Feeling Antsy

It’s not like we’ve had a bad week. It’s actually been pretty quiet, which is nice, but I think that is part of why I am feeling so antsy. We have made these decisions in order to have calm time to work on our issues and our marriage and I think that is really intimidating to me. I’ve spent so long avoiding my issues that now being faced with the prospect of addressing them scares the bejeezes out of me. I know this is something that I need to do. I know that in the end it will be worth it. I just wish I wasn’t scared. I wish it was stuff that I could tackle right now and be done with by next week.

But it’s not. And one of the issues I need to work on is accepting that things take time.

It’s just so frustrating though. I don’t feel like I really have anything of value or purpose to fill my time. Yes, I take care of the house and while I do love that, it doesn’t take any real brain power. I wish I could take a class. I know that the classes at church are going to be starting up again soon and I would love to take one, but part of me wants more of a challenge. If it was a class on the history of the Bible, or something more in-depth like that then I would jump at it. Maybe I can audit an online class? The thing is, I don’t feel right paying for a class to take it just for fun. At least, not if it is ridiculously expensive. Maybe I will look into that. Edison and Sinclair are both fairly close, maybe they offer classes to the general public. It would be nice to have something to work for.

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the “this is not good” feeling

Do you ever enter a situation, and every fiber of your being is telling you “this is not good”?

I had a friend in college who I had a huge crush on, Andres. He was from my hometown and pretty much my only friend at the time because I hadn’t adjusted to life at college. I had actually met him in high school because I was tutoring a student who had moved from El Salvador and didn’t speak any English, and he and the student were friends. I didn’t know that we lived in the same small town though, until I saw him at the local 4th of July parade. We said hi and went our separate ways and didn’t run into each other until a few months later at my old high school. I had stopped by to do a presentation to try and recruit students to my college and on my way out I ran into Andres. We talked for a few minutes and he asked what I was doing in town. I told him about the presentation and that I was home for the weekend and that I was headed to get the oil changed in my truck. He said that his step dad owned a shop in our hometown and that if I stopped by after school was over he would change it for 20$. He gave me his number and directions to the garage and I went home.

That afternoon I went to the garage and we talked while he changed my oil. I don’t really remember what we talked about. We joked, we flirted, we talked about teachers we had in common. Then he invited me to a movie. Sometimes when I am scared, I feel like my body has become frozen. Not so much in that I can’t move, but that I feel very very cold. Like jumping into a pool after sitting in a hot tub. This was one of those times. I wasn’t sure if it was a date, but I was having fun getting to know this guy so I said yes. We agreed to meet at the theater later that night. I went home and told my parents and my mom asked me if it was a date and I told her I didn’t know, because I didn’t, but part of me wanted it to be a date. After the movie we went and got ice cream and sat and talked for a while. He was very flirty and I remember feeling swept away. Not in a romantic way, or even a good way, but just a ‘this is all so new’ way.

We became friends. We texted, we talked, we IMed. I developed a really big crush on him. Now I realize I didn’t have a crush on him, on his personality, I had a crush on what he represented–a guy who didn’t prejudge me. Thinking back, I notice that as a teenager, pretty much anytime a guy would actually take the time to get to know me as opposed to labeling, ridiculing, or picking on me, I would develop a crush on them. Eventually we talked about the fact that I had a crush on him. That was one of those ‘this isn’t going to be good’ situations. He said he was glad to have a true friend and didn’t want to spoil that, and that he thought I didn’t really like him, it was just an infatuation. He was completely right, but at the time I was so upset. Eventually we got past it though.

One day he told me that he was in the country illegally. He said that his mom and dad moved to the US and were getting their visas, but his dad cheated on his mom and he left her and went back to Ecuador. He didn’t tell her that when he left, he canceled their visas. When his mom found out, she married her boyfriend, who was also her ex-husbands former best friend. But Andres was over 18, so he wasn’t covered by his mom’s marriage. His mom was married when I met him, so I have no idea how long he knew before he told me. He tried to come up with ways to stay, but ultimately couldn’t come up with a way. Except for one. He sent me a text saying that the only option he had left was to marry a US citizen and he was wondering if I would do it. (Lamest proposal ever, plus the ‘this is not good’ situations) I remember walking down the sidewalk at our house and reading the text, and about halfway through it thinking “oh please, do not ask me this”. I stopped walking and my mom asked me what was going on, and I told her Andres asked me to marry him. I don’t remember what I texted back. I think it was something like “please do not ask me this”, but the basic gist was ‘no’.

