Dear Ezzo Mom,
Hi. I’m the wife of one of your little boys. I thought you might want to hear how all your hard work and commitment to training up your child turned out and what it was all for. Essentially, much of your sacrificing was for me, because now your little boy is my husband, the head of my household. He’s the rock to which I tether myself in storms. And he’s the father of my own little boys.
So many nights ago, all those years in the past, you sacrificed your heart. You laid in bed night after night, as he cried out to you. His screams piercing the air, and your heart. You laid there hoping and praying he would finally just stop and learn to sleep. It was even physically painful for you at times. Sometimes you cried. Sometimes you got up and went to his door, but you didn’t give in. You stood there, outside the door, silencing your own cries as you listened to his raspy tiny little voice, the volume and strength of the cries lessening and lessening. He had a lesson he needed to learn for his future, and you made it happen.
Even after he learned to sleep there were times you wanted to throw in the towel. Sometimes managing him by keeping to schedules seemed impossible. Waking him when he was sleeping soundly, or putting him down wide-awake so that he would learn to sleep on a schedule. Feeding him when he didn’t seem he wanted fed, and making him wait to eat when he acted like he was starving. He had a lesson he needed to learn for his future, and you made it happen.
And there was the invisible, yet vital barrier you erected around you and your husband. You and he on one side, inside the friendship circle, and your little boy, my husband, on the outside. Never allowing yourself to cross the “friendship” line, no matter how tempting, never making my husband your “buddy,” but making sure he observed you and your husband having this friendship, ensured he knew the proper structure of authority in your home, and felt secure. He had a lesson he needed to learn for his future, and you made it happen.
You taught him to say, “Please,” and “Thank-You,” and to be submissive to his parents in all things. You even taught him to quietly, and appreciatively, to accept his punishments.
Now he is grown. Your labors have ceased. The fruits of the lessons he learned are no longer in the future, but are happening now, and you made it all happen.
What did he take into the future, into “now,” back when he was crying in his crib at night, all alone, calling out sometimes just to be held, to the primary woman in his world?
As his wife, I can say he learned the drives for closeness aren’t worth crying out about, because they change nothing. Now it is I who lay in bed at night, my body aching, as he lay silently next to me, crying out for me only on the inside, never the outside.
And did he learn to sleep? This vital skill for life? As I listen to him day after day, complaining about having headaches, not being able to remember things, and feeling so tired because, he says, he can’t sleep, I would say no. Life, after all, doesn’t operate on a neat schedule. His body was taught sleep was according to a clock, and had nothing to do with being tired or being ready to waken. So now that his life can’t allow him a perfectly silent room to sleep in from 8:00pm to 8:00am, his body seems to have no idea what to do.
And, worst of all for me, after living the first 18 years of his life on the outside of the invisible barrier of friendship between his mom and dad, he now seems not to know how to breach it, to be part of the friendship circle on the inside. He seems to always participate in our life together an observer, apart from me somehow, never fully connected.
He still says, “Please,” and “Thank-You,” sure. He’s quite polite, and never complains. But this is a marriage. Sometimes he has to feel quite irritated with me, yet, through it all he has remained submissive to the parents in his home, basically me, his wife. Never crossing me, because he learned “back-talk” is not acceptable, and that crying out or complaining when he feels the need doesn’t change the world, anyway. So he holds everything in, seeks solace in being alone, and falling asleep. He self-soothes, but is never comforted.
The lessons he learned as a helpless baby, when his cries never changed his world, never got him the closeness he needed have stuck. The lessons he learned where sleep and food were things that happened according to his body’s natural needs, but according to a clock, have stuck. By disregarding his natural needs to be fed, not fed, woken, laid down to sleep, and held when he signaled the need for it, you taught him those desires are not legitimate, and you failed to teach him the proper way to fulfill those needs, teaching him only to ignore them.
Today, he not only has no idea how to meet his own needs now, he has no idea what they even are. And all he knows is that he’s perfectly unhappy. Can’t sleep. Can’t connect with his wife or kids. Suffers headaches because he can’t sleep, or forgets to eat, because his stomach signaling "hunger" means nothing to him.
He learned all too well, that he is powerless and for his discomfort to go away he must submit, go to sleep, and wait for it all to be better. The relief of the drive for those things would be met by the woman in his life who would fulfil those needs according to her own timetable.
So, thanks, Ezzo Mom, for making sure my husband could never learn what his needs are, and how to fulfill them. Thanks for teaching him to submit to me, to never speak up for himself. And most of all, thank-you for teaching him he is powerless. It was always my dream to marry a quitter, because we all tend to love others the same way we love ourselves. And so not only has he no clue what to do about his own desires, he has no idea what to do with mine.
Your Son’s Unhappy Wife