We had our first marriage counseling session today. I was nervous (see previous fear rant) and skeptical as the therapist the online couples counseling program set us up with shares the demographics of our last few presidents. This means that for the 45 minute session, we only got to see 2/3 of his face at any given time because Zoom cameras can't be trusted and also I'm pretty sure he thinks my name is Farrah, because Zoom microphones probably shouldn't be. Obviously he did quote Winston Churchill several times, but still, we liked his quiet, wise, calming Dumbledore energy and he gave us some good ideas to try right off the bat.
I've done individual therapy enough that I figured we'd start with a getting-to-know-us interview kind of thing, but instead, he read off the application Robb submitted like, "I see here you have some ancient grievances with each other that you just keep rehashing and you want to finally put all that beef to bed? And....go!"
It was a bit off-putting to just invite us to launch at first, but we eventually got into the flow. Our tasks this week are to 1) Come up with a list of the ancient beefs we want to resolve and 2) Spend 10 minutes/day talking to each other where we rotate- 5 minutes each- of just sharing whatever we want to and the other one just has to shut up and listen. He said that listening is the key to relationship harmony...or something like that, I didn't hear him, I wasn't really....you get the idea. ;)
We walked the dog after the session and after I told Robb that I'm worried that I'll have 500 things on my beef list and he'll have, like, 4...he laughed and laughed. Apparently he can match my grievances 1 for 1? The first is my tendency to be a bit self-righteous? The second is my faulty impression that living with me is a dream come true? So fun. Learning so much already.
The other part of this that I'm worried about is....if I let go of my bitter beef with my husband, who even am I? If I release myself from this will I disappear into green vapor like the wet wicked witch? If I let go of all that I did in the name of my marriage and the way I thought I was supposed to woman, will it be forgotten? Will it still matter? Will I still matter? If I can't blame his personality and choices anymore, how do I explain all the bad shit that happened? Can we get a ruling? I felt like I gave stoically and uncomfortably so much for so long, and now not only am I not getting a trophy, but I'm just supposed to just let it all go and move on??!! How is that fair? Can't we all just agree that he owes me forever and ever and I'm basically our hero forever? Is that asking too much?
I used the line the "sacrifice Olympics" in my first book and I still think it's pretty solid- for many seasons of my life, I've been trying to earn the gold medal for being the most hard-working, pleasant, low-maintenance, over-used person...I'm terrified I won't be worthy of any gold if I let that- or the allusion of that- go. If I maintain boundaries and take care of me first going forward, will I have to let go of that sacrificial mantle? It feels unsafe to step away from that podium. But, man, do I want to find peace and joy and to serve and love my people with an open heart. I think the only way to do that is to only give what feels healthy and right to give. I'm going to have to do a lot of reprogramming.
I thought loving someone meant sacrificing everything to make sure they're getting what they want. I tried that, I really did, and it kind of sucked. So now I'm learning to identify and declare what I want and keep finding that that actually works better for both of us. There are still all those years of feeling used, though, where I felt taken for granted and constantly disappointed. That's what we have to dig through, uproot, and plant something new over.
There's some big, ugly truths here and they WILL OUT! This is going to take a LOT of ego-checking on both our parts, but I think we're finally individually each in a place where we are able to and want to do it- for our own healing and for the sake of the marriage/family. As with individual therapy, I imagine it'll get uglier before it gets pretty or peaceful, dagnammit.