My husband and I separated after 18 years of marriage. Early on our marriage settled into a routine that provided the security I had been longing for. There was no physical intimacy after the first few years; we lived our lives as friends who loved and respected one another. I felt lonely and unwanted. I tried for years to talk about our issues and went to counseling alone and together. We were both avoidant and anxious; our conversations never progressed beyond a certain point. I finally decided to move out after so many years of dissatisfaction.
Jan and I met 8 weeks later.
I thought the instant attraction was due to his intense blue eyes and thoughtful expression. In retrospect it probably had more to do with his stoic, aloofness which is very similar to my father’s countenance and even my mother in some ways.
We had physical chemistry; I felt wanted for the first time in many years. I became consumed with my thoughts and fantasies of our relationship. His communication was very inconsistent which threw me into a tailspin of self doubt. I worked so hard to prove to him that I was special and to convince him of how lucky he was to be the object of my affection. Sometimes he seemed to feel as intensely as I did but other times he would go dark. I took all of his behavior personally.
I shared with him the difficulties of my past relationships and he responded with the sympathy I had always craved. I bounced between being a victim and the hero in my stories. I listened as he shared his history, but more often than not I interpreted the details through my fantasy of who I wanted him to be.
After a year, Jan broke up with me. I was shocked, but at the same time, I’d been waiting for it all along. I could barely function at work and would come home, going right to bed. After a month without communication I began to pursue him again. At the same time I started working with Tracy. I began to understand my attachment. I saw how hard I was trying to control the context of our relationship. I realized how terrified I was of abandonment and rejection. As I learned to feel my feelings I shared them with Jan. I was afraid because I had so many assumptions about how he would react.
He NEVER reacted the way I thought he would.
I had less and less fear about what he would think. I noticed he started sharing more about himself. The more I tended to and cared for myself the more relaxed he seemed to be. If I didn’t get a text from him, I no longer made mental lists of all the negative things about him. Instead, I asked myself what I needed or wanted from him at that moment. I was able to recognize the ways he showed love and care, even though it was different from how I thought he should do that. Now I see him for who he is… rather than who I want him to be.
All along, he has been the more authentic one in the relationship. Over the past two years, we both have grown and continue to change. Our growth has taken time, patience and courage. We have been together now for 3.5 years. It is still a work in progress but I no longer live in fear of being rejected or abandoned. I trust myself and I am able to trust him. I recently went through a health crisis and he was there for me 100%. We laugh a lot, and can get annoyed with each other, but we still have great sex (not quite as often).