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Sooo… I’ve gone back to receiving professional counseling, surprise, surprise.  I know some of you are thanking God, because I really needed to a long time ago, and truth be told I’m glad to get back to working on the contents of my dark, little closet again.

First though, let me update you on the good things going on in my life – because even as screwed up as I am inside there is still a lot of sunshine these days:

I should graduate from beauty school next month and be able to take the state boards to become a licensed Nail Technician, yay!  I am soooooo looking forward to that so I can quit my day job at the call center and start working in a salon.  I feel like I have a pretty decent customer base already who will follow me wherever I go so I’m pretty confident about my ability to make a good living in my new career.

After admitting to my husband that I view all of his (very rarely expressed) physical affection as having sexual strings attached and therefore don’t want any affection whatsoever anymore because I don’t feel like he is affectionate because he loves me but because he loves sex – he voluntarily offered to be affectionate ONLY for the entire month of March.  I did not even think of asking him to do this, it was entirely his own idea and I have to say it impressed me very much.  Today is March 25th and he has honored his commitment completely AND been spontaneously romantic as well as physically affectionate with no sex attached.  Mind blown and I have to say that my respect for him has really grown throughout this month.

My youngest daughter broke up with her bad boyfriend shortly after I wrote about it, so that’s older news but very good news.  <happy dance!>

I get to go to the ocean!  The first weekend of April I am going to the coast with my two best friends for four nights and five days and we are just going to have girl time, fly kites, eat whatever we want to and just visit.  I absolutely cannot wait!

As I type this I am eating not just one but two banana popsicles.  Banana popsicles make me happy so this is the appropriate category to put this information, lol!

I’ve just finished a decent sized transcription job, had an offer of another – HUGE – transcription job and I finished my taxes and will receive a refund in spite of the many tax breaks that were lost this year!  All very good news.  😀

Okie dokie, so back to me having feelings, or rather, me NOT having feelings where I should be having feelings.  My counselor asked me about a number of hypothetical situations today such as “If you asked your daughter to clean the kitchen how would she respond?” and I said “Ooooohhhhhhkkkkkkaaaaayyyyy” with a great deal of eye rolling and much exasperation.  And my counselor said “How would that make you feel?”  and I gave a number of answers such as “Like she’s not going to do it” and other things that reflected how I thought my daughter would feel.  Again, my very patient counselor says “But how would that make YOU feel?” and darned if I didn’t know right off the top of my head.  I have trained and conditioned myself for so long not to acknowledge feelings being disrespected, being used, being smothered, being stepped on and so forth because I thought it was the “right” thing to do.  That there was obviously something wrong with me for feeling those negative things.  That it was the Good Christian thing to do.  That I was sinning if I felt those things.

I’m 40 now and I’ve built such a thick wall around feeling anything that might hurt me that it’s hard for me to “feel” anything anymore because the list of things that might hurt me has grown to encompass good things too.  Caring about you might hurt me.  Enjoying something might lead to it being taken away.  Being good at doing something is devastating when nobody else appreciates my one talent.  Loving and being loved kills me over and over again…  So I put my feelings away.  I bottled them up, put the bottle in a trunk, put the trunk in a hole in the ground, planted a tree in the hole and built a fence around the tree.  I dug a moat around the fence, filled it with piranhas and alligators and put the whole thing in the middle of an impassable desert surrounded by mountains a million miles high.  Indiana Jones has nothing on me, baby!

But there have been times, especially in the last few years, that I’d like to feel something, anything.  I’d really like to experience happy feelings but I’ll settle for pain in the meantime.  Now I know why people cut themselves “just to feel something”.  I’ve never cut myself purposefully like that but I came to realize in this last year that I do self-mutilate in a very subtle fashion – I pick at scabs and any other bumps on my skin until they become scars.  I pick at hangnails and peel my fingernails and toenails down to the quick.  Gross, I know, but there it is.  The only form of self-mutilation I could get away with as a kid who had a nurse for a mother and I never stopped after I got out from under her thumb.  Just to feel.

My homework, you could say, for this week from my counselor is to find a list of words that identify feelings and then try to write down different situations this week at work, school or home and how they make me feel and to use the identifying words that I find.  I think I’ve found a good source at this Wikipedia page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions  and will be referencing that a lot this week.