I thought about it that day and I came to the conclusion that if he was asking me then he must truly be out of options, and if it had been me facing deportation then I would have wanted him to help me. When I told him that, he said no, that he should never have asked me in the first place, that it wasn’t fair of him to put that on me. He ended up moving to Miami to live with his cousins because it was easier for him to work off the books there. Eventually he was deported back to Colombia (where he was born), but got permission to move to Ecuador to live with his dad.

Obviously, living on different continents made it more difficult to keep in touch, but we bought international phone cards and talked online to keep our friendship going. There would be weeks where I didn’t hear from him. Sometimes months. I would send him a message every few days at first, then every few weeks. Then we only talked when he would get a hold of me. I understood that he was working, but it really bothered me that he couldn’t take 2 minutes out of his day to say “hi, I’m working, can’t talk”. If I was having a problem or needed my friend, he was never there. I thought that it was my fault. I thought that if I had been a better friend, if I had married him, then our friendship wouldn’t have been suffering. A few months before Rob and I started dating I actually looked into the legal aspects of a fiancee visa, but ultimately realized it wasn’t the right thing to do.

On the other hand, if he was going through something, then he would get a hold of me to talk. He talked to me when he needed help translating a purchase order. He talked to me when he was having an affair with his married neighbor. He jokingly told me a few times that he was coming back, or that he was already back. He told me about all the drinking and sleeping around he did. When my grandpa was dying from cancer he didn’t return my messages. He didn’t tell me when he was in the hospital. I sent him a message and his friend answered it, telling me Andres couldn’t talk because he was in the hospital. He told me he wasn’t allowed to leave the country (Ecuador) for 10 years, but he didn’t tell me he went to Germany on a business trip. When I told him I was engaged to Robby, he told me that I shouldn’t get married. That it was too soon and as my friend he only wanted what was best for me. I told him I was tired of him only being my friend when he needed something, and that he kept lying to me and he knew that lying is a big issue for me. We had talked several times before about how I couldn’t tell when he was lying and that made me not trust him and I was getting tired of it. That was the last time I really talked to him.

A few months later he sent me a friend request on Facebook along with a message saying he was sorry and that he hoped we could be friends. Tonight, his mom sent me a Facebook message asking how I am.

I don’t know if she is trying to get us to reconnect, or saw me the last time I was in town, but it makes me so nervous. I don’t want to have to deal with this. I thought I had made it perfectly clear that he had lost my trust. Maybe I wasn’t clear, maybe he thinks that enough time has passed. Maybe he has moved back to the US and is asking his mom to try and get a hold of me. Who knows. I will just have to wait and see.

A New Thought Path

Yesterday was my first appointment with Sheila since everything happened between me and Rob. We talked about what had happened and how we were dealing with it, and I mentioned that I had been sleeping on an air mattress so I could have my own space. I could see the alarm on her face. She asked me why I didn’t feel safe in the same bed as Robby and I told her how we had cuddled the night before and I felt so vulnerable and scared but I was trying to tell myself that Robby has never done anything to warrant me feeling that way towards him.

Sheila asked me “What’s the worst thing he could do to you?”

“Rape me. But I know he would never do that. In the whole world of possibilities, that would be the worst though.”

“So, what is the worst thing he has done?”

