Last week Paul and I had our couples therapy appointment. I think we had a breakthrough regarding some of the communication issues we have been having.
What I need from Paul is to be relational. I want to know he feels the same way or has some of the same worries so I don’t feel alone in my suffering. Paul wants me to give him hope by telling him everything is going to be okay and offer encouragement. For the longest time, we have been giving each other what we would want for ourselves. That has proved to be a frustrating experience all around.
The second time Arabella went to jail I felt very fearful for her future. There is a myriad of feelings involved when your child is incarcerated. I have been feeling despair, hopelessness, anger, guilt, anxiety, uncertainty, shame, and fear. Nothing really associated with ‘positive’ feelings about any of this. Now I usually keep these feelings to myself and go into a nice dark corner to lick my wounds. But my husband has been rather distraught by my isolation so through therapy I resolved to tell him how I feel instead. He found he didn’t really like what I was feeling.
When I am feeling despair, his response is to trust in God and everything will be okay which usually makes me quite angry. What is wrong with me? Why does he seem to have this faith that I don’t? How am I supposed to get out of survival mode if all I am doing is trying to survive? Who is the person I was supposed to be if I didn’t have childhood trauma? Trusting? Trusting in God? How do I have faith when I feel if God exists he doesn’t really care about me? Maybe he doesn’t exist at all. Why does he allow so much suffering? Why do my prayers go unanswered? If I have already given control over to God, why is he choosing this for my life?
In therapy, I told Paul I really wanted him to try to be relational, like talking to a best friend. I don’t want him to fix, solve, or tell me everything is going to be okay. I want him to commiserate with me that sometimes life really fucking sucks. He has been making the effort. He said he also has doubts about God, feels despair about our daughter’s future, and questions why there is so much unnecessary suffering in this world. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Paul wants me to give him hope and tell him everything will be okay. This has been a struggle for me because it doesn’t feel authentic. I don’t know if everything is going to be okay. Arabella might end up killing herself, hurting someone else, and being in and out of jail or mental health treatment centers the rest of her life. It’s very likely the life she will end up living. I think I will outlive my daughter. Where is the hope in that? I have been trying to offer up hope and encouragement even if I don’t believe it because that is what my husband needs.
So I guess in some ways it has been beneficial to have our lives fall apart so we are able to rebuild it into something better. There really hasn’t been much Paul and I haven’t been through in life and if we survive it, maybe we can help others.