Some say that when a crisis arises, you find out who people really are. I'm not really sure if I agree with that as a blanket statement. But what I do know is that things I already knew about myself came surging to the surface.
I am a helper. A fixer. A solver. A protector.
After my husband was taken hostage (is it weird that after a year and a half, I still have trouble saying that?), I immediately wanted to take on all those roles. I wanted to protect him from the news reporters showing up on our front doorstep. I wanted to protect him from the vile and ignorant things people were saying. I wanted to protect him from any more pain. So naive, right?
I wanted to help, fix, and solve anything and everything that came our way.
But here came the really hard pill to swallow...I couldn't do any of those things. Not on my own, anyways. And not in the way I felt I knew how.
A couple days after being home, John recognized that if he didn't start talking to people and taking some steps towards starting some sort of healing journey, things could take a dark turn. What an amazing observation for someone to have so quickly after a traumatic experience; I was so thankful that he recognized that.
There were so many things that happened that day that he didn't know about and so many things that he couldn't remember. He wanted to talk. He wanted to debrief. But he didn't really want to do that with me. Like many first responders, he didn't want to expose me to more than absolutely necessary. And that's where it got tricky.
I wanted desperately to know everything in those moments. For 4 hours, I sat at my dining room table with worst case scenarios from every action movie I had ever seen playing out in my head. Every hostage scene just reeled over and over again in the back of my mind.
I wanted to know everything so that I could be prepared to help, to fix, to solve, and to protect.
But he didn't really want to talk to me...not in the beginning, anyways. He wanted to talk to his people from the inside. The people who would be able to know exactly what and who he was talking about without having to go into every detail. I remember being in the kitchen one day and he started telling me about a conversation he had with a coworker about how he was feeling. Some of the feelings he was talking about were new to me. And I felt such anger inside. Why was this co-worker being let in on his emotions and thoughts before I was?! It was because they could understand them in a way I would never be able to.
There was that nasty pill I had to swallow again. Being able to look back on those moments, I now recognize that it was also a huge bruise to my wife ego. It couldn't be about what I wanted, it had to be about what HE needed. There is no room for ego here!
So here was my challenge, you know, after being a mom and wife and navigating my own trauma. I had to figure out how to take who I was and make it work with who John is and what he needed while also honouring what I needed.
If you have never figured out your enneagram type or your Myers-Briggs personality type, I highly recommend it for you AND your partner. Knowing those and being able to read about them has helped immensely in not only how I approach my life with John, but how I approach myself.
We are opposite in so many ways that we approach things. If something is bothering John, he wants time to process and reflect before talking about it whereas I want to talk RIGHT NOW! So now my go-to line is "I can see something is bothering you. When you are ready, I am hear to listen." But it took me a long ass time to get to being ok with that line.
To be the best partner, the best support, the best teammate we can be, we need to know who we are. We need to know who are partners really are. And it's not that these things will tell you anything new, it's that they can help you better navigate life. Also, once you know your types, there are some hilarious meme accounts on Instagram.
It can be hard work. And it can lead to uncomfortable realizations. But I promise that digging a little deeper and finding out what makes you and your partner tick can be one of the best things you can do for one another!
Take care of each other,