The Challenge that Lies Ahead

Yesterday morning I sent this email to Michael…

I've had a day to calm down. I'm still hurt, but my anger is subsiding. I think you've always had the inclination to protect me. And I think that kicked into overdrive when I was diagnosed with _____ (insert chronic disease). While I appreciate that you want to protect me, that's not what you're doing when you keep stuff like this from me. Instead, I end up blindsided. I need to be kept in the loop. We need to be a team. Isn't that one of the goals we've been trying to achieve with ttwd, being a team again? I thought so. But, it's not just about me letting you in. You have to let me in too. I love you. And I hope you're taking this as seriously as I am.

And this is the email that Michael sent back to me…

I do try to protect you from everything. But I'm trying to bring you in. Part of the problem is that when I'm upset or embarrassed about something I don't want to bring you in to see the mess I've made. I am taking this seriously.

Michael and I have talked and I’ve done a lot of thinking. I think he has too. Hopefully this weekend we’ll get to talk more and devise a plan for moving forward. But, I’ve also been thinking about how we ended up here.

About eight years ago I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. I tried to shelter Michael from what I could. I didn’t want to be a burden and I didn’t want him to see me as weak. I also knew how devastating my diagnosis was to him and not just to myself and I didn’t want to upset him any more than he already was. I leaned on my faith and yes, on my husband sometimes too, but I also put on my supermom cape and set about getting through things one day at a time. We had two little kids at the time and I was determined to be here for them. Faith, determination and a supportive family is what got me through that first year and beyond. Thankfully, though there is no cure for the condition I have, I’m actually doing much better these days.

While I was busy trying to pretend that nothing was wrong and determined to get through whatever came my way and trying to shelter my loved ones from whatever I could, Michael was also trying to shelter me. From what? From anything stressful. You see, we had learned that stress exacerbated my symptoms, sometimes dramatically. And so, things that we would’ve worried about and tried to solve together, he kept to himself instead, at least whenever possible.

And so, I think you can see the divide, the rift we created. I was hiding things from him. He was hiding things from me. Oh, we both had good intentions, but it still created a distance between us. We weren’t a team anymore. We were both just trying to get through on our own the best that we could. We divvied up life. I’ll tackle my stuff and you tackle your stuff. And then when something would come our way that we had to tackle together, well, that didn’t work very well at all because we were both used to making the decision on our own.

This wasn’t something that happened overnight, but looking back, I can see how it got started. And now it’s time to end that cycle, that pattern of behavior. Oh, we’ve made strides in this area since we started doing ttwd. But, if you’ve read my posts earlier this week you know that things came to a head and that this issue has been brought to the forefront. It’s not a small issue. It requires a lot of trust, on both our parts. If my husband is going to open up to me more then he has to trust that I can handle it. And if I’m going to open up to him more I have to trust that he can handle it. We need to trust that we have each other’s backs. We have to trust that no matter what is shared between us, that we’ll be there for one another. We both need to be able to handle it when the other shares something that maybe isn’t what we want to hear. We both need to be emotionally supportive of one another. And we need to work through things as a team.

And that is the challenge that lies ahead. It’s a biggie. But I think we’re ready to tackle it…together.

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