I recently read the book “All About Love” and connected with the author, bell hooks, when she said that “Women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget”.
I was married during college to a bright and passionate young man. We were married for 12 tumultuous years. During that time, I believed that everything must be done to save the relationship.
Throughout our relationship, the barometer was always his music…if he was playing his guitar, working on songs, singing…we were good. When he became sullen, sometimes for weeks, or months, I would walk on eggshells. When coming home from work, I never knew what his mood would be…and HIS mood would dictate MY behavior.
This led to my diminishment. I felt I had to become almost invisible, a force dis-attached from my body. I slowly put myself on hold in order for him/us to exist.
We did eventually divorce (amicably). We kept in occasional contact. I felt genuine happiness for him when he began a relationship with a woman who had been a mutual friend.
I. was. not. shocked. when he informed me that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Two days before he died, at the age of 48, from an apparent heart attack, he emailed me…”I’m sorry for any pain I caused you. I never meant to hurt you.”
After our divorce, I met Craig. I feared that by beginning a new relationship, I would replay the mistakes or patterns of the past. I was attracted to his beautiful blue eyes, the variety of his life experiences, his storytelling, his willingness to tackle my “to-do list”.
The main difference between my two relationships is “him”–my other half. One self-centered and bi-polar, the other family-centered and stable.
I, on the other hand, am pretty much the same. Still a hot mess much of the time. Replaying my communication strategies of the past.
Yeah…I still shut down when I feel an unkindness. I would rather forgive and forget than confront, fight and fix…
…and is that working for me?
Not so much.