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Archive for February, 2011

1993

I almost ran into him as I rounded the corner. As if lightning had struck, the air was immediately charged with electricity without either of us saying a word. We introduced ourselves and made small talk for 1/2 an hour, or so. We both tried to be casual in conversation but the attraction I felt to this stranger was like nothing I had ever experienced. We talked about nothing. We talked about everything. No awkwardness, despite the almost visible fireworks bursting and sparkling between us. Hearing him speak and watching him move made me light-headed. We began to walk slowly toward the elevator, both knowing it was time to go our separate ways, but trying to extend our time together just a little longer. We stepped into the elevator and as the doors closed, in one seamless movement, he had me in his arms and we began to kiss. A kiss that was everything it should be. Not the wet & sloppy kind or feels-like-my-mouth-is-being-sucked-by-a-vacuum type of kiss. Perfect and passionate. The elevator doors opened when we reached the first floor and he said, “It was wonderful meeting you. I hope to see you again soon.” And he walked away. My legs had turn to jelly and I could barely stand. But there it was – the best kiss of my life.

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I need an escape plan from my current life and then I will surround myself with people who adore me . . . my husband recently made a comment about how his mother’s life had gone so wrong from just a few bad choices. I feel the same  could be said of my life. If it weren’t for a few bad choices, my life wouldn’t be the way it is today.

I have been seeing my therapist long enough to have imaginary conversations in my head with him and be able to predict what he would say. To these latest thoughts of hatching an escape plan, I know he would probably say that I shouldn’t want to escape my current life, but instead I should want to “fix it” and “make it better”. The reality is that I can not. The only way I can preserve my sanity until my escape is to not spend any more of the energy I have left in trying to make my current situation better. They say the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. (or something like that) and I have tried every way suggested by my therapist (and countless books) to “make it better” with no success. Insanity is likely not far away.

How much time before I can make my escape without feeling guilty for walking running away? If any of them knew how I felt, not one of them would think, “What can I do to make life easier for my wife/mom?” Instead they would think, “What a bad wife/mom for wanting to get away from her family!” And yet as I write this, I feel guilty for even having these feelings since right now, life is about my husband’s grief over his mother’s death and the trauma that has been inflicted on my daughter by her uncle. It is NOT a time for me to be selfish. Very bad, bad, wife/mom. No empathy, no understanding, no patience . . . that’s me.

Can I at least allow myself to fantasize about one day escaping this life and surrounding myself with people who adore me and no one who NEEDS me?

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We sat in silence. The overhead music that was playing quietly in the background was being drowned out by the thoughts in my head. The room was empty as my daughter and I waited for our names to be called. I had come for my weekly therapy appointment and  had arranged for my daughter to meet with another therapist in the same practice at the same time. She felt it was pointless to talk to someone regarding something she wanted to forget about and move on from. But she had come, and for that, I was thankful.

Sitting on the couch of my therapist, he asked me the following question: “Is your daughter reacting to this incident based on how she has learned to respond from watching you or is this really how she wants to deal with it?” I was very surprised and disturbed to realize how similar our reactions have been to different, but equally difficult situations. 

  • ME: accept & minimize the incidents with my husband that hurt me
  • HER: “It’s not a big deal . . . I am over it.””

 

  • ME: Tend to repress my emotions
  • HER:  Tries not to cry when talking about the incident with her uncle

Is she following my example? What a price I have paid for accepting dysfunction in my life! I know that I have learned to repress my emotions after experiencing my husband shut down whenever I have expressed my emotions. But I realize I am now not just repressing negative emotions but positive ones as well. And it is also carrying over into my interactions with other people besides my husband. I have become “emotion-less”. Joy,  sorrow, laughter and tears are present in my heart but that’s where they stay. I have not allowed any emotions to move past the protected walls I have erected to keep me “safe.” What will it take for me  to be able to express my feelings again without feeling ashamed, without fear of being shut down or being disappointed by the reaction of others?  What will it take for my smile to be authentic, not just an obligatory act?

Lord, help me. I am a broken mess.

