Nov 28, 2011

Naked... Peeling Onions

You know heartache? You know that clawing visceral anguish, that undiluted swell of raw pain that clogs your throat with concrete, makes you feel you could vomit an ocean, makes you want to peel off your entire outer layer of skin and run screaming as fast as you can to escape the next wave of suffering?

I know it best from my moody lovesick hormonal teen years and my broken depressed post-partum years... but after all this time, I was certain we'd parted ways.

Oy vey...
by clayirving

It's easier to retreat behind the wall, to let him believe the lie that I have it all together. Unfortunately, this time I had no choice but to stand naked before him with my ugliest, weakest self exposed. I have never been so acutely ashamed.

I'm a big girl. I put on a bold face as I uttered a truth I had entombed for years. I admitted that I was a categorical failure with my finances. At 39, I still don't plan, budget, or track my expenses and he was perfectly entitled to be angry over how I spend his money. I had my say. I was crying but I was proud. The conversation was evidence that I had evolved.

And he said... nothing. He didn't even look at me. Just nodded. So I stood up to leave. It was squashed. I had admitted the problem, promised to do better, vowed it wouldn't happen again.

Problem dealt with, right? Not so fast...

What followed was several days of completely distorted thinking. I was demented and I knew it. But I couldn't keep the emotions from bleeding out and contaminating every future forecast & memory.

He had seen the worst part of me... and had not responded with reassurance. He must revile me. And I was convinced what I had always feared was now on its way.

Now he knew I was a burden... I was not worthy... I was not enough... He would leave the first chance he could get... I was not safe.

I pulled a Marianne Williams title off my bookshelf & skimmed it desperately for something to remind me that I was worthy, to remind me what the loving response would be, something to invoke the Holy Spirit. I was in the clutches of a tenacious childlike fear. I needed his loving comfort and his forgiveness. Then I kicked myself for needing anything from him. Because if there's one thing my husband is NOT, it is tender. Indeed, that emotional hardness, that stern impenetrability is probably what drew me in the first place. I could crawl inside his emotional armor and be taken care of. The way daddy never did.

And then I asked myself: What if he was acting exactly the way he is supposed to so I can grow? 

In the next moments, the final traces of the emotional storm evaporated. Healing came on the wings of a question. I hope that 6 year old abandoned by her father who still lives inside me has been set free. But I'm wise enough to know this isn't the last time I'll find myself peeling back emotional layers to expose the naked fears hidden in my psyche.

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