Pushmi-Pullyu, Part 2

Which way is this exotic beast heading? Both ways, you say? Neither way? I think you're right.

Lorna’s fledgling self-confidence leads her down a path that she doesn’t plan and finds, shall we say, confusing…

I gently addressed my concerns with Chuck over time and martinis. He was reasonable and listened as long as I didn’t use “that tone”—the tone Husband hears as judgmental and accusatory but the tone Wife delivers as an objective assessment of a factual circumstance any judge and jury would find admissible and impressive. That tone. The problem was that he kept hearing a tone that I was deliberately avoiding. Our communication issue needed more than a voice coach to fix.

You see, he wasn't even trying to listen...

The upshot was that Chuck felt I was criticizing him for being a bad provider husband father human being and I felt that Chuck didn’t understand English.

After each time I raised a concern, Chuck turned it around and blamed me for criticizing him. I got frustrated and cried, which, unfortunately lead to “the tone,” and toddler-like sentences ending in “so there!” That only solidified his case. My only option was to retreat in shame.  After my self-imposed “time-out,” I came back to Chuck and apologized. Always. He graciously accepted my apologies and bestowed upon me helpful hints about how best to avoid such martial marital blunders in the future by adjusting my behavior. He believed in the transformative power of constructive criticism.

Outcome of Planned Action Items:

  1. The business office was more finished than our home. I clearly didn’t comprehend what it took to run a successful business and how long it takes to make a young business profitable. I also “conveniently” forgot all the “improvements” to the house and the routine benefits the business provided to us. Stop whining and be happy that I have a home with such grand “potential.”
  2. I was a lonely wife who missed her husband. I clearly didn’t understand the enormous demands and stresses he faced every day as a small business owner. Everyone “wanted a piece of him”—clients, staff, colleagues, community members, professional organizations, etc., etc., etc. Our relationship was founded on mutual values and support, not lust. Stop reading romantic novels.
  3. Our approach to disciplining Alex was different and we needed a compromise position. I clearly didn’t understand children, especially boys. Alex wasn’t as innocent as he pretended to be. Stop being so gullible. (I got him to speak with me first before punishing him since I was the one who had to enforce it. So there!)
The “Pushmi-Pullyu” was stuck, the insides quivering. Everything returned to a quiet “normal” on the outside: Chuck lead. I followed. But something shifted inside me. I didn’t know about inside of him. We were connected on the surface but so deeply disconnected otherwise.

I know I'm supposed to hear or feel something, but for some reason, I'm not getting much.

Two other things happened that changed me, thus our marriage, forever. It was still 1992, so change was in the air.
  1. Having given up on romantic novels, I began reading “New Age” books about exploring my inner divine self—mostly hoping to learn I had one. I started a daily journal because that’s what Divine Selves do. My Divine guts spilled with private hopes, frustrations, and thoughts, without fear of criticism or censorship. Chuck knew about the journal, but I never hid it in a “secret” place. I simply kept it in different Divine Places, hidden from view, trusting that journals, like those girlhood diaries with the silly locks, were Divinely sacrosanct.

    All of a sudden I had all these rectangles, arrows, words like "tone", and one suspicious lightning bolt to process. I needed a large journal.

  2. I literally ran into my former college hunk lust-object flame. He was ascending while I was descending a stairway at the college where I worked. This serendipitous event sent me into a tornado-like tail-spin. I always figured that he was the “Stud in the Glass Heart Shoppe,” breaking countless inventory on his way through; and I was just among the anonymous shards on the floor. To my utter amazement, he recognized me and said, “Lorna, is that you?” All I could muster was a nod. When I found my voice, we briefly caught each other up on 10 years worth of life. He was married with a son Alex’s age and an infant girl. Moving from Boston, he worked at a local  company managing their Information Technology Department. He never forgot me. I gave him the happy version of my life. We hugged and exchanged emails, just to keep in touch on our birthdays. He had to go back to his meeting and I had to go back to my office. I didn’t know it then, but that I wouldn’t see him again for a very long time.

That's what Mr. Super Nova looked like when I first met him. Ten years of work and family aged us both, but that Tom Selleck look-alike was still there. Now, though, he felt more like Mr. Halley's Comet: zooming in and out of my life, far from reach.

Good thing Lorna has her journal to help her sort out all the feelings swirling around in her head heart head heart


~ by Lorna's Voice on October 12, 2011.

21 Responses to “Pushmi-Pullyu, Part 2”

  1. […] my birthday, I received a surprise email from Mr. Haley’s Comet. He overheard someone talking about my separation. I was stunned. Chuck and I agreed to keep this […]

  2. Like a blender! 😉

  3. Amazing how the one who knows how to make amends can end up being the one who is supposed to make all the adjustments.

    I’m off to #s 3 and 4. I’m interested in how Halley’s Comet whips up your universe!

  4. I remember thinking that IF I ever get to see him again, I want to look a whole lot better. Not a good hair day…but he saw the sparkle in my eyes. He saw me. How do you forget a man like that?