“Hurt me emotionally

“So that is what you are scared of”

It sounds like a cliche, but it was just like having a light bulb turn on in my head. The fear that I had been feeling about being hurt emotionally had been getting crossed in my head with the hurt from the abuse and I was starting to fear Robby for something he never did, or would do. Yes, he did hurt me emotionally, but I have been withdrawing physically from him as if he has abused me. And I have done it before. So many times. I have had a bad PTSD episode and not been able to kiss or touch him for days, sometimes weeks. We had always accepted that pattern–PTSD episode, withdraw physical intimacy, slowly reestablish physical intimacy–as an absolute. That’s the way it was, so we were just going to have to adapt to it. I can’t believe it never occurred to us that we didn’t have to accept that. I don’t have to let the PTSD fear take over and push us apart. I have to relearn how to separate the truth from what the PTSD is trying to tell me, and the truth is that Robby is my safe place, the love of my life, and has never and will never abuse or molest me.

So now I am working on uncrossing the wires that PTSD crosses. The way Sheila explains it is that a person with PTSD can separate situations, they could go through this and recognize that the hurt was emotional and begin to repair the damage. With PTSD, wires get crossed, so all (or at least most) roads lead back to the trauma that caused the PTSD. It can be starting a new job, having a fight with your husband, getting a negative pregnancy test, practically anything. If there is one wire that can somehow be related back to the trauma, your brain will follow that wire and dump you back into that mindset of fear and vulnerability. And Sheila has said, and I agree, that it is possible to get stuck in that mindset. Your brain wants to do what it is used to doing, that’s why it is so hard to learn to do something you already know how to do in a different way.

Think of how you tie your shoes: bunny ears, squirrel in a tree, loop it swoop it pull (this is what I do). You’ve probably been tying your shoes the same way your entire life. If you were told that you had to tie them a different way you wouldn’t be able to change your habit in one try. That’s why it’s a habit. It’s something you do without thinking. It’s automatic. Even if you know you are supposed to be doing the bunny ears, you might automatically start a different method just because that is what your brain is programmed to do: when tying shoes, use squirrel method.

Essentially, that is what I am going to have to learn to do. My brain has spent probably the last 19 years following the PTSD path, and now I have to learn to follow a new path. The thing is, tying your shoes is an obvious act. There is tangible evidence if they are tied or not tied. Thoughts are so much more abstract. They are constant and generally very subtle. If you don’t tie your shoes you will either trip and fall, or people will tell you that your shoe laces are untied. With thoughts, no one can tell. Well, most people can’t tell. Rob is very good at seeing what is in my eyes and knowing that I am struggling. But the point is that this is something that is internal. It depends on me. And I have a really hard time with internal things. I get stuck really easily, or my feelings get away from me and I feel out of control. To be completely honest, I am scared. I want the PTSD to get better, even if it’s just a little better. But I know it’s going to be hard, painful, long work. Work that only I am responsible for.

Sheila has recommended that I look into something called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). From what I have read it is basically a type of therapy specially designed to lessen the effects of traumatic memories. It doesn’t look like it can cure PTSD (in fact, I highly doubt there is a cure for PTSD) but it can make it less severe. And I am more than willing to do the work for that possibility. We have, for the first time, a period in our relationship where we aren’t just trying to survive whatever life throws at us, but can actually be proactive. So I’m going to take it. I’m going to take this chance to try and heal.

Letter to Rob

When Robby and I started dating I (obviously) had a lot of issues to work through. One of the boundaries I had to overcome was being able to admit my feelings. Being me, I tried to analyze my feelings scientifically in order to validate them, as well as protect myself. I thought that if I could fill out a check list then I would know what to expect, what to feel. I thought my feelings had to fit a universal definition in order to be ‘real’. While I was trying to sort all of this out I started to pull away from Robby, but I finally wrote him this letter around the end of April/beginning of May of 2009.

This is the other half of why I brought up the fact that I can feel myself protecting myself because I’m expecting you to leave. I could feel myself putting that wall back up. These are basically some things that I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid of opening up to you, but I recognize that part of a relationship is opening yourself up to the other person. I’ve just worked on the assumption so long that if I keep things that could complicate a relationship (any relationship, friends included) hidden, then the relationship won’t be complicated. But the thing is, I know that that is not how life works, and that hiding things will only make our relationship more complicated, and I don’t want that. I’m writing this to you because I want to break down that wall I’ve been trying to put up. So here goes:

