The first time I attempted to get this entry started, I got maybe two words typed out before my very demanding cat jumped up onto the desk, spilling my pencil holder of its contents as well as knocking my (thankfully covered) water bottle as well as other empty soda cans and nail polish bottles over. I'm telling you - when this boy wants his love and affection, he stops at absolutely nothing and often resorts to destruction!
So - here is attempt number two, now that I've banished him to the other side of my bedroom door with, "my Christmas tree BETTER still be standing in the morning, Mister!" I then locked the door so he couldn't let himself in, (believe it or not, the little shit KNOWS how to open handled doors! He taught himself and has NO regard for privacy!) and am now sitting down to write.
I had my second session with the Support Group Leader on Friday. I will from now on refer to her as M, it's easier.
Anyway - we really didn't have time to 'go over' my assignment from our last session (the one where she wanted me to share where I thought I'd be in three years) because I walked in prepared to discuss instead what I wrote about in my LAST blog entry - my recent struggles with J's re-entrance into therapy, of her starting EMDR, of being distant, overworked and overstressed, and of the rekindling of her social life. It's what's been on my mind the most nowadays, and it felt fitting to discuss this in place of whatever the hell I might be doing in three years.
Previously, we briefly got around to talking about the company J keeps - particularly her boss/friend. I've always been honest with J and told her that there's SOMETHING I can't quite put my finger on, SOMETHING about her that I don't like. I've said it until I was blue in the face. It is NOT a romantic attraction I'm fearful of. No. I trust J in every aspect, and I know that if there was any chance that she didn't want to be with me - she wouldn't be. I have tried several times to explain to her that it is simply the fact that while she and I are actively disconnecting, I am witnessing her becoming close to someone else. Although it's not on the same level, it still makes me feel (perhaps unnecessarily) threatened. And although J has always invited me into the fold and tried to include me, I've always felt reluctant and as if I didn't want to be around her boss/friend, because of these irrational thoughts.
Anyway - J's sisters dropped in on Thanksgiving night. During the day on Friday, I was dealing with our cable mishap, so I was unable to join them for the trip to the nail salon (I swear, when it comes to mani-pedis, I'm probably the man in the relationship - I could care less what my nails look like as they're usually cut short for bowling purposes, and GOD HELP anyone who touches my FEET!) or for the breakfast they went and ate after that.
Being as we live four hours apart, J doesn't spend a whole lot of time with her sister. So, whenever her sister comes for a visit, I am perfectly fine keeping a distance and allowing them the time and space to visit and reconnect. Whenever J goes out with her sister (a heavy drinker) there is ALWAYS music and booze involved. I am generally uncomfortable being around people who share this overtly loud and obnoxious, outgoing personality. And that Friday night after Thanksgiving, the three sisters wanted to go to a bar for a few drinks after supper and said that I should join them. I struggled with the invitation, but then I agreed to join them just for the food, but bowed out of the after-dinner bar plans.
Admittedly, there is currently more revolving around my not wanting to be around J's one sister either - it has a LOT to do with what happened prior to J's radiation treatment this past summer. I am feeling that is not quite resolved - her sister had said she'd like to communicate once per week, she'd like to get to know me better, things like that. She hasn't made a single effort to communicate with me - AT ALL. And I'm all about reciprocation - I've done nothing, too. I am stubborn, yes, but I also don't feel this is mine to fix. SHE is the one who acted poorly. If I said things that weren't necessarily nice or polite, it was because I was defending myself.
Anyway, I remained civil and friendly - I politely declined the second invitation to go boozing afterwards. Instead, I went straight home after the restaurant, thinking to myself, how long would it even take to get a couple drinks in? A couple hours, maybe?
They didn't get home until One. Oh. Clock. In the morning. 1:00. 1am. An hour after midnight.
What the fuck?
Still, I figured, these are not family members J sees very often - she did move four hours away from her family so that she could share her life with me - so, that thought in mind, I remained calm when she came into the bedroom at 1am. She admitted to having a little too much to drink and that after the bar, the one outgoing sister had insisted on driving out to ANOTHER bar where there was karaoke.
