I'm not sure what today's blog is going to be primarily about, so we'll call it a smorgasbord. We'll try a little bit of everything! It's been a turbulent week (I've been using that word a lot - I feel it best describes a lot of the unexpected emotional twists I've had to endure this past week) and today is only the second day that I haven't felt as if I were on the verge of tears. I've done a lot of thinking and have been able to put a few things into perspective, so am feeling stable enough to try and transfer some of it here.
To start with, I have an interesting question for my survivor friends and peers.
Do any of you experience an unexplained physical coldness/chill during those 'turbulent' anniversary time frames? My anniversary has already passed - it was on the 4th of this month, but I am wondering if some of the side effects are taking me a little bit longer to move past? It is 67 degrees in my house at the moment (I've checked the thermostat multiple times!) - and I'm FREEZING. My fingers are literally icicles. I've been 'cold' all week last week and thought it was because of the drop in overall temperatures, but....67 degrees? I shouldn't be dressed like an eskimo and have my hood on while indoors just yet. Aside from feeling like my bones are constructed purely out of ice cubes, I feel fine. I do not have a temperature, I am not sniffly or have a cough. My fiancee remains a furnace (I wouldn't want to subject her to cuddling with me right now, though) and my kids have said that they're not cold. I do have to add that I remember feeling cold, above other things, on that night 22 years ago, but I cannot remember if I felt this same unnatural chill during last year's anniversary time - or the previous, and so on. Is this new??? And if it is, what brought this on?
So, I had my second group session last night. More people showed up to this one - and one person from the first meeting was there. They first started off with some meditation - something I don't have a whole lot of experience with. I was having trouble with the listening part (the leader was instructing us all to take our deep breaths, try and picture a safe place, inhale, exhale, relax this, relax that) and I couldn't really participate-along with the rest of them because by the time I got the 'message' to do whatever, she was already moved onto the next thing. It wasn't her fault - it's just a casualty that being deaf has taught me to have to accept from time to time. So, safe to say, this part of the meeting was not effective for me. And I'd soon learn that the meditation was something leading up to the NEXT part - although I do already have a lot of experience with journaling, she handed out plain black-and-white composition notebooks and asked us to decorate the cover to reflect and show where our 'safe place' was during the prior meditation process. A place that I'd not 'arrived' at, nor would I be able to envision as effectively as the rest of the ladies in the room.
Well, SHIT. I'm already flunking at support groups!
So, after some quick deliberation, I ended up taking a different approach on the design of my journal cover. I'll PROBABLY not use my journal at all - this is the place where I've been able to most effectively convey my deepest thoughts. Maybe I'll consider printing out some of my most powerful and impactful entries and pasting them into the book - perhaps there will be a future discussion where I'll be able to read from some of those entries - I'll have already thought them out and perhaps they will resonate with someone else. Otherwise, the pages will likely remain blank.
To fill a page wasn't even the assignment; it was to present a decorated cover - depicting or representing my safe place. It's safe to say I don't really have a 'place,' but there are some things that I try to remind myself of when I meditate - or rather, through my own way of meditation. Yes, I do the deep breaths, I do inhale and exhale, but while I do this, I do not picture a particular place. I instead mentally throw all of my cards onto the table and address each of whatever my current struggles are, with a motivating counter-thought.
And lately, I probably could do with a little more of (my type) of meditation. I'm going to sideline this particular thought train for a little while so that I can explain a little bit more about why I'm feeling the excess turbulence this month.
We already know by now that it's my anniversary month - and that this year, I'm experiencing some different side effects.
Another thing that's been on my mind....(and this is something I've had that internal debate on whether or not I should share it with you guys or keep it to myself)...is a recent dialogue with J that has left me very confused, very unsettled and very anxious.
