Dancing in Disconnect

Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash

This past weekend, Todd and I decided to take the family camping for the long weekend. Justin wanted to stay home and have friends over, and he agreed to care for our senior poodle, Coco. We chose our location and planned our meals. I prepared all the things needed to take Emily on a road trip. We spent Thursday night loading up the trailer and finalizing the details. 

I was up before the sun on Friday to prepare Emily’s food for the day and pack last-minute items. In the middle of this work, Coco vomited in the hall. As I was cleaning up the mess, she got sick again. She has always had a sensitive stomach, and while I was feeling bad for her, I also was annoyed because it was not on my list of things to get done to leave. Todd appeared soon after. I greeted him but my tone conveyed I was annoyed. He presumed I was mad at him, and things went downhill from there. I tried to explain that I was just frustrated and he had nothing to do with it, but my words were not registering. 

The cloud of annoyance and frustration followed us to the campsite. Todd remained distant and curt, and I focused solely on Emily. This dance of discontent and distance proceeded for the next twenty-four hours. On Saturday evening, I demanded we have the campfire we had planned. (I didn’t care if it was the last thing either of us wanted to do.)

After I got Emily in bed, I poured a glass of wine and went to sit by the empty fire pit. My thoughts were racing. We are not on the same page, and this is frustrating me. We may not be on the planet at this point. I think we are in different solar systems! I just want to pack up and go home. We usually connect well when we camp. We get away from the noise, work, and responsibilities. What is going on? We have to talk about this and clear the air.

Todd, seeing me alone, decided to come outside. He silently went to work to build a beautiful fire. He made sure it was perfect. I knew this was his way of meeting me in the middle. He came and sat next to me and touched my hand. It’s now or never. Let’s open up and see what happens.

“We haven’t really been communicating well this weekend,” I said.

“You’re right. We haven’t,” Todd replied.

The simple act of naming and claiming it created an opening for a conversation. We created a space for each other. As we watched the sun begin to set and the stars started to grace us with their presence, we began to speak to each other, and more importantly, we listened. I thought about the past week and getting a diagnosis for Emily. It was big news for both of us, and while I was elated and overjoyed, I never stopped to ask Todd how he felt about it. I spoke to everyone else but not to him. I asked him about his thoughts and feelings. We shared openly about it. Todd is still processing having the diagnosis and what that means. I, on the other hand, am off to learn and connect. 

As the stars enveloped us in a breathtaking display, I was humbled. I recognized my part in the disconnect and miscommunication. I understood that Todd and I did receive the same news, but how we might process it would be different. We mostly sat silently after the Emily diagnosis chat, but I felt closer to him. Todd and I were sitting together and holding hands. We shared a dazzling display of the new moon sky full of stars. The Milky Way was the backdrop to clearing the air and showing up for one another in connected silence.

Ursala Major (The Big Dipper)

Note: I am not, nor do I claim to be an expert on marriage. After 30 years, I consider myself a novice in the skills of marriage. I am grateful to my friend Amy, who is a licensed therapist. She recommends The Gottman Institute for free and valuable relationship resources.

Todd and I worked on this together

Published by bshort1968

I am a self-described caregiver. I love to help and care for others. I have learned the value of caring for myself as well. Now I want to live my life helping others learn to care for others and take care of themselves as well.

2 thoughts on “Dancing in Disconnect

  1. Oh I loved this. Bob and I have 8 years on you but the struggles are the same. I’ve noticed the marriage road isnt always traveled side by side. Sometimes there are wide gaps, then you come back together again. I’m so glad you have each other in this awesome journey of life. Every decade is better than the last for us. I hope it is for you too. Love your writings. ✍💓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a journey. Todd sent me a card with flowers for Valentine’s one year during a rough season. It said: I know it has been a rough few months, or years, or maybe even decade but you will always be my Valentine and I love you very much.


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