A moment of silence

“Sometimes I feel like I’m on this journey, like I’m moving forward at a million miles an hour, and Doug is just along for the ride.”

This is how I began my therapy session this afternoon.  Actually, a few days ago I had asked Doug whether he felt “along for the ride,” after I’d spent the better part of the evening on my computer, sharing my feelings with my virtual friends, while he sat across the room playing games on his own computer.  Sometimes I’m left with the impression that he’s just a character in my story – instead of feeling, as I should, like it’s his story too.

“I wish he was on a journey of his own,” I confessed.  “Even if he was taking a completely separate path than I am, we have a common goal, and we could connect with each other as we worked toward it independently.  As it is, I feel like I’m just dragging him along.”

And it’s not just in regards to healing – that may really be only my deal at this point.  But financially, I am ahead of him.  Responsibility-wise, I am ahead of him.  Chronologically, I am ahead of him.  Motivationally, I am ahead of him.

I was fortunate enough to know what I wanted to do with my life from the time I was eight years old: I wanted to write.  Sure, I got side-tracked for a few years in junior high, when I decided I was going to be an actress, and the what-and-how details of this “writing” change frequently, but for the most part, my niche in the world has been clear to me for two decades now.  Doug has not been so lucky.  I don’t think he’s ever found something that made him say, “This is it, forever,” besides – if I may flatter myself for a second – his relationship with me.

Instead, he scatters his passion and sees where it lands: in the past three years, he’s wanted to be a marketing designer, a chef, a store manager, and a history teacher.  The problem is that these convictions fizzle after a while, either because he loses interest or because he sees how much work is involved in getting there.  And then he ends up back at square one: working in the grocery store, barely making ends meet, complacent, and unconcerned about his future.

His current love is his bicycle.  When asked the question, “What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?”, he’ll tell you he’d be a bike mechanic.  And I believe that his passion for cycling is real, deep, and lasting – as is his passion for all sports.  And I’m aware that this is a healthy obsession to have, a great hobby, providing fresh air and exercise for absolutely free.

But just once, I’d like to see him put as much effort and concentration into, say, how to pay off his truck more quickly, as he has put, in the last week alone, into searching for the perfect bike jersey online.

There, I said it.

I’m bitter, and I’m frustrated.  And, as my therapist gently pointed out today, bitterness and frustration will eventually breed resentment.  But since I cannot force Doug to think like me – because I think so quickly and in such a forward-moving spiral, a pattern which has inherent problems of its own – perhaps, she suggested, I should try to think like Doug.

She asked whether I was jealous of Doug’s way of doing things, jealous that he can work four days a week and not stress over picking up the fifth.  Instead, he’ll spend that extra day off riding his bike, or running errands, or cleaning the house, and then treating himself with Coke and Doritos.

I, on the other hand, struggle with the art of doing nothing.  If I’m not at work, I feel like I should be working; if I’m seated, I feel like I should be moving.  If I spend an entire day in my apartment, I consider that day wasted, and am left with an anxious, yucky, almost unclean feeling that prevents me from falling asleep.  (I spent much of my year in Wales in this state.)  I do enjoy taking breaks, and unwinding at the end of the day, but I have to feel like I’ve earned the stillness.

As I was explaining all this to my therapist – telling her about the summer after sixth grade, when I told my mom to take me with her on every errand; telling her about Wales, with its rain and its tiny villages and its boredom; telling her how I could never take an extra day off from work to just sit and do nothing, because I’d be too concerned about whether I was using that day for its full value (which, if I was at work, would amount to about $80 after taxes) – we could feel the energy in the room rising.  The more I said, the less I breathed, and I watched as my thoughts spiraled out of control in the usual manner – the one that propels me forward with projects like this one, and makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with Doug that he doesn’t see how frickin’ important, how crucial every little thing really is.

When we reached the end of the hour, my therapist asked me to check in with myself, to see how it felt to have articulated all that.  I closed my eyes and started to laugh.

“All I can think of is that we spent the whole hour talking again, instead of doing, and so I feel like we wasted the time.”

“That’s perfect,” she said, laughing also.

“Not that I don’t see the value in talking.  It’s just that…  I feel like I understand myself pretty well.  And I talk about myself all the time.  So here, when we’re having a conversation, sometimes you’ll say something or ask something, and I’ll get some new insight, and that’s helpful and all, but…  I can talk to anyone.  By not doing [bioenergetics], I feel like there’s some secret you’re keeping from me.  Like you know a better/faster way to do this, and here we are just having a conversation again.”

“What is ‘this,’ exactly?”

“Getting the fuck over it all: my divorce, my miscarriage.  Working through them, moving past them, getting to a place where I can stop worrying about what my life could have been and just enjoy it for what it is.  A place where I can say, ‘This is the life I got, and it’s just fine.'”

And then, like a curtain, silence and calm landed on us.  The nervous energy my words had been carrying for the past hour melted away.

“Did you feel that?” my therapist asked.


“Does it feel familiar?”

“Kind of.”