First off, it wasn't a fight. We don't fight. We sometimes disagree, but neither one of us wants to fight with the other - we talk about things more often than not, but there ARE times where we 'drop' things and leave them alone because it's something that's not going to be resolved and falls into the 'just bitching' category. Sometimes this is best, but lately, it's only succeeded in mounting our problems and issues and they are now starting to wiggle like a stack of Jenga blocks threatening to come tumbling down at any moment.
I've mentioned before that she's become more social and has taken a liking to going out with her friends after work. Sometimes it's once a week, sometimes it's twice. I've also mentioned previously that I am absolutely hating this - not that she's blossomed into a social butterfly, because that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but more so that she's found things to do and ways to have fun that do not involve me but instead involve people that are seemingly taking up 'more' of her than I am. I don't even know if I feel this way because I'm not at that same point in my own life, but either way, it has left me feeling more and more lonely than usual. And lately, I've been more openly 'bitter' about her spending time with her friends - she'll, as a courtesy, let me know when she has made spontaneous plans after work, and I'll usually respond with a one-liner that fails to hide my disappointment. Last week, this such one-liner was, "Ughhhhh." PROBABLY not the best choice of words, but in the moment, it's what my fingers wanted to type.
Now, she KNOWS how I feel about social situations in general, and she knows about the anxiety I feel when it comes to the expansion of my own social circle. She also knows that I quietly fume to myself whenever I'm told I won't be seeing her after work. I have been honest about that and we both understand this is a direct result of what my ex has successfully ingrained in me. She continues to remind me that I am no longer married to him, I am FREE now, and I need "more than just her" in my life. This, too, is something I am struggling with - because for the last ten years that I've been divorced, it's been just her and I - there wasn't a need for me to have 'other people' to share (EVERYTHING) with. It was a nice, comfortable, PRIVATE circle. Either way, I've recently (probably for the last year) watched her change in multiple ways, from the person she used to be into a more evolved version of herself. She's now made a true friend out of her boss, is becoming more and more friendly with co-workers and has taken more interest in doing things outside of our home 1-2 days a week. As a direct result of some of these changes in her, she has now taken notice of me becoming increasingly withdrawn and snippy. On top of all of this, she's also made the choice to return to therapy, a choice I support 100% since she's also mentioned the need to do some maintenance work on herself - something I think we ALL need from time to time.
I'm not sure if the return-to-therapy is what prompted her to bring up on Sunday evening, that she felt that we BOTH needed to work on things within our relationship. She made it clear that while she wasn't unhappy, she just felt that there were some things that needed changing.
This confused the fuck out of me, I won't lie. The first thing that came to mind, was, "Oh, my God, I'm losing her."
And for the entire day on Monday, I sat in silence and solitude - ready to cry at the drop of a hat - and thought, thought some more and thought HARD. About everything that was said on Sunday night - which confused me even more. She had stated she wanted me to be 'okay' with her outings so that she didn't feel guilty about them. I told her that I wasn't going to hold her back from going out with her friends, but at the same time, I couldn't be expected to be automatically okay with it, either. It was something I needed to work at, as well as something entirely new that I needed to adapt to. On Sunday, it got to the point where she ended up telling me that I've been saying I would figure it out for a while now (truth) and haven't done so, yet. I responded that I was trying - "Rome wasn't built in a day!" Another thing she mentioned was that she wanted me to be more honest with her about what I was feeling - which baffled me, because I guess, I thought I already was. My "ughhhh" text message was an honest response. My admission that this wasn't easy for me was another honest thought. My snippiness and grouchiness whenever she talks about her pals, you'd think that is all based on some form of honesty.
How much more honesty did she want from me? I think she sensed there was more that needed to be said, but at the moment, I was feeling lost and was drawing blanks. Granted, emotions were running wild and I admit to having lost my shit on Sunday night during our talk, in an ugly-cry sort of way. We both agreed to take the day on Monday to do some thinking and we'd reconvene when we were both in a better frame of mind.
