Relational Crossroads

Somewhere in the last year, I met someone who genuinely valued me. Who supported me. Who seemed to enjoy my oddities and find a simple pleasure in my presence. Someone who shared my interests, and who could handle defeat of various kinds with grace and kindness and an odd sort of self-confidence that was dashingly attractive.

Tonight, I realized our relationship was lopsided. That I look at a deepening relationship with as much fear as he does eagerness.

Someone in a group made a comment about his wife, and I felt the brush of Guy’s fingers, and felt as much as saw the warm glance he turned my way.

There is one problem, however.

I am not ready.

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Trigger-feelings

He lifted his hand from the wheel, shaking it, sunshine and shadows filtering through the driver’s side window as his knuckles popped. A rueful smile popped across his lips, and he grinned at me during the course of a conversation I no longer remember.

Then his right hand, the one nearest me… he lifted and shook it too. Nothing happened.

Then, he punched it on his thigh, abruptly, suddenly.

He punched his thigh.

Even as he relaxed and sighed in relief as his knuckles cracked, I found myself taut as a guitar string. Staring straight out the window, I breathed carefully as he continued driving, oblivious.

I am safe.

He’s not angry.

He won’t hurt me.

But these are things I said of my ex, too. So there is some discord in my body, trying to decide to believe the things I am telling it. Or not.

Logically – Guy has never done anything to intentionally make me feel unsafe. Quite the opposite, he tries so hard to make things work and make me comfortable.

I don’t want him to walk on eggshells, like I once had to. I say nothing, but I felt the quiet paralyzing my mind and limiting my words as a part of me shut down.

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Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.

Most people, when they see rolling hills and wide grassy expanses feel a sense of joy and relief in the beauty of the world. In reality, I can entirely relate to this and even crave the peace and quiet and regenerative qualities of the great outdoors.

Yet, with anxiety, the emotional counterpoint of those rolling green hills takes a darker turn. Beneath that beauty, lies a minefield, and if I’m to function, I have to find a way to cross it.

Fun! (Not.)

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Forging my own relational path

Learning to love….? again.

Love is a funny word, when you come to think of it. So many meanings and applications. I know how to love: with my family, with my intimate girlfriends who have kept me sane and supported, with my friends children or my pets. All of those things come easily to me.

When I think of love, I’ve often interpreted it in the past as action. If we love someone, we look for and strive to meet their needs so that they feel valued. A relationship is formed when that person offers the same to us. As a piece of the relational puzzle, it is a really important one. But I’ve come to learn that actions cannot exist in a void, and love itself is too multi-faceted for any strict, single definition. But, to get back to my original train of thought… Continue reading

Breaking Free

Shame involves that pervasive gut-twist of fear. It is the awareness that someone has learned some deeply hidden truth about you and they may think less of you, because you think less of you for it.

When I first left my ex-husband, I felt a lot of shame. That inner voice didn’t just whisper, it battered me with my own judgmental thoughts. It weighed me down physically and emotionally. Thoughts that were harsher than I would offer  any other person in my situation.

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Walking the Tightrope

There is a fine line before me, and I set one foot carefully before the other. Sometimes my movements are confident, other times I am hesitant. But I must keep my eyes on the goal ahead, for where I look, the rest of me will follow. Focusing on what is behind me, or below me, may set my feet in places that send me tumbling to the ground.

One of the things I’ve noticed, cruising around the blogosphere, are the different ways that people use to cope with hardship and grief. Some focus on the present. Others on their thoughts. There are blogs that focus on understanding the things or people that have caused the author harm. Still others, seek to inform and educate.

Sometimes I am not sure why I am here, my words are often somewhat unfocused, and I veer from self-help, to streams of consciousness, to random thoughts. I’ve spent a lot of time following the stories of fellow bloggers, reading and considering their insights, and pains, and the validation that comes from knowing you are not alone in this experience. Continue reading

Comprehending Chaos

Making life complicated is never something I set out to do, yet it seems I am the magnet and chaos is the iron filings. This post has a little of everything, as I try and process out the churn and understand why I feel so overwhelmed in this moment.
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“What we have here… is a failure to communicate…”

When I opened up wordpress today, I was ready to rip two friends a new one on this anonymous blog. Friends who I love dearly, but who have both, in their own ways, separately, unrelatedly, managed to hurt me this week in very deep ways. One, making judgmental statements about another friend of hers who is divorced, among other things that made me feel small. The other, bringing marijuana as the ‘3rd wheel’ whenever we want to do something together. (Aside: What people choose to do recreationally is obviously not my business, but when it starts impacting a relationship negatively, something’s gotta give.)

But as I sat here, staring at the blank page, typing and deleting, venting, ranting, bemoaning how rough my week has been and how this weekend didn’t turn out like I had hoped, I discovered some things that took me by surprise, and rather changed the direction of my thoughts. Ranting and venting only do so much.

  1. I used to be too numb to feel these hurts.
  2. It’s not my fault when others make choices (words or actions) that hurt me.
  3. Reflecting those choices back to those who made them, doesn’t make me a bad person.
  4. Sometimes I’m afraid those who knew me as I was, don’t really want the stronger person I am becoming. 

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Midnight Revelations

One of the promises I made to myself, before embarking on this new relationship, was to prioritize my self-care and healing needs. In essence, I didn’t want to look towards this relationship as a short-cut through healing, but rather as something I could use to force myself to recognize what I need to change to be healthier. And a place to practice those new healthy behaviors.

