The Power of Distance

I’ve had a powerful insight this week.

I knew I had pulled away from my husband, and I was really bothered by it.  I could tell I was the reason I didn’t feel close to him, but I didn’t quite know why, or what to do about it.  It was like watching a train wreck; you know what’s about to happen, but you can’t do anything about it.

So, let’s go back a few years.  In the beginning of our marriage we set things up in the “typical” way (think patriarchy) because that’s all we knew.  We thought that to be a “good couple” we were supposed to do things this way.  It’s what was modeled to us.

A Better Way

Well, about 5 years ago or so, our eyes were opened to a better way.  I was looking for help because things were not working.  It was not going well.  I was so unhappy.  But why was I unhappy?  I had a beautiful family, great kids, a husband who cared for us and had a good, stable job.  We owned our house, all the things.  But still I wasn’t really happy and couldn’t figure out why.  I had “no right” to be unhappy, or so I thought.

Well, now I know why I was not satisfied with that life. It was because my personal growth was stifled.  I had a myriad of false beliefs that were keeping me from really developing myself as a person.  Things like, if you ask for things, you’ll cause problems for other people.  Good moms don’t (fill in the blank! There are so many.)  Good wives keep the house clean and dinner on the table when her husband walks in the door every night.  Good wives give their husbands sex because he has needs, and he deserves it because without him, you’d be homeless.  You owe so much to others around you.  I had so many scarcity beliefs about money, too–I remember thinking, “how many hours would he have to work to pay for this shirt I’m thinking about buying? Is it worth that much of his time?” Ugh!!!   But I digress.

So, over time, I began to realize that these beliefs were not what I wanted to continue believing. But what I wanted to believe instead, and actually believing it, was harder to access.

Nothing Has Gone Wrong

In recent weeks, I have recognized that I went from near complete conformity (striving to meet my husband’s expectations as much as humanly possible) to the polar opposite–a kind of rebellion.  Not a rebellion against my husband, per se, but a rebellion against the way I had been living, against my past self.  It’s not that I suddenly stopped cooking and cleaning, taking care of kids and helping with homework, but more that I felt a great resentment toward all of those things and toward my past in general.  I knew I was harboring great anger, but didn’t really know exactly what it was about or how to address it.

A few days ago, I saw myself in this distanced, rebellious place, and suddenly realized that nothing was going wrong.  I had to create that distance in order to develop a stronger sense of self.  It was impossible to do if I were staying too close to my “old life’ of conformity.  I was too crushed, too overshadowed there to be able to have room to grow.  And I have been growing, these past months and years.  I am stronger in who I am, I am more likely to speak up for myself and really know what I want.  I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m getting there.  

Distance is Necessary For Growth

The key here is that I no longer see the distance I’ve created as a problem.  I see it as a necessary step.  The anger was keeping me from going back to conformity.  It was helping me hold the boundaries I needed.  For as long as I needed.  I’ll be honest, it is not a comfortable place.  I wondered many times if my husband would get tired of it and leave me.  I wondered if I grew too much, would he even want to be with me?  Would we be compatible still?  It was scary to think that the whole life I’ve been spending the past 20 years building could crumble in an instant.  But I tolerated it because the alternative was death.  Not physical death, but emotional death.  Death of the person I am meant to be  He has tolerated it too.  He has grown too.

Beauty From Ashes

In order to build myself new, I had to burn the old self to the ground.  My newfound sense of self still feels a bit delicate–like a flower, easily crushed.  But also beautiful, and unique, growing in a way that will create even more beauty and strength for myself and for those around me.  Now I know why I created distance, and can accept it for what it is; a necessary part of my journey. I can begin to close the gap between myself and my husband, while holding the boundaries that I need in order to stay true to my best self.  I can come back into the marriage anew.  I can come back in as quickly or as slowly as I need to, as I test out my new strength and continue to grow into it. As I continue to become the woman I am truly meant to be   I will come back into relationship with him, but on my terms.  I thank my former self, because without her, I couldn’t be who I am today.

[February 2022]

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