Discerning Amy

One of the basic contradictions I’ve been trying to figure out is the difference between how I saw Amy and how some of my friends saw her. As is always the case for me, though, I’m not able to fully understand something unless I have words for it. This morning, I think I finally figured it out. Hang on, because this one is definitely going to be a bumpy ride. ;)

So, I saw her differently. Given the almost 15 years we were married, that’s probably not a surprise to anyone reading this. It was a surprise to me, because I’ve always been big on discerning the truth about people. I asked Amy to marry me in no small part because I was convinced I knew who she really was (incidentally, she would probably say she accepted in no small part because she was convinced she knew who I really was). Suddenly, here were some of my closest friends telling me that they knew all along that she was more concerned about herself than about others. That didn’t match what I knew about her. Some of them gave examples of behaviors of hers that convinced them. In each case, I remembered the behavior. However, I could think of specific examples that convinced me that the behavior in question was a temporary slip rather than a universal tendency.

That left me in a very difficult place. It seemed to mean that either I had made a mistake in what I had discerned about Amy’s character, or I had a basic disagreement about her with some of my closest friends. Given the divorce, the choice might seem obvious, but it wasn’t. Admitting to myself that the friends were right required finally seeing what I had missed that had been so obvious to them. Without seeing that detail, it would feel like “letting myself off the hook” for missing something that I still couldn’t see.

So, what changed this morning? Did I finally see something I had missed early-on in the relationship? Not really. I’m still convinced that I discerned correctly given what she showed me well before the wreck. The mistake that I was making was the assumption that the “level of graciousness” is a fundamental personality constant across all people. My own level of graciousness varies according to who I’m dealing with. Given that she (like most other people) saw me as a completely different person post-wreck, I was starting from “ground zero”. That’s what I didn’t “get”. I was expecting the understanding of a long-married wife, but it was closer to a newly-met person. Imagine the difference in “level of graciousness” one would show a spouse (what I expected) versus what one would show a newly-met person. I didn’t realize that then, and so my expectations were wrong.

The other part that I didn’t understand well (and this stemmed from our lack of communication and my resulting assumptions) was the level of difference in opinion we had about some of my friends. Had we talked more about things (and if I hadn’t been so conflict-averse), I would have at least understood (that’s assuming I wasn’t able to convince her to agree with me).

7 thoughts on “Discerning Amy

  1. We all overlook things in a relationship, but there may be another element.

    Following the accident and during your recovery you were in a metaphorical sate of suspended animation.

    When you came back to relative normal, her experiences were different than yours. How she experienced all of it was completely different and she may have been lost as the majority of support was directed towards you.

    Simply put, you may have both become different people after the accident.

  2. I do not believe that you were wrong in expecting a level of graciousness shown by a spouse regardless of previous communication issues. After all, that is what a spouse does. The fact that she saw you as a totally different person post accident is testimony to her lack of maturity, compassion and commitment.

    1. *nod* I think this gets to the _fundamental_ “dichotomy” I experience in this. Part of me agrees _completely_ with what Tony said above. Goodness knows I didn’t want to hold onto her if she wanted otherwise. That situation wasn’t good for _either_ of us. I think both of us had changed too much for us to be suitable for each other. That being said, there’s _another_ part of me that finds comfort in the “’til death do you part, _no matter what_” model. I think I have a foot in each world, and I can see the sense in _both_.

  3. I am happy you are getting clarity. That being said, I always had those feelings pertaining to her. I knew from the first time I met her she was a self absorbed person, very “me first”. I am sorry things turned out the way they did.
    I am grateful though that, no matter how distant, I still can count you as a friend. Life is not kind in that I don’t get to see you on occasion, but it’s nice knowing I can still comment or something and let you know I’m still here. In the vein of honesty I started above, let me share my first opinions of you as well. I thought you to be, and still are, an intelligent, sweet, caring person. I never felt any front or mask from you, as I did from others .
    Miss ya my friend and hope to get to see you.
    Be well

    1. *nod* That relates to what I finally figured out, though. She’s certainly much more selective than I am about who she chooses to be gracious to (she has written as much before), but I’ve seen her be quite selfless before (and not only to me). So, I don’t believe (as several people have expressed) that she’s _incapable_ of putting anyone ahead of herself. I probably go too far in the _other_ direction. So by comparison, she almost _has_ to look bad.

      My point is that I’ve _finally_ found an answer that explains everything I’ve seen. I don’t expect everybody to agree. I did see the situation from a _completely unique_ viewpoint, so I’d be quite surprised if everyone _did_ agree with me.

      This “viewpoint” has created a lot of tension for me. I regret that I didn’t better understand _her_ viewpoint on those of my close friends she was less gracious to. I might have been able to give _her_ a better angle on those people. They _certainly_ have a more negative view of _her_ than I ever realized, and I might have helped make that better.

  4. Interestingly enough I had a similar experience after my first marriage ended. My first wife and I were together 17 years which, at the time of divorce, was over half of our lives. We started when we were 17 years old so we were only kids. Naturally we both changed significantly during the relationship and it seemed to me the changes sent us in different directions with different desires for life. After the divorce, suddenly everyone began sharing their thoughts which they previously kept to themselves and they were a shock. Family members said they could tell right away she was all wrong for me. Mutual friends said she was like that all along. It really forced me to do alot of introspection and wonder what I had missed all those years. I especially wondered how long I had extended grace towards her in denial of the truth that was in front of my face.

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