What do you do when everything you thought you wanted is everything that you now cannot stand? Where do you go from there? Sure, this is why people always say ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, but if it never really is then why try anymore? If this is as good as it gets why try? I have thought about so much in the last year. My brain has been in overdrive and it can be exhausting.
I used to think that I knew what I wanted from my life. I wanted to be happily married with a beautiful woman who was strong, independent, and was irresistibly attracted to me and me irresistibly attracted to her. I wanted to be better off than my parents (not really a stretch there), but also comfortable. I wanted two children, one boy and one girl. I wanted them to be happy, healthy, and popular without stepping on people to get there. I wanted to be in a career that would make me happy. One that I wanted to go to everyday and made me feel like I was making a difference in this crazy world.
I know all of this seems Utopian, but it doesn’t seem too unrealistic to me. In fact, most people who know me would argue that I have all of these things. For the most part I don’t disagree, but still I feel something is missing and I cannot put my finger on it. There is something still missing from my life that I know should be there. So what is missing? What is leaving me with this feeling? I wish I knew.
I wonder if it could be the sense of bliss I thought would come with having these things. That by getting all these things I would somehow feel complete. I would have a sense of peace and I could sit back and enjoy my life. I never thought that I would have to fight and work for every tiny bit of this. I thought I might have a feeling of accomplishment, but instead I have a sense of failure at every turn. Instead I feel I have lost who I am (if I ever really knew). I continually look at what I “should have” or “could have” and see these as failures. Every failure seems like an point for the demons of my past I continually fight, yet every success seems like only a fraction of a point. It becomes so daunting of a task to keep fighting, knowing that I can never keep up with the number of failures, that I wonder why even try. Yet, somehow I get up every morning.
Does everyone feel like this? Or do some people actually feel like they have made it in life? They are happy with everything they have and know that they have achieved everything they are going to achieve. They can just go about each day just living. They can enjoy each day and each moment without wondering whether or not they are succeeding or failing. They look at the sunset and see the beauty of it rather than the end of another day of mediocrity. They feel energized and full of life each morning instead of running down the list of things to do and knowing that no matter how you do them it will not be good enough.
I know this sounds like a distorted view of life based on what we are conditioned to believe our lives should be, but is it really all that distorted. Why do we have such high rates of mental illness? Why do we have complete fake lives on social media? We show the good and flaunt the great. We make our lives look perfect in the eyes of everyone else. Yet, all this really does is add to the problem because while you do it on your social media accounts you don’t believe that everyone else does the same thing on theirs.
It was a problem that was deeply rooted in my marriage before day one. It is one of the things you fight by getting married at a young age. You have to fight the perception that you are not getting married at too young of an age. Everyone wishes you well but is also taking bets on the side wondering when it will fall apart. I know my parents did not believe that my marriage would amount to anything. They didn’t think it would last. I am sure her parents had similar thoughts. Although I do believe that they wished for the best, where as my parents wished for it demise. I worked hard to make sure everything was good in our marriage. All appearances showed a happy healthy couple. Every time there is a setback it seems like you are adding credence to their opinion that we would never make it. It is a stereo type you fight when marriages seem to last months. In fact, both my wife’s brother and my sister both were married and divorced in less than a year (separate marriages) and both married very young.
I know this has kept me from learning how to have disagreements with my wife. I want to succeed and disagreements with my wife would be a step toward failure. I think we both thought this up until recently, but I was by far the bigger culprit. Why fight when I can just change my behavior slightly to avoid the conflict? To me growing up, any disagreement led to something physical. It may be a fight with my siblings where we physically fought each other or it may be my parents taking exception to what we are fighting about and going after us. I have not seen healthy arguments modeled in my life. We never knew that the healthiest relationships have disagreements. We each need to fight for ourselves because deep down we should know that is who our partner fell in love with, not the person morphing to their every whim. I am not afraid of losing it and physically attacking my wife. I know I will never go down that path because of who I am today, but how do you change over 20 years of accommodation? How do you fight for something you want when in reality you don’t know what it is that you really want? How do you fight when you know in the end it will not change anything?
The key is empathy and understanding. I used to think arguing and fighting were things you did to get your own way. You fought for things that you wanted and kept fighting until you got them. It was how I was raised. I only got something if I fought for it and won. I had to learn very early on which battles to choose to fight and which ones were not worth fighting. In a relationship I think it is different, and even though I am not there yet, I think I am beginning to understand. The disagreements are about letting the other person know how you feel about the topic. It may not change anything but at least they will understand and can empathize with your side. The disagreement can allow you to let out frustrations so your partner knows what you are going through. There may not be anything you can do about them, but at least they will understand what you are going through.
I know right now I am often an enigma to my wife. She can see something behind my eyes but not know what it means and not know how to help or even if she can help. I don’t see a reason to tell her because there is nothing she can do, so why make her worry when I can do it by myself. I am focused on actions and results, winning. If I wasn’t, I might understand that she may want to just understand what I am going through, not to take up some of my burden, but to understand me as a person, a spouse, a man. I am only beginning to recognize this and it is difficult. It is like opening a door that should remain locked at all time or bad things will happen. Yet, I am trying. I have been told to stop being an island and share what is behind my eyes. I am trying but it is difficult. It is difficult and we have not even came across a topic to have a disagreement about. I am not sure how that is going to go and am terrified to find out.