The Obstacle Is The Path


“Sometimes our walls exist just to see who has the strength to knock them down.” – Darnell Lamont Walker

Every night this week, except one, I have tossed and turned to the point that I had to get up, and when I wandered into the kitchen to check the time it was consistently 1:20 am.  I never got back to sleep.

String a week of sleepless nights like that together and you’re not operating from a place of rationality by about Day Three.

So it was no surprise to me that my husband and I got into a huge fight last night, the night before he arrives for a two week visit.

Here’s the thing with patterns and people – sometimes you can’t break them.  They will persist in aggravating you to the point of despair.  You want to heal the problem and the cycle, but it’s as if there is a force within your dynamic that insists you act like this, and you both keep playing that role even though you’d both like to stop.

It started with him waking me from an afternoon nap to tell me that he had just encountered a frustrating situation that made him lose his temper in a big display.

Maybe I was dreaming of him, but something about the moment catapulted me back in time to when he lived here with us and he’d call me from the road or the jobsite with that same story.

It felt like nothing had changed, there was no divorce, and he was calling me for support.  I told him I was sorry that he had a bad experience, but that I had to laugh because his reaction to the situation was…so Him.

Unfortunately we segued into a discussion about the children.  He had thrown them out of the Clan in a video game they play together.

That is when I pointed out that the kids are already feeling abandoned by their Dad, who lives in another country, and exacerbating it by mirroring that experience in the video game, to teach a lesson, was not going to win over little hearts and minds and to me felt simply cruel.

We moved on to why he rarely Skyped with them anymore and, long story short, it brought up him not listening to me at all but, in typical contradiction, stating that he was “following my rules.”  He said it had to do with his girlfriend, and me not wanting our children to have anything to do with his girlfriend.  He had moved in with her and given up his room at the hotel, but had neglected to tell me that because he didn’t want to hear my reaction.  Somehow his not calling the kids was my fault.

Since I am the one who lives with the kids and I know how hard they take not hearing from their Dad, this made me absolutely wild.

Hence the argument.

He always has what sounds like a rational reason for his actions or non-actions.  For twenty years I accepted blame or reeled around in a sense that something was off, that I shouldn’t accept what was being handed to me or placed in my lap.  Now, with time and distance, I can see the pattern.

The In-Between Or, The Negotiation

He called me early this morning to apologize, and it again gave me the opportunity to observe that I always get very upset after these encounters but since they happen so rarely anymore I’d forgotten that generally an apology does follow and in that moment, it’s as if the slate gets wiped clean and all is forgiven.  Until the next time.

Immovable force meets mutable force.  He shoves, I wobble.

The part of me that wants Peace above all just cannot get it anymore…unless I change.

I have to stand my ground and remind him of the goals – the happiness of the kids and our continued path toward figuring out who and what we are to each other anymore, for their sake if not for our own.

Call it what you will, but sometimes our best conversations where we really connect, laugh, and relate are the worst ones for me because I remember a person exists who knows me inside and out and that I have lost him.  We are no longer a family.

It’s confused by the fact that we act like a family when he is here.  We cooperate and get things done.  Everything is exactly as it used to be.

He could come for a visit and take the kids away to a hotel, and maybe someday he will.  When he’s remarried, I suppose it is inevitable.

For now, we do everything together. That makes it harder on the kids when he goes, because Mom and Dad don’t act angry with each other, they do exactly what they always did, they cooperate, they help each other, and it doesn’t look like divorce to them or anyone else.

Maybe that means we are both in some level of denial.  Maybe it means that instead of hitting each other over the head with a brick, we are gradually moving on in stages.

I do know that I am not ready to see him with his girlfriend.  I’d rather he’d chosen someone else instead of the one who played a huge role in the divorce.

That’s what makes it so hard for me to say yes to visiting over the summer for my son’s 12th birthday.

I don’t want to go two months without seeing my kids, but apart from the very real practical issues like me simply needing to save my days off for when they are sick or the myriad of school breaks when there is no longer anyone else to cover, I just don’t want to have to look at my husband with the girlfriend.

I’m afraid of being overly upset.  I’m afraid of being unable to stop myself from retaliating and telling her the truth.  I’m afraid of losing control and potentially ruining their relationship on the spot.

I’d like to think that a day will come when these things won’t bother me.  It’s entirely possible that I could see them together right now and find that it doesn’t bother me much or at all.  I just don’t know.

Lately I’m finding that I surprise myself.  I expect to do certain things and feel certain ways, but I don’t.  It’s like a friend said to me yesterday, our systems don’t lie.  Do we know when we are lying to ourselves?

Someone said to me, a woman once told him that you never really know someone until you sleep with them.

I laughed, because I’ve been sleeping with my husband for twenty years, and he still surprises me all the time.  I’m not so sure we ever really know ourselves, let alone someone else.  We lie to ourselves sometimes, we obfuscate, we use subterfuge and then we surprise ourselves by the things we say and do, as a result.

We like to think that we tell ourselves the truth, but there is no one subjective truth.  There’s the way I see it, through my perspective, filter, and lens, and the way the other person saw it, through theirs…but we both had the same experience.  We were both there, same place and same time.

Now the big decisions get made.  Please pray for me that I make the right ones – ones I can live with, and decisions that serve the greater good of all involved.

“The obstacle can either be a boundary or a horizon.

It can either be something we run from or something we learn from.

It’s our choice which.

It can either be something that trumps us or something we figure out how to trump.

And even if it does happen to trump us, making the obstacle the path means learning from mistakes, adapting to unfortunate circumstances, and transforming setbacks into steppingstones.”

– Fractal Enightenment