What I didn’t know at the time, was how much Lizze was suffering. It wasn’t always visible on the outside, but I later learned that looks can be deceiving, as cliché as that sounds.
Fast forward a bit, and as Lizze slowly recovered, she decided to take her life back. She found and took on a very intensive, outpatient therapy called DBT. This is extremely intense, and helps people dealing with things like bipolar disorder, which she was diagnosed with, shortly after we separated. DBT helps one to live in the moment, and communicate more effectively with the world around them.
That’s way oversimplified, but that’s how I think of it.
After about six months in this therapy, Lizze and I began to reconnect, eventually resulting in reconciliation. While it may have seemed sudden, and out of nowhere to some people, there was a great deal going on privately, behind the scenes before this happened.
What I learned from our separation, was that I completely took Lizze for granted. I assumed she would always be there, and that was a very big misstep on my part.
Lizze and I both learned how much we had neglected ourselves, and our marriage. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we gave everything we had to the boys for so long, and had nothing left to give ourselves, or each other. This became the norm, and we didn’t see the toll it was taking, especially on Lizze.
There was never a point where we didn’t love each other, we just got so caught up in raising three kids with very challenging needs, that we spent ourselves into an emotional hole. By the time we realized this, Lizze had already paid a heavy price, bankrupting herself both physically and emotionally.
It’s a very painful lesson, but one we’ve learned from. I like to speak on this subject from time to time because my hope is that you can learn from our well intentioned mistakes.
That’s basically the readers digest version of the how’s and why’s. Now on to where we are today.
Let’s fast forward a full year, and talk about where we are now.
Simply put, Lizze and I are great. Life isn’t easy, but we are much closer now. It’s not like we weren’t close before, it’s that we’re more aware of each other. Part of this new found awareness is in regards to knowing our limits, and maintaining priorities.
This time around, we’ve re-prioritized our lives. We have learned to care for ourselves as individuals first and foremost. After that, we care for our marriage, and then the kids. It seems to sorta go against the grain, but it makes sense.
We can’t have a strong marriage, if we don’t take care of ourselves, as individuals first. Likewise, we can’t be the strongest, most effective parents possible, if our marriage is in shambles, and we are falling apart individually.
This new approach to life ensures that at the end of the day, our boys get the very best of us. Is the best of us always enough? Hell no it isn’t, and that’s okay. Raising three kids with Autism means that even on our very best day, when we’re both at 100%, it’s still not enough to meet the demands. All we can do is our best.