  5. Gee … I hoep it was a good hair day. Don’t you just hate it when you see someone and it’s a bad hair or dress your best day??? Anyway, he has an infant. Who wants to deal with that even if it would be for weekend visits?
    Ssssooo … I am so with you on doing a lot of reading on new age books and self- growing books. In Knowledge there is power. I’m sure you had begun to gain your power just from changing your book selection.
    I must read on.
    Isadora

  6. Telling this tale is a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. It’s important to tell and I know I must, but dang, it’s hard reliving these times with the perspective I have now…I keep asking myself, how could I have denied my voice for so long? I just kept thinking about Alex and that, in his core, “Chuck” was a good person who never meant to hurt me–I still do. Buddhists practice Metta (loving-kindness). I kept focusing on that, but I misunderstood one of the key principles: be kind to myself first, then to others. I was being kind and compassionate to everyone else all my life, always leaving my needs out of the equation. This is a common story among women. And that’s why I have to tell my story in my unique voice…

  7. Rolling seas is a good metaphor. Unpredictable, but can be so calming. Oddly, Chuck thought he was very self-reflective and open. I thought he was, too because there were times when he would ask my opinion and take my advice. He was great at bringing up those times during “debates.” It was a very confusing time. Only in retrospect can I see the dynamic for what it was… But isn’t that true for life in general? 😉

  8. Al, I was just about ready to send up an SOS. I’m so glad you commented just to know you’re okay!

  9. I hear you. I just never had it in me to confront him. He’s the one who left because I just kept trying to be understanding. I really misinterpreted the Buddhist teaching on loving kindness. I applied it only to others. I was supposed to apply to myself, too! 😉

  10. Oh, can I relate to the whole “lecture” routine whenever bringing up issues and the turning of my words around–and inside out. Near the end of my “marriage” I told my husband that this relationship was a “Me-age” (meaning all about him and none about anyone else)! My quiet voice got louder and louder until I had said all there was to say to him and then I left!

    So there!!

  11. Got behind again Lorna but I am caught up again. This is a difficult part of your story to read and I’m sure for you to tell. We have the advantage of knowing you are now OK and living with a more understanding and loving partner so that tempers our sadness about what you were going through. Kudos for having the courage to let us read your journal now.

    P.S. The student comments are so hilarious! As for the one comment, I am taking their advice and living longer just to avoid hospice. Be sure to thank them for me.

  12. It’s like being on a luxury catamaran in roiling seas, grand fixtures/fittings aside, the force to be reckoned with won’t abate and disorientation is the order of the day, Chuck wasn’t a fan of honest self-assessment huh? cheers catchul8r molly

  13. Oh, I hear you. All too well. Now, do tell. What was processing rectangles, arrows and lightning bolts like? I’m guessing passing those would be pretty painful, almost as painful as relationship processing, LOL LOL Thanks again for sharing your inner in ways that bring resonance, smiles and light to our “outer.” 🙂

  14. Hmm. don’t know. I used the copy function to create Part 2 from Part 1 and, much to my chagrin, I ended up erasing Part 1 and having to re-write the whole thing. But I posted Part 1 first. This is all very confusing and I think a conference call between Rod Serling, Dr. Who, and Mr. Spock may be in order…

  15. Thanks. I hope so!

  16. I think a lot of us will identify with aspects of this. You show so much insight.

  17. Off topic, but why is Part 2 of this story showing up earlier than Part 1? Should we cue up Twilight Zone music, and have Rod Serling narrating here?

  18. Playful. Sure. That’s one word for it! 😉

  19. Of course there are always many sides to a story and they change as one’s perspective changes. It’s a complicated thing, writing this story. I can tell you that it was never easy to debate anything with my husband. He was a master at quick thinking and being unemotional. I faltered when I got emotional and I think we both saw that as a weakness. The weak one in a debate loses. If he ever apologized to me, I don’t remember it, or it was an apology tinged with sarcasm. He would often end up compromising on issues (house repairs, disciplining Alex), but would taunt me endlessly about how he always had to give in because I got my way all the time, which was simply wasn’t true. And he would do the taunting in public. So, if the story makes him seem harsh, there is a reason.

    But, as I said in a prior post, Setting the Record Straight, he had very good qualities and I chose to stay with him. I’m not blaming him for making me miserable. I’m just telling the story as I remember living it.

  20. Wow. Chuck was harsh. I know it’s hard to really tell what’s going on with only one side of the story, but I don’t see you having anything to gain from making one sound worse than the other.

  21. As I read the first few paragraphs, and I see you once again apologizing, all I could hear in my mind was, “Gaaaaa!!! She’s apologizing again!!! For what???” I’m beginning to really understand what you mean when you say you are a hyper-sensitive person. This kind of sensitivity leaves you vulnerable to others should they choose to manipulate you, wittingly or unwittingly.

    What a great transformation though from Romance to New Age. It’s an enlightenment from getting your validation in such a dependent form (you know, the hunky muscle chested fellows on those book covers) to a focus from within you, much more independent of others to validate your worth.

    And of course, just to make everything a bit more interesting, it seems fate dumped Super-Nova guy back into your life. Fate has a playful sense of humor it seems.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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