The story of what broke us over and over again

The story of what broke us over and over again

“If you don’t understand that I need to be sensitive… if you don’t get that this is TOO hard for me, then you’re… an asshole.”

Silence. Heavy, sticky silence.


And then, shame.

Thankfully, the night took over and covered us with the sweet absolution of sleep and soon enough it was morning and my words were forgotten. Yet, they hurt. They hurt him, they hurt me and they surely hurt us. You see, words matter. But what matters even more is what is underneath them. And what’s hiding under all the venom, is fear. Fear of admitting that I am not perfect. Fear of feeling what I was feeling. Fear of being judged and rejected. Fear of loneliness and isolation. But most of all, fear of sitting (alone and with him) in my naked vulnerability.

I felt exposed and I had no way of hiding it.

I chose to go on the offence, because frankly that’s my default way of dealing with this sort of challenge. I attack in order to defend. Yet, I am old enough to know now this whole facade is not fooling anyone, much less the man who knows and breathes me daily.

What do you do when you’re in a situation which is repeated over and over and over again? It is painstakingly difficult and confusing for both of you and for a long time you have not been able to see a solution.

What do you do, when you thought you had dealt with it, yet it appears again with the same intensity?

Over the weekend, we visited my husband’s parents in Poland for a big family gathering. His family don’t speak English, I don’t speak Polish. Inevitably, this creates a communication issue. But it is more than that. We have been together for a long time and each time I am in a similar situation, surrounded a big group, I feel I have no voice. I have to communicate through him. I cannot express myself, all my responses are filtered and honestly, I feel like a complete idiot. Yes, it’s boring usually, but mostly it’s frustrating. Frustrating because it’s no one’s fault. I know that I cannot expect his family to be able to communicate in a new language and even if they did, a big group of people who know each other will inevitably revert to the mode of communication which flows most freely, despite their best intentions.

The truth is, I feel traumatised. I have had several experiences when meeting with groups of his friends when I’ve felt I was not welcomed in the group. I felt language was used as a way of excluding me; or the less paranoid version of that is that people just didn’t bother to make an effort to include the foreigner. This, early on in our relationship, cost me and us immensely. Navigating through the mud of misunderstandings, unexpressed emotions and blinding fear was extremely challenging for us as a new couple. And I nearly bolted, on numerous occasions. In fact, if it wasn’t for his perseverance and commitment to making us work, I don’t think we would have made it. There were times when I was flooded by endless, incomprehensible chatter, and I run to the bathroom struggling to hold the tears down, wondering why the hell I was putting myself through this. I hated it.

As the years passed, we found a way to deal with it. Partly through avoidance and tiptoeing around it and partly through redefining what things should look like and growing closer to each other. I tried letting it go, I tried approaching the people who I felt made it difficult. My man and I talked and talked and talked between us. We fought and made up. And bit by bit, we kept coming back to the same truth – what matters most is making this work between us.

I realised this weekend that it’s not over. I have imprisoned myself by choosing to be the victim.

It’s hard, yes. It’s debilitating, almost. Feeling like you’re mute, you’re misunderstood; like you don’t actually matter enough.

But it’s my interpretation and it’s unfair.

The truth is, it’s my ego that is being bruised and punched and kicked mostly. That’s why it hurts so much. My ego that wants to be reassured all the time. She wants to be the centre of attention and also be left alone. She wants to be involved, but not pressured. She wants to be shown love and admiration so she feels safe all the time. There is no space for doubt, no space for anything else. And because my ego feels she has been treated unfairly in the past and plain rude on some occasions, she is looking for someone to blame. This will either be you or me. It cannot be the wonderful family who are doing all they can to make me feel a part of them. It also can no longer be the group of friends who supposedly could be trying harder. So it falls on him – because he should do more, understand more, defend me more; and it falls on me – because I should be speaking the language by now, I should be better at handling my emotions, because what’s the big deal anyway?

