Time for a serious talk at home.
Last night, the hubs told me, “I feel like I’m losing you.”
It shook me to hear that.
But he’s right. I’m drifting further and further away from the once rock-solid relationship we had.
And it hurts, and it breaks my heart.
I have a couple of choices: Pretend that things are fine, or address this stuff head-on. The former clearly isn’t working – apparently, I’m a terrible actress – so maybe I need to try again to get this stuff out in the open.
Maybe working out here what I need to say will help. Or maybe it’ll give me enough of a mental buffer to throw a lacy tablecloth over the elephant in the living room and pretend it’s not there for just a bit longer.
Here goes nothing.
Last night, you told me you felt like you were losing me. What struck me about this wasn’t that you were right – because I think that’s fairly obvious – but that you still actually cared. You sounded like you really DIDN’T want to lose me. And I have to admit that surprised me a little.
I know that’s probably hard to hear. And, to be fair, you’ve always been affectionate, and you tell me all the time that you love me. But…there are times when you don’t SHOW me that you love me. And it’s hard for me to reconcile the words with the actions.
Let’s jump right to the root of this thing: we have very different opinions on faith and spirituality. When we first met, and earlier in our relationship, we were quite good at respectful disagreement. Or at least I thought we were. Perhaps we just avoided the issue.
Lately, though, I know you’ve been going through a spiritual awakening of sorts. You’ve always been agnostic, and willing to question your own beliefs in pursuit of the right answer. In the last few months, however, your focus has shifted. You feel that atheists are not embraced in society, and you’ve appointed yourself a beacon of light for all others who share your beliefs. You’ve done this by writing a thesis of sorts on how irrelevant, violent, damaging, hateful, and inaccurate the Bible is, and you’ve posted this on the internet for all to see. (Well, that was your plan; I honestly don’t know if you finished it or published it. Since it hurts my heart to think about it, I don’t ask.)
Additionally, you’ve acquired a collection of T-shirts that boldly state your stance. Some of them say things like “skeptic” and “freethinker” – those I can handle, mostly. (Although I’m not a fan of “freethinker” as it implies that those who don’t agree with you are the opposite of free thinkers, when really, in many cases, they are people as articulate, intelligent, and educated as you, who researched the same materials and simply came to a different conclusion.) It’s your other shirts I take issue with. I know you’re going for shock value. For an in-your-face message that you are NOT Christian, or Muslim, or any other organized religion. I just wish you could find a way to express that without taking pot shots at the sincerely held beliefs of others. I wish you could find a way to raise awareness without needing to step on other peoples’ faiths to elevate your own belief system.
Because without mutual respect and understanding, no one can hear you. Your approach puts everyone on defense. They know, just by reading your shirt, that you’re not open to a frank, honest discussion. Your mind is MADE UP – and their minds are WRONG. Period, the end.
I’m digressing a bit – I really wanted to talk about US, not everyone else. But there IS some relevance here. A couple of weekends ago, we went out together, and you had one of those T-shirts on. And you made a point to tell me that a couple of folks commented on it, and really liked it, and that “lots of people really like my shirts.” I believe I responded with something like “everyone but your wife.” I didn’t press further – but it saddens me that validation from complete strangers is more important to you than your wife’s feelings on the subject.
You know I hate these shirts, but you wear them anyway, and I suppose I need to find a way to deal with that. Just be aware that you do so at the expense of some emotional currency. Initially, you said, “Well, I’ll only wear them when you’re not around.” WHICH MISSES THE POINT ENTIRELY – if you truly feel this way, it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing it on your chest or not. It still hurts me that you don’t have any respect for my beliefs, whether you parade that in front of my face or hide it behind my back. (If you didn’t like me taking diet pills, would it be OK if you didn’t watch me swallow them?)
It’s hard for me to feel close to you when I’m staring down a logo that I know is meant to inflame. This is hard to admit, but it’s also difficult for me to feel attracted to you when how you feel about my beliefs is quite literally staring me in the face.
While I’m talking about respect, I need to also talk about blasphemy. Not swearing – I can drop a good F-bomb as well as anyone else. I’m talking about your need to invoke religion into the mix. You know I hate it. I’m not used to hearing it, I don’t like it, I’ve TOLD you I don’t like it, and I find it completely disrespectful that you continue to DO it. But you told me quite recently that when you get really mad, nothing eases your anger like a good “F*** you, God.”
(Side note – this doesn’t even make sense. Why are you saying “F*** you” to someone you believe to be imaginary?)
THIS IS NOT OK. It’s beyond disrespectful. It’s telling me that your outbursts are more important than my lifelong, sincerely held beliefs. I’ve cultivated them for years; I’ve tried to fertilize them, prune them, and encourage them to grow – and here you are, barreling over them with the lawnmower, rendering them into insignificant scraps.
It eases your anger…but you’re paying for it with our relationship.
Is it still worth it?
I’m scared to death that the answer is “yes.”
Yesterday we were shopping for paint. And as you were loading the trunk, you noticed, for the first time, the ichthus fish I had affixed there a couple of weeks ago, and you said, “I just noticed your Jesus fish. GREEEEEEEAT.” Wow. You actually sneered. You have many, many emblems and stickers on your car screaming your views to the planet. I don’t love them, but it’s your car. And I respect that your views are different from mine.
Then a song came on the variety show on NPR – it was a gospel group singing a capella 4-part harmonies. Now, I know gospel isn’t for everyone. You could have changed the station. Instead, you commented on the “ridiculous subject matter.”
My beliefs are “ridiculous subject matter.”
My beliefs are ridiculous.
I asked myself again yesterday if I could continue to live like this.
And yesterday, the answer was no.
My heart is breaking. I don’t know if this can be fixed. All I know is that I never would have married a man who owned T-shirts like this. I never would have married someone who couldn’t respect my beliefs.
Yet, nearly eight years later…here I am.
So there it is.
I desperately want to fix this. Please, please help me fix this.
I love you. Always.
Wish me luck.