After the girl was asleep I agreed to talk with him some more. On the rare occasions when he has been willing to talk it has always been me leading him through it or outright pulling teeth. He will sit silently for long stretches while he gathers his thoughts. In the past, I’ve tried to exercise patience because I thought it was his head injury that was at fault. (I must admit that patience was difficult; my own thoughts tend to fly so fast.) I had less patience this time because I no longer think the issue is, in the main, his head injury. The issue is fear. I guess I was right.
He was struggling to begin, so I saved him (it’s what I do). I said, “Let’s start with the basics: what is the topic you want to discuss?”
I swear you could hear the capital.
“What about the Divorce?”
“I’m very unhappy about it.”
“No one would know that by your actions.”
At this point he shifted the conversation away from the divorce. I told him, “You’re diverting the focus here. I thought you wanted to talk about the divorce.”
Now he really struggled, “I do. But I think there’s something else I have to talk about first.” So I waited, and he began talking about his father.
I’m not going to relay his words. It just seems wrong. Suffice to say that I was surprised by two things: 1. I really thought that he learned to be passive aggressive from his mother. (If you met her you’d think so, too.) 2. I knew the manner in which his father died, but I did not realize the tremendous guilt he carried over it. I was appalled.
“Let me ask you something. If a 16 year old kid came to you and told you what you just told me, would you tell him it was his fault?”
“Of course not. Because no reasonable person on the outside of it would blame the kid. You had no control over what happened. There is no way you could have saved him. It was not your fault.”
It’s hard to tell this part. The husband has pulled a lot of manipulative shit, but I do not believe he would use the death of his father–the single most traumatic experience in his life–this way. What came out of it was this: he is terrified of death and of losing the people he is closest to. He thinks he avoids getting too close so he won’t ever have to go through that again.
Maybe. I don’t know. He seems to have spent a bit of time examining himself for the roots of his behavior. I doubt he’s uncovered all of it, but he seemed genuine about this.
“So, you’re afraid of losing people, and you’re afraid of death. Therefore you push people away to the point where you lose them, and you never really live. Is that about the size of it?”
He sat there for a moment, then looked up at me and said, “Yeah. I guess so.”
“Welcome to life.”
I intended to wrap the story up in this post, but it’s after midnight and I have to be up by 4:00 AM. Sorry, folks.