I bleed

4.30 am : My daughter wakes up, cries a bit and gets back to sleep. I don’t.

I lay awake, exhausted, and beat, my defences are worn and the past comes flooding in.

A year ago, it was T’s birthday, he worked a 24h shift, came home to rest, all but refused to have any of the cake I’d baked and eventually went out with some colleagues in the evening. He had become so miserable, obnoxious at times, and all so suddenly, so unaccountably, for the last few weeks…

Because of his own difficult past, T tends to be down this time of year, so I tried to swallow my frustration, and be there for him in any way I could, while I worked from home, looked after the children, ran the household, and he worked stupendously long hours at the ambulance service.

Things were tense, I could sense I was being shut-out, but put it down to T being depressed.

On December 24, we gave the children a bath before driving up in the mountains to celebrate Christmas with T’s family. I remember the blue tiles, and the heat, wiping steam off the mirror and lagging behind to put some make-up on, when he shut the door and said: ” You’ve been asking me what was wrong, and it’s us. Things are wrong between us”. It floored me as surely as if he’d punched me in the stomach, the stomach that carried his daughter the year before, the stomach he’d revered and stroked a few months ago. I felt so shocked and then so threatened, that I hit back.

I told him to sort his head out and stop blaming a relationship, which was perfectly adequate, thank you very much. I said that I was tired of his moods, and that I wasn’t responsible for his happiness. I said all the wrong things, but how could I possibly be rational and level-headed, while an ice-sheet was forming around my heart, while a terrified child inside me faced the deepest, darkest fear of being abandoned?

I suspect that nothing I could have said or done by that stage would have derailed the train of destruction anyway. T knows me well, and knew the blow he’d delivered would hurt in ways that are hard to describe. By then, he’d already hardened his heart against me. It is part of his job to tend to people deep in pain and grief day-in, day-out. Somehow, I think it’s made him a master at shutting it all out.

I remember bravely rallying, talking my inner child down with rational thoughts such as “we must have hit another rough patch, all couples do, and we have more reasons than most couples to experience one, but things will get better”.

I re-applied some make-up with trembling hands, picked my own children up, bags, snails, and presents to set-off on the absurd drive up to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws.

The Pixies – I bleed

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21 thoughts on “I bleed

  1. Oh Elizabeth – the hurt and destruction we humans are capable of delivering to and on others constantly amazes me. My heart bleeds for you. There is really nothing I can say to ease your hurt that must all come flooding back in full force at this time of the year.
    When my husband died and I was mired in grief and loneliness a wise older friend said “This too will pass”. The grief remains but the hurt of the loss is lessened a little.
    Hugs from the other side of the world. Judith

    • Thank you for your kind words Judith… This anniversary period is tough, and the intensity of the grief I relive surprised me, but I know you’re right, this too will pass. x

  2. Just wanted to say….even though I don’t always comment on your posts….I’m always here listening….it’s good to work through your emotions, your memories…..sometimes 1 step forward, 2 steps back, but always heading in the right direction ultimately….you’re doing great….baby steps but you’re on the right road…..xxxx

    • Cheers Emma, and you’re right, somehow today I feel better. I think expressing all this buried pain (I had “forgotten” about this episode) is cathartic.
      Your continued support means a lot…xx

  3. It will pass. Your post reminded me of Alex turning to me and delivering his blow and then announcing calmly that we were going out to dinner with friends that night as it would ‘do us good’. It was the most surreal dinner party I’ve ever been to.

    Step by step we deal with the hurt. Every so often something jumps out from the shadows and it all pours back and we can’t believe how we’ve coped. But we have and we are all getting stronger day by day.

    The set backs are horrendously painful though.

    lots of hugs winging their way to you

    • I know you’ve been there Caroline, and I know it will pass. It is just a sign of how much it must have hurt at the time, that a year on, the memory can re-surface and drag me under…
      Thanks for the hugs…And the joke yesterday, it made me smile! x

  4. —Elizabeth,
    Allow your feelings to flow…
    upon this page.

    Your words help others to know it’s okay to grieve & hurt & cry….

    thinking of you, dear… x

    • It really does help to express things doesn’t it? And it can help others too, well, all the better.
      I feel silly with the depth of my pain, considering what I went through is nothing compared to what you’ve lived, but hey-ho, that’s the way it is, the pain was beyond anything I’d known, there’s no denying it.
      Thanks for your thoughts…
      Ps. My name is not Elizabeth, though thinking about it, I might adopt it…:)

  5. What a perfectly horrible moment. I’m so sorry for your pain. This is definitely one of those anniversary milestones that, once behind you, will slowly but surely begin to lose its power to torment you. You just need to get through it. And you will. Best wishes.

    • Yes, all this pain and grief probably feels so distant to you now. I look forward to that distance, to being over the trauma. I guess letting this painful memory resurface was part of the process.
      Best wishes to you, enjoy your new new happiness ;), and I’ll be rooting for you and James

  6. “we must have hit another rough patch, all couples do, and we have more reasons than most couples to experience one, but things will get better”.

    I said similar things to myself too….adding “we have always been so close, we are great together most of the time….I love the banter we have…etc. etc. etc”

    and of course up until the time they say they are gone, the feed us with the affirmation of our own thoughts too. “It’s nothing. Just tired. Just stressed. I love you.” and they tell us this while telling someone else something completely different. “he/she doesn’t understand. doesn’t listen, doesn’t …..”