I’m trying to find a way to say the things that I’m scared of the most. I want to say things that in the past I’ve always run away from, but for some reason, I feel as if I’m going to lose you if I don’t say them. I don’t feel pressured to say this, but I don’t want it to come out wrong. I’ve always been frustrated by the phrase, ‘I love you’ because it can mean so many things. It’s too ambiguous. And it’s so frustrating because I don’t know how to say what I’m feeling. The thing is that when I think of you, I can’t stop the words ‘I love you’ or ‘I love him’ from popping into my head. But I don’t know what that means!!! I know that I miss you when you’re not here, that I smile when I think about you, that I feel like every situation would be better if you were there. That when I think of home, I think of being with you, in your bed, in your arms. That I want to wake up next to you every day, that I want you to be there next me when I graduate, when I go to grad school, when I’m happy, when I’m sad. Whenever. Quite possibly forever. And while that scares me, I really do want to be with you, and I’m going to fight with all my strength to keep us together. I think that Becky had it right, that I finally found a good thing, and I really can’t imagine finding something better, and I don’t want to try. I am so happy with you, and I’m sorry I have to write this, but I’m still a little too scared to actually say this to you. Today, when you said that you were also preparing yourself to get hurt, my heart just broke. I don’t want you guard yourself against me. I never realized how much it must hurt you to hear me doubt us, or you, until you said that. I never want you to doubt us. And I know, sometimes I doubt us, although it’s not really doubting us per say, but more of a ‘this is too perfect, it can’t be my life, so there is no way that it will work, my heart is going to get broken’. But the thing is that I trust you. I really do. And that’s huge. For me to say that and actually mean it, really means a lot, and I never would be able to trust you if you hadn’t been so patient with me and worked with me on my issues. You have no idea how grateful I am to you for that, and I know it can’t have been easy, and probably still isn’t easy, so I just want to say thankyou. Thank you so very much Robby. Basically, this entire rant was to say that……..I love you…..I don’t know if it’s the dictionary definition or not, but it’s what I feel. In my own messed up, weird, confusing kind of way, I really do love you. I’ve wanted to say this for a few days, and have actually been holding it in because I wanted to say it when I wasn’t scared anymore. But I think that I’m just going to be scared until I actually say it. Or write it in this case.

Through the Dark

An old poem written while on break at the bookstore I worked at from Feb-Oct 2011

If you get through the wall it will all come spilling and I won’t be able to pretend I’m okay

Masks and mirrors have kept me safe this long, watching my life pass as a reflection, free of pain and fear—believing if you think I’m fine then I can keep pushing through, walking through this nightmare

Keeping the demons in me trapped behind these glass walls, staring ahead. Not seeing I’m surrounded I pretend I’m fine. What you don’t know can’t hurt you but what I refuse to see is killing me.

These monsters are there, they’re real and so I fight to stay looking ahead, protecting myself from what’s inside

But someone appears from out of the black nothing that make me up, telling me there is a light in this dark, a way out of the torture hidden behind my eyes

I’m still surrounded by not-seen demons, still walking straight ahead. But now there’s something—another way of seeing the shadows that make me believe there must be a light somewhere creating them

A comfort comes from knowing these shadows aren’t consuming. Not Hope, not that strong, but Knowing. Knowing what I’ve seen, where I’ve been isn’t everything. Knowing there’s another layer gives me the strength to look for it.

Now I’m watching, looking to find a light, a door, a way out. No long walking resigned.

Note to Self:

I always feel better after talking.

Hardly anyone understands loving someone who has an addictive personality. But Emily does. She and Drew have gone through some of the same things that Robby and I have. Drew is struggling with porn and Emily is struggling with self esteem because of that. Emily is struggling with the pressure of trying to conceive and Drew is struggling with withdrawing within himself, with keeping the “I’m fine” mentality when he really isn’t.

I thought that it would be helpful to talk to her, but I didn’t expect how healing it would be.

I know I have trouble reaching out for help when I need it, so I am writing this to myself: You always feel better after talking.

