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Saturday, May 1, 2010
How to Live Your Own Love Story
He clenched his teeth. I held my breath. Inwardly, I was thinking, "After everything he did to me, the least the bastard could do was let me pick the brick I want." I resisted the urge to throw one at him.
Perhaps it's not a coincidence that we're building a wall...because that's certainly what I've been doing, metaphorically, by expecting to "win" every disagreement. I'm not the least bit interested in compromise much of the time. Not after all I've been through. What he did to me.
Except that I can't punish my husband forever (though that particular fantasy has brought a smile to my face more than once). The fact that both of us always felt we were giving way more than the proverbial inch is part of what got our marriage into trouble in the first place. If we want to get it out of trouble...and keep it there...we need to learn to compromise in a way that means we both are happy with our choice. Not as easy as it sounds.
But – and here's the key – it can be relatively easy when we stop expecting the other person to make us happy. So much of my unhappiness has stemmed from expecting him to make me happy. "If he let me have my own way..." "If he loved me more." Or better. Or differently.
My mom told me something not long before she died. She knew of my husband's affair and was my strongest support. But one day, when I was raging at the injustice of it all, she gently asked me to consider that maybe my husband had loved me the best he knew how.
"But his best sucked!" I spat.
Yes, she agreed. But now that he knows better, she suggested, he can love you better. And, she said, perhaps if you loved yourself better, how he loved you wouldn't affect you quite so much.
I couldn't hear the wisdom in those words at the time.
But when I think back, her words suck the air from my lungs.
That's it. Exactly.
It's not how he loves me that's the problem...it's how I love myself.
I need to live my own love story. I need to look into my own eyes and see beauty. Strength. Wisdom. I need to stop beating myself up because that only leads to beating him up.
It's not easy. But it shouldn't be that hard either. And when I'm taking care of myself and nurturing my own soul, suddenly needing the have exactly the brick I want just doesn't seem to matter. I don't want to be building walls; I want to be tearing them down.