In marriage, I couldn’t figure out how to get things to feel equal between Pete and me. By the time we were divorcing, I was completely depleted from the tremendous amounts of positive reinforcement I poured into trying to motivate him to contribute—and positive thinking I tangled myself up with in trying to appreciate what little was offered.
The fact was: I was responsible (financially, practically, emotionally) for way more than I could handle—and for way more than I believed to be fair.
It occurred to me as I was strung out with rage at Pete during our divorce process that I was not actually angry at Pete. Rather, I was angry that his complete unwillingness to step up (in marriage and in divorce) was forcing me to deal with myself. I had to learn to draw a line that no one was going to help me draw—the same undrawn line that had sunk the ship of my marriage.
There I was: bobbing around in the open sea, ship-less, pissed to high heaven that the same impossible line would have to be drawn now. I was so entirely invested in my idea of myself as a generous person with no limits, a can-do well of energy with no bottom (and thus worthy of love), that to actually set a limit seemed to be soul-shattering. And, thankfully, it was.
Through our divorce process, I let go of the Sage who believed she had to be a contortionist to be in a relationship, who had to making 99% of the contributions to the family to have value. When I got done despising Pete for forcing me to take a stand for myself, I was grateful. As it turned out, drawing that line had little to do with Pete, though he was its protagonist.
Strangely, blessedly, it was the line I finally learned to draw that completed me and released me.