Facing it

I can feel myself trying to put a wall up between me and the rest of the world, and I know I need to fight it, but all I want to do is hide. I don’t want to face everything that is going on in my life. I want to retreat into my own little world where I can convince myself that I am okay. That I don’t hurt. That I’m not scared.  And I know that in the long run, hiding is just going to make everything more difficult, but I just want a break. I don’t want to have to deal with this. I don’t want to face it. Part of me wants to cancel on Emily tonight. I love her to pieces but I just don’t want to talk about what has been going on with me and Robby. It’s all so hard and so fresh that even thinking about telling her scares me. I know she will be supportive and understanding, I think I don’t want to say anything because part of me wants to deny that this is really happening. But I know it’s not going to get better until I stop running and actually face this. And if I hide from the truth then all this effort, all this work and pain that I’ve put into the situation will have been for nothing because when I am finally forced to face the situation I will have to start at the beginning. And I just want to be better. I want to feel safe and strong and know that I am being the person I am meant to be. It’s just going to take so much to get to that point, and by taking the first steps that we have taken, I am recognizing that there isn’t goign to be a quick fix. There are no short cuts. We have to do this the right way. And I liked what mom said to me, about how only we can decide what the ‘right way’ is for us. I think to me, the ‘right way’ means facing everything. Starting at the surface and slowly peeling back and exposing each new layer to see what the damage is, and then fixing it before moving onto the next layer. We can’t put a band-aid on this, or the wound will just fester, and if we let it fester long enough then we may not be able to heal it. And even though that knowledge doesn’t make it easy to go through this, and I definitely don’t want to go through this, it drives me to do it anyways. And we will do it. I’m sure there will be times when we just need to take a break from reality, and I’m sure there will leaps forward and steps back, but I think as long as we are both committed to sticking with it, we will get there in the end. I had been so focused on whether or not Robby was committed to fixing us that I never really thought about what it would mean for me to commit to fixing us. Because I have a lot of personality traits and habits that need addressed too, and I have to be just as committed to fixing myself as he is to fixing himself.

Talking with Melissa

I wrote the other day about how my good friend Melissa has unexpectedly found herself pregnant, and it really shook me up. After a lot of praying and crying I started to be able to wrap my head around her news. This is a chain of emails between us.
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2013 19:32:11 -0600

  Subject: hugs for Melissa

 Hi Melissa,    I wanted to write you a little email to say a few things. First off, I am SO happy for you, and Bob. Second, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so kind in telling me your news. So many people have thought only of their excitement and not of how other people might feel, and one of the most amazing things about your spirit is how empathetic you are. Thank you for being you. Third, I love you to pieces. I consider you one of my best friends (#1 local friend! 🙂 ) I know that life has thrown you a curve ball, and I just want you to know that I am here for you in any way you need me. I am more than happy to cry with you during movies, eat weird craving food, listen to your hopes and worries, and anything else you need. I know that you are concerned for me and I love you for that. I’m not going to lie, it does hurt that God hasn’t blessed us and that we are going through such a difficult time right now, but I don’t ever want you to hesitate to call me because of that. It would hurt me so much more to have a barrier come between our friendship. I am praying for you, Bob, and the little one to come and I hope and pray that everything turns out well. I would be honored to get to be by your side and help support you through this, and I can’t wait to hold that little blessing (yes there will be tears 🙂 )

Congratulations again

laura

PS- I told Rob, I hope that is okay. I told him not to tell anyone else.

Date: 8/16/2013 10:45 AM
Subject: RE: hugs for Melissa

You are beautiful!!! I am so glad you are my friend!

Maybe it’s the hormones….yes….I’m sure it is…but you sent me to tears!

I love you, Laura! Thank you.

Melissa

Date: 8/16/2013 7:15 PM
Subject: RE: hugs for Melissa
That’s okay, I was crying when I was typing it :)Got the call from the girlie dr- not pregnant (darn) but I DID ovulate 🙂 I told her that we are going to take a break from trying for a while and she asked if everything was okay. I told her we had been going and going for two years and our relationship was starting to suffer and that we wanted to take time to rebuild us before adding another family member. She said she thought that was great and that after we strengthen our relationship we can come back and make it even stronger with a baby and to call her if she could do anything. She also said she is praying for us.