    But would we have understood if we had been in the loop too??? Maybe, maybe not, but at least we would have known what we were dealing with and had the chance to remedy…and even assuage their fears. That’s what couples/teams are supposed to do.

    The destruction of my marriage also started on Jan 1 (2010). Of course these holiday times are going to bring those triggers.

    Shout. Vent. Cry. Rage. and then Sleep.

    You are in my thoughts.

    Peace to you
    LFBA.

    • “up until the time they say they are gone, the feed us with the affirmation of our own thoughts too” This did not happen to me actually. T was a closed book and just kept getting more and more distant and awful but without giving me any further clues, until I guess he’d worked up enough determination to just say “its’ over” – and that only took a week.
      He didn’t try to reassure me, in that respect he didn’t pretend but also did not care enough to spare my feelings, it’s a double-edged thing and I honestly don’t know what’s worst…
      In both cases, the truly horrid conclusion is that we weren’t given a chance to be at least try and make things better, a chance to have a role to play in the process…
      I know TPG would probably say that life may not be breathed back into cold ashes of love, but as far as I’m concern, I cannot believe that love would die so quickly and irremediably.
      Thanks for the thoughts LFBA.

      • I respect and enjoy TPG’s takes and insight. I also know that in most long term relationships that love waxes and wanes. It’s in the waning periods that the succesful relationships look to the future and the desire/willingness to rekindle and work through things. Others, look outside.
        Is it wrong?
        Well if one is casually dating….maybe not.
        But once those vows are taken, the stakes change.
        However if one person decides that they are going to be unhappy in the relationship, for whatever reason that they choose that path, then the end is inevitable.
        I’m with you on this…I cannot believe that love would die so quickly.
        When fantasy and whispers come in the ear of someone struggling, and reality, work, responsiblilty and the tension caused BECAUSE they were pushing us away….then the grass across the fence shines as dewey coolness pulling them from the heat of committment.

        • I don’t disagree with TPG, or with you, but I may have a sort of in-between view of things. I do believe that most of the times, sticking it out in a difficult situation, when you realise your relationship is not bringing you what you want, especially after a long time, is the hardest thing ever. It takes commitment you no longer have the energy for, it takes faith you can no longer sustain, it takes sticking your nose deep into your own sh***, it takes being really, really brave.

          I’m not saying leaving a relationship which no longer satisfies you doesn’t take some courage too, because no one likes to hurt others -well, unless they have problems beyond the scope we are discussing here ;)…-, and everyone is afraid of change, of taking the leap, of making a mistake.

          But really making a go of saving your marriage when you feel you can’t go on, finding the energy to let your spouse realise just how serious things are, getting help, driving real change is mighty difficult when you’ve lost faith, there are no guarantees, and it would be so much easier to quit (especially if you have someone new all lined up for you), well, that takes some special kind of courage.

          And I can understand that not everyone finds it. Hell, I’ve never been in this situation myself so I cannot be sure that I would manage it!

          Right, enough rambling, for now. But thanks for prompting me to think aloud LFBA

  7. A very deep and meaningful post Lady E. I know that you know such feelings will pass – they may never leave us but they don’t always return with such force. Sending you positive thoughts – keep your chin up girl!

  8. He certainly knew how to chose his moment. A time for celebration, so you will remember year upon year how cruel he could be. Remember that. Remember how little he cared for you’re happiness.

    He chose purposely when to tell you and someone so thoughtless is not worth you’re time or thoughts. I know it hurts like hell and I know it takes time – usually much longer than 12 months – to see things clearly. Try to have some happiness this Christmas. xx

    • Dear Katie,
      Well, in all fairness, I don’t think he was deliberately choosing this awful timing, or even deliberately hurting me. In was in a bad place himself, and things sort of came out. I’m not even sure there had been much planning to it…
      He isn’t a monster, but when it came to the crunch, he chose to save his own skin, even if it meant leaving me “for dead”. I cannot disagree on the outcome, because if from his point of view, there was no way things could have worked out between us, then so be it. But I disagree with the way it happened, with the fact that he tried to make it work but did not involve me in it, and importantly, he did not try to wade through his personal issues before blaming our relationship.

      Our relationship became the fuse, the easy way out.
      Anyway, you’re right, time will do its job, and hopefully my next Xmases won’t be quite so tough.
      Hope you’re ok? x

      • “Our relationship became the fuse, the easy way out.”

        My daughter has said to me repeatedly “Mom blamed you for all sorts of shit that was not your fault. If she was mad at me, she somehow blamed you. If she was mad at the dog, she managed to blame you. When she was pissed at my dad, (her biological father), then she got mad at you. She needs meds Dad. I should have slipped some in her food a long time ago.”

        I know the “Our relationship became the fuse, the easy way out.” feeling.

        It’s probably only a matter of time before the two cheaters destroy themselves. I’ll be both happy and sad. Happy that they do this, but sad that my family was destroyed in the process. I don’t think that X is inherently a bad person. I think she is just lost sometimes. Her method of escape though was cruel and duplicitous.

  9. This post makes me wonder just how many times we have to relive it before it goes away for good. Surely not too many more for you or for me.

    Here’s wishing you good days and NIGHTS.

    • Pat,
      I guess the bigger the trauma, the more repetitions you go through as your subconscious tries to process it…
      Thanks for your good wishes, some are on their way to you too x

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