There are times when I hear or see him reading his Bible, that I feel disgusted or really angry. There are times that I let myself get so hurt and so angry that I lash out or engage in futile communications, or even reactive abuse. When that’s happened, I’ve typically engaged in harsh self-criticism and scathing self-condemnation afterward. Nowadays, I instead try to comfort myself by free falling into humility, prayer, and just breathing.
On Friday night, he asked me to forgive him and to pray for him, and I couldn’t help softening. Well, I guess I could choose not to… but while I don’t really believe him, I always want to. I want to believe that about any person probably, because I know that my growth often looks like a series of falls, stumbles, face splats, and missteps.
I want to have a wise heart, but not a hard one.
Friday night, he apologized at bedtime. Saturday seemed to go well, there were no disputes or disagreements. So as far as I knew, when he came out late Saturday evening as I was sitting at my computer and asked me if I was coming to bed, everything was okay. I said I was going to shut down my computer, and a couple minutes later I was back in the bedroom. In fact, when he got out of the bathroom, I went in to brush my teeth right after he was finished brushing his. By the time I was finished brushing my teeth, and washing my face, he was in bed reading his Bible.
To further explain this story, there is some backdrop. My husband has blamed me for his not getting to bed early enough many times. On the nights that I’m in bed first, and he’s the one up late, it’s somehow different. (yes double standards… wud-evah) There were nights that I was in bed first, and reading my Bible. Many of those nights were the Silent Nights, and I’m not referring to my favorite carol. I asked him about it one night. “If you’re not upset with me, why don’t you speak to me when you come to bed? Not even goodnight?”
“Because you were reading your Bible!”
“I don’t understand. Why would that mean you wouldn’t speak to me?”
He replied, “I didn’t want to disturb you when you were doing something important. I was trying to be respectful.”
(I didn’t entirely believe him.) Back to Saturday night when I was crawling into bed as he was reading his Bible. I quietly picked up my Bible, read for a few minutes, then turned out the lamp on my side. He kept reading, so I laid there quietly … you know… because he was doing something important and I should be respectful.
When he finally turned out his lamp, he rolled over away and silently in the dark. I confess that it felt like a fresh stab in a scarred over wound, a wound that I peeled back the bandaging just a little bit on when he was asking me to forgive him and pray for him. I usually don’t even ask myself anymore what he could be upset about, but I spent a couple minutes wondering what offense I’d committed. I was tired, and I also knew that if I asked him, he’d not only probably accuse me of terrible timing, but that I wouldn’t sleep well.
The thing is that I didn’t sleep well anyway. I tossed and turned, and woke up early out of a nightmare on Sunday morning. Half in tears, full in anger, and all I could see in my fog of sleep tired emotion was him reading his Bible the night before. Half asleep, I woke him up by asking, “I waited until morning, but could you tell me now what offense I committed that deserved the silent treatment? And what book were you reading? The book of hatred? The book of hypocrisy? Because your behavior towards me doesn’t reflect the Bible I read!”
Then I cried. And he yelled. He yelled a lot. The yells and anger and accusation that I realized he was waiting to unload. I just hadn’t bitten the hook until then. Old lesson relearned at the dawn’s early light. One of the first things he said was about my knowing he was tired, but still coming to bed late. As soon as he even mentioned that, it was so clear to me that the night before was indeed the typical punishing withdrawal of the passive aggressive man. Withdraw. Withhold. Those are the dual weapons wielded by the resentful passive aggressive.
I finally remembered to take deep breaths, detach, accept, forgive myself for being a person I didn’t recognize at times, and have faith that one day I could live with less pain, and more peace. I prayed to find the healing and courage to create and take that path.
Oh… and he’s apologized again.