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September 13 • When Good is Bad

Day 797

A couple of days ago, my wife asked me how I was doing with everything. She has been very involved in work and a couple of significant volunteer projects (not counting me) and seemed to be checking in as if to say she's been busy but still cares. I think I was pretty upbeat when I told her that I almost felt guilty for how good I feel most of the time lately. I tried to make an 'everything considered' joke, including the pandemic, some minor household maintenance items, and, of course, my unemployment, but it did not go well.

My wife hides her stress much better than I do and always has. I am sometimes stupidly unaware that any number of stressful scenarios can bring her down because she is so good at navigating them with a smile. I have not been oblivious to her recent mental fatigue, if for no other reason, because I was not the leading cause of it (for a change). However, I did fail to recognize how her stress can be a trigger for her rabbit holes caused by my acting out. My response may have been a bit too jovial about feeling good, and it did not seem to sit well with her that I have days that are nearly stress-free while she is working hard and facing extreme pressures from all sides of her life.

I have not yet acquired significant insight into this. I clearly have a blind-spot to her needs when I am feeling above average. It's not a mean thing, and I think it's even a good thing when she is in a good space. She doesn't want me to feel bad just to make her feel better, she says. She doesn't want me to get a job that will make her feel worse because of a coed environment, she says. And she wants us to be in a place where we don't have to worry about those things.

Me too.

This is a moment that challenges me. My unemployment is not a direct result of my addiction, but it is related, by our choice. Her discomfort with me working with other women is definitely because of my acting out and disclosures, so I have to own that.

When she told me that she was just expressing her heart to me so it wouldn't become a big deal, she said she hoped it would not send me into a depressive episode, as apparently such conversations have done in the past. I apologized and told her that I was not going down that road. I felt sad about her feeling bad and for my contributions to that, but I've worked too hard to feel good to let a spontaneous conversation featuring a little venting to get me down. I meant that. I still had to work at it, but I had done nothing wrong except feeling good when someone else was feeling bad. It's probably not that black and white, but it's close.

I love my wife and do not want her to be carrying unnecessary burdens. Neither do I want to pay a price of shame that is generated out of her decisions to take on challenges that add to her burden.

That sounds cold. I want to rewrite it, just in case she reads this. Worse yet, I should rewrite it just in case I'm wrong, and anyone reads this.

Nope, that's what it feels like, and without any passive-aggressive inclinations on my part. Some days are just hard, and we don't get to share all those days, and we are not required to adopt those days for other people, even our spouses. At least that's what I think I'm being taught. It's certainly what I'm learning, whether it's true or not.



If you see dark skies in my green eyes

It's just that I can't find no cover

These ghosts that haunt me

They get me when they want me

And some days are better than others

–Trisha Yearwood, “Some Days”



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