Also, one of my best friends has introduced me to the “Dress Your Truth”(?) video series and it’s been helpful in identifying my personality type and the personality types of my family, which I think will be very helpful in the days to come.  The author calls it “Energy Profiling” and it includes personality profiling and body type profiling for a complete package.  Some of the terms she uses make me slightly uneasy because of the way I was raised but it actually makes quite a bit of sense and presents each Type as a complete package, which I like.  Google it and check it out if you want, it’s been rather enlightening.

I’m going to do my hair (this time that means I’m going to relax my perm instead of color it) and then I’m going to bed.  Thanks for reading.

It’s official, I am now seeing a Psychiatrist.    They’re very kind and call their facility a “Mental Wellness Center” but still… I’ve entered into the Needs-Seriously-Professional-Help Level of Mental Illness now and I’ll be seeing a Counselor once a week and a Psychiatrist once a month.  Apparently the Psychiatrist will make sure my medications are appropriate for my situation and the Counselor can help me deal with my stress.  I’m telling my boss that my appointments are with a “Stress Management Specialist” and a “Medication Specialist”, ha, ha…

I had an hour and a half appointment with my counselor, a much more thorough session than I’ve had with any of my other counselors and even though it was an evaluation she seemed to pick up on what was important to me and what topics would be good to pursue in future appointments.  The week after that I had an hour appointment with my psychiastrist and she asked me many of the same questions – without looking at the counselor’s notes – so they could see if they both got the same or similar diagnosis after the evaluation.  They did.  While I didn’t recive any “official” diagnosis at the end of my appointment with the psychiastrist she did say that she agreed with the counselor on my being depressed and having General Anxiety Disorder.  The counselor said I am Hyper-Sensitive to Criticism (true) and the psychiatrist thinks I am borderline Bi-Polar II.

I have to say I’m somewhat relieved.  Half the battle is knowing the name of your enemy.

The psychiatrist also said there is no pill to fix my stress (I knew that…) but that the counselor would be teaching me coping techniques to deal with it more effectively.  And speaking of pills my “Medication Specialist” drastically changed my meds.  She upped my anti-depressant, ix-nayed the Xanax completely, and cut my other anti-anxiety in half with an eye towards quitting it completely.  and the psychiatrist is leaving my sleep med the same, which is a real bummer because my regular doctor had cut my sleeping med down from 10 mgs to 5 so I haven’t been sleeping well for most of a month… I was really hoping for a change in sleep meds.

After giving my boss an update from my Specialist visits he has extended my Performance Improvement Plan until the end of August because “of the efforts I am making to ascertain whether or not a reasonable accommodation is necessary” (to do my job because of my health/stress issues) so now I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be fired any second now – at least for another three or four weeks.  Whoo hoo?

Today I’m feeling exhausted but OK, which has been the norm for the last three-ish weeks.  I am doing my job as best I can and I feel like I’m making less mistakes and improving my speed.  We’ll see how August goes and what they say on my evaluation.  My birthday is at the end of August, hopefully I don’t get fired as a birthday present…

The psychiatrist also said “Maybe this isn’t the job for you”.  (I didn’t tell my boss about that part.)  Maybe she’s right but at the moment all I want to do is go home and sleep – not get another job – and sleeping won’t pay the bills.    At any rate, I’ll keep my eyes open.  This job has excellent benefits and great pay but if I’m sacrificing my health then I’d be better off being a greeter at Walmart eh?

  I go back to the counselor tomorrow and once a week for the rest of August and I’ll see the psychiatrist at the beginning of September.  I have to say that after a week of the new med dosing I am feeling better emotionally, although still tired physically, and overall my mental state is much more positive, yay!  Now let’s see if I can stay on top of my work and not make any mistakes until my review at the end of August…

Stephanie is right – I do love my family.  Stephanie, thank you for your note and the gentle rebuke.

