The Middle

“But if I could make it to the middle, could you meet me there?” - Lady Antebellum (Be Patient With My Love)

My dear friend from college and I meet “in the middle” every month or so for lunch. Living on opposite ends of the city, we choose a spot that’s roughly fair for both of us. Inevitably though, one of us hits more traffic. One of us has no idea where to park in that neighborhood. It’s the middle, but getting there looks very different.

The last couple of years have pushed our marriage to the brink and have me oscillating between Rachel Hollis’ irritatingly chipper voice preaching that “you CAN have an exceptional marriage” and desperate sadness, as I sit alone in The Middle.

I think most of my current hurt comes from feeling like I’ve worked my way to The Middle - the halfway point - and my partner is nowhere to be found. After attempting to shoulder the weight of our problems again, my therapist cut me off, saying that there was really very little else I could do and would have to choose to wait - or not, I gathered - in The Middle for him. The last two years contained plenty of trauma and strain for us, and though I have as many or more maladaptive coping strategies as the next person, I’ve also done a lot of work.

I started taking an antidepressant.

I built myself a circle of genuine, honest souls, who validate, keep me grounded, and help me grow all the time.

I’ve been seeing a therapist a couple times a month for the last six months or so, and had seen a therapist several times before that, usually to work on my own struggles with communication and being assertive.

I listened to the Rise Podcast (until I couldn’t hear that chipper Hollis promise any more) and read articles on strengthening our relationship. I even took a course online about PTSD to better understand the world that I will never fully understand. I voiced my needs, terrified and against all of my instincts, after our last fight.

My bravery needs work. My confidence and self-esteem need work. I can be pretty passive aggressive at my worst. I struggle with all or nothing thinking, and want my marriage to become a Pinterest quote overnight.

But damn it, I’m trying. If this is a lunch date in the middle, I’ve been involved in a fender bender, hit rush hour, had to circle for parking four times, and let GPS fail me as my check engine light stares me down. I’m here, though.

Across town, my spouse is still getting dressed at home, texting “just pulling in!” Out of respect to my spouse’s journey, I won’t share the ways in which I feel - and know - he is struggling. I will say that I am very weary of trying to lead that horse to water, only to watch him prefer thirst.

I couldn’t put my finger on why this phase of my life feels so lonely. As I’ve said, I built a great circle of supportive humans, including a wonderful sibling of mine. I have the best co-workers. I have two beautiful children who fulfil my days and make me wonder how my life had meaning before them. I’m married. In this one aspect of my life though, I’m alone. Alone in my trying. Alone in my perspective. Alone in The Middle, probably with many of you.

As Lady A says, “Please don’t give up. Be patient with my love,” so I’m trying.

You know where to find me.

Written anonymously by a member of Beyond The Blue.

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