“I think – actually, I’m asking you – is this what it feels like for you to be fully present in the moment?”

I thought for a second.  “Yes.  I’m not sure I would have come up with that, but when you said it, it sounded right.”

“I almost don’t want to keep talking, because I don’t want to lose it.”

“Me neither…  Because if we start talking about it, I know what my brain will do.”  I was speaking slowly and quietly, as though to prevent myself from hearing.

“What’s that?”

“It’ll start coming up with all the reasons why it’s not okay to just sit here in the moment – all the reasons I can’t, or shouldn’t.  And then we’ll just be back to where we were before.”

“Let’s not talk about it then.  That’s good awareness, though, knowing exactly what your brain will do if you start talking.”


We sat for a minute in that heavy silence.  I could hear the world’s heartbeat pulsing in the air around us.

Then I got up, waved goodbye, and walked out to my car, where Doug was sitting in the driver’s seat, drinking an orange soda and reading a book.

“You were longer than an hour in there,” he said.

This entry was posted in future, love, negative thinking, present, therapy. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A moment of silence

  1. runnyyolk says:

    This post gave me goosebumps.

    “Did you feel that?”

    I did.

    • Marie says:

      Thank you 🙂

      The part I left out was when she asked if I was familiar with the feeling, she also asked in what circumstances. And I said I can sense it when I’m writing, and am not sure what the end of my story/post/poem is, and then all of a sudden some line will just ring out and tell me where to stop.

      So it kind of happened again here. Twice in one day is like a miracle for me.

  2. mommyodyssey says:

    Wow – I so relate to everything here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this almost exact conversation with my therapist in regards to my hubby. There were so many times that I floated closer to resentment with his indecision, I can’t even count. There were even a few times that it led to an all-out fight.
    The thing I’m starting to realize is that I NEED his indecision in my life. He is always calm and cool, and takes his time before doing anything. I jump into things (too) quickly, and I’m sure that’s part of what caused the mess I’m in now. Embrace Doug’s indecision for now – let it be your way to balance, and maybe find some more peace and quiet. Just make sure it’s not his way of shirking responsibility for your life together.
    With Shmerson there was a point where he kind of “checked out” of our life. I identified that and pointed it out to him.. He’s still all over the place when it comes to his career – but in building our life together he’s an active partner. It’s all about the balance.

  3. slcurwin says:

    I used to be like that. I always had to be doing something and I didn’t like wasting time. I have no recollection of when things changed, but one day it just stopped mattering. I like to joke that my hubby broken me, but I think his lack of caring wore off on me. It all came down to “will this make a difference in the end?” and most of the time it’s “no, it wont”. So I figure I’d better just relax more and learn to enjoy things.

  4. Kir says:

    here from the blog roundup..and wow..reading you for the first time takes a little getting used to. in a good way.

    I see both sides of this, I like to be “doing” myself, or have a plan, but I am also very content to just “talk ” than do. When i first went to college and wanted to major in Psychologist my mom bought me a little sign that said “Psychology majors would rather talk about it than do it” and I saw a lot of myself in that sign. I have kept it for over 20 yrs because I know it’s “me”.

    I do…”do” and I feel like morning shouldn’t be wasted and we had a delay today with daycare because of the snow, I cleaned a closet…feeling like I “should” but I have also taken a day off to just get through my DVR’d stuff, to just sit and read or have lunch with a friend..or sleep…all day long.

    I find a middle ground with it, my life isn’t what I thought it would be, how I got to 41 and still don’t know what I should be doing I’ll never know…but in the places that matter most I am ok with it. All of it. My journey.

    thanks for sharing and letting me read you, it was insightful. If it’s ok I’d like to hang around, you’re talented and honest and I can tell a “WONDERFUL SOUL”

    • Marie says:

      Thank you. Please do hang around a while.

      Good for you for cleaning that closet – housekeeping stuff never makes it way onto my “do” list, only the “to-do” list, which seems to fall by the wayside.

      And I agree. Those days spent in bed, or with a book, or a friend, are priceless.

  5. Maria says:

    Here from blog roundup….I can absolutely relate, and I was absolutely jealous of my husband’s “careless” ways; I constantly felt like I was dragging him along and was jealous that he got to be carried. I wanna be carried! (that is definitely said in a whiney voice). So awesome that you 1) are aware of those feelings and 2) were able to sit in the stillness and not judge anything….you, him, the situation. Awesome.

  6. MrsH says:

    Excellent post, beautiful writing, and I must say your therapist knows how to capture the moment and make you feel the answers instead of thinking through them.

  7. Cattiz J says:

    I’m here from blog-round-up. Nice post. I’m in the other end, and not sure yet what to do carrier wise and starting to get very restless. Thought I would have a few kids by now so.. Anyways, like your style of writing.

    • Marie says:

      I get that. There was a time when I thought having a kid would be my out from having to figure out my career plans and path.

      Now I’m trying to make a plan/forge a path that is fulfilling on its own, but has room for an eventual kid in it.

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