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Simply Solo Spotlight: I Fear Breakups

July 31, 2012

A little late this Tuesday (sorry, I was sick all day), but I wanted to get you this week’s Simply Solo Spotlight. This one really moved me and I hope you enjoy it. It’s written by Margaret from I Am Not A Hobo Yet, where she talks about dealing with unemployment.

Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Find out how you can be the next writer for Simply Solo here!

I Fear Breakups

I feared breakups more than I fear spiders. I feared the agony of deciding to part ways for good, the anxiety of a solitary future, the regret of giving your heart to someone. I feared the nostalgia from seeing the gifts he gave me and the question of whether he misses me. I feared oversleeping without someone waking me every morning.

So, when my boyfriend proposed a few years ago after 5 years of a long-distance relationship, I accepted, elatedly. After all, he loves to cook! And heʼs a morning person! But, as the wedding date approached, I lost my job with no end to unemployment in sight. My future husband suggested that I didnʼt need a job and that I could live with him, but staying at home never was my dream. I feared breakups, though, so I swallowed my doubts, got married, and moved.

I found unemployed life difficult in a new city without friends, and my husband traveled frequently for work. I slipped into a crushing depression, and because my husband ridiculed mental help, I secretly saw a therapist for what turned into a year. I thought my husband deserved a happy wife, and besides, happy spouses avoided breakups, right? When my husband refused to help me find a job within his company, I hid my frustration.

I believed my husband wanted me home, and anyway, did I tell you I feared breakups? When my husband stomped angrily around a house deemed a “pigsty,” I spent several hours each subsequent week cleaning and arranging our home to his liking. I learned how to clean, very seriously, because I feared breakups.

More than I feared breakups, though, I love birthdays. I adore it all – the cake, the friends, the gifts. So, I planned a three-day build-up to my husbandʼs birthday. Day 1: Happy hour at an expensive Italian restaurant. Day 2: Professional photo shoot as a couple, followed by happy hour and bleu-cheese-and-pork-belly pub chips. Day 3: Homemade birthday cake and a trip to In-and-Out. Day 4: Dinner at a seafood restaurant of his choice.

Imagine my surprise on Day 4 when my husband arose, sullen and angry. With his reassurance that he didnʼt feel upset with me, I drove us to our favorite outdoor mall, where we wandered confused and dejected. In silence, we returned home, where my husbandʼs ears increasingly grew red at the tops. Several times, I asked him if he was angry with me. He said no, and though I thought otherwise, I feared breakups enough not to inquire further. Rather than celebrate his birthday eating sickening mounds of shellfish and gigantic slices of double chocolate cake, my husband stated quietly we were going to eat at IHOP, where we consumed omelets with questionable cheese paste and salty buttermilk pancakes in deafening silence.

For the next two days, my husband renewed his anger every day. But, I feared breakups. So even though I felt frustrated that my husband felt free to ruin his birthday, I kept quiet, just like when my husband wore oil-soaked shoes into the house after a long day of cleaning, or refused to help me find a job. When my husband finally arrived home one day and declared that I didnʼt care about him, I tried to explain that I indeed cared very much. I did everything I could without his asking – clean, fix, love. In fact, when I should have been taking care of myself, I tended to as many of his needs as possible because I feared breakups. My husband wouldnʼt listen.

To brush off the hurt from a failed, thankless birthday party, I threw on my running shoes and ran until my heart stopped aching. As my feet carried me step over arduous step in the blistering Arizona summers, I saw a woman losing herself with increasing clarity. I saw someone defined poorly by a man too short-sighted to find love in front of him, too insecure to let me work with him, too critical to enjoy married life. And I saw a woman too consumed in silence. I mentally outlined things I wanted to blurt to my husband, but when I reached my house, nothing came to mind. It didnʼt matter. I knew my husband wouldnʼt see what I saw, and I didnʼt care to explain it.

Instead, I firmly committed to speaking up, putting myself first, and trusting myself. I wrote these goals on index cards and placed them in my drawers. I repeated them as I tied my shoelaces, walked to my car, and took a shower. I began to address conflicts immediately and plan personal getaways. My husbandʼs botched birthday really became a rebirth of my own. And I ceased fearing breakups since.

Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2012 9:50 pm

    Wow. I literally almost cried reading this! How compelling and “real.” It’s amazing that you realized your weakness and essentially did something about it. There are many of us that have that some fear and it can be crippling. Thank you for sharing!

    • August 1, 2012 12:18 am

      Thanks for your comment! This post was initially intended to be a random blurb on my blog, but I really wanted to share the moment with a larger audience. I thought it would be some relief to me and possibly helpful to others. I’m so glad you liked it!

  2. July 31, 2012 10:27 pm

    I love how it felt like I was reading a diary, watching a movie, reading an expertly crafted novel and also a fine poem all in one. I am so happy for you!

    • August 1, 2012 12:24 am

      Thanks! I’m glad you connected with this post. This is my first guest post ever, so I did hope that it would open a dialogue in which people could admit that something was wrong and that something needed to change.