Your comment has made me realize that I’m actually still quite mad at him (and I’m not at all offended with you!).  I have read your advice over and over again and I can see that I’ve become very selfish.  I’ve grown tired of waiting, I wanted him to do things for me, my way RIGHT NOW because I deserve it  and am tired of always giving and giving and never getting much out of this relationship.  That, however, is not unconditional love so now I’m finding myself wanting, ha!, demanding what I am no longer willing to give.  Oh the irony…

Now, in spite of having spent the last 7 – 8 years watching the slow, gradual change that God has worked in his life to bring him to the place he is today I had stopped trusting God to complete the work He started in my husband and decided it wasn’t fast enough to suit me anymore because “I deserved better than this”.

Essentially, this most recent bout with discontent can be tracked to one particular disagreement that happened almost two years ago now:  For various reasons I wanted to leave our church and attend a different Charismatic, Christian church.  I didn’t have any particular church in mind, just any other church, preferably closer to home so our girls could get to know other Christian kids that hopefully lived in the neighborhood and could connect at both school and church.

Now my husband is of the stay-where-you’re-at-until-you’re-given-new-directions-by-God-Himself opinion, basically he believes that until God speaks to him in a loud, booming, audible voice “You will start attending church such-and-such  at the beginning of next month”  then we are to stay where we’re at.  My reason for leaving is logic-based, that if we are not continuing to grow as individuals and as a family then just maybe we’ve learned all that we can at this church for now and should go somewhere else where our learning can continue to move forward.

We went back and forth over this for months.  Why did I want to leave, why did he want to stay.  Finally he told me we would go and try other churches just to see what was out there.  He was serving as an usher and they asked for a month’s notice to replace him so he gave his months notice and on our last Sunday we sat in the sanctuary for a really long time after the service ended.  Almost everyone had gone home before he turned to me and said “I can’t do it, we’re not leaving”.  With that statement and decision he broke trust with me.  He had made me a promise that we would go look for other churches and then decided that this church has a higher priority in his life than I do so that promise to me wasn’t worth keeping… and it made me feel like I was insignificant to him and to our family.   When I look at it carefully I see that what’s really happened over the last two years is that I became angry with my husband and I have let that anger build to the point where I was one conversation away from kicking him out of the house about two months ago.  We did manage to reconcile that day and avoided a messy separation but my anger stayed in it’s crock pot, tucked into a quiet corner while it slowly heated up again and all I could see were his faults, magnified.

This is what I need to forgive him for, and I need to ask his forgiveness for my staying angry with him for all this time.h

Once again, Stephanie is right – I need to forgive him and stop judging him so harshly.  He is as God made him, warts and all, and he is trying the best he knows how to love me, warts and all.

The fact that I haven’t had mushy, ooey-gooey or passionate feelings for anyone or anything for a super-long time probably just means that my “feeler” is broke.  I think I buried it along with my heart in self-defense a long time ago and the fact that I’m “missing” having feelings is – hopefully – a positive sign of something deep inside starting to heal.

Oh – and Hiddinsight, I have been referred to a psychiatric counselor who does both counseling and medication management while keeping my primary doctor in the loop so hopefully that will be more helpful to me than my previous counselors have been.

I’m going to wrap it up for now, my pills have kicked in and it will probably be hilarious to read tomorrow what I wrote tonight but the pills don’t seem to change what I think, they just free me to write more than I usually would .

Have a fabulous 4th of July, I plan on spending as much of it as possible in bed getting lots of rest before I have to go back to work on Friday.

Again, comments are always welcome, I’m learning and growing and I’m sure I can’t be the only one out there going through this kind of stuff.

Or at least that was a saying when I was a child.  I always thought it was just because people who thought they were Righteous needed a reason to explain why they never got any rest without having to place themselves in the Wicked category.  I would like some rest… does that make me Wicked?

I haven’t blogged for a while.  So let’s try for a quick update – while my life has been pretty good since my last blog (hence the lack of writing – does that make me a whiner?) here is what I remember:

SUPER GOOD – I went to Reno with my best friend from high school and we had an SOO MUCH FUN together, we even went down to Lake Tahoe for an afternoon.  I saw my child exactly once for about 5 minutes as I brought her breakfast the first morning.  She never did tell me when and where they were going to perform so I didn’t get to see it.  I did not come home with a tattoo <slightly sad about that> but I’m still thinking really hard about getting one.  The best news ever is that my daughter did not get any migraines requiring me to take her to the ER but I’m still glad I went!