"I'm so glad I went," I was being sarcastic. But still asked how karaoke went. I still showed an interest, even though I wished she'd been home sooner - I felt as if I hadn't had any time with her that week, at all. She'd worked a double on Thanksgiving, then Friday the sisters were there, etc, and as it unfolded, I couldn't be with them during the first half of that day because I was waiting for the cable techie. She'd managed to get the day off work on Friday and Saturday, but still - with the added company, I wasn't feeling anything other than lonely at the moment.
Anyway, she told me that the karaoke place was pretty crowded and that her sister got up there and sang and danced, she commented on how this same sister makes 'friends' wherever she goes. She talked about how they had several drinks together and that the other sister (whom I truly DO like) was the one who had driven them all home, having only had one or two drinks all night. And she waited until the VERY end to mention:
"Oh and (boss/friend's name) met us at karaoke."
See, I was fine until that mention. I was. I don't even think it was the fact that J was pouring alcohol into her body when she normally doesn't. It was, though, the fact that she'd NOT told me that boss/friend would be there because she knew how I'd react. She'd omitted that detail entirely, which felt like a betrayal, although a small one. When asked why she didn't think to tell me this, she confirmed it. "Because every time you hear her name, you lose your shit!"
And yes, that's true. I don't even know that it's jealousy - perhaps some of it is. But at this point, I'd ALREADY explained that I was feeling disconnected from the one person I trust the most. And that I didn't like this other friend's sudden and frequent presence. Yet, J is not willing to change her friendship with boss/friend based upon these feelings I'm having, nor is she willing to slow down anything she's doing. And, so, it's me who has to change. And how the fuck I'm going to do that, remains a mystery.
We bickered about this on that night, making it a very emotional and late one. I didn't sleep a wink. She had a fair amount of alcohol in her system so that did enable her to get some sleep eventually. But I was just unable to allow sleep to take over, there were simply TOO many thoughts swimming around in my head. I still remained in bed, my heart raced all night long and I recognized familiar signs of anxiety that I hadn't seen in years. This bothered me. SO much.
It hit me that THIS was our first REAL argument in the decade we'd been together. See, up until now, we've ALWAYS been on the same page with pretty much everything. Yes, we've disagreed but it's NEVER felt like this before. Since that night, we've talked many times about this particular 'fight' and for the time being, we've reached an understanding. She will continue to work on herself in therapy while also enjoying her social outings after work once per week, and she will continue to maintain her friendship that she has become fond of. At the same time, she will work on being more present at home. She would like for ME to work on myself, too, and for me to continue sessions with M. She wants for me to branch out and be able to make connections with people other than her. "It's healthy," she says. I told her that was something I needed to work being able to accept - because it was so deeply ingrained into me by my ex-husband that one simply does not form close connections to another person outside of a relationship. You can have friends, but there's a line there - a boundary. Only HIS idea of healthy boundaries and HER idea are two entirely different things.
Although she tries to remind me that I've been with HER longer than I have been with him, I can't help but be stuck on the simple fact that it only takes a split second to change someone's 'sight,' whether it's during one isolated moment in time that can be considered a trauma or something someone else has said to you that seemingly becomes tattooed onto your brain. In the case of my ex-husband, this is what's happened - even though I TRY not to adapt to his way of thinking, I sometimes can't help when it's something that automatically kicks in!
She mentioned that she'd also like for me to get to know boss/friend and to perhaps become friendly with her. Now, this is tricky considering that right now, this woman is EVERYWHERE and it's more unsettling than not. But I did promise to try, if this is what would make her happy. We have decided that J is going to engage boss/friend into perhaps going bowling or going to ball games, or into doing anything in a setting that I can actually FOLLOW and maybe ENJOY. I have made it clear that I don't want anything to do with bars, with karaoke, with anything music-related and I refuse to be in a setting where people are just acting overall reckless.
This recent fight is also something she asked me to present to M, so on Friday's appointment, I went in fully prepared to do so. I know I could have posted it here beforehand, but it didn't feel right. Plus, I am generally slow to process what is happening, even those things right in front of me. I suppose this is a place where I can gain some unbiased feedback, same as with M in session, so I am okay doing it now that I've openly discussed it with M.
Plus, there WAS a moment in counseling that set off that little light bulb in the back of my head that has been dormant long enough for me to question whether it needed changing or that I'd be subject to being in the dark for the rest of my life. So, these words are all the more important to write.