  3. July 31, 2012 10:53 pm

    Great story. I was wondering, in finding yourself, has it helped your marriage for the better? I would assume your hubby would find it hard to embrace this new side of you. I love your courage. Self introspection is something we can all benefit from greatly.

    • August 1, 2012 12:42 am

      I do think my marriage is working better because we communicate more.

      On the one hand, barring cheating, dishonesty, or abuse, I am committed to my marriage. I am OK with working on a relationship that isn’t perfect. On the other hand, I am equally committed to being heard, in any relationship. These two commitments led me to communicate with my husband more. I no longer hesitate to say, “I am bothered because…” or “I’m unhappy because…” But, to show my commitment to the relationship, I also encourage him by saying, “I feel lucky to have you because…” or “I appreciate you because…” I think my husband is responding well and is changing the ways he approaches topics, but time will tell if the relationship is in long-term decline.

      Another relatively unique aspect of our marriage is that we had a long-distance relationship for five years. My husband suddenly quit his graduate program after we had a long talk about staying together in the same city before I started my studies. He left to Arizona, and I finished school. I still struggle with the heartache of being left behind and hated the distance that grows the longer people are apart. However, we’ve only been married about a year and a half, and after all the long-distance stuff, it feels like we are learning about each other all over again. So, I do have quite a bit of room to change the dynamic of the relationship because we haven’t settled in yet.

  4. Annie permalink
    August 1, 2012 3:49 am

    Catherine, guest posts are nice, but we readers miss your posts. I wonder if there will be anything written by you in near future? 🙂

    • August 2, 2012 8:16 am

      Hey Annie,
      THanks for your comment :). I’m in the middle of a crazy summer, but your comment encouraged me to finsih a post I’ve been sitting on. Expect it this week! Thank you!

  5. August 1, 2012 5:08 am

    I think so many of our readers could relate to this stage in life. this is really powerful. It’s so hard to keep the balance in the relationship between yourself and …your relationship.

    • August 1, 2012 2:17 pm

      I’m glad you liked it. I’ve never really thought about it, but you’re right – I see a lot of my friends disappearing into relationships for a little while.

  6. August 1, 2012 8:36 am

    ah the fear of losing always keeps us from really enjoying what we have … and wanting more … good on you to have moved past it

    • August 1, 2012 2:19 pm

      Thanks! You’re right – the fear of losing is such a burden in all parts of life.

  7. August 1, 2012 9:51 am

    Catherine, I hope you are feeling better!

  8. August 1, 2012 9:53 am

    Margaret, thanks for sharing your story, and I’m glad to hear that you seem to have turned the corner on a troubling time in your life! And good luck in the job search too!

    • August 1, 2012 2:25 pm

      Thanks for your comments! I’d like to say that I’ve fully turned a corner, but I still find myself struggling with standing up for myself in my relationship on occasion. (That’s why I place notes to myself everywhere!) It’s definitely getting easier and better with practice.

      Cross your fingers that I’ll get a job or that money will fall from the sky (and nobody will be around to catch it with me).

      • August 1, 2012 3:57 pm

        As someone who has a deeply-ingrained desire to avoid conflict, I can sympathize with your struggle to stand up for yourself. I’m not sure if doing more of that would have saved my own marriage, but it probably would have made me feel considerably better and maybe gotten the process of breaking up and moving on going faster.

        I’ve got my fingers crossed for you to find a job, I know that will do wonders for you mentally and emotionally as well as financially 🙂

        • August 1, 2012 5:28 pm

          It’s hard to stand up for yourself when you’ve established a pattern of behavior for however long a relationship lasts. And it’s just as hard for someone to accept the changes after so long. But, I’d like to think that a relationship can still work out if I can keep my anger and frustration at bay and gently assure someone that I’m still committed to them while I’m equally committed to standing up for myself. It’s tricky, and I don’t know how things will play out over time.

          Money falling from the sky, Ben. People want money falling from the sky. 🙂

        • August 1, 2012 8:01 pm

          LOL, if you find a good spot for the downpour let me know… after you get your fill ofc 😉

  9. August 1, 2012 10:22 am

    Great post!

  10. August 1, 2012 10:00 pm

    I loved every word of this. I often fear losing myself in relationships. Nice work!

    • August 2, 2012 1:46 am

      Thanks! I once thought that I’d never lose myself in relationships, but life was so busy that I didn’t recognize it. Live and learn. 🙂

  11. Jamie permalink
    August 2, 2012 7:18 pm

    Margaret, I loved your post. Its obviously from your heart. That said, I used to fear breakups. Now after finally ending a 24 year relationship with a man who treated me not so good, I fear staying with someone who treats me poorly, I fear staying with someone because its comfortable, I fear spending any more of my time on this earth with someone who doesn’t deserve me, most of all I fear settling for less than I deserve and want.

    I want to find someone I can be fearless with.

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