OK – I have continued to see my husband’s counselor with him, this last session wasn’t terribly productive, I think the counselor talks a little bit too much about his own life that I don’t see as applying to us but he did manage to bring up a question or two that was good food for thought until the next meeting.  That hour goes fast.  Thank goodness for the EAP program or I’d feel like I was wasting my money on the co-pays, ugh!

SAD – One week before school ended my youngest (musical) daughter, who has poured her heart into the three music classes she’s taken this year, was cut from her very favorite class, the jazz choir, exactly 5 minutes after her boyfriend dumped her so she had a miserable last week of school but she is very glad it’s over and seems to be feeling better about it now.  I’m debating on whether or not I should say anything to the choir teacher.  Half of me is mad at him, I’m upset that he seems to be unwilling to deal with the issues that go along with her head injury, I feel like he doesn’t believe she has a real medical condition and dropped her because he thinks she’s a flake.  The other part of me is relieved I don’t have to fight with him for another year about being a chaperone on all of her out-of-town trips and just plain ole doesn’t to talk to him anymore.  Yes, I’m a very non-confrontational person which means if I’m confronting you I’m usually VERY UPSET with you.

BAD AND GOOD – My husband has made great improvements in becoming a nicer guy but now that the two month “probation” period has been over by a couple of months most the things that he was doing to prove to me that he loved me for more than sex have pretty much evaporated.  All the “romantic” stuff is completely gone, he hasn’t given me a back rub in almost two months, hasn’t opened my car door for at least a month and I’m pretty sure that all his compliments dried up a couple of days after the two months was over.  In short, we’re very nearly back to where we were before the two-months except for a few certain things.  He has become more relaxed about my being late, which is one of his biggest buttons that I constantly seem to be pushing because I’m just not a very on-time person – never have been.  Also, he’s been quicker to apologize to both me and our children when he has spoken to one of us in “high emotion”, I’m getting a nice email from him almost every day at work and he is definitely being more open about how he feels when I ask him.  I know changing your entire self is difficult and I can see that he’s working hard at it so I’ll be content with the relationship we have for now.  No promises from me that this marriage will last forever but we just passed our 19th anniversary, that’s a pretty good record in this day and age.

BAD – I thought my job was going quite well… until I received an Employee Improvement Plan two weeks ago.  Apparently I have a month (two more weeks at this point ) to stop making mistakes or I will be “Disciplined or Terminated”.  Oh goody.  I think what’s really going on is I’ve not been “good enough” for a couple of the attorneys that hold some power in this office and they want me gone but we’ll see in the middle of July how that goes.  I can only do my best.  As punishment for my past mistakes (or perhaps so they can snoop through my desk easier) they took away my flex schedule which gave me a half day every Monday and I worked until 6 pm Tues – Fri so I could still have a full 40 hours.  I’m thinking that by my leaving at 5 pm they don’t have to stay until 6:30 to look through my work and check up on me – now they only have to stay until 5:30, ha, ha.  Unfortunately for me, I felt like I did my best work during that peaceful, quiet, uninterrupted hour between 5 and 6 pm when hardly anyone was in the office.  That’s definitely not going to help me during this month’s probation at all.  Can you get unemployment when you’re fired for “Unsatisfactory Job Performance after almost two years of employment?”  If I lose my job I lose my benefits and neither I or my daughter can get the medicine we need to stay on top of our medical conditions so yeah, I’m a little stressed.  Maybe I can start a daycare in my home…  although I did find a job with the County that I think I’ll apply for, the cut-off date for applications is right about the time my month of probation should end, then maybe I can give my two weeks at that meeting instead of getting fired, wouldn’t that be nice?

GREAT – I received and finished a transcription job last weekend and am waiting for the check to come, hopefully this week.  It should go straight to bills but I want to keep a little bit of fun money out for myself.  Is that wrong?  I earned it, 100%.  It’s outside my job and outside the budget… if only we weren’t so behind, ugh!

FUN – Speaking of being behind I have become a consultant for a direct sales company and am trying to get that going for  some extra cash.  I love having the “parties” with good food and meeting new people, hopefully this will help pull me out of the doldrums as well as help us get out of debt.

