The ‘Right’ Way

Our whole lives we are taught to do things a certain way. We’re told this is the ‘right way’. But what if how we chose to do things was defined as the right way?

Today I took my first yoga class. During one pose a student asked how the right way was to hold the block and what the instructor told me has been stuck in my heart ever since.

She said, however you chose to do it is the right way.

 

What if we all started living life this way. However I choose to feel is the right way.

However I choose to live is the right way.

However I choose to exist is the right way.

 

Can you imagine what a radical change that would be?

 

Never feeling like you are ‘bad’ because you do things differently. Never being told that how you stand, walk, talk, dance, create, is the wrong way. Because it isn’t. It’s just your way.

We teach our children this is how you tie your shoes, this is how you hold a pencil, this is how you draw. We tell them that this is how you do ‘x’ and if you don’t do it this way then you’re wrong. But how can it be wrong if it works for you?

I have spent most of my life trying to do things the ‘right way’. Trying to gain everyone’s approval. Somehow trying to turn myself into a mirror that reflects the things other people like.

 

But what if I stopped.

 

What if I started telling myself, this is how I choose to live my life and what I choose is right for me. There is no wrong. Only different.

 

And different is beautiful.

Should

Today I cancelled plans to have lunch with friends. Instead, I am staying home so I can cry.

At first I was mad at myself. I felt like a failure. I was cancelling at the last minute on friends who love me because the fear inside my head was getting too big. Fear that had nothing to do with being around them but was present nonetheless.

But then I realized that these people love me.

They LOVE me.

And if someone I love is struggling I would want them to take care of themselves. Just like they want me to take care of myself.

So often with mental illness we get trapped by the word ‘should’. I should be able to do this. I shouldn’t feel this way.

And in the past few weeks, I’ve discovered I hate that word

should

It has a connotation of guilt. And I’m tired of feeling guilty about my emotions and my needs.

Did I want to go to lunch with my friends? Absolutely! But I know that what I needed was to stay home and take care of myself.

AND THAT’S OKAY

So that’s what I’m doing. Today I am able to have perspective and know that it is okay to do what I need. Tomorrow I might not remember that, and so that is why I am writing this down. To remind myself. And–hopefully–to encourage someone else.

Ignore the should. Do what you need.

 

Today

There are days

Days when I laugh so hard

so hard that my cheeks hurt

Days when just existing is so wonderful

that I want to make the world laugh with me

 

But  today

Today isn’t one of those days

Today is a day when i have to force myself out of bed

When I have to force myself to eat

A day when I start 50 things and finish none of them

because

the anxiety and depression overwhelm me

until I just.

can’t.

focus.

A day where I count down every minute

 

But

 

I do eat

Because even though my brain is hurting me

I know hurting my body won’t help

I do get out of bed

I do get dressed

And tell myself that I will get through today

because no matter how hard a day it is

it will end

and when it ends

even if i hurt for the entire day

I will be thankful

 

Because

 

Because I am still here

Because even though i’m struggling, I will keep living

Because each day I am one day closer to being okay

just thinking

I ahven’t written in forever, and I don’t really know what I”m going to write right now, but I felt I needed an outlet. The last few months have been crazy. From new jobs, to panic attacks, to Robby being hospitalized for suicidal thoughts, and now to me home with a concussion.