It’s weird how much more mentally stable I feel after hearing that we are not pregnant. I’m disappointed because I do still want to be a mom, but so relieved that we can take the time to fix us and rebuild our relationship.

Thinking of and praying for you 🙂

Laura

Sad Relief

Yesterday actually was a very eventful day. Mom and my little sister Taylor (age 7) came up to visit me and the plan was that Taylor and I would go to a local children’s science museum while mom did her own thing. They got here a lot earlier than I expected and since the museum doesn’t have a food court we decided to walk to the local toy store and snoop for a bit before going to lunch together and then going our separate ways. The toy store was the first time I had been around people since I had my melt down, and I started to unravel. We stopped by the library on the way home so I could pee, and I also got to talk to Robby. It was so great to want to turn to him and not feel afraid to. To actually see him as a source of comfort was wonderful. We talked a bit and I decided to ask mom if we could change the plans and have all of us do something together that wasn’t the museum. Mom completely understood and explained to Taylor that being around so many kids and babies was going to be too hard on me (Mom had explained to Taylor why I was having such a hard time). Taylor was a little bummed but I promised we would reschedule our museum day, and when I suggested we go play with puppies at the puppy store she cheered right up.

I dropped the car off to Rob (I forgot to tell him I was doing that so soon and I kind of threw him off. I felt bad that I didn’t communicate that I meant I was bringing him the car NOW, but I’m glad he mentioned something so that I know how he felt) and Mom, Taylor and I headed to the puppy store. I was still calming down from my panic and accidentally sent us the wrong way (mom was driving) but we just took a detour and it all worked out.  We decided to each pick a puppy to play with. Mom chose a teensy Yorkie who trembled the whole time he was with us. Taylor picked a dachshund who was a little sweetie pie. She was the color of butterscotch chips and had the biggest ears and the tiniest little legs, I don’t think they were more than an inch and a half long. Her tail was wagging the whole time and she had so much energy! I picked the Rottweiler that I had played with last week but he was very wound up and Taylor was a little scared of him because he was so big, so we didn’t play long. I really think puppy therapy is one of the most effective ways to feel better.
We went to lunch, stopped by Hobby Lobby, and then went to the theater to see Planes 3D (pretty much the same basic movie as Cars, but still good. Taylor was SO EXCITED that it was in 3D and she was amazed at how big the theater was and that we had it all to ourselves. About halfway through the movie Dr M called me, so I went out of the theater to answer (reception was horrible and my phone was (of course) dying). She said that the blood work did show that I ovulated, and she was getting ready to give me instructions for the coming month when I told her that we had decided to stop trying, at least for now. She paused and asked if everything was okay, and I told her how we had been trying for 2 long years and our relationship had started to suffer and we wanted to take the time to rebuild before adding another family member. Dr M said that she thought that was a very smart move. That when we strengthen us we can come back to her and strengthen our relationship even more with a baby. She asked if there was anything she could do for us, and that if we needed anything then to call her. She also said she will continue to pray for us. I was so touched by her genuine concern. Through everything we have been through she has been so personally invested and has shown that she truly cares about her patients. I am so glad she is my doctor.
Well, we aren’t pregnant. Actually, the dr said there still is a small chance since the blood test was done so early, but Rob and I have decided not to test unless my period is very late. But the point is that Rob and I can actually take the time to rebuild our relationship. For once, we got the simpler option (yay). We talked a lot yesterday about how we feel about that news and we both agreed that we are sad but relieved. Sad because we do want to be parents, but relieved that we can give our full attention to us.

I want…

I’m trying to hold it together. I know that everything will eventually work out, but right now everything is a mess. I want to be happy for Melissa, and I am, but it still just hurts so much. I want to enjoy today with Taylor. We have such a fun day planned and I’ve been looking forward to it for so long, but I’m just so shaken by everything that is going on that I don’t feel emotionally stable. I don’t want to break down crying in the middle of the museum. I don’t want to get that call saying we aren’t pregnant and want to hide and cry but have to keep it together. I want things to be good. I want to be able to live my life. I don’t want all of this to knock me off my feet like it’s trying to do. I just want to be happy.