When Old Feelings Resurface

Oh, am I still a work in progress.

Last night as I lay in bed, I realized I was trying to fall asleep before my husband came to bed. I was afraid that if he tried to initiate sex, I would have said no. When I don’t guard my heart, sinful behaviors are just lurking under the surface, ready to take over again. I remember thinking, “Oh, yeah. THIS is why this all started in the first place.” I felt horrified at my feeling yet just a little justified. Really, I know better than that—yet the feelings surfaced. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have actually said “no,” but the fact that I wanted to frightened me.

It has been a difficult week—at work (unexpected administrative changes that affect many people I have come to love), at home (three sump pump failures followed by a nasty carpet cleanup that aggravates my mold allergy), in family (one son going through a break-up and two kids in their last days of high school), and in marriage (more about that in a minute). I have been fragile and needy. I don’t like to be needy.

A few days ago, I wrote about how nice it was to realize that I needed my husband. Hmm. I should ask him to read my blog posts before he walks in the door so he knows when he’s supposed to be extra nice rather than grumpish. (Yes, I know how shrewish that sounds.) He, too, was irritated by our sump pump issues. He had contributed to each of the failures, which didn’t make him too happy with himself. He’s been swamped at work. He has a wife who’s been extra needy this week. He did apologize for his growliness and put his arm around my shoulder when I cried. It was small comfort.

I told him the next day, “I really need comfort.” I got nothing. No attempts to hold me, invite me to talk, spend time just being with him, and no sex. Not even a question about what I meant by “comfort.” As the week progressed, the sadder I got, the more inadequate he felt as he watched me respond to almost every word and action by slumping my shoulders. I cried myself to sleep four nights this week.

So last night, I could feel my walls going back up. I had felt vulnerable all week. By telling him “I need you,” I made myself naked and exposed. I was putting my heart in his hands and trusting him. When I did not get from him what I wanted, I felt my trust was betrayed. I felt afraid to rely on my man for the emotional support that is so fundamental to my well-being. I realized that when I experience one emotional hiccup, my ability to think clearly spirals out of control until the one hiccup becomes a catastrophe. One strand of disconnection is enough to make me feel like I’m floating away from him.

He came to bed last night. He didn’t speak. He just went to sleep, unsure of what I was wanting from him. So there I was, moving from “I hope he doesn’t ask” to “why doesn’t he love me enough to ask?” This morning, I woke up to a gentle kiss on the forehead before he headed out to an appointment. Shortly after he returns, I will be leaving for a difficult day with my family (last visit to my childhood home). If I come home today and the basement smell has gotten worse (meaning he hasn’t done what I need him to do because I physically cannot), I will struggle with all these feelings again.

Our marriage hasn’t been a happy place for either of us this week. We are uneasy with each other. When I experience the re-emergence of the old feelings, I can’t help but wonder if my old habits are wanting to come out, too. My tearful prayer last night brought peace as I realized that we have more solid marriage experiences to draw on as we work our way out of this. It will be okay.

In the middle of the night, I woke up and found myself crying again. I worried about my friends at work. I mourned the loss of my childhood home that I will face today. I grieved the sad state of our marriage this week. I turned into my husband’s arms, crying on his chest. Still sound asleep, he wrapped his arms around me while I cried. In the middle of the night, he gave me the comfort I’d been needing all week. God is good.

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4 Comments on “When Old Feelings Resurface”

  1. Wow, the middle of this post especially brought tears of empathy to my eyes. I would love to hear the man’s side of this stuff. I too feel so naked when I put myself out there for emotional rescuing. Ive had to work so hard on vulnerability and you expect the “reward” for it to be a valid “response”. And while I know we need to look to God for our rescuing, God gave us this man with skin on for some protection too. And when you ask for it and are met with “silence”, it’s just deafening and just compiles the feelings of emotional drowning. But I’m glad your husband stepped up ultimately. I find that always happens if I can keep my mouth shut. One Sunday in church, I was praying some needy prayer like “God, why can’t my husband just reach over and grab MY hand”? This was during our restoration phase and it was always me grabbing his and I think he had reached over and grabbed our daughter’s hand earlier. I thought about nagging him about it right there in church (doesn’t that just make God so happy that I’m obsessing over my needs during the sermon? :)). Anyway, at that tume, God was also gracious enough to heap miracle after miracle on me to let me know He was fighting the battle for me and sure enough about ten seconds later (I did not say anything to him) his hand came over. Seriously, it felt like He had just parted the sea for me! So I think there’s this healthy combo of vulnerability, prayer and utlimately trusting in Gods outcome and timing. Thanks for sharing yourself here.. I just started following you based on a recommendation from, I think, journey to surrender.

    1. I am often reminded that this blog is a ministry to myself. Shortly after I posted this, my husband returned home and came over and put his arms around me. We ended up with a fairly brief but incredibly intimate interlude, and we both feel fully healed from our disconnection this week.

  2. I agree with MB – Wow! I appreciate your transparency and how vulnerable you made yourself. I understand what you are going through, at least in a way. All of us have struggles that we deal with, we have all made progress with those struggles only to have a period of time where we back slide and are in danger of of going back to our old ways and then have that mighty struggle with the whether we are going fight our way back to what we should do or go to our old comfortable ways. For me, with one of my struggles, every time I think I have it under control, it seems like the next week or two I will face more struggles and temptations than I did in a month previously. For me, the saddest part is that often it is not my actions that bring the temptation, but others start me on that downward spiral.

    I will pray for you. I can understand how your week would cause bad storm that easily draw you back to your old habits. If I may offer, please do not be hard on yourself about this. In reality, this gives you a wonderful insight that you have just shared with your readers and that insight will continue on beyond this post. Thank you for sharing!

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