In the past few days, I’ve continued to assess my own feelings, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m starting to tune into what actions and thoughts make me feel good, creative, happy and what actions contribute to unhappiness.
What I’ve found won’t surprise you, which is that most of my thoughts and actions contribute to unhappiness.
Do you know why? Because most of my thoughts and actions are outwardly focused, mostly directed toward my husband, who has a form of long-term depression.
Here’s an example of an outwardly focused action that has brought me nothing but unhappiness.
For the past year, I have called him twice a day during the workday, religiously. I even set it on my Google calendar to remind me. So a year before we had his official depression diagnosis, I was trying to reconnect with him, and talking to him briefly by phone — no more than a minute or two — twice during the day seemed like a simple thing that might help.
By the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, I realized that because of his illness, nothing I did, good, bad or otherwise, had any effect on him or on our relationship. All the hard work I was doing on the relationship — the phone calls were just the tip of the iceberg — was basically for naught. It all helped me somewhat, but not “us” and certainly not him.
I don’t believe he even noticed all the things I was doing. He’s never mentioned them or said how much he has appreciated my continuing commitment to him. In the ways that matter most to me, I’m still invisible to him.
Back to those two daily phone calls … Nine times out of 10, I would get his voicemail. I don’t know why he didn’t answer, but he didn’t. And I felt like an idiot, every single time, leaving a voicemail for my husband. He would rarely call back. He’d usually send me a text — maybe.
I told him recently that I expect him to answer the phone when I call, and that I’m very aware that he doesn’t like talking on the phone much at work. But he can make 4 minutes available during the day to talk to his wife. That’s just being respectful of me, in the most basic way possible.
I also told him that I wanted him to call me at least once a day.
In recent weeks, he has answered the phone a bit more often, maybe 25 percent of the time. He calls me maybe once a week when I’m at work. He did send flowers to my office on Valentine’s Day, which was nice.
But something occurred to me today: I don’t want to call him anymore. I don’t want to hear his voicemail pick up. Whenever I hear the voicemail message, I feel like s&*t. And I don’t want to feel like that anymore.
And … I’d like for him to call me! That’s what husbands are supposed to do, right? Call and tell her they love her? Or that she’s on his mind?
So I’m not going to call anymore. It’s what I need to do so that I can continue to gain self-respect and self-love.
It’s also part of a much bigger process of allowing myself to make life decisions that are much more significant than whether or not to make phone calls.