We’ve been trying to do so much better, with me not taking care of him and with him making smart and healthy decisions, but it doestn’t feel like we’ve made much headway. He’s still overspending and over eating. And I”m still picking up the slack when I know I souldn’t. ANd I think this concussion has really made me realize all that. Because I should be willing to let him take care of me. I should be excited for him to take care of me. But other than him worrying about me, I don’t feel very taken care of. I feel very lonely. ANd i know that the concussion has messed up my emotions, but it’s all just so much to deal with. I’m getting scared we won’t be able to move because of the overspending. I”m worried we’ll never be out of debt becuase of the overspending. I’m worried he’ll never get healthy and I’ll lose him too soon. And it really hurt today when he said he’d noticed that I could stand to lose some weight. I know that I’m big, and I’ve been working on gettin ghealthier. I went back to zumba and I still go for walks, but that just felt like a knife in the gut. I know i need to get healthier, and I’m trying. BUt it felt like he was criticizing me when he doesn’t even try. he’s spent over 60$ on fast food just in the last two weeks. I wanted to spend that money on paying down the credit card or at least put it in savings, but now it’s gone. And it doesn’t feel fair. Because it’s my money too. I know I don’t make much, but that doesn’t give him the right to waste all the money. Plus, I never get treats. He’s eating out pretty much all the time and I’m eating left overs (that I made) til I”m sick of them because I do’nt want the food to go to waste. ANd i know i should have brought this all up with him sooner. It’s my fault for letting it fester. But it’s got to stop.

And i’ve really been struggling with being off work this week for this stupid concussion. I know I needed the time off, but i didn’t want it. I lve my work and I want to be there. ANd i’m afraid that by missing this work they won’t want to hire me. I also realized that this reminds me too much of when i was a kid and would stay home. SOmetimes I was actuall sick, but most of the time it wsa the depression. And i always felt like a dailure. Life i was in trouble. Because I’d always have to go to the dr for a note and it always made me feel like I was messing up. Also, it felt like by not being at school, I was giving the other kids more reasons to hate me. I believed taht if i wasn’t a school, then i coudln’t prove that I was worth something. Like by not trying to show my value (to people I didn’t even like) that I was actually losing y value as a person. ANd of course that just made the depression worse. Part of me wants to go back to work tomorrow, part of me thinks i’m not ready, and a thrid part thinks that I’ll never be ‘ready’ and I’ll just have to dive in. I know once I actually get back to work, I’ll start to feel better. Being in a routine always helps. But im’ so scared. And I’m scared I won’t be able to handle it and i’ll either get worse or i’ll have panic attacks again. Becuase i kind of feel on the edge of a panic attack now. I just want to hide and cry. I just want to feel safe and supported and valued. I just don’t want to feel like everything is broken.

Rob’s Letter to His Friend

Ben and Robby have been friends for practically forever, and even though they don’t see each other more than once a year, they’re still as close as they ever were. Rob decided to write to Ben and tell him what he’s dealing with. This is what he wrote

After 10 years I am finally coming to terms with what happened prior to my breakdown in 2007. I have never spoken of this before until last week when Laura and I talked about it. I have been carrying shame and anger for over 10 years now.

I fell apart not because of the end of the relationship but because what happened inside of the relationship. Let me set the stage. I was drinking a lot and not always in control. I met her again while I was out at the bar. I had never had sex and was planning on waiting until I got married. I’m not going to go into details as I’m not sure you want to hear them and it’s very painful for me to relive them. The gist of this is that I got so messed up after the relationship because every time that intercourse was had during that relationship, I was either raped or sexually assaulted. The choice was taken away my first time. I wasn’t held down but I had said no and it happened “Accidentally”. I was so ashamed and felt so guilty because I should have been able to stop her. I should be stronger than her. I keep telling myself it wouldn’t have happened had I not been drinking but I think it would have happened regardless. After that every time anything happened it was after I drank and could not fight it off. I thought it was normal and I had the problem because I didn’t want it. I also drank more to cope with what was going on. I never got drunk enough that I blacked out and didn’t remember. Unfortunately I remember all of them. This cycle repeated itself the night that things happened a year later with my cousin Jen’s friend Falon. I was actually held down that night and it was the text book definition of rape.

I’m writing this to tell you what really happened and I need someone to talk to other than Laura about this. I have been in therapy but have never talked about this because I was repressing so much of this. This was all opened up again because I was trying to explain my intimacy issues to Laura. Throughout our marriage this has caused so many issues. My porn and masturbation addiction started because of what happened. Porn let me be in control and it was easier getting intimacy from that and masturbation than trying to be intimate with Laura.

