Picking Fights

This is A Really Real Widow Post
and
A Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s one of those ones that blur the lines, where processing my widowhood and the questions about my relationship with my late wife, are helping me heal today.

Because without my past I wouldn’t be who I am today, but without healing my past, I’ll continue to make a lot of the same mistakes.

And I don’t want that.

I have to thank my friend Melissa, at The Evolving Wife (https://www.theevolvingwife.com/) for her post yesterday, because it inspired this post.  She gave me a lot to think about.

When I was reading what she wrote, one line jumped out and punched me in the gut.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

Holy shit.

Parker used to say that she couldn’t pour from an empty cup.  And the thing was, I wasn’t great at self soothing, I didn’t have many people outside of her (and didn’t know how to go to the people I had), we were both completely empty due to the situation we were in . . .

And I needed a lot of attention.

And it would typically start with me saying that I needed something from her.  Sometimes I’d even say out loud that I felt disconnected.  She’d get her feelings hurt and within days we’d be fighting non stop.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

And I’m not saying I’m the only one that picked fights.  It went both ways.  I wasn’t always able to give her the attention she needed either.

And unfortunately, we aren’t in a position where we can both heal from a relationship gone wrong.

Lots and lots of people used to see Parker and I as the fairy tale relationship.  And in a lot of ways we were.  We were really good for each other.  But we were also really really codependent, we didn’t know how to exist outside of each other.  People loved that you never saw one of us without the other, but, in hindsight, that was really a big problem.  We lost our own identities within each other, and as great as we were at communicating, it’s really hard to figure out how to meet each others needs when you are both completely drained from trying to survive.

But subconsciously, I knew one time that she’d be focused on me, not on video games, not on the TV, not on sleep.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

This wasn’t something I did on purpose “ooooh, I need more attention, let me go bitch at her for not helping out enough around here”  But, if I’m hurt because I’m not getting physical affection, and I’m hurt because she’s been staring at the TV or sleeping for 12 hours straight and ignoring every word I say, then I’m far more likely to notice that the dishes are piled up in the sink and I’ve washed them the last 5 times, and I’m far more likely to make sure she noticed too.

And I made my point loud and clear.

And then she focused on me for at least a little while.

Negative attention is still attention.

I’m learning better and I’m doing better but I do wish I could go back and just talk.  I’m not sure it would have made a difference.  We had too many years of dysfunctional patterns built up, and too much going against us.

My therapist keeps reminding me that I can’t actually figure out what was really going on back then, because one side of the story is dead.  She can’t give her point of view, or defend her position, or grow or change or add to the narrative in any way.

But I’m still trying to figure out all of the ways that I fucked up, mainly because I’m trying not to be the same person I was then.  I want to be better.

I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

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