There is only room for me
October 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am exhausted. I imagine this is what post-natal depression feels like sometimes, except my step-kids are reasonably grown up kids and not newborns or infants.
As I take a grateful moment of peace for myself, I reflect that not much has changed in the three years I have spent with my [now] husband’s kids. The resentment is less, but they still frustrate and annoy me. Thinking about this further, I realise this too has probably lessened to some extent and not by any change in personality on their part, rather my attitude towards them has slowly evolved and continues to do so (slowly being the operative word).
As much as it pains me to say it, I still cannot bring myself to say “I love you” with any real meaning to either of them. I think my husband thinks this makes me a horrible person and I sense he would be deeply hurt and disappointed if he knew how I felt (thus the secret writing). The sad fact of the matter that there is nothing I can do about it. You can’t force yourself to love someone anymore than you can force time to move backwards. I think if you are lucky enough, you can open your heart and soul and allow love to come into you but that is a voluntary, vulnerable position which I am not able to put myself in at this time. I continue to wield unrelenting standards on myself and therefore I very reasonably tell myself that it probably is my fault – that I should change my attitude towards them and allow myself to be the full loving person that they deserve to have in their lives. But I am not prepared to do anything about it and I worry that other people (in particular, my husband) think this makes me a selfish person.
I’ve argued for and against this concept many times over the years. I have accepted it wholeheartedly at some points in my life and denied it vehemently at others. Thinking about it today I have come up with this: I’m not such a selfish person after all. It’s not that I purposely exclude others or have no desire to care for or consider them but in all seriousness I have a very limited emotional capacity. The effort to care for myself is enormous. I don’t mean this in an egotistical way but rather in a very literal way. My mental and emotional instability dictates a great deal of time and attention – from me, for me. Various experiences in my lifetime have taught me, rightly or wrongly, that I cannot rely on anyone 100% – not even my husband – and I suppose this comes down to trust. There is not one single person on this planet that I could trust never to hurt me, never to let me down, never to disappoint or betray me. I am that person, the only person is me.
And this is not wholly unreasonable, really. Human nature is fickle and with such a range of emotional complexities that any single individual can harbour, it is to be expected that there will always, always be an opportunity for hurt or pain of some varying degree or nature though any form of human interaction.
So yes, it’s a cliche but as cliche’s often are, it is true: the only person you can ever really rely on is yourself. And hell, for some of us, even that isn’t always the case.
Knowing this has led me to the guarded place where I am in my life now. I am the only person I can trust and rely on and so in my heart, in my mind, there is only room for me. There is no room for others like children or friends because I take up all of my own capacity. Of course this is not entirely true because if there was one other person in this whole entire world, just one soul that would occupy the tiny little space in my heart with me it would be my husband, the love of my life. Any space I have left inside myself, any capacity I have to love and trust and lean on and need would belong to him.
That’s not to say he hasn’t hurt me or won’t ever again. And this is what makes you realise that the only person you can ever really, truly, wholly, entirely rely on is yourself. I love my husband more than any other person on this planet yet I have spilled countless tears over him, because of him and no matter how great the love in my heart is for him, I will never forgot those tears. I have forgiven him for any and every hurt he has ever given to me but scars never really fade, never truly fade and true heartache will leave you limping for life. Broken bones never fully heal.
So the truth of the matter is that I struggle to love anyone other than myself and my husband. I love my parents of course – that is a given though. Loving them isn’t a question or even a thought; it’s an instinct, an immediate reaction, an almost involuntary response. My relationship with my brother is a little different, but only slightly. But outside of that, there isn’t any much room for anyone else. I would happily live the end of my days in the dark depths of limbo (think Inception) with my husband and close the doors on the rest of the world to be with him.
But this isn’t Inception. This is real life, which means I come home on a Friday afternoon after one of the most stressful and exhausting weeks I’ve had in a long time and all I want to do is curl into his arms and silently soak him up (keyword being silent). All I need to do is spend half an hour in his arms, staring into his deep eyes, soaking up his warmth and his love and being soothed by his heartbeat and warm pulse.
Instead, his kids are here and so I shrink back into my shell of resentment and anger, frustration, disappointment and hurt. I resent the barrier they present between him and I – in a physical and emotional sense. I am angry because I know he senses this but we cannot speak about it lest it end in tears and a divorce. I feel frustrated because there is no end to this, there is no expiry date to this arrangement especially with his daughter; it is just the way our life is. I am disappointed because I have no one to talk to about this and I hate feeling like I am keeping secrets from him. And I am hurt because it is all there is left at the end of this raft of emotion, the source of all this, the thing that underpins everything else, that lies deep at the bottom. I feel pain in my heart and it makes me sad.
There is only room for me.