So, on Monday, after a long day of reflection, I was able to summarize a little bit more of what I was feeling and I broke it down some to J. Not by choice - I was already semi-crying when she got home from work. I had tried my hardest to hide from her my 'I'm holding it in' face, but when you're with someone for as long as we've been together, these things become virtually un-hideable. She asked me what was the matter and I lost it again.
And so, out it came. What I'd realized in the less than 24 hours since Sunday's blind-siding conversation. I have not changed. She has. She now has a more demanding job. As is, our time spent together has diminished greatly. She works a 40-hour week and VERY often ends up putting in a ton of OT to make it a SIXTY-hour work week. Add to that, she's become so increasingly tired, unnecessarily stressed out, and on the days she comes home from work, all she wants to do is eat a quick dinner and go to sleep. And as far as her friends go - it feels like they get more out of her than I do because she goes out with them AFTER an already extended day at work. I VERY rarely even SEE her before she leaves in the morning (it's usually right after 6am) and when she's out with her friends, she comes home at 10 or 11pm and I'm LUCKY to get a five-minute conversation out of her before she's snoring. She spends time with her boss for just about the entire duration of the work day and then there's the 'after work' activities that include this same woman, (counting two separate occasions when J went to help her move into her new apartment) so yes, maybe I do have a legitimate problem with that and maybe this is why the MENTION of this woman's name makes me envious enough to want to punch something. MAYBE this is why when J invites me to come along, I really don't have any interest in it. These are the people who are taking her away from me; (I know that's an unrealistic, paranoid thought, but for the moment, it was yet another honest take on it) why would I want to associate with them? They represent the 'fun' that she's having that I am not a part of. I am instead left feeling genuinely lonely after lately not seeing much of my one and only consistent 'person.'
And that's just not a nice feeling at all - it's how I felt when I was married to my ex and he didn't want me to have any 'other' people - and it's not how I want to make J feel, either. You see, I KNOW where my strengths and weaknesses are - and perhaps the biggest confusion here is - neither one of us has done anything wrong. We remain faithful to one another - that's never been a question. We love each other. We just are, for the moment, at different places in our social lives and she's just more comfortable with her newfound status than I am. And just because she has changed, does not mean I also have to if it's not what I want or am not mentally ready for.
I honestly DO, though. I don't want to let this go right now and then have to revisit the same problem ten, fifteen years down the road when she and her boss friend decide to take up knitting together after work days. (Another unrealistic guess, but y'all get the point I am trying to make!) I am absolutely TERRIFIED that if, by some twist of fate, I ever lost her, I would TRULY be a mess. I'd force myself to physically move on but emotionally, that is going to be the challenge of my life, as I've no desire to forge this type of connection with anyone else, should she become unavailable to me. I can honestly say I'd be FINISHED and a permanent emotional shut-down would likely be inevitable.
We had a longer (calmer) talk after my (blatantly honest) little outburst.
I first have to admit that it didn't feel so good, though, guys. I know that we're not likely to get what we need or want unless we ask for it, but I can't help but feel as if expressing these (irrational or not?) fears has made her see me in an entirely different light. Does she now see me as an inconsiderate, ungrateful, needy bit*h? I am not a selfish person at all and I'm admittedly the type to want to avoid confrontation at all costs, so just spitting out all of this inner poison has made me feel even more like shit! I thought it was supposed to feel GOOD to take any kind of a stand - but nope, I'm not feeling that, just yet.
But, despite what I'm feeling, she heard me. And unlike my ex, she actually acknowledged what I was saying and where I was coming from. This, too, is something that STILL floors me, even after almost a decade of being in a healthy, trusting, communicative relationship. Maybe that's why this feels like uncharted territory - I've NEVER had that before. If I ever were to tell my ex how I felt, he would have slammed me back with insults describing how the way I was feeling was entirely my fault and about how truly damaged I was. My J and my ex are absolutely not the same person - not by a long shot - J is a kind, loving person while my ex was a monstrous asshole that has succeeded in reducing my self worth into an unidentifiable pulp.