Feel free to share this with Kelly, I would like to hear from both of you on this. I would also like to see if we could work on strengthening my faith together. I have a horrible relationship with God because I constantly think how can he let this happen to me. Also I start with a new therapist Wednesday morning. She is the therapist that worked with Laura on her abuse as a child.

He also really surprised me and sent it to his dad. Neither of them have gotten back to him yet, but I am so proud of him for reaching out. I just hope it turns out well.

Not Him Too

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written. To be honest, I haven’t really felt the need to write this last year.

But now I do. I need to process this.

Robby has been really struggling. He’s always kind of struggled with physical intimacy, but recently it’s gotten pretty severe. He started getting help for sexual compulsions (masturbating) and had been seeing his regular therapist, but he’s just continued to struggle. And now he’s putting things together.

I always knew that his first time having sex was sort of an accident. From what he had told me before, he and his girlfriend (whom we title “It”) were naked and humping and he just kind  of ‘fell into’ her. I had always assumed it was one of those “mistake but not a mistake” on both of their parts, but last weekend I found out otherwise. He had never wanted to have sex with her. He’d planned on remaining a virgin until he got married, but she took that choice away from him. After they’d had sex, he felt that since he went to that level of intimacy with her, he had to stay with her. So he did for a while, but he never felt comfotable having sex with her. She would pressure him, and demand sex of him. Yesterday, he told me that his first time she was on top and he doesn’t completely believe it was an accident that they had sex. He thinks she did it on purpose. She raped him.

It’s just so awful to write that. He said that alcohol was involved and that every time he had sex with her, alcohol was involved again. I don’t know if he was getting drunk and she was taking advantage of him, or if he was getting drunk to try and numb himself from what he knew was happening. I don’t know that he even knows.

And his one night stand with her, I always thought it was lust- and passion-fueled, but it wasn’t. He was drunk and she threw herself at him. He wanted to get out of the car, but she held him down. Oh God, she held him down.

It’s not right. It took him until this last week to realize what they had done to him. It took until he read this article to understand. He always thought he was ‘weird’ for not liking sex. He thought he was supposed to ‘be a guy’ and enjoy any sex, no matter what. But it wasn’t sex, it was rape. Oh God, why did it have to happen to him. He doesn’t deserve this, no one deserves this.

And I’m so scared for him. He’s starting therapy with Lori to address this stuff, and I know how hard that is going to be. I’ve been there. And I wish he didn’t have to go through it. I know that it will help him in the end, but I know the pain he is about to start feeling, and as broken as he feels right now, it’s nowhere near as broken as he will feel soon.

And part of me is worried about really inconsequential things in the grand scheme of things. How is he going to get through therapy and work at the same time? If he can’t handle both and he has to quit his job, how will we pay our bills? If he has to quit his job, like I did, will it destroy him? Make him feel as damaged as I felt? How will he re-enter the job market if all that happens? I had a built in excuse of TTC, but I don’t know how it will work for him.

And one of the worst things, is that he doesn’t feel like he has anyone to talk to. He doesn’t think his dad will understand, and I agree. And he already has such deep issues with his mom, that talking to her would just make things worse. He can talk to my parents, I know they’ll understand. But it’s just not the same and having your own mom and dad to lean on. And he deserves to have that. To have parents who love him and appreciate him and will be there for him, even if they don’t understand. I want that for him so badly.

I want him to not hurt. I want him to know he is taken care of. But I don’t know how to be there for him. Because I’ve been where he is, where nothing feels safe, even the people who are supposed to. And he couldn’t fix things for me, couldn’t really do anything for me, because in a way I was scared of him too. And now he’s scared of me. I know logically that it’s bleed over from his trauma, but I feel so helpless. I want more than anything to take this pain from him, but I can’t.

