live been reading the posts and support with interest and empathy...and honestly a lot of confusion.
My my wife and I have been together since high school and, looking back, I had all the symptoms back then. The difference was, I pursued my passions and managed to do very well. Well...not grade-wise (until grad school), but I did enough to earn grades that did t bother me and spent my time surprising my girlfriend or playing in one of several instruments in several ensembles. My passion then, as it is now, is to play music for people. Not as a career, but as a pursuit.
Once we were married, my rehearsal schedule began to irritate my wife. Which she STILL mentions. So I stopped playing because it seemed important to her and I was low on free time anyway.
It was my choice and I didn't resent her for it.
15 years later, several published articles, and a well-paying job that took me around the world and I rediscovered my passion. Just jamming around the campfire with the neighbor, maybe a few hours a week across the street.
She began to tell me that I was abandoning her by nit sitting next to her arid the fire, that I was neglecting my family, that I was beig selfish.
This time I dug in. I exp,Agnes that I NEEDED that part of my life and would compromise, but not quit.
And I got angry and resentful and depressed because every joy that came with playing was preceded and followed by spite, insults, and cold shoulders.
Obviously this kind of interaction wasn't restricted to music...I didn't load the dishwasher right, my desk in my closed-door office was always a mess, I did t help the kids with their homework the right way...you name it. All the while (and still) I make sure to compliment her on what she's does every single day. I remember every anniversary and birthday (unreciprocated) and ask her with genuine interest how her work day was when she gets home. I honestly couldn't tell you the last time she asked me how my day went...which is okay, but my response would likely be fo.lowed by suggestions for improvement that match her personality perfectly but have no meaning to me whatsoever.
She began to insist that I was depressed and needed medication. She begged me to understand that if I WAS depressed, it woke be impossible ft me to recognize it. So I did.
And THAT'S when it all fell apart. The antidepressants resulted first in anhedonia (lack of joy...although quieter, I was told I was at least leads grumpy), sleeplessness, and weight gain. So I switched. And switched again, and again, and again until all of the fabric of my life and spirit that I had been weaving since the day I could make an independent decision began to unravel. I couldn't put them back together because I felt trapped by my previous acquiescence to what was clearly narcissistic and abusive (though not intentional) treatment from my wife.
Until 5 years ago, I would always just accept the blame and try to make SOME improvement...but her expectations were not only unreasonable, they failed to take into account t that I was an individual person with feelings, preferences, passions and proclivities of my own that were completely different from hers. I always used to try and get her to agree that we were a perfect match because we balanced each other so well...but she never did.
Then I changed jobs for a director level position in a local company so I could spend more time with my two sons and wife.
Well..,being around more meant more irritation, more messes to point out...more scorn and frustration from her. I begged her just to act like she LIKED me. She insulted my intellect n front of my kids because I didn't have structured study habits...eventually she disallowed me from helping the kids with homework. I shrunk deeper inside myself.
I found myself taking time off work to ferry the kids to and from school so she could focus in housework before going to her part time job. I lacked the confidence to tell her it wasn't a reasonable division of priorities.
And then I started getting calls at the office, questioning $10 purchases from our joint checking account. I asked her to stop so many times I lost chant and eventually gave up, because every time I'd say how much it hurt my feelings, she'd point out that since she managed our money, it was her prerogative.
So I started hiding money. And when I got really low, I spent it on whiskey so I could sleep. Those things are NOT her fault, they were clearly MY decisions. I justified it then by telling myself that at least I was MAKING a decision without being questioned.
The decision. I SHOULD have made was to divorce. She ended up hating every counselor we saw.
But i loved our home, my kids, our musical neighborhood and we'd been together more than half our lives! I couldn't give up on that.
The arguing got worse, she started texting and calling me at work. I just couldn't perform as needed and I got fired.
Then I REALLY started drinking. And soon a DUI followed (my first ticket EVER).
I had just given her every justification she ever though she had...by this time I was weak, lazy, unmotivated, uninterested, and unemployed while SHE worked hard full time to support us (the ten years I logged 6 figure airline miles so she could stay home with the kids were a JOINT decision) I stopped reading books, listening to music, arguing politics or philosophy with friends...I gave up.
I eventually landed a job out of state as a university supervisor and sent 80% of my monthly net to her for the house and kids. I wasunsurprisingly not reappointed due to being late to too many appointments (it ain't easy to ride a bike 10 miles in snow...my license was suspended). So I moved home. Back to an even more toxic environment than I'd left since she pointed out several times she didn't need me around to get by.
I went back to that. After spending a year remembering who I was and why I used to love life.
She has spent her evenings looking up open jobs for me...it's her way of being supportive. She asked to see the drafts of the cover letters I wrote for them. The first drafts. I asked her to skip the small stuff and tell me if the tone was right. I invited her thoughts.
She thought the FUCKING FONT WAS WTING AND DIDN'T LIKE THE FACT THAT I LISTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS. SHE JEOT VERBALLY POINTING OUT THE FORMATTING ERRORS AND THE GODDAMNED MARGIN WIDTH.
I took deep breaths, I thanked her for her suggestions and asked her, respectfully, she thought a hiring manager might look for in a cover letter.
She kept complaining about me overusing lists and then threw up her hands when I told her I wasn't concerned about something spell-check would catch. And I made my decision.
I've been sober a year and happy for most of it. I hurt for her because I know that her externalizing behaviors are deep,y rooted in paralyzingly insecurity. She expresses love, I think...but she only expresses a love of me for what I used to provide her. Now that's gone...
So...anyone have any words of wisdom for leaving without your kids feeling abandoned? Or just getting up the guts to do it?