I was married before. Seven years, four of which you could say we had something called situational happiness. Depending on the situation, my wife and I, well ex-wife which is such a harsh thing. I am going to call her “old friend”. My “old friend” and I experienced so many joys together when I got licensed as a marriage and family therapist, when she became a registered nurse when I started my private practice when she became a critical care registered nurse. We also experienced hardship. When both our cars got totaled in an entirely random flood, and we had to wade through waist-deep water to go back and get her cat. I miss you, Svetlana. When we couldn’t pay rent, so we took out a title loan on her car. When she was in nursing school, and she couldn’t pass a stupid biology class because the teacher was an absolute asshole(Who has value and worth just because she exists. She is not an asshole, her behaviors are). When I was in my marriage and family therapy program, and I felt like a literal black sheep being the only black male in a program that I didn’t feel like wanted me there at times. We had each other’s backs.
I thought and still do think the world of her. And she thought and still does think the world of me. However, we no longer have each other on a pedestal partly because we kicked it out from underneath each other.
When I met her, I believed that fundamentally, no one would ever love me. No one would ever like me. No one would ever find me physically attractive and certainly not sexually attractive. I was terrified of being alone. I thought the worst of myself and called myself the most terrible things. I felt so lowly of myself I didn’t notice the beautiful girl five feet in front of me turned completely sideways in her seat which, upon further discussion, was her doing everything to show me that she was interested in me. I just couldn’t see it because I wasn’t looking for it.
One day as we were driving around in her car. I made a joke about something regarding us dating. And she said, “Look, it’s fine if you don’t want to date me or don’t find me attractive, but don’t make fun of me.” And I got it. Holy shit I got it, how in the world is this beautiful woman attracted to me? She told me that she wanted me by complaining that I didn’t want her and I understood that message because it was the same one I got a lot on my childhood. It rang loud and true. I placed her on a pedestal as the model of all women and what they should aspire to be. I didn’t realize that to idealize someone, you have to make an idol. She was my idol and her happiness became my god. I sacrificed everything on the altar of her joy, even myself and then blamed her for not respecting me. How could she when I didn’t also respect myself?
Our marriage went the way that most do when you jump into them nine months after you meet. It was good in good situations and was bad in bad situations. I consistently pursued physical intimacy, while she pursued emotional intimacy. She withdrew from physical intimacy and I withdrew from emotional intimacy. We hurt each other. So. Damn. Much. I now realize my part in those interactions.
I was lazy. I didn’t do the things I said I was going to do. I procrastinated. I was passive-aggressive. I didn’t love myself and was dependent upon her for validation of my very being. I did not tell her how I felt because of how I felt would not have made her happy. I waited so long to start saying how I thought that the only thing left to talk about were the things that made me unhappy and I chose things that, at that point in her life, she had no control over. The way she talked to me, the things she said to me how she interacted with me. I just wanted her to “be nicer to me”. She would often say “I shouldn’t have to sugar coat it”. The point is that I wanted her to do something that she could only do if I wouldn’t have asked it in the first place. Because the minute I asked, I didn’t know if she was doing it because she wanted to or because I had asked. I wanted her to want to do it. That was the essence of our relationship. We each wanted each other to do something, that the other could only do if we hadn’t asked in the first place. And by the end of seven years with each other, we asked each other to be someone else.