This morning I laid in bed feeling his warm spot beside me, listening to the sounds of his departure. 6:25 and he was already gone on a Saturday morning. And for nothing more than coffee with the guys. I felt deserted and alone. A feeling I have been living with for some time.
Squeezing my eyes shut and trying desperately to turn off the self abusing thoughts running through my mind, I tried to go back to sleep. But it was of no use. Instead, as if they were ants marching in line to the anthill in my mind, the thoughts and ways that my husband didn’t really love me and how much he takes me for granted, quickly followed by all the ways that he could love and nurture our relationship if he really cared proceeded by. The tightness in my chest grew, and I became angry. I didn’t want to cry. And I didn’t want to feel this way any more. I had felt deserted and neglected by him for almost twenty years now. Why was I not used to it? And WHY did it seem that now it was hurting more than it ever had?
I made the bed with extra care. Pulling the sheet tight and evening out the covers.
I stood straight and got straight with myself. I’m angry, I thought. And it really can’t be about him. (Issues are never really about the other guy.) It has to be about me. So what am I angry about, I questioned myself.
I loaded my arms with the drinking glasses that had accumulated on my bedside table, along with my cell phone, my book and my glasses. I unloaded it all onto the kitchen counter and put the things in their proper places, depositing my glasses in front of my eyes. I didn’t need them all the time, but they were graduated, so if I needed to see any small print, I’d better be wearing them. Over forty and fabulous, right?
As I rinsed out the coffee pot and measured the dark granules with the shiny silver Starbucks scoop that my daughter had purchased for me, I decreased the number of servings, remembering that I didn’t NEED eight cups of coffee. Then, in usual form, my mind reminded me that I was having coffee alone and added nicely, as usual.
I tried to remind myself that I like to be alone. Right? I like the quiet of morning, no demands on me, just my coffee and cereal and the thoughts that may just trickle through my fingertips onto the keyboard of the MacBook that my husband bought me for Christmas. But this sadness, this hopelessness, it was like a stubborn ring around the bathtub. I just kept scrubbing, but it was not coming off. It had been there for too many years. And I had never found the right product to get rid of it for good. It just keeps coming back!
As the coffee made its noisy way to the insulated carafe, I went to the frig to retrieve the orange juice to jump start my blood sugar. Closing the frig, I noticed the article on The Sacred Art of Self Love, written by Katherine Skaggs, hanging like an ignored cobweb on the front of my frig. I pulled the magnet off and unfolded the legal size page. At the very bottom of the page was printed 02/08/07. Two years ago almost to the date. Today was 02/14/09 – yes, Valentine’s Day. A good day to start loving one’s self.
I read the article with care, deliberately and forcefully pushing my husband and my expectations of him out of my mind and at the same time, let the words seep into my heart. And as I read, I realized that I had stopped loving me, and I was angry because no one else was doing it for me. I was waiting – AGAIN – and along with society, for someone else to make me happy, to love me, to hold me, to nurture me, to make me feel valid and necessary. And I had been waiting for my husband to do this – not so I could punish him for failing – as he might claim, but because that is what society and every fairy tale book with “happily ever after” at the end implies is supposed to happen. You are supposed to feel incomplete until someone comes along to complete you, right? It is a brainwashing that is the soapscum in that bathtub ring.
So even after learning that I must complete myself or that I am complete already (I just need to recognize it) over and over, I had fallen really far into this place of feeling unloved and expectant. I am not sure when it happened or why. But life is like that. If we’re not careful, we return to old bad habits.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever know the “right” way to be in a relationship. How does a person exist in a relationship, give to the other, and love completely without losing one’s self or most importantly, without expecting from another what one can only receive from within? That ring around my bathtub is pretty stubborn, and I imagine that I am not the only one who finds it returning after successfully scrubbing it away and revealing that shiny porcelain truth. I guess the key is to keep the scrubber handy. For me, I’m going to read this article, The Sacred Art of Self Love, by Katherine Skaggs, every day as a reminder. You can find it at http://www.soulpaintings.com/home/katherine-skaggs-writings.htm.
It is hard to keep my eye on the ball. But at least I have returned to this awareness. And with each return, I think my stay is a little longer.
So, I say to myself, Welcome home! Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
I do love you!