We have decided that she will work on being more present when she's at home. Together, we'll do whatever it takes, we'll go out, we'll engage in activities that will keep her from falling asleep so soon after coming home from work. Bowling two nights a week certainly helps! We'll liven up our relationship by having a once-a-week dinner date night (not a bowling night), where it will just be the two of us. We'll have a drink together. We'll take in the occasional movie. We'll try new things. Last night was the first of several 'date nights' to come; we met up at a local steakhouse after my group meeting. And it was truly nice to take that time to start to reconnect - because, as much as I hate to admit it, we DID lose something along the way. It's never been MORE important to me to try and reclaim that connection before it drifts even further, simply because she's become too busy or I'm responding by shutting down.
And in the meantime, I have some work to do....more so for myself than for anyone else - but work regardless. I will work on trying to find other things to become involved in and I will do so at my own pace. I will put my social anxieties aside and join her on an outing with her work friends from time to time - and I will ATTEMPT to get to know some of them. I've already spent some time with the boss lady, and all jealousies aside, she is not a terrible person. I will keep more of an open mind when it comes to dipping my toe into these social situations.
We have established that relationship-wise, I trust my J completely, I am not afraid she'll fall in love with someone else. This isn't the issue. I've determined that I am more afraid that she'll eventually evolve even more and discover that she truly likes or wants more than what she has with the boring, laid-back, homebody that I have learned to be. I am loyal. I am trustworthy. But right now, I don't feel 'fun,' nor do I have much to offer someone as far as a good time goes. I'm stuck in a rut and I NEED to climb out of it.
And so, I am going to begin to work on trusting MYSELF; and in my ability to intiate a transformation of my own. Given where I am right now and all of the damage that has already been done, it may take years. But, I will get there. I think I just needed to feel more united and connected with my "main" person in order to take these steps toward learning to trust and confide in and learn to relax around others. I needed to be able to feel that I'm not in the process of losing the one person who changed my life for the better. And perhaps, that's the root of my recent snippiness - I do not respond well when I feel threatened with that idea - it also makes sense that this is why J's family/sister's words to me several months ago are STILL fucking with my brain. This is why I cannot get past what was said to me, even if it was said in desperation or anger. It cannot be unsaid and is possibly where all of this started.
Well, at least we recognize it - and I'm happy to say that we are working on us. I know no relationship is perfect and by all means, neither is ours. We are as good a couple as they come, but we've never had to really work at it, though. It's just always come so naturally to us both, and I think I need that reassurance that we aren't the only ones who hit the occasional bump in that road!
Now, back to the journal cover that I was to design. I found some 'phrases' in the pile of magazine clippings. Words. These are what I use to get through things. I think about them, I redefine them, I write them. Aside from some not-so-nice things, I've been called a wordsmith. And so this is what I decided to decorate my composition notebook with. Single words and phrases that right now, ring true for me.
"A window of opportunity has opened."
"Chocolate." (A reference to THIS blog - I could not let that go without some form of recognition as this is where I usually retreat when I have a lot of mind-clutter.)
"Your future is yet to be written."
There were a couple more - along with cut-out letters that I used to spell out my real first name across the top of the book. When my turn came, I explained that I'd taken a little bit of a different approach to my journal cover decorating - and discussed that I use words and phrases in order to quell whatever my current anxieties are. And each of those statements, at the moment, mean something to me.
And why did I put my (given) name?
Well - my name as well as my identity is another thing that I am struggling to define. I can tell anyone my name, but I honestly don't have a clue who I even am, being constantly torn between the person I really am and the person I present as, is exhausting!
