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 The crash and burn of realizing you are only wanted when you are needed

The light-bulb moment of finally understanding that’s one of the many things he did for all those years, the one who broke you

The self-loathing at recognizing every man you’ve ever fallen for could not or would not love you back – and yet you gravitate towards another just like that over and over again

The fear that you will never be able to love someone who is different, someone who is better

The accepting of yourself – you fall fast and hard at the first drop of kindness and think it’s love 

The knowledge that this may never change

The hope that it never changes because then you would not be you

The draining wariness of constantly being on guard against falling in love

The battle between wanting to fall in love and needing to feel safe

The sadness that “safe” and “in love” have never come to you at the same time

The weariness of needing to decipher your own emotions and those around you non-stop

The utter exhaustion from carrying all of life’s responsibilities while guarding your damaged heart that still slips out the window like a teenager and falls in love with the wrong guy anyway 

The desperate need to believe in fairy tales because maybe, just maybe, you could have a happily ever after too

The sleep that finally comes to give you just enough strength to make it through one more day so you can do it all over again

Yesterday/Monday, was… was… well it was a lot of things.  It was my one and only day off this week so I:

Deposited my check, notarized a will, picked up a hot-spot to make up for my lack of internet at my sister’s apartment and went to the local glass-blowing art studio to ask about getting a couple of dishes custom made for my acrylic powder and monomer.

All of this was on my way to my first counseling appointment at the women’s shelter.  The nice thing was that I’ve seen this counselor last year for about 4 months so it was a lot easier to catch her up to where I’m at currently than if we had never met before.  One of the questions she asked is why I’m still meeting with my husband, what am I trying to accomplish by continuing to meet with him like this? 

I pondered her question all the way to the new nail salon I’m trying to get a job at.  I met with the owners, two brothers and a sister. I did a pedicure on one of the brothers and I did an acrylic fill on the sister.  The other brother said they would need to talk amongst themselves because they are all partners but he thought everybody liked me and would let me know if I can work there soon.  It’s a MUCH better salon, everything is super sanitary, much more upscale and spa-like than where I’m at now but in spite of the higher quality most of the services are only about $5 more expensive than where I’m at now.  The owner stressed repeatedly how much they are a family and if I came to work there I would be joining their family.  The comission is also 10% higher…  I REALLY want to work there!  The downside is that it’s a new salon, only been open for about 2 months, so they’re not very busy yet.  I asked if they thought I would be able to take home at least $200/week to cover my bills and they said yes so I’m willing to give them a shot.  Hopefully they’ll give me a shot as well!

When that was done I texted my husband that I would be late to our scheduled 5 pm meeting because I was still trying out at the new salon.  His response?  “As you wish”.  That should be this romantic reference to the Princess Bride but from him all I sense is sarcasm every time he says it.  Ugh.  I called him when I was done at the new salon to let him know that I was enroute to our meeting and his voice was terse and I felt like he was upset with me.  I arrived at our dinner location to find him waiting, as stoic as ever and oozing negativity.  Ugh again.  I ordered my meal – I have got to stop buying lots of food when we meet like this because as usual, I had about four bites and then lost my appetite so that was $20 bucks down the drain – and then we sat down to talk because this was a “talking meeting”. 

He said I called the meeting so what did I want to talk about, I asked him to tell me his thoughts/response to my letter defining emotional abuse and explaining why our relationship qualified as abusive.  The long and short of it is that he continues to believe that he was not abusive and has never abused me.

Apparently to him abuse is defined by whether or not the intention of the abuser is to be abusive or not.

I began to realize we will never see eye to eye on this topic.  And even though we didn’t bring up this time, we will never be on the same page regarding his church either.

Once again he pushed me for a commitment to restoring our marriage.  I finally told him, flat out, that the answer is no.  I am not committed to restoring our marriage and I do not want to be married to him any more.

That Guy tried to show up again but I didn’t fall for it this time.

He didn’t laugh in my face but it certainly felt like he was amused.  He said “Why Are You Here?  Clearly, you haven’t filed any paperwork yet so you must want this to work out in a corner of your heart.”

Time stopped.  Having been asked the same question twice in the same day demands an answer.  Why WAS I there?  What on earth was it I was trying to accomplish by being there, by agreeing to meet with him weekly?

I’ve been doing lots of soul-searching in the last 24 hours, trying to come up with whatever it is that won’t let me just let it go and move on.  I think I know but I’m going to kick it around for another day or two before I write it down.

