Thursday, April 28, 2011

boiling point

Each Wednesday, I go into the city to see my therapist.  It is one of my favorite days of the week; I get to hang out with Kathy at her office, see friends or my sister in the city, go to Weight Watchers (which I actually like!) and generally get back in touch with the world.  But for the last two weeks, the same thing has happened.  When it is time to come home, I have gotten really angry and nasty.

I feel like I have legitimate reasons to be hostile, angry, resentful, and frustrated.  The thing is, Kathy is embroiled in a heated custody fight with her ex-husband.  It has been going on for YEARS.  Literally, years.  As in four of them.  As a result of this, her ex-husband is not technically so much her ex-husband.  They have lived apart for ages, the kids and neighbors think of them as divorced, but because they can't agree on custody, they are technically still married.

(photo via this educational website)

What that means for me is a lot of waiting, and a lot of frustration.  We can't even open a joint checking account for household expenses.  We have difficulty making plans, because the custody is still up in the air and the subject of much debate.  And on the rare occasions we do have time alone, Kathy is often preoccupied and worried about the kids.  It totally sucks.  I really can't think of a better word for it.

From the outside, it might seem like she should just settle it (i.e., give in) so everyone could move on.  But for a lot of deeply personal and serious reasons, she can't.  So here we are.

Most of the time, I do a pretty good job of setting all this aside and just living my life.  In spite of the fact that she is technically still married to the kids' dad, we have moved forward in all the ways we can, without the divorce being final.  But the problem is, when I go to therapy, I talk about it, and all my anger, fear, resentment, and other emotions come right on up to the surface.  Sometimes, it takes me a full 24 hours to move past them.

I generally think facing these feelings is a good thing.  I can't live in a constant worked-up state all the time, but I also can't stuff those emotions down all the time, and pretend like they don't exist.  Eventually, the stress of doing that gets to me, too -- I have tried.

So all-in-all, I think that this is a good balance.  I basically pull the boxing gloves on every Wednesday, and allow my anger and frustration to run its course.  Then, sometime on Wednesday night or Thursday, I take a deep breath, set it aside, and live my life.

Obviously, this is not a long-term solution.  For now, it is what keeps me from operating at a slow simmer all the time, and generally live a relatively normal life.  But each day, I do wake up and wonder when it will be over, and when it will be our turn to do all the things that other couples take for granted.

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