You see, here, I am Capulet. You all know why I am here. You all know my story. You know my fears, the things that make me happy, the things that make me sad. Chances are, you feel the same way. I've been nothing but honest with everyone through my blogs, my posts, my private conversations. It helps that being here affords us all that unspoken understanding of each other - we're automatically able to validate one another because, one way or another, we all get it. We don't have to truly know someone to understand them when they write something that rings true with us, too. And so, I honestly feel more connected to myself when I am Capulet and less connected to the person that my given name represents - the person that people offline see. And partially, this is my fault, I have spent so much time shielding these offline connections from the things that aren't so easy to share or explain face-to-face. I feel like I am someone else. And that 'someone else' is what people usually see upon spending time with me. And if these people do not know or understand the reasons behind why I am the moody, withdrawn, shy, anxious, unapproachable person I appear to be (especially in social settings) then it's likely harder for them to make the extra effort it requires in order to get close to me. Additionally I can't expect them to keep trying if I'm going to constantly shut them down. This is yet another reason I feel that I need to work on opening up to more people, (once I've established them to be trustworthy) and allow them to understand me in entirety; allow them to see me, not only as Capulet, nor as the person they think I am. But somewhere in the middle where both 'identities' can merge. Only then will I truly begin to comfortably live my life as an evolved, transformed woman.
After the meeting, I was feeling a little bold and inquired about whether the Women's Center had any volunteer opportunities. I was told they do, however they require one full year of affiliation with the center before they consider taking on someone as a volunteer. And so I will continue to attend the group meetings and take them all for what they're worth - even though I may not in the moment be able to gain anything from them, they are thought-provoking and force me to be honest with myself.
I should mention that I am also feeling a little anxious about tomorrow's (yes, tomorrow's!) appointment with the VR intake counselor - I will be discussing with her the possibility of going back to school as a full-time student, and then continuing onto acquiring my bachelor's. I am trying to allow myself to feel excited and to ignore that voice within (the one that seems to always be lying and misleading me) that is telling me that my dreams are not possible; that a better version of ME is not possible. That I will have to settle for the minimum because I am aiming too high. I don't think that will be an acceptable answer, and I fear that if this is the one I am given, that it will emotionally derail me - again.
I've also made an appointment with the support group leader for next Friday - I feel satisfied with having shared this much tonight, but feel that if J can seek 'outside' help and a place to safely put all of her own 'excess' baggage, then I certainly can, too. I'm not looking for a permanent thing - just a safe place to vent to someone who is unbiased and may be able to offer me some suggestions on how to initiate some of these much-needed and long overdue changes.
I do feel a little bit better tonight. I had all day to myself - she again went to trivia night with her friends. And normally, you probably could see the smoke coming out of my ears while I silently fumed over being alone (again) but I think that tonight, I needed it, I truly needed the alone time to think and to process and to refocus. I also think that I need to continue to find a different focus for the times/days she chooses to go out - tonight, my aim was to find a way to adequately express what was going through my mind this past week and I have done that. Moving forward, I will just have to learn to occupy myself with different things and explore alternative ways of keeping busy when she's otherwise unavailable.
I just wish this newfound, unfamiliar quest of mine for more purpose in life wasn't so fucking scary! And that it came more naturally for me without my having to work so hard at it.
And with that, it is time to wrap up. I am emotionally drained (and ironically this will put me to sleep quicker than a dose of NyQuil) and have been for a while. I've dropped with exhaustion before 12:30am for the last few nights - tonight, I'm up a little bit longer because it was important to me to not interrupt the flow of thoughts. I've got that habitual tendency to 'drop' things if I'm too tired or reserve them for another time, but this simply could NOT wait.
In closing, I thank you all for continuing to listen to me, for not giving up on me, for getting to know me, and for supporting me. I know I am by no means perfect and I know deep down that I definitely do contribute to my own problems, but, shit...none of this is intentional - it's just what I know and was taught that was needed as primarily a means of self-protection. It truly does help to also know that the persona that I feel most connected to, truly has an army behind her. So for that, thank you. I truly appreciate you all.