I wrote this in April of 2006. We were getting ready to move to Montreal, and I was quitting my job. Quitting my job was hardest as it meant that I was handing over monetary dependence to Terrance. I hated it and fought bitterly against this.
This post was also written before some really, really terrible shit went down in our marriage. Shit that I still don't feel comfortable exposing to the world and perhaps will never write down. Following that Shit, I went into a full blown manic depressive episode that lasted well over six months before we got it under control. There have been at least two more depressive episodes we have managed following 2006.
Today I look back and consider Terrance. A man who was managing an at times brilliant, but crazy wife, a move to a new country, a shift of complete financial responsibility, and our Daughter.
I am not always kind to my husband. I take him for granted frequently. I can be selfish and self absorbed in my own world of thoughts and writing and obsessive pursuits. Yet, he persists. He STAYS, even when I have told him that I hated him and wanted him to leave. Even when I have looked at apartments and made moves to leave HIM. He stays.
That Fact alone amazes me. In my life when every person I wanted has left me by the side of the road, this man Stays. That willingness to stay with me, despite everything, remains a mystery to me. In my marriage I didn't get what I wanted, but I seem to have gotten what I needed. And today, I am grateful.
I have been thinking about my ex’s a lot lately. I find that when my life is about to take a major leap, the stir of echoes from the past gets strong.
I sometimes think as you move forward, the need to revisit familiar places gets slightly stronger. Part of leave-taking is imprinting your memories. Ends of relationships are similar times. Tumultuous, intense, sorrowful, joyful – all rolled into one big ball, like being in a giant emotional dryer on “tumble.”
There has never been a romantic relationship that has ended and I have thought ( in hindsight) “Damn, that was supposed to last.” Each one took its winding and specific course to its inevitable ending. Terrance, of course, was different. He wanted no end to “the Dawn show.”
Terrance’s steadiness, and tenacity have been godsends for my less rational fluctuations in mood. His ability to plot a course and guide me through it has been the anchor to which my life has been tied for the past 15 years. I, in return, add the wackiness and humor to our lives. We are the ultimate opposites, but exactly the same.
With Terrance, I found a man who loved my mind, as much as anything I could do for his body. That was a shock and took me a long time to acclimate into my view of what relationships “were”. With all my other partners, I took solace in my sexuality. It was something that I could offer that they could appreciate. If everything else in the relationship was going to hell, sex was always great. As a girl who had emotionally distant fathers, and as a young woman who chose emotionally distant boyfriends, I could be close with sex. It was the intimacy that wasn’t intimate! See me giving, without giving! The drama, the chase, the emotional roller coaster!
Terrance’s insistence on emotional intimacy was scary as hell. I fought him bitterly for the first year we dated. Sex? No problemo, I could do that all day. Emotional intimacy? Jesus Christ! Wasn’t the sex enough? That whole year, I retreated twice a week into my therapists office, trying to understand why this man that I yelled at, hung up on and generally tormented stayed around. Was he a masochist?
A year later, after I had said and done anything I could to drive this man away, my therapist leaned forwards and said, “It’s time to stop fighting, Dawn.”
I suppose it was.
When, as a child you were abused and abandoned by your father, the urge to fight is strong. Learning to suppress that urge to fight – the urge which has lead to your survival, is like learning to talk again. Vulnerability is not an option. The vulnerable ones? They end up dead by their own hand, or damaged beyond repair...victims. You are not a victim.
When your survival has been rooted in giving yourself sexually, but never emotionally, opening that door is scary as hell. There is a little girl behind that door and you promised her that you would never let anything else happen to her. Not without one hell of a fight.
But not this fight. Not with this man.
Terrance wanted everything. All parts of me.
It is not a great romantic love. It is not a sexually charged dynamo. My marriage, however, is everything I needed and much more. I truly have a partner who walks next to me and is committed to our relationship. I love him more than I can say.
So why do the ex.’s walk through my brain during these times? I think it has to do with protective mechanisms. When I have to trust Terrance, when I have to stop fighting – as I do with the move to Montreal- my mind kicks back to other struggles. To men that I was less vulnerable with, with twice the drama. To men who only wanted the sex, with no demands on my emotions, no demands to trust them.
I have to remind myself, “It’s time to stop fighting.” It's Ok to be vulnerable.