I did previously explain J's rising social status to M, but our last (also our first) meeting was before the argument on the day after Thanksgiving. By now, things had escalated, and I needed the time and space to address it. So we talked and, somehow - (it's weird how this happens!) - something clicked. We talked about how I didn't understand WHY I didn't like boss/friend. She isn't a bad person, the few times I have seen her, she was actually fun to be around. Yet, there was something else there. Something that, when I backtracked a bit from not liking the bar/drinking/music setting.
Let's return, for a minute, back to October 4th, 1996. Some of you know this date already. It's forever etched into memory for me, as it's the night I was raped.
For starters - I was not at all used to parties, or even attending one that didn't involve balloons, clowns or goodie-bags. Or a Sweet Sixteen from the previous year - I'd attended three or four for high school friends. Other than that, I wasn't a partier, and this was okay with me. Being hearing impaired usually excluded me from many invitations, but I wasn't normally one to take offense to it. It is what it is.
One of the 'first' friends I made when I started college a month before the incident, was a very outgoing type of person. I'm not sure what exactly made us friends, since I didn't have this in common with her at all - but at the time, I had no reason to fear being social, either.
She was the one who invited me to this party that she heard about. She convinced me to lie to my father and tell him that I was going to be spending the night at her house, following the completion of a school project that would likely take HOURS. Lord Capulet, being the trusting man he was, agreed and said, 'have a good time, just be careful!'
When we arrived, she almost immediately met up with some kids that she had gone to high school with. And so, it quickly became a case of, 'see ya later, Cap!' and I was left alone. Alone, surrounded by loud music and the combined smell of alcohol and weed. It was thick, and it didn't take me very long to want to go home. When I went in search of my friend, I found her nearly topless - her shirt was opened, she was laughing it up with a bunch of surrounding horny frat guys and it was clear to me that she was heavily intoxicated. I approached her and told her that if she'd give me the keys (we arrived in her car) then I'd drive us home. She guffawed in my face (what the holy hell had she been drinking!?) and told me that she was having too much fun and wasn't ready to leave.
I don't need to get into details here as I've likely already set the stage for what happened next, but the short version of it - in attempts to leave on my own, I was raped by an older partygoer in one of the bedrooms when he'd lured me inside under the pretense that he would be making a phone call for me. I ended up walking out of the party pretty much unnoticed, as everyone around me was drunk, passed out, stoned or otherwise oblivious. BECAUSE of the booze, BECAUSE of the music. BECAUSE of this very setting.
So - I explained all of this to M. For her, it made sense right away - that, for the past 22 years, I have been unwittingly connecting the bar setting with the party setting - that whenever someone were to ask me to go have a drink, my automatic answer, without thinking about it, is 'hell, NO.' It doesn't matter who I'll be with, even if it's J. Even if it's someone whom I KNOW would not leave me flat. I don't mind the occasional drink of alcohol - I even have a favorite! (And if you've actually read this far, you're welcome to inquire on what it is in the comments!) I just prefer to drink at home - on MY turf, either alone with J or with my family members. Imbibing is not something I do frequently, as I also deal with that pestering guilt of ENJOYING something that indirectly caused my trauma 22 years ago. I was not intoxicated at the time - I was sober. But the person I was with was drunk (and I don't even know WHERE she was when I left!) and I'm uncertain of what my attacker had in his system, as when he approached me, he did NOT have a drink or a joint in his hand. Regardless, I automatically find myself arriving at the same place each and every time I recall this moment in my life. She was drunk. Had she not been drunk, this would NOT have happened!
I didn't realize even THIS until Friday, either - but the loud, obnoxious personalities of both J's sister, as well as her boss/friend, both remind me of this particular 'friend,' (I use that term very lightly, we are not friends today) who has now made it impossible for me to look at anyone who ENJOYS heavy drinking, loud music, reckless, STUPID behavior and the bar/weed setting, etc, with anything other than loathing and disgust. I honestly don't think it's the actual person I've grown to hate - because both J's sister and the boss/friend are (if I can remove their love of the things I hate) decent people. If they were not, J wouldn't even like them at all nor would she associate with the boss/friend. I know family is family and that is a connection that is not going to change but it is true for any of her friends.