In my effort to make sense of this situation, I have let my ego take over and make the shots. I have fallen in a vicious cycle of victimisation and self righteousness, which has blinded me and is robbing me of the fullness of the here and now.

Because ultimately, I have no control over what anyone else does.

I have no control over what they think of me or what they say about me.

I have no control over how they choose to act.

I don’t even have control over how he responds, how much he notices, how he feels.

But I do have control over me.

I can affect how I feel, right now and in every moment.

I can choose how deep I go in my head and which story I choose to listen to.

I can choose which situation I put myself in, when I stand up for myself and when I need to be silent (not because I can’t speak, but because it feels right to allow space there).

I can choose whether I defend, I attack or I simply lean in and let go.

I can choose whether I hold resentment and anger or whether I forgive and breathe.

For me – and for us. I can choose.

The thing is, you are never mute. Your silence, your withdrawal, the energy around you; they speak for you, whether you like it or not. And I’m tired, I want to be free. It turns out I was waiting for him to free me, when actually, it’s not his job to do this. He can hold my hand, but he needs to fight his own battle and I need to fight mine. He can’t free me, however much he wants to, however hard he tries to (and believe me, he has tried). You can imagine the strain on our bond when I expect him to do the impossible, yet neither of us realise it cannot be done. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, says Albert Einstein.

No, this is not working.

It’s my battle and it’s with myself.

And it contains a whole lot of forgiveness, kindness, patience and compassion towards me, him and others; a pinch of humour and a lot of slow, grounding breathing (and eventually some language lessons).


26 Responses to The story of what broke us over and over again

  1. Sarah says:

    Dear Ariadne
    Your bravery to lay your would bare to help those who listen and admire you is extraordinary.
    The fact you understand this depth of yourself is extraordinary.
    Most people never understand this and if they do cannot bit shift it and continue the pattern… I speak from experience here.
    You are wonderful remember that!
    Thank you for sharing.

    Sarah xx

    • Ariadne says:

      Hey beautiful, oh thank you so much for your words. This is a very big thing for me to share, so I’m really grateful for your feedback. You are wonderful as always. xx

  2. Katie says:

    Beautiful x You do have control over you. And you’re an incredible lady. I thank you for sharing what is so real, raw and vulnerable for you – writing from your soul – I adore it. And I deeply value and appreciate you, with love xx

  3. Phil v says:

    I know exactly how you feel. My wife is polish and I’m English and I’ve been too lazy to learn polish so when we are around friends and family in Poland I feel silenced. I am alway reliant on my wife to translate and yest I have been to many places where no mutual language is spoken and found a way though. I think the biggest feeling is the lonliness you feel when you cannot be part of a conversation and situation.
    My solution is simple. You have two options. Learn the language and be part of the conversation or don’t and lean that this is a limit in you and not someone else, and the pressure is only put on yourself by your self.

    Hope to catch up with you both when we visit home around Christmas.


    • Ariadne says:

      You are so right Phil. It really is as simple as realising that you have to choose between changing something (in this case commit to learning the language) and accepting that you have chosen Not to change it from your side. I agree with you. I also know that it is fundamentally different being around people who simply do not have a common language to being around those who can communicate with you, but choose not to. And this is where it gets muddy with the ego. But ultimately the choice remains on us.

      Hope you both are well xx

  4. Spyros says:

    So reassuring. Thank you. Both.

  5. Tina says:

    Dear Ariadne, The mere fact that you realise all these feelings is the major pace toward resolving your internal struggle. Thank you for sharing these feelings. I am sure that it has occurred to you that it is not only you who feel this way. Those around you not being able to communicate with you feel in a similar though mirroring way. Language is not only a facet of culture, but one of its most important components. In fact, it is THE key to a culture. You would be surprised what miracle language lessons could do!

    • Ariadne says:

      Yes absolutely. Realising that others feel similarly not being able to communicate with me also contributed to the guilt which stems from knowing that I could do something to change it, but for some reason I have not done this yet. There is definitely something about navigating this gap in connection between us as a couple communicating in a third language, so I know intimately that learning each other’s language will not only make things easier, but it will enrich our bond as well.

