Fear is oppressive; strength overcomes.
There are different kinds of progress. In MLC, progress is meant to refer to movement through the MLC journey--the tunnel. But when LBSs look for progress, they are seeking not signs of forward motion, but signs of mental, emotional and relational improvement.
The MLCer has no wings, and thus must take the footpaths. In the fog, the tunnel's end is not visible, but often the LBS can see with clarity to the end--the path of a bird. It seems close, attainable. But the hills and valleys are not seen in the bird's path; these must be traversed. The obstacles such as rivers and deserts that must be avoided via detours are also not seen from the bird's eye. The foot path winds and switches, dips and rises and twists. Thus the goal is in sight, a straight line between two points--a short distance, but the path is not straight. Sometimes on the other side of the mountain is another mountain.
Each step brings the Traveler closer to the destination, but one step may not be easier than what was ahead or behind. The Traveler needs to rest at places of comfort along the way; these are often places of transitioning ecosystems or geography, thus before a steep climb, the Traveler re-energizes.
MLC gets worse before it gets better; you cannot prevent that. This is part of progress through the tunnel. In the beginning the light at the tunnel's entrance offers some clarity. As he goes farther it becomes darker and darker, but since they are not yet completely without light, they cycle. As he proceeds farther into the tunnel, the light at the beginning is no longer visible and the light at the end is not yet visible. Things get worse. The alienator relationship pulls him down. In the beginning he hated and loved you at the same time, often changing his mind every few minutes/days/weeks. Now, in the darkness, he seems even more certain he hates you, more consistent. He is gone without Hope of returning. He doesn't want to return. In this place of Perpetual Darkness he knows he made the right decision.
The Dark period can be very long. As he approaches the end of the tunnel he will see the light. He may cycle again--hating and loving you. The rollercoaster is wildest at the beginning and end when they are making decisions. When he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, the damage also becomes visible. It may be so great that he runs again. Or he sees the Love and Hope in his spouse and becomes afraid.
So how would I take steps forward without giving her false hope? I do not want to hurt her but I am still so unsure. I did call my kids last night and asked to speak to my wife.
She seemed really happy to hear from me, maybe too happy and it scared me. I don't want to get sucked back in again.
They see our hope and feel burdened and pressured and they are not yet ready and not certain that it will work. They feel it is better to not risk it; it is only much later that they either learn or admit their error and have the courage to rebuild.
MLC is about fear. The Traveling Midlifer is bound and blindfolded within his own fears.