But I didn't.
I've understood what this would require in theory, yes. And at first it's not even that hard in practice. You're high-spirited and, as Hannah commented earlier, empowered. Full of high hopes! Full of the gumption to say, "HA! You're not the boss of the happy part of me!" And for a few weeks you think, "I can do this. I should do this. I must do this." And that's right: not being dependent upon someone else for your happiness and not trying to control things you can't are necessary components of a contented, peaceful life.
But it's a heck of a lot harder as time progresses. Like the quote says, "Life is like a roller coaster. I'm about to throw up."
I know what you're thinking: last night must have gone pretty poorly for her to be this pessimistic. But that's just it. It didn't go poorly at all. In fact, it went about as well as could be expected, when he had arrived in town only moments prior (after travel drama) and is struggling with a host of very serious things. He seemed genuinely happy to see me and was affectionate. He opened up about what it is that he's going through in relation to the aforementioned serious things. He mentioned seeing me again soon. And he sent me a message afterward to thank me for the encouragement and for spending time with him. Overall, he seems to be continually receptive to letting me in, somehow and in some way.
But he also seemed devastated, tense, angry, resentful (his choice of word), and as if he's trying his best to escape this. He was somewhat insensitive (though this is nothing new; it's how all of us react in times of stress, I would guess) and critical. He was not ready to accept that we must accept life as it is ("even and especially when it really fucking sucks," in the words of Laura Munson). He's not ready to stop stressing out about things he can't control. He's not ready to let go of resentment (even though resentment hurts the resenter than the resented). In essence, he's not to the final stage of the grieving process. He's stuck, as Heartwounds has taught me, in the disorganization/despair/anger stage. He's not yet to the reorganization stage. And that's unfortunate, because it's acceptance, relinquished control, forgiveness and reorganization that will heal the world of pain he is in.
That makes me feel sorry for him, of course. What kind of person would I be if his pain didn't break my heart? And who wants to watch someone they love act like someone they don't know? His anger and fear are terrifying. I want so much to tell him to slow down, step back and let go. I want so much to give him the life preserver that he's flailing about trying to find. I know he's barely getting by right now, and I don't want him to drown.
But I can't do that. He has to come to this himself. That much is clear. What is unclear is whether he is willing to come to it.
It's also unclear what that means for our relationship. As my therapist said at the beginning of the week, there is no guarantee that he will respond to this in a way that is healthy. He may not. One more thing may put him over the edge, and he could spiral. It could take him ten years to realize he wasted ten years. Healing and allowing grieving to take place are the best ways forward, but they are not guarantees. I hope, of course, that he will choose everything good and worthy that I said above. And I have faith that he is a man with unflappable character, strength and resolve. I believe that he has it in him to become one of the greatest men who ever lived. Given that, I believe that we can emerge from this stronger than we were before and infinitely closer. And I believe that we have the deep connection, complementary qualities, shared interests and love of life that would make us good life partners. I want to grow old with him, rocking in a rocking chair on our porch. I so desperately want us to be okay again.
But I also don't want to live my life in pain again. I do not want to suffer. And if I in any way try to resolve this -- that is, try to pressure him into seeing why it's both important and now or never -- it will backfire. Because this isn't about me. And any attempt to make it about our relationship is going to cause him to push me away; to say, "See? I was right! You do want more than I can give!" And it would make him think I don't understand how hard this is but rather that I see this as somehow about me. It's better, then, that I let him come to me because he wants to and when he sees value in talking to and being with me. When he views me as an added resource and comfort, not as an obligation or unwanted pressure. Of course, I won't wait ten years...
Keep praying for and thinking of me as I go through this journey. Some days the pain and worry are excruciating. The fact that I have survived the last 24 hours is reason enough to take stock and give thanks (#56).