Someone recently asked me why some lessons seem to repeat. The best way for me to explain why lessons keep coming up is to look to my personal experience in the trenches. My years before The Long Exhale were spent in the most demeaning and abusive relationship. It was so bad I thought I’d die, or worse, have to keep living that life. It was a hard knot to untangle. I felt certain lessons come up, so clearly in my face during those 18 years. I could not for the life of me figure out why they kept coming up, until I was out of it. Then it was easy to see why I had been banging my head against the same wall. Perhaps my story might help others.
Why were these lessons repeating? Didn’t I solve everything last time? Didn’t I apologize enough? Didn’t I make enough changes at my core to make this relationship work? How was I still not making him happy? Didn’t I humble myself enough? Didn’t I do enough? I was always the one with the job, bringing money home. He spent it before I could make it until we were bankrupt. I worked my butt off at a job, spent two hours a day commuting, I made a house a home, made dinner, did all the cleaning. He was a hoarder, a word I didn’t even know at the time. I had to clean around the filth and the ceiling high pile of boxes and crap.
During 18 years, he was fired from more than 30 jobs. I was made to scour newspapers to find jobs so I could send his resumes out for him, while he sat home, never even getting out of bed. Anything creative I did was first met with compliments, but minutes later he’d complain that I should drop my creative pursuits and work on the relationship.I had no idea what he meant by that, because I was already doing everything I could think of to make him happy. He was jealous of any progress I made in any avenue of my life.
Sometimes he’d have a fit and I had to have a plan written out to ‘move the relationship forward.’ He would critique this plan the next evening. If it did not meet with his approval, I was in for a week-long shitstorm. I recall once apologizing to the point I was crying and he would look at me with disgust and tell me that my apology sucked and please try again or else. I don’t think I ever felt lower in my life.
He told me my opinion and my memories were wrong and his were right. Over time he would alienate all our friends. He hated to be the one who was left behind, so he purposely sabotaged all relationships, each lasting about 18 months. He’d make me feel either totally wrong or totally invisible. Couldn’t he see how hard I was working to repair things? Couldn’t he see I loved him and I cared deeply for him? Yet he would tell me our relationship was like being on a bicycle built for two, and he was at the front peddling like mad and I was behind, not doing a thing. When I came out of this relationship I realized it was actually the reverse. But I could not see it then. I felt like I had been on this karmic treadmill for years and it was feeling very surreal, with crushing exhaustion in this never ending cycle. I wanted out so badly but I had no concept of how to do that, so I stayed as long as I could to make things work, while almost killing myself in the process.
Why didn’t I see that this was not a good relationship for me? Well I did see it, but I kept thinking it was fixable and I was in denial. I was in love with this guy, loyal, and not wanting a huge painful thing like a divorce to happen to us. Fear stopped me from divorcing many times. Those lessons repeated over and over to the point where the same exact thing would happen, the same fear would come up in me that I was not doing things right. Continue reading