On the positive side, I watched over and over as Mom would share her story in various settings, and God would use it to open the door for other people to let out their secrets. She was an amazing agent for change and healing in many, many lives. When looking for an image to illustrate this post, I came across another man who is doing the same:
|Another truth teller|
Well, it didn't work out that way.
Instead, I had to paint over parts of the glass, choose to not talk about certain things, become a participant in silence. Part of me hates it. I sometimes feel violated by my husband's need for privacy. Yet he felt violated by my need to share private things.
During a bad phase of our marriage, for a class project, I made a book that was supposed to represent the river of pain in my life. To be fair to Jrex, part of the pain was from my Mother's death, but some of it was due to issues in our relationship. I folded a long strip of blue paper, torn along the top and bottom edges, accordion style into a book. I'd written an essay that had no specific details, nothing shaming yet voicing my emotional journey. Over a couple of days, I wrote it out onto the blue strip in calligraphy. When I showed Jrex, he didn't want me to share even the little that I'd written. To honor him, I went through and wove in quotes that masked the text, tore out pieces, and basically shredded my art piece to help him feel safe. It's a stunted piece that grieves me when I look at it.
As I write this blog post I'm realizing how much it's hurt over the years to have to shut down as much as I have. And yet...
I love and respect Jrex a lot. He truly works hard to give me room to be who I am and not try to control me or pin me down. It's just this one area. Where MY story intersects with HIS story. He doesn't want his story told. At least not yet. Or at least not by me. He sees no value in telling other people the private things in our marriage. On top of all that, he's an introvert. He doesn't need to process his emotions by discussing them out loud with someone else. It's a nice to have not a need to have.
In addition, there's a huge culture gap between us. He's been raised in a culture (or at least in a family) where no one talked about 'private' things. No sex talk. No discussion of dreams. No analysis of negative family background. With a culture that believes the ancestors come back to check in after they're dead, the idea of not speaking badly of the dead is visceral. Going to therapists or counselors is unheard of! It took five years of begging, praying, pleading, crying and prodding to get Jrex to agree to go to marriage counseling.
So I've struggled to find a balance. My need to share vs his need for me to not share. I'm sure that much of the time, I've opted to just shut down so I won't need to process things. Apparently that's not working anymore. What do you do in a marriage when you each have gut level core values that violate each other? You have to compromise. This blog is an area where Jrex let me do something that dances close to his violation zones. Butchering my art was a way to retreat from hurting him.
Trying to do a series of delving posts in the context of this dynamic tension is going to be challenging. Yet, based on what I've seen, as we share our pain with each other, we give each other permission to be real. Reading Kay's blog this week about reviving her dead marriage is a reminder of how beautiful truth telling can be.
I need that like a parched, transplanted tree that needs water in order to put down roots.