      Lots of love xx

  6. Georgia says:

    Hi, this is so heartfeltly written. Love your honesty, truth and authenticity of acknowledging and accepting exactly where you are at. It so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing.
    G xx

    • Ariadne says:

      Thank you so much for your support lovely. It’s so heartwarming to get messages of love, when you have put out a part of you that has been hidden for a long time. Thank you x

  7. Ruth says:

    My beautiful friend, you are so generous to share this, i can so relate to that repeating thing that you keep coming back to even though you think you’ve dealt with it, each time, I think those things in relationships must point to where our ‘big learning’ is, for both people.. Like the place where each persons big lesson meets and so it’s unavoidable! Always love reading your wisdom, and I love you! Xxx

    • Ariadne says:

      oh my Ruth you are spot on. I love this: the place where our big lessons meet. Yes so true for us in this case. We keep crashing at that point – there is so much more learning and growing to be done in this space. Both apart and together. Love you so much xx

  8. Carly says:

    This was pure heart-felt magic honey. Such a great piece of writing and Indepth lessons. Thanks for sharing.
    Much love
    Carly xx

  9. Wera says:

    Great post 🙂 Efharisto!There are so many people all around the world that are struggling with similar or totally different scenarios – me included.Especially females that think some beautiful day will come their prince to save them from themselves. I’m very happy that you have found the courage to write about it publicly. It is such a vast work to be in control of our mind.I think you might like “Vipassana” meditation, although it is a hard mental work out.The centres are in most of the countries and work on donations basis.Take care, hope peace and love will be with you.

    • Ariadne says:

      Hi Wera, thank you so much for your words and your suggestion of vipassana. Meditation is my lighthouse, so definitely a tool that helps keep me sane, haha! lots of love to you x

  10. Such a beautiful post, Ariadne! And so vulnerable to share it but I think it’s so needed. We’re all trying to make relationships work, or hold them together depending on the time of year/day/situation. I think it’s so important that we’re honest about that in order to help each other work through it and come out the other side stronger.

    • Ariadne says:

      Thank you so much Katherine. Relationships need work and what I’m realising, a huge part of it is working on ourselves separately, apart from as a couple. It can be painful to acknowledge certain challenges, but detrimental if you don’t. Big love to you honey xx

  11. Alex says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this… I can definitely relate to this. The ego, telling me what ‘they’ should be doing, how ‘they’ should be making me feel. When it’s all within us. Beautiful words gorgeous. ?

  12. Laura says:

    My Dear Ariadne,

    Thank you so much for this raw and open post. For sharing the vulnerable truths of being in a intercultural relationship, for language barriers hurting us and for our egos to seek blame the punches we feel when all we need is knowing that we can choose, and we can determine how we feel and roll with the waves. I recognise myself so much in your story! I’m Dutch and my boyfriend is German, and we moved together in Hamburg in the beginning of this year. To be super honest, your story opened my eyes, it clarified my feelings, and all of a sudden made sense of abstract flinches of situations I’ve been in, in a way that is so helpful and healing. Thank you so so so so much for sharing your story beautiful woman!

    Keep on shining and have an amazing day!

    All the love,


    • Ariadne says:

      My lovely, I’m so honoured to have helped you make sense of situations and clarify how you feel. I bet that you have been in a lot of challenging situations having moved to Hamburg. I’m so happy you have talked about healing – it really feels like healing is what we need sometimes when the ego is so bruised. Big love honey xx

  13. What a beautiful piece hun. So raw and real and definitely something we can all relate to. Thank you for so bravely sharing your challenges and reflections with us – we can all learn from them, that’s for sure. Much love. X

    • Ariadne says:

      thank you so much che – it’s so comforting to know that others feel similarly and that sharing this help shift things inside us somehow. kisses xx

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