Every light in the house is on

We did marriage counseling for a painful and pointless six-week stint and I thought it would help.

I thought, “Aha, now that we are really talking about things with someone else, I won’t get confused, I’ll won’t get sidetracked, I’ll have help saying what I need to say, and he will get it! He’ll really get it, finally, and of course if he gets it then he’ll change, of course. He just doesn’t get it.”

That’s what I thought, and I love how everlastingly optimistic I am but sometimes…

Damn, girl. It ain’t happening.


our marriage had turned into a painful experience of us bumping around in a room with a lot of sharp objects and all the lights off


counseling was a painful experience of discovering that we had very different understandings of why it had become that way and what we needed to do to fix it.

I’d been functioning on a cute little story that went something like this: If I keep trying, if I’m really careful, if I get rid of all my stuff and keep everything neat and organized and make sure we walk around in here slow and easy, we won’t get hurt and maybe then we can work together and find our way out.

Counseling made it pretty clear that, first of all, my story was shit. My approach wasn’t going to solve anything, undo anything, explain anything.

Counseling also made it clear that his story was very, very different than mine.

I didn’t like it. I didn’t like how he was thinking, I didn’t like how I was thinking, and most of all I didn’t like that our stories were so wildly different.

I didn’t like sitting on a couch next to him, listening to him tell the same story over and over again. I didn’t like that his story didn’t change, no matter how many times I said, “No, that’s not what I was doing. No, that’s not what I said. No, that’s not what I want. No, that’s not how it is for me. No, that’s not how I feel, not at all.”

The more I listened, the more I talked, the more I realized that his story wasn’t going to change and mine already had.

You know when you wake up at night and there’s a weird shape in your room, or in the hallway, and for a second your breath catches in your throat and you have a horrible idea of some creep lurking, some monster waiting? And then you make yourself be an adult and turn on the light and you see it’s your coat thrown over the chair and you have a little chuckle because how silly you thought that was a monster! It was just your coat.

This was like that, but the opposite.

I was so positive that if we could get the lights on, see what we were dealing with, we’d find that all those sharp pointy dangerous things causing so much pain were nothing harmful, not really. We’d have a little chuckle and sort out the misunderstandings and be on our way.

Well, that’s not entirely true. By that point, I wasn’t positive of anything at all. The lights were already coming on and the shape was forming and I was seeing that it wasn’t a harmless nothing. But I was still not good at believing myself and I needed someone else to look in that room with me, help me keep the lights on, help me see the truths no matter how much they scared me.

And that’s what happened, so I guess it wasn’t pointless after all.