Revelations are curious things, and sometimes the most profound of realizations to some are ones that are so obvious to others. But I suppose, the path to understanding ourselves is more about the journey to the destination than the destination itself.
A recent run-in with my ex, who decided it best to get arrested rather than obey my protection order, left me opening mail from the Domestic Violence Advocate and the Prosecutor’s office. In it, was a request for a Victim’s Impact Statement.
Although the request sent me to my Google Docs and I wrote several pages on several different days, none granted me the words I wished to use. I wanted to achieve a few things:
- I wanted to be cognizant that anything I write will go into the public record.
- I do not want to be weak, but I want him to understand I will utilize my protection order to the full legal extent I am allowed.
Though I still don’t have anything down I feel comfortable sharing, I discovered some things about myself through this process.
Sometimes I forget it is not possible to be in control of everything, all the time. Or that, even if I am in control, my choices do not always lead to the best results. Or, even if my choices don’t lead to ‘the best’ results, who determines what is best and worst? Me. And sometimes those determinations are a little arbitrary, or based on other peoples’ expectations.
The last few weeks have brought with them an overflow of information, a few realizations, an incident with the ex, the Flu, a heart to heart with myself, time with friends, preparation for a long-planned minor surgery, and some heavy considerations regarding my priorities, relationships… pretty much the whole nine yards and then some.
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.
To the tune of Anticipation, by Carly Simon… “Procrastination, procrastination…. Is makin’ me late… Is keepin’ me waitin’.”
Something I wrote a while ago keeps coming back to me, and it has to do with this feeling of fragility. Intangibility. Perhaps it is kin to that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Kin to the feeling of balancing many spinning plates on the ends of long sticks. Everything is going well, really, but sometimes I still feel the anxiety of being one unlucky tip away from shattered glass at my feet.
(Upon writing that sentence, the snarky part of my mind suggested that maybe it was time I started using heavy plastic instead of glass. Then that led me to rabbit trail down the practical considerations of whether or not plastic (however dense) might spin comparative to ceramic. All up to the point where I reminded myself, this was only intended as a visual example. I share this, because it shows how abstractedly distracted my thoughts have become, lately. Maybe you’ll get a chuckle; I know I did – sometimes all I can do is just laugh at myself and move along.)
A journey begins with just one step, and over the course of the past eighteen months or so, this blog has cataloged a hundred and one posts that document bits of my story, the path I’ve traveled, and my goals.
Today, Friday, I need to remind myself how much ground I have covered. A promotion at work, debt nearly under control, a new relationship, a better grasp of the tools needed to handle my anxiety. My New Year’s Resolution was to be more authentic in my everyday life, and while it hasn’t always made things easier in the immediate moment, I think long-term I’ve been at least making progress with that goal.
Yet I still have things I want to achieve, and these seem to be a bit more of a struggle. Continue reading
Why is it one of the first words children learn, is also one of the hardest for some of us to verbalize as adults? One of the common themes in my counseling sessions has become understanding the coping mechanisms I learned as a child when I struggled to deal with my emotions.
My parents made many good decisions regarding my upbringing, teaching me a healthy skepticism for information and facts, teaching me how to question and challenge and understand the world around me. Yet the strange irony, is that same freedom was not expected, allowed, or ever welcomed when it came to their own authority.
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.
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.
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
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.
Some times it is still difficult to find the words that lay closest to my soul. To be truly vulnerable. To be truly myself.
But it is getting better.
Saturday I met some of Guy’s friends for the first time, the first part of the day I hung out and studied. The second part I played a few games. The last third of the time at their house we discussed the world at large, concepts of personal responsibility, thoughts on the issues our society here in America are facing. We didn’t always agree on the solutions, but I think the essence of our motivations were similar enough, and understood enough, we were able to have a genuine conversation.
One that I immensely enjoyed, for the first time in nearly a decade. Continue reading
One of the truths of the past decade, is that my understanding of interpersonal dynamics is terribly skewed. It’s like a picture, hanging on a wall. What do I use as a basis for it being properly aligned? Items askew must be adjusted in my world, so usually you pick one straight line – the ceiling, the floor, the edge of the wall – and use it to line up the square or rectangular decorations on your walls.
For almost my entire marriage, nothing lined up right. So I did the best I could, found the least offensive way to put some order to my life. I lined myself up against my husband’s beliefs, not always accepting, but not always protesting or standing up against the ones that were incorrect. My options? Leave. Work towards change. Adapt. Continue reading
I am worthy. My values and beliefs matter, as well as the manner in which I convey them. Every person is due respect, even if we disagree. It is okay to pick my battles. Having the last word isn’t necessary, so long as I feel confident in my last words on a topic. I don’t have to be friends with everyone, and I do not need everyone to be happy or approve of my opinions. Continue reading
A year ago today, I didn’t feel whole. Instead, when I looked at myself, I saw something resembling a shattered window. All the glass reflecting bits of me, refracting light every which way, but nothing whole.
Jumbled. Confused. Broken.
I wish I could reach back in time, and wrap the woman I was in a big, long hug. To tell her, “Your journey is worth it.” Because it is. It has been. And it continues to be.
There are days I still wonder if I’ll ever be fully healed again, moments of irrational fear and obsessive thoughts that lead to anxiety. But instead of derailing my day like they once did, I am able to start moving past them. Being able to write and process life and struggles and perspectives here has been such a blessing.
I am starting to come back.
Promotion at work. Slowly getting my finances in order. Starting back to school. Spending time with friends. Working on healthier habits. My own car. Renewed friendships. A healthy relationship.
Life doesn’t often allow us to stop and reflect. I still have a long way to go, and I am still cleaning up a lot of messes that happened when I was overwhelmed, anxious, and lacking in funds. But if I’ve come so far in just a year, where could I end up in another?
Nothing brings your emotions to light quite like the enforced seclusion of keeping germs to myself. Each night this week I’ve lurched home, dropped my things on the nearest flat surface, and found a corner to coil up in. It’s left me surprisingly little human contact, and allowed my mind far too much space for rampant play.
My rapid forward progress in the healing process was bound to hit a few little roadblocks on the way.