In “What I Told My Family” I posted the letter I emailed to everyone.  Almost everyone, actually, I completely forgot to send it to my husbands brother and sister-in-law.  Oops!  It was an honest mistake, I didn’t intentionally leave them out although I’ll probably never be able to convince them of that <sigh>.  I did email it to them a week after everyone else got it so at least I tried to correct my mistake…

Both my brothers, my dad and step-mom, my father-in-law and my brother -in-law emailed me back and except for my brother-in-law all were surprisingly supportive of my goals to get healthy.  Dear brother-in-law responded within a couple of days but only with a basic, sorry to hear that, we’re praying for you and a very generic, Christianese blessing.  And this guy is a missionary.  <rolling my eyes>

I’m the oldest of my siblings and my next oldest brother was the first to respond.  His letter was very pastoral and reminded me how very little I actually know him because my sister says that is how he speaks all the time, I felt like I was a stranger who had asked him for counseling.  He was excited to finally catch a glimpse of the “real” me and so proud of me for actually having goals because so many people in my situations can only handle surviving day-to-day life and aren’t able to set goals.  He says I have strength that I didn’t know I had – to which I laughed because I’ve known that I’ve always been far stronger than I wanted to be in order to survive my life.  What I actually have is strength my brother didn’t know I needed to have.  But I digress.  He added to please let him know if he’s offended me and what he can do to help, etc.

My father-in-law responded next, confused as to how they might have possibly wounded me, proud of me for having the courage to speak up, a brief description of how depression skews a person’s reality, good job on having a plan to get help, a reminder that I was their first daughter-in-law and they love me.  They followed it up with a phone call about a week later but I wasn’t ready to speak with them so I took the coward’s way out and sent the call to voicemail.  It was another encouraging message, they love me and hope I’m doing OK.

My step-mom was the next to respond and of everybody her letter felt the most “real” to me.  Her email was like she was talking to me and we were just having a conversation.  She has also struggled with severe depression and knows what that is like, she was surprised that things had gotten this bad because I always said everything was OK.  She actually said that moving in with my sister was a good plan!  She was the only one to approve of both my leaving my husband AND my getting healthy, recognizing that I’m not going to get one without the other.  She was proud of me for having the courage to open up about how I was feeling, she is praying for me and she loves me.  She is hesitant about calling me because she is “only a step-mom”.  When I responded I told her I consider her as real a mom to me as anybody and to please stop thinking of herself as “just” a step-mom.

My younger brother was next to respond and I felt so bad after reading his email because he shared some of the wounds he received growing up from our step-father and our mother that I had never realized happened.  I had been so wrapped up in my own hurts that I never noticed his.  He, too, had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts but he had a healthy marriage and was much farther on the road to recovery and healing than I was.  He thanked me for my courage in sharing and apologized for seeming absent or unfriendly.  He would like to get to know me again and said to please feel safe to tell him anything.

My father was the last to respond (besides my brother-in-law who I still hadn’t sent it to at this point) and my dad seemed to focus primarily on the paragraph where I said I had been mad at everybody at one point or another for appearing not to care about me.  He apologized for not being around while I was growing up and for “being immature”, a term I would have never applied to him.  He said nice things about my mom – and I have to say that I have never heard him say a mean word about her, ever, and that makes me respect him so very much because there were plenty of mean things that could truthfully be said about her.  He believes that I love God with my whole heart and reminded me that Jesus is bigger than my circumstances.  He asked if I had started my depression meds yet and committed to being more sensitive to me and my needs.

So from everybody but my brother-in-law I got a lot of “we’re proud of you for your courage in sharing your feelings” and oodles of support for getting healthy, one recognition that I needed to leave to do it, offers to listen to anything I want to say, requests to help and lots of apologies for not being there for me.  All in all I felt heard, cared for and loved, there was healing for me in their responses, it was really nice.

I responded to each person individually with the same, basic information but I personalized it and answered specific questions each one had asked.  Here is the bones of my response:

Dear Family Member,

Thank you for your email.  <personal stuff here>
My younger daughter’s life is going from bad to worse and it seems to be entirely of her own making, my current prayers for her are that God will stop lies from coming out of her mouth, that when she tries to lie no sound will come out of her lips and that she will begin saying the truth, even on accident.  If you could pray those things with me I would appreciate it.
I am currently receiving food stamps and have qualified for the health insurance program for only $20/month starting in March so I will be able to go back to the doctor starting in just a couple of weeks. I am also pursuing a program with one of the local women’s shelters that combines housing, counseling and something they call “case management”.  I’m mostly interested in the counseling as it specifically deals with women in situations like mine – and worse – and the housing would be in a group situation, living with other women who are in the program.  I have been approved for their program but there aren’t any openings right now so I am on a waiting list.  I don’t care so much about the housing because I enjoy living with my sister but it’s part of the program and I think it will be beneficial for me to participate in it fully.
My talks with my husband are going fairly well, we have had several phone conversations and three face-to-face talks.   I am not mad at him, I don’t hate him and I don’t have any intentions of trying to make other people dislike him, my entire goal is to become healthy myself and to develop a healthy way to communicate with him – and I’m honestly not thinking or planning any further beyond accomplishing that at the moment.  I know that he is trying really hard to understand and accommodate my wishes but he is very hurt and frustrated and definitely needs your continued prayers and support.
Sincerely,
Me

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…

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!