And it wrenches my heart to know that there were plenty of times when I pressured him for sex. I didn’t understand why he was rejecting me, all I felt was the rejection. All I felt was that I wasn’t good enough. And I really hate the fact that I was pressuring him. I pray that he never felt that I was abusing him, because I never meant to. He said the only times he ever felt ‘forced’ were after we lost Jamie and were TTC, and I completely understand. To be honest, I felt forced too.

I know things will get better. I know we will make it through this. It was bad enough that I was sexually abused. I got used to a part of my identity being an abuse survivor. I learned how to live with it. And now he’s having to learn to deal with it, when no one should ever have to learn this. It was okay that I was broken in this way, but it’s not okay that he is too.

7 Years Ago

Seven years ago today.

Seven years ago I chose to tell someone. For the first time I didn’t feel compelled to tell, as if the words couldn’t stay in any more. Seven years ago, I wanted to tell.

Seven years ago, I opened my heart, just a little, but more than I had ever done before.

Seven years ago, I decided something- someone- was more important than my fear. I decided to listen to my heart instead of the destructive voices that had controlled me for years. I decided that the regret of saying nothing would be worse than the fear I was feeling.

Seven years ago, I received love, patience, and understanding. Seven years ago, I was accepted for the beautifully broken person I didn’t know I was.

Seven years ago, I started down a path that would not only change my life, but save it too. Seven years ago, I finally started to live.

Seven years ago, I made the best decision of my life.

Happy 7th anniversary Robby. Here’s to 70 more.

Dear God,

God, I’m struggling. I don’t want to be bitter or resentful, but I keep feeling as though every one around us is being blessed while we just keep waiting. We want a child so badly. We know that you meant for us to be parents, but it just hurts so much. To see people having babies, to see kids who would be Jamie’s age. It just hurts. And there is nothing we can do but keep waiting. I’m trying so hard to hold onto my faith, to the knowledge that you have a perfect plan. But I need hope. I need reassurance that we will get our blessings.

And I know it’s not fair to ask You for blessings, when You have given us life and love, and all the other blessings that I know we have but right now don’t seem that important. I want to be thankful. I want to rejoice in you, rejoice in life. Please carry my heart for me, because it’s hurting. Fill it with hope and peace and thankfulness. Let me appreciate instead of resent.

And, oh Lord, please please bless us. But until you do, let us be happy in the moment.

So Lonely

I’ve been feeling very lonely lately. Struggling with the feeling that I matter, that I’m worth something. That I’m important.

And I’ve talked to Robby about it lately but it hasn’t helped. He’s been sweet about it, telling me that I matter, hugging me, but it just hasn’t helped. Because he’s been the one making me feel lonely. He keeps withdrawing from me, putting up this wall that I can’t get through. So I just keep trying harder. Trying to be noticed. Trying to do everything, and do it all right.

And tonight was a catastrophe, which I won’t get into, but I ended up telling him how I’ve been feeling. That he makes me feel lonely because he shuts me out. That I feel like if I don’t try and connect with him, that we will just be here but never really together. And how it’s so confusing because some days he will want to be intimate, will really be himself, will be comfortable with our relationship. But then the next he will act as though he’s just going through the motions.

And I want to take care of him, to love him, but it hurts so much to feel like he just takes and takes without giving back. Without being sincere.

Because he never follows through. He says he’s going to make changes, says he’s going to do this and that, and for a little bit he does. But then it stops. He stops being a partner in our relationship. Stops trying. And it just goes back to the way it was, with me trying so desperately to bring him back.

And I shouldn’t have to bring him back. All I want is for him to be here, really here. And every time he pulls back, or stops trying, or leaves me emotionally, it hurts.

It hurts so much.

And to be honest, I don’t know how many times I can go through this. It seems like it happens every year. But words are just words, and I have to look at the actions. And I don’t want to reach my limit. I don’t want to have to accept that it’s never going to change. So I’m going to keep trying, keep loving him, and most importantly keep telling him when he hurts me. And maybe it will get better and be real this time. But I’m so afraid that I’m going to end up alone, whether alone in our relationship time and time again, or truly alone. Without him.