REFLECTING – So all in all my life has been, and continues to be a roller-coaster.  I appreciate everyone who follows my blog, I hope you’re getting more out of it than I am, lol!  I’m just writing it all down to sort it out, re-organize it and decide how I feel about it before absorbing my life’s events back into my head again.  Kind of like when you clean Grandma’s basement.  It’s so packed with stuff piled everywhere that the best way to deal with it is to pull piles out of the room, sort them into your Keep, Donate and Toss piles and then put the Keep stuff back in the room, pull another pile out and do it all over again.  That is what this blog is for me.  That oddball space where I can pull things out, write them down and try to decide how I feel about them, what emotions connected to each event should I Keep and which should I Toss.

And there I am, laid out bare for you to see.  What do you see by the way?  I hardly ever get feedback on my posts…  Am I just an interesting read and ya’ll go off talking about the crazy lady online when you’re done?  Talk to me…what are your thoughts about what I should do next?  Help please!

Twice now I’ve gone with my husband to his bi-weekly counselor appointment.  Very, very interesting…

This man specializes in counseling people with addictive behaviors, was probably in his 60’s, had bright and interesting tattoos peeking out from the edges of his clothing and wore very casual clothing with short, unkept hair and scruffy facial hair.

For the first session his questions were direct and to the point, no beating around the bush and while he didn’t give us anything “new” to do or think about he facilitated our speaking out loud things that we don’t normally say to each other, mostly good things but also some not-so-good.

My husband became more and more nervous on the drive there, and during the session his body language was shouting loud and clear that he was not comfortable at all, although I have to give him Kudos for going through with it because I could see how difficult it was for him to have me there.  He sat on the other side of the couch from me with his arms crossed for probably 45 minutes.  During the last 15 minutes he uncrossed his arms from over his chest and crossed them lower, over his abdomen.

The entire ride home my husband was focused on one tiny statement that I had made somewhere in the middle of the counseling session and I wonder if he really heard anything else that was said after it.  The counselor asked me if I had been ready to leave our relationship and I said yes, about a couple of weeks ago I was right on the edge.  So, of course, that was all my husband could think about.  Two weeks ago you were ready to leave me and I didn’t know – how can I trust you to stay now?

By this point I’m about ready to smack him but I just keep thinking, there is a paranoid, fearful little 7th grade boy inside my 41-year-old husband’s body who just found out (after the fact) that his “girlfriend” wanted to break up with him but didn’t.  All the pain and anguish of an actual break-up (that never happened) is now coursing through his mind and body just by thinking about it.  (Yes, I was a junior higher in love once upon a time too…)  To him it’s real, it’s as good as it happened so how does he know that it’s not going to happen again?

“You are just going to have to trust me.”  I say.  “We’ll have been married 19 years this next month and I haven’t left you yet so you are just going to have to decide if you will trust me or not.  If you decide you can’t trust me you will drive yourself crazy and our marriage will be over anyway so you choose.”

Fortunately(?) he decided to trust me, for now.  In the past he has been quick to bring up the past and hold it against me but I have seen a lot of improvement in the last four months or so all I can do is wait and see…

Maybe my reason for existence has nothing to do with myself, maybe I am here on this earth to help this man grow up and God knew it would take my entire life to do so.  That’s a somewhat depressing thought but if even a little, teeny part of that is true then I need to follow my calling because that is where my happiness lies.

We went to our second joint counseling session this last week.  There was a lot more non-essential conversation this time than last time and he most asked us things about what have we been doing to communicate better and what has my husband been doing to get over his addiction and how do I feel about it, stuff like that.  I don’t know that we accomplished a lot but my husband was much more relaxed this session than he was the last one and we decided to continue with this counselor on a once-a-month basis instead of the two weeks we had been going.

Our goal is to find a couple at church that would be willing to meet with us once a months also so we have a balance of godly counseling along with a very worldly but professional trained counselor.  I don’t want to hear “get your relationship with God right” every single counseling session and never ever get into the nuts and bolts of what is wrong between my husband and I.  Yes, my relationship with God needs to be better and so does his but I think there needs also to be some practical, applicable advice to our day-to-day relationship along with the godly counsel of developing our own, separate relationships with God.

Overall things are looking better between us and I am pleased.  There is hope at the end of the tunnel and we may be in the midst of a miracle after all!