Confronting the Past

My job often involves lots of driving and a short amount of actual work. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to have my wife join me on these weekday road trips. Yesterday, I tried to explain to her the soul sucking condition known as Nice Guy Syndrome.

For the most part, she understood. But the most sympathetic reaction I received was, “you think too much.” Thanks, dear.

I had addressed most of my Nice Guy issues by the time I met my wife 14+ years ago, but the ideas and the mindsets are still there. She did say that she had a hard time picturing me that way, so I guess I have made progress over the years.

Then, last night I shared with her a troubling moment I had last week. My mother left us when I was three years old. My older brother was four. She moved to another state then and died in an accident when I was twelve. Gone from my life forever.

My father did a great job raising us afterwards and I have spent my whole life telling myself, “It’s okay. You did fine without her.” But last week I heard a song that reached out and slapped me in the face. It brought home that point that I should have been hurt by what happened. So for the first time in my adult life, I let myself be hurt by this event. I let myself be angry over what she took away from me, over the fact that she didn’t want us enough to stay.

This resulted in a hard thirty minutes of driving down the highway wiping away tears, but then it was over. There is nothing more to do about it; but it felt good to allow myself to have that reaction and get it out of the way.

I shared all this with my wife last night. Her reaction? “My God, you sound just like a woman. Knock it off with the emotions crap.” I’m paraphrasing just a little, but it was a humorous response and helped us move on to other topics.

Here is my question: which is the sign of strength? Holding that in for thirty plus years, refusing to think about it, or finally letting yourself experience that hurt so you can get it out of the way.

Does this revelation change anything? Not really. It simply allowed me to address a very old issue and provided some context for the other problems I dealt with later on. But it was helpful to know how supportive my wife can be in my time of need. She’s a wonderful wife.

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