a reading assignment for you. "This is Not the Story You Think It Is" by Laura Munson. It's available on Amazon and it's brilliant. Or, come to Ohio and pick up my copy.

I'm sorry to have not checked in on you lately - or anybody else for that matter. I've been spending all my time at the McDonald's drive through.

Joe cares about your feelings and holds you so you can cry. Those are not small things, let me tell ya.

Start working on that elmentary teacher thing RIGHT NOW. That's something you can control. Maybe you'll be too busy grading papers to eat. Then in the summers you can travel, take care of Joe, and be happy. Or - volunteer with kids.

Whatever you do, you're going to be great. Kids or no kids. Husband or no husband. Do the stuff you know you can do on your own, and I think the rest will follow.

Kris said...

that makes me want to eat a chantilly cake from whole foods

Kris said...

the whole cake, just so we are clear