Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | December 8, 2009

Welcome to Stockholm, Population: Us

[Our story so far: the narrator, who claims it never rains in Seattle and therefore is obviously living in denial as well as living in Seattle — and living in a loveless, affectionless, sexless marriage, as well — is finally coming to terms with the notion of divorcing his wife of ten years, herein known as “Penny.” Alas, there are the three young children to consider, as well as the fact that the family is financially teetering on the edge of the abyss….]

Leah posted a comment to my entry regarding “The Letter” that summed up the very thing that’s been vexing me ever since I re-read that letter after all these many years:

Yeah…WOW. And that was 2001? And you’re still doing this? Wow.

The thing is, this hasn’t been going on since 2001. It’s been going on (in one sense or another) ever since Penny and I got back together after our break-up in, oh, 1996 or so. It’s just that, in 2001, I finally wrote it down in a letter saying, This can’t continue. Which, of course, it did. (Yes, I do plan on resuming here the story of what happened after she dropped a certain bombshell following that letter.)

And when I described one of what I consider to be the defining traits of Penny’s parents’ marriage, Ms Behavior posed another excellent question:

Why did her father stay married to her mother?

This question was especially poignant, given that even before we married, I had told Penny that I never wanted our marriage to end up like her parents’. And yet… it’s been patently obvious that we’ve been heading down that road all along.

Tonight, I happened to stumble upon a blog entry by another “I got out of a significantly long-term relationship and all I got is this lousy t-shirt with my heart stapled upon its sleeve” fellow blogger. “Le bonheur” nails it dead center. She refers to this brand of Stockholm Syndrome by a phrase she saw in the movie Rushmore: living “in the shit.” Her excellent post can be found here: http://nineandlight.blogspot.com/2009/09/stockholm-syndrome_19.html.

The long and the short of my own situation is this: the milestones of our relationship that I’ve described here so far notwithstanding — how’s that for a mouthful? — Penny is not a bad person. I’d like to think I’m not a bad person. And we are compatible in many ways. But we both managed to catch ourselves in these Chinese finger cuffs made out of Stockholm Syndrome, guilt, and diminished self-esteem, and couldn’t see our way out because we were, as le bonheur puts it, in the shit.

How did I allow myself to stay trapped within a sexless, loveless, affectionless marriage for ten years?

One day at a time.

How did I even get into this marriage after the signs were already pointing to “Danger” in the years leading up to it? Well, that’s a topic for another post (coming soon!), but le bonheur’s link above certainly sets the stage.

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Responses

  1. Isn’t that the BEST post on Le Bonheur’s blog? I have read it so many times and I completely get what she’s saying about being “in the shit”.
    I so feel for you, itneverrainsinseattle. Sometimes I feel like you’re me, but back with my ex and fifteen years on. As much as I miss him and have at times wanted him back, it makes me grateful that things didn’t work out for us. I know you have some tough times ahead. I know YOU know this. But I think you’re going about things in such a thoughtful, conscious way. So many people break a marriage like a bull in a china shop. You are treading gently, making sure, talking to us, talking to Penny even. You should be proud of yourself!

  2. I’m really glad I found your blog and you found mine. I cant believe how many people have related to my post about Stockholm Syndrome. Its comforting to know I’m not alone on this. For me, I just hope that I never again find myself in that situation. And thats something I keep thinking about, once I get through this I cant see myself ever allowing what happened to me to happen again. I find a lot of comfort that when I feel down. I wonder if you see it that way too, that one day you’ll be ready to love again and when you do, your eyes will be wide open to any red flags and never again allow yourself to be in a relationship that isn’t right for you. I also think you’re really brave to tell your story now. Good luck, I’ll be reading!

    • Yes, le Bonheur, yes yes yes. I can’t re-write the last fifteen years, but I can write the rest of my years with a little better sense of what new roads to try. This road is beat; I’ll be watching the signposts to make sure I avoid taking it again.

      Keep writing, my friend. I love your voice.


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