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Making Space

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. 

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

We have, as He indicated, both started back into therapy.  We had a relatively calm summer, without many overt symptoms related to His PTSD, and with very little of the acute craziness that I am prone to in reaction response to that (which seems to have no fancy name, so let's just keep on calling it "my craziness").  The therapist (Judy -- as He has indicated) is clearly going to focus on the harms done to Him by His abusive mother.  With me, she seems focused on helping me negotiate my own craziness with strategies and "friendly advice" about how to cope in the event.  While she is clear that I have my own abusive history, it is clear to both of us that my really nutty episodes are wrapped around His.  In general, I'm level when He is, and I am totally nuts if He is mired in a PTSD episode.  I believe that much of what Judy will try to help me figure out is how to make "space" in my life with Tom.  

I admit that I am afraid that creating separation between us will forever push us apart.  She assures me that is not the case.  She insists that a healthy space between us is necessary for us to come together fully again.  I can hear that, and somewhere in my brain, it feels true -- and I am still scared of the actual doing.  

I have, for ten years, lived and breathed inside of Tom's energy.  There came to be, over time, very little of our life together that was not directly or indirectly influenced by Him.  I willingly (for the most part) shifted my physical and emotional world to conform with what He wanted, needed, directed.  A lot of that was my own wish, my volition, my desire.  I wanted to be close to Him.  I wanted His approval.  I wanted His love, and I wanted to live out the love I felt for Him.  It seemed right and good and natural and easy (usually) to move into being "His" in that intense and intimate way.  I knew, as we moved along, through the years, that I was losing my voice; losing my capacity to say "no" in even the most elemental ways.  I understood, that, while He loved me, there were places where He'd let me be desperately unhappy rather than abandon what He wanted in the moment.  I kept on believing that, wherever I would find myself struggling, with those realities, it was a failing in me -- and never about something that ought to be examined and changed between us.  

Now, it seems that if we are to ever find our way to something that is genuinely good and happy again, we are going to have to fashion a different sort of dynamic between us.  Judy believes that we will again feel deeply connected and play again with the power we share, but she is clear that we will have to do that with a new set of understandings.  I think the phrase she used with Him was "codependent psychosis."  Not sure that is a "real" diagnosis.  I think it probably isn't, but it may be an accurate description in my case.  The trick I have to learn is how to express to Him how much I love Him; have always loved Him; will always love Him -- while not getting dragged down into the muck and mire with Him.  How can I figure out a way to make a space to stand that is safe enough for me, without somehow giving Him the message that I don't love Him even as He struggles.  Because I do...  Love Him just the way He is.  

Over and over again, as I have worked with Judy, she has asked me if I would choose this life and this love even if...  Even if the sex went away and was never ever fantastic again?   Even if the spanking stopped forever?  Even if He never does feel sure and confident and secure enough again to take me in and hold me and tell me I am His?  Even if He and I never find the place where we step into the flow of our shared power and soar off together?  Even if...?  Over and over again, my answer has been "Yes."  Unequivocably.  Forever and always.  The rules seem to have changed.  Radically.  I changed them  He changed them.  Maybe they never really were rules to begin with.  I don't know.  I only know that I love this Man.



  1. Hi Sue, I share your fears about making space and whether that pushes us apart. And yet, looking at a relationship other than my own I can see it's probably a good idea. I think the danger (for me) is that it can't be an "angry space" where I resent having had to make it and want him to resent it too.

  2. Making that space is so very hard. So very much needed for you both but scary.
    As long as your answer is YES to those questions.. then go ahead and give it a try. If forever and always is how you love him, there will be some way to work this out.
    My heart goes out to you; I cannot imagine how difficult this is for you and for everyone.

  3. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I know my situation is different from yours, but creating this "space" was something I also struggled with and resisted. However, I have now come to believe that it was essential to saving my marriage. It has not diminished my love for my husband. In fact, it has made it stronger because it has helped me understand that not everything that happens with him is because of me or is my responsibility. Moreover, it's helped me feel steadier about other parts of my life. (The space was actually created not just in response to marital difficulties but also a whole other set of traumas and losses.)

    This space (though my metaphor is stance rather than space) is interior. I have never felt the need to talk to my husband about it. It is just something that helps me. Again, I realize that my story and my needs are not yours. But I hope it is helpful to hear that at least one person contemplated something if not comparable at least not utterly different.

    For me, it is a sentence from D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love:

    "For she was to him what he was to her, the immemorial magnificence of mystic, palpable, real otherness."

  4. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Forgot to sign this!


  5. I got an id so I don't accidentally become the dreaded "anonymous"

  6. Nyfemmegrrl3:35 PM

    I work at making space and keeping intimacy. because both my partner and I have our issues, it's important to be able to have own perspective. Just this weekend, I found it easier to return to a loving, closer place after a stressful time after not letting his issues hit me as strongly. He was able to do the same for me at the beginning of the weekend (we had a huge family event this weekend, which while joyful, was stressful too.) Please keep sharing about this because it's a relatively new process for me too.

  7. weirdgirl7:11 PM

    this resonated so strongly with me it brought me to tears...

    your power exchange dynamic may be an extreme for many people, but i am sure that anyone in an intimate love relationship can see a reflection of themselves in these words, so beautifully crafted.

    my partner is in the depths of a depression and it is so hard to know how to be supportive whilst maintaining my own sanity in a stressful period of my own life. Thank you for sharing your experience and i echo Nyfemmegrrl's sentiment that it helps us 'strangers' out here with our own processes to know that we are not alone.

    Kindest regards

  8. I can relate to what you're describing. Mistress suffered from PTSD, and when we got our baby, the crisis of becoming a parent pushed those difficulties in to the land of irrationality and scariness.

    I didn't see it as much as space between us as I envisioned it as a place to stand on. That I needed to be grounded and have somewhere inside me to stand, to exist, so that I could still be around her even when the one who I had hanged my whole existence on disappeared into fear and hate and angry outbursts.

    It was really really difficult. The thing I recognise the most is that fear of losing intimacy and closeness, the fear of losing her completely if I didn't hang on to the roller coaster ride of her wildly swinging emotions. It was difficult to go from satellite to anchor, without losing my sense of being hers, of belonging to her.

    Therapy helped, for her. She got saner. And I realised that I was still hers, even if I did stand on my own two feet when needed. It changed our relationship, but it didn't make it worse. And for us, it didn't take away from the power exchange aspect, in the end.

    I wish you luck on your journey!

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