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A difficult but necessary conversation with my husband last night. He still has no plans of returning home. (maybe next week, he said) I no longer felt like I could continue to say, “Everything is fine over here, we are all doing well.” No more sugar-coating. The circumstances called for nothing less than honesty. I reminded him that he had not deposited money for household expenses (like food) for 2 weeks now, informed him that my daughter had been deplorably violated, and I spoke of the emotional aftermath that is resulting from it.

His response was understanding, but not without also letting me know that things have been very difficult for him as well. He has been wading through the Mexican bureaucracy of trying to settle things with his mother’s life insurance company and transferring ownership of her home to his name. He has also begun remodeling his mother’s house in preparation to rent out or sell. Apparently this is where his money is being spent which is why he said to me last night that he can not contribute to our families finances. (leaving me to buy groceries – yet again- with a credit card) It’s possible that, in reality, it was just a mutual “unloading” type of conversation but, to me, it felt more like he was saying, “things might be hard for you right now, but they have been just as hard, if not harder for me.” After all, that is his usual pattern of conversation . . to make everything about him.

I am running low on empathy for him. I realize the death of his mother was an unexpected shock and he must be experiencing much guilt over the neglected relationship he had with her. But while he has been gone, life has continued for us here. Since he has been in Mexico, he seems so completely removed from the “other” life he has in the States. It’s as if the only life that exists for him is the one he is currently living in Mexico.

I want to be supportive but I’m having a hard time understanding what is going on with him . . . and I’m running on empty.

Colossians 1:9b -10 (I) continually ask God to fill (me) with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that (I) may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God

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Sitting on the edge of the bed feeling completely overwhelmed. He has been gone for 3 weeks now. Rarely calling, leaving me to take of EVERYTHING. Has not even sent money, assuming I have the means to do it alone, or maybe just forgetting that he has a wife and 5 children. Either way, the feelings of his perceived abandonment have me paralyzed. That’s when she walked in the room. “Mom, I need to talk to you.” I was taken by surprise by my daughter’s words as she shut the door. At 16 years old, she often displays a prickly personality and we have all learned that we get close at our own risk.

Then she spoke the words that pushed aside any thought of keeping my distance. In a voice ready to break with sobs, she said, “My uncle has tried to molest me.” While my mind began to swirl with questions, my heart left my body and wrapped around my only daughter as I held her and said, “I am so, so sorry . . .”

The story came out somewhat fragmented and she seemed to not want to give many details. She said that when she spent the weekend with her (biological) dad, her uncle came to her bedroom at night and attempted to molest her. The thought sickened me. What is it about the depravity of men that they justify preying on women?! (or in this case, teenage girls) Nothing short of castration is justice when it comes to sexual assaults.

The police have been called, the appointment with the doctor and therapist made. Maybe because I am the only one safe on whom she can release her rage . . . she is angry with me. Or maybe because in some way, she feels I should have been able to protect her . . . and she’s right. I should have been strong enough to stand up to my husband and say “NO”, when he said he needed a break from my children and that they needed to spend the weekends at their dad’s. Why do I not listen when my instincts scream, “PAY ATTENTION, something is wrong!” May God and my daughter forgive me . . .

Psalms 36:1-6a,7 & 10 Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God to restrain them. In their blind conceit, they can not see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do what is good. They lie awake at night hatching sinful plots. Their course of action is never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice flows like the ocean depths . . . how precious is your unfailing love, O God . . . pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.

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Like most moms, having time to do any type of leisurely activity never comes often enough. So whenever I happen to be in a waiting room, check out line, or any situation where I have no control over when it will be my turn, I consider those precious few minutes “ME time”. I quickly scan the area for my favorite guilty pleasure . . . magazines. Never in my usual day can I sit and read, but I relish those times where I am forced to wait. Whether it is just glancing at the headlines of the latest “People” that is displayed near the cashier or actually being able to read a whole article from “Good Housekeeping” while my kids are being seen by the dentist, I truly consider those moments to be a welcome break in my day.

