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.

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.

The Bad Guy

To me, our family has always been the most important thing. Rob and I are meant to take care of each other, and that includes our family and our home.

But I keep feeling as though I’m the only one who is truly making the effort to take care of our family and home. I’m getting so frustrated of having to do everything.

Of having to constantly talk him into going to work. I get that you don’t necessarily want to go, or that you’re tired or feel like crap, but you still have to work unless it is absolutely not possible. Working is a part of life. It’s necessary to keep our life going. We can’t pay our bills or buy groceries or even live in our house without our jobs.

I am beyond grateful that he worked for those years I was unable to because of the PTSD. He went above and beyond for our family, and I don’t understand why ever since then he has pulled back from being an active part of our family. Actually, it was during those years that he supported us that he started to pull back from being a member of our family. He worked, but that was about it. Slowly, I did more and more until I was doing everything for him. He even admitted that he was taking advantage of me.

I just don’t understand. Was it that he felt resentful? Overwhelmed? Overburdened? Does he need to lean on me now like I leaned on him then? I just don’t understand. I wish he would tell me.

I hate feeling like I am forcing him to be a part of our family. Like I am the bad guy. Part of me wants to just let it go. If he doesn’t want to be part of us, part of our family, then I shouldn’t make him. Because I am so hurt, and so tired of this fight. But another part of me can’t let it go. I feel like if I don’t make him go to work and don’t tell him that his apathy hurts me then it will get worse. That it will fall apart. But it feels like things are falling apart, because I don’t want to be the bad guy. Because it’s been years and he keeps doing it.

And I keep being the bad guy.

What Do We Want?

Rob and I have been talking a lot since my realization and our talk at Steak n Shake.

Since we lost Jamie and stopped trying to conceive, we have wavered back and forth on whether or not we want to have kids. Do we adopt? Do we not have kids at all? At one point we were convinced we were going to adopt, and at another point were absolutely convinced we weren’t going to have kids at all. We just could never seem to make up our minds, or even truly know what we want.

And then we started talking about before we lost Jamie.

It wasn’t an accident that we got pregnant. We had been wanting to conceive for a year, and had taken steps (changing medicines, etc) for when we did. We had wanted a child for so long, and were so excited when we found out about Jamie.

But after we lost Jamie everything changed. Rob and I realized that we were both trying so hard to get pregnant right away because we wanted to make up for losing Jamie. We wanted to make it up to the other one because we felt like we let them down. Then, we ended up putting so much pressure on ourselves to get pregnant that we started creating all kinds of problems for ourselves. That’s when Rob’s intimacy problems really flared up. That’s when I had my major PTSD freak out. And we just kind of ran away from the idea of kids.

And now that we are both working through the truth of what happened as well as working through our issues, we are wondering if we do want kids. Were we running away from the idea of being parents because of all the trauma, or because we really don’t feel it is right for us? Everyone has told us that we will make wonderful parents, but we don’t feel that is a good reason to have kids. It needs to come from us. And we still don’t know. Rob wants to finish working through the issues he has just started addressing in therapy, and I want more time to absorb and process the new knowledge that I was a good mom, that I am a good mom to our angel baby.

I think I might want to be a mom again, but I’m not sure yet. I don’t know how to be sure.

Crying in Steak n Shake

We went out to breakfast yesterday morning and I told Rob all about what I realized at Lori’s.

And when I finished talking, I looked at him through my tears and he said the most perfect thing he could have. “I never thought that for a second” And he said it with this look of shock in his eyes, this almost startled blankness that you get when you are so caught off-guard, that I knew it was true.

And the tears just rolled down my face.

“For the longest time I felt that it was my fault. That I didn’t take good enough care of you and Jamie”

I never expected him to say that, so I’m sure I had the same dumb-founded look on my face when I said “I never thought that for a second”

And we held hands and cried in Steak n Shake, because that’s what we do.

 

Things I’m Thinking

I haven’t written in forever