Recently my husband and I have separated for many reasons which include him having two affairs and him feeling I am too controlling because I do not like him to go out drinking with one of the girls he had an affair with. We have a child together. But now he says he is not sure if he wants to even give it a try and very rarely comes around anymore. He has been drinking a lot and his personality has become very abrasive. He has had some financial struggles and does not help with child support at all and I continue to help him because I feel obligated to and because he said he can’t think about us when he is having money trouble. I am beginning to feel like I am holding on for nothing. He often leaves me feeling like nothing and in tears of despair. L., Las Vegas
You make me think of a Dan Fogelberg song:
Living in a house of cards
Praying the wind doesn’t blow too hard
Giving in to differences
Straining to keep up appearances
Making believe the thread can be saved
You’re aching to leave but deathly afraid of letting go
The threads entangled you so
Why is love always the last to know
L., find a safe, quiet place and sit down. Take a deep breath. Look away from these words for a moment. Then, when you’re ready, look back.
I derive no pleasure saying what I’m about to say.
You say you are "beginning to feel like I am holding on for nothing." Shaping the issue that way misses the point, L. It is not that you might be holding on FOR nothing; rather, you are holding on TO nothing.
You might want to look away from these words again, and give yourself a minute. Think of it like those few crucial, critical, stunning moments that follow after the little boy calls out from the crowd, "But … he’s naked. The Emperor has no clothes!"
As a matter of fact, the Emperor is naked. He has no clothes. Because there are no clothes.
So, that begs another question. Why would anyone hold so tight for so long to nothing?
Actually, there are observable and understandable reasons. You’re not stupid. You’re not crazy. You’re not pathetic. It is your husband’s behavior that is crazy-making.
Your husband will neither choose you nor let you go. His behavior is inconstant and ambivalent. Remember those two words. Inconstancy and ambivalence are poison. Spiritual poison. For your soul. It will make you despair. Weep.
This slow-acting poison is what makes us say things like "[I’m separated from my husband] for many reasons which include him having two affairs and him feeling I am too controlling because I do not like him to go out drinking with one of the girls he had an affair with …", and to say it without irony. L., if a close girlfriend said that to you, you’d grab her by the collar and shake her.
You’re holding on to nothing, probably, because you are still stunned. Incredulous. The very qualities of your love and your own values about marital vows begin to work against you here. You keep waiting for your husband to suddenly snap out of it, as if he just got in to a bad batch of loco beans.
Been there, L. Got the T-shirt. Your intuition screams the truth like bloody murder, and your heart just keeps arguing that, any minute now, your beloved will choose you.
Your husband is unaccountable, which is the surest sign that you are in love with a man who cannot/will not look at himself. Live however you like, L., but the MOST IMPORTANT RULE in my hope someday for a great love affair is the woman I’m with must be able and willing to look at herself.
People who live courageously look at themselves. People who live in fear don’t. Won’t. Can’t. And, sooner or later, these people will conscript your rights, liberties, self-respect, and eventually your very happiness in service to their abiding commitment not to look at themselves. They won’t mean to. They won’t intend to. But they will.
L., we hold on to nothing until we decide to let the nothing go. That’s it.