During one of my most recent “breaks” I came across an article in an old issue of “O”, which caught my attention and really made me think. It was titled, “How to Solve a Thorny Problem” by Martha Beck and here is a summary:

“We’re used to living in an either-or world – but when it comes to yes or no dilemmas, the most powerful thing you can ask is: What if both answers are true?” . . . “If a person can be a combination of seemingly opposite traits, might not the same be true in other instances?”

“Perhaps your marriage is both wonderful and terrible, your job both wretched and stimulating, your worst habit both destructive and helpful.” . . . “Think of dilemmas like these as dual-emmas. Unlike standard issue questions, dualistic dilemmas confuse people by leading to two apparently true but contradictory conclusions.” . . . “Such as when a person or situation seems to provide necessary things like love and comfort but is also the source of pain and upset.”

“Confronted with dualities, most of us try to choose between them.” . . . “After all, how else will we decide which is the right answer? To decide whether to stay or divorce, quit or stick with it?” . . . “The problem with an either-or thought process is that it won’t resolve a both-and reality.” . . . “It keeps us removed from reality, and it requires that we spend a lot of time and energy convincing ourselves that life is one particular way.”

“If you are involved with someone who can’t or won’t admit the whole truth – (Yup, I have a Dr. Jeckyll side, but there’s also a Mr. Hyde in here) – the relationship will become increasingly dysfunctional.” . . . “If both parties can discuss the full range of their behavior, almost any relationship can work.” . . .”Try seeing your world and yourself with eyes open to whatever is before you, mind free of dichotomies. Are you good or bad, fragile or tough, wise or foolish? Yes. And so am I.”

I must admit, I have always seen my world in terms of right – wrong, good – bad, either – or. It is why I have had such a difficult time understanding my husband’s behavior. “He EITHER loves me and as a result I should expect him to treat me well, OR he doesn’t and therefore will treat me badly.” I discussed this here: https://mygossamerlife.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/how-does-a-nice-girl-a-nice-guy-dysfunction/where I state my husband is a seemingly nice guy but then also seems to be emotionally abusive. I have not been able to understand how these two Jeckyll/Hyde personalities can co-exist in the same person and have often wondered if he may be mentally ill. While I still haven’t ruled out mental illness, this article has, as I stated before, given me something to think about.

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My husband has been in Mexico City for 2 weeks now as he takes care of the affairs of his recently deceased mother. He hasn’t called much, but when he does, he rarely asks how I am doing. Instead he talks about how difficult things are for him. I try to be understanding and empathetic to his loss and the overwhelming task he faces in emptying the home of his mother. In addition to the several mental health issues she lived with such as depression, anxiety, paranoia & OCD, she was also a hoarder. My husband said he found her home nearly unlivable due to all the “stuff” she had piled everywhere. So unfortunate that her mental illness was never addressed or treated.

Since I don’t want to add to my husband’s burden, I will use this blog to share what is on my heart. In the past, when my husband has gone out of town & I have been left to take care of the house, the (5)kids, the bills, the meals, the groceries and go to work, (amazingly) I have never felt overwhelmed. He adds so much frenetic, chaotic energy that when he is gone, there is usually a sense of peace & relaxation at home. But with his absence this time, I have been so anxious. The stress is actually making me feel physically ill. Last night I was awakened by a nightmare about 4am and was unable to sleep restfully after that. I have this terrible knot in my stomach and I can not explain the source of these feelings of apprehension. Almost like not being able to see the clouds, but knowing a terrible storm is coming.

I also have guilt over these feelings because I think my husband is the one who needs support right now, not me. He still has no return date at this point, but when he does return, I know he will obviously still be mourning the loss of his mother. I also know that even as he returns home physically, we will still be emotionally disconnected as our marriage issues are not resolved, just on hold. I have spoken to my therapist, but I’m not comfortable talking about this to any of my friends. (which I realize contributes to my feelings of anxiety and isolation) I struggle to not cry whenever someone asks how I’m doing. Is this what it feels like to be on the brink of an emotional breakdown? If I could just get past my pride in admitting to others I am not as strong as I portray, maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone.

II Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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