I just cannot connect with these types, especially if they are not willing to try and connect with ME, either. And the way to do that, really isn't rocket science. I need to feel that someone WANTS to get to know me, someone truly is interested in learning about the person I am. I'm not getting that vibe from neither one of them.
I think that what it boils down to is - this is the TYPE of person that I can't bring myself to trust, the person who would choose alcohol or drugs over my well-being and peace of mind. And not only do I not trust them, I don't find myself being able to ALLOW new people the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy. I simply don't leave my comfort zone long enough to do this. I'm still, after 22 years, (or even longer!) living in fear of social settings, and not necessarily ONLY the ones where alcohol and loud music is included. It has been said that I am 'different' whenever I am in a group of people. I am quiet. I focus on whatever it is we're doing (whether it's a board game or a meal) and do not engage in conversation, I laugh whenever everyone else laughs so I don't look completely oblivious, and I often pray no one has asked me a question that I just responded to with a laugh.
So perhaps, that's it. This was the moment when the bulb went off in session. Maybe this is why this woman's friendship with J is so bothersome to me - I wonder if I am also, deep down, fearing that this will eventually become something J enjoys, too. SHE likes music, she likes drinking with friends. She isn't into karaoke but she's in the process of evolving. What if this is something that happens later? (Not the karaoke specifically but rather, the more extroverted lifestyle?) What if this a change that is yet to happen but is in the making?
This is NEVER going to be something I'm entirely okay with, no matter how much work I do on it. It's not going to erase the injustice done to me by that other 'friend.' I don't know how to fix this, either. My speed is just different. I am not opposed to having friends or making connections with people but I personally prefer 1:1 meetings for meals, coffee, shopping, something like that. I like the heart-to-heart talks - they are what strengthens a friendship. I don't mind taking in a drink or two with J and perhaps one other person, but I HAVE to be within a setting that doesn't catapult these fears to the surface. There IS one person, though, that I bowl with who is also a fan of the mixed drink. She is, though, first a bowling friend than anything else and HAS truly made the effort to know both J and I on other levels and is becoming someone I can indeed consider developing a friendship with that is both based on trust and mutual fondness. So, I guess this is progress.
I did remind J last night that I needed for us to stay close to each other through this...whatever it is we're going through. No matter how irrational I've seemed lately, no matter how much of an asshole I appear to be at times when I feel threatened or otherwise rejected. I joked that maybe one morning I would wake up to a world where EVERYTHING made sense. That got a smile out of her, at least. I suppose it WAS a funny thought to entertain, even for just a moment.
I'm just terrified of this type of adjustment I'm having to make, not to mention, sick and tired of being hurt, abandoned or otherwise expendable because I can't change these things about myself too easily. I'm not sure if this means there's more from what happened 22 years ago that I've got to work on - maybe it does. I've had some therapy, but maybe not enough. Maybe this is the point in time when that unfinished business has become more evident and has chosen to show up - and not politely, either - the expression 'bull in a china shop' comes to mind when I try to picture the state of my brain at the moment!
The issue of abandonment is also becoming more prominent following my birthday celebration last month. (Not sure if this is even worth to mention - but J's sister did not attend my surprise 40th nor did she even care to follow up on it. She was supposed to come, but claimed that her hand was hurting following an injury - yet if the party were for J, a little hand pain would certainly have been a non-issue and she'd have been the first one to arrive. And J had also invited boss/friend to this party, too - SHE didn't come either, apparently something came up for her, too.) And then we add to that, the staggering number of long-time friends I also had not show up or follow up either - it just all succeeded at making these thoughts even more confusing and bothersome and my heart genuinely HURTS right now over ALL of it.
That's it for today, I suppose. It's taken two days to get all of this written out - and yes, this is unusual for me, too. I'm normally able to hammer out one of these blog entries in a matter of a few hours, but this has taken me DAYS. Even now I'm reading and re-reading and my finger is hovering over the 'DELETE' button...I'm unsure of how much I even like myself and how I am right now, so how can I expect too many others to? The more I think about it, the more I am tempted to just click out of the tab because some of it probably seems so SILLY - but these are authentic concerns of mine and regardless of how they come across, they're things that NEED to be said. So it's time, I guess, to hit 'SEND' and be done with it.