I needn’t have worried, because simply having another man in my life provokes comparisons, questions and random revelations. My last relationship was so long-standing, and traumatic enough, I don’t want to find myself back where I began. Besides, if you haven’t noticed already, I have a tendency to endlessly mull over things in my life.

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Cultivating a little chaos

When you have lived in Chaos for so long, a part of you finds ways to create that sense of urgency even when you are out of the situation that caused so many of your difficulties.

Wherever this observation came from (whether it was from my therapist, or a book, or an article scrounged from the wilds of the internet) it is nonetheless fitting for me, as I look around my life now. I’ve managed to craft myself weekly commitments on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first two for my own fun, the latter I volunteer that night running an event. (And doing it a little half-assed, if I were to be totally honest with myself, though everyone seems to be having fun regardless, so maybe that is my perfectionist tendencies popping out.)

Yet I’ve been thinking over, a little futilely, what is nudging me to instinctively fill so many of my moments. Last night I met my new guy friend, Friday night I’ll attend a game night he will also be going to. Continue reading

Waiting for the other shoe to drop…

Over two months since my last post, encapsulating work emergencies, new friends, a possible new relationship, and many moments of challenging myself to heal.

As I posted in a reply to a comment someone left me today, I realized that as of today it has been 9 months. Three quarters of a year, and each moment more fulfilling than the last. Most days I wake up contented, my days are filled with happy moments and an easy resilience that I though impossible 9 months and a day ago. There are the occasional nightmares, dredged up by triggers, or by slowly re-engaging people where before I had placed barriers.

And believe me, I can appreciate the irony of meeting someone not long after my ‘single and not looking’ post. It’s been interesting, being courted by someone who shares many of my own interests, who spent about eight weeks maneuvering that fine line of consistent interest, friendship, and yet not being pushy.

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A breath in which to grieve and ramble

Three separate addresses in the last five months, met with a new counselor, a new doctor, living a new life balancing open dialogue with consideration for what may be TMI. Revisiting old struggles, living with my family again, matters I never quite dealt with before.

This last weekend, I stringently protected my time, I made no plans, I gave a gentle “no” to each person seeking my time. I slept. I watched mindless shows on Netflix. I struggled to tap into the place where my words and stories come from, and though it was mostly unsuccessful, it was a start.

Saturday night, late – the pent up emotions released. Signing the final sale documents on our home was about as hard as signing the original documents to begin the process of my divorce. Is it strange I’m grieving the loss of my home so much more than the loss of my marriage? Even if I am alone for the rest of my life, I am already so much more peaceful than I have been over the past few years. Yet I still miss owning my own place, having the freedom to design and decorate as I want. Having something of mine. It is frustrating having to reintegrate pets again, after spending the last five months struggling to integrate them the first time. They aren’t handling the change particularly well either.

That said, my room is about twice the size as it was before, and I have a walk-in closet. Which means I have enough space to have my books all about me, and I am so very eager to have them around again. The companions of so many years. I regret my Ex’s needling me to constantly cull down, and that I got rid of so many.

Bills are now reasonable enough for me to manage on my own, even if my Ex continues to forgo any contributions. I am trusting that the lawyers will make all equal. I want no more, and no less, than my share. My counselor is encouraging me in this, though she says normally she encourages people to back off.

I’m tired of being a doormat, tired of falling back to always taking up the smallest footprint possible so as not to disturb everyone else. Yet it is so uncomfortable, to try and make myself heard. Anxiety builds whenever I have to give people a response I don’t think they want or will like. I suppose most of that is from dealing with my ex over the years, his rages could be so unpredictable.

I miss the man he could have been, and not the man he chose to be.

It feels wrong that I should spare any feelings for him at all. Even now I still have a hard time holding on to any anger. There is more just a sense of sadness, of disappointment.

Anyhow, enough ramblings for now…

Brittle strength

So many moments of powerlessness envelop my memory, and it is easy to feel ashamed, or discouraged or foolish. Ashamed that I covered up so much. Foolish for protecting my family and loved ones from the intensity of my Ex’s childishness and mood swings. Discouraged that I spent so many years of my life struggling forward on a path I had chosen for myself, only to give up on it, in the end.

Early on in my counseling sessions, my therapist mentioned that it can be healing for people in my situation to look back at their life and pick out moments of empowerment. To find the moments of strength in history.

I can more easily point to days and weeks and months and years where my focus was just on getting through the day. There were many times I made concessions. Catered to his moods. Kept silent. Refrained from sharing information I knew might stir him to anger or upset.

And yet… there were times I drew a line, and dared him to cross it. And usually he would back away. Continue reading

Newly single and not looking

My divorce isn’t finalized, and yet the questions are starting to circulate.

“Are you dating?”

“Oops, sorry, I shouldn’t talk about ‘things’ when you aren’t getting any.” (Meaning sex)

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Are you interested in…. <insert name>?” Continue reading

‘You made me a pariah.’

There is a discomfort in unpleasant honesty. The price of mine, might very well have made it more difficult for my Ex to find somewhere to stay.

I could hear the accusation, even in the stark text of an e-mail I shouldn’t have read.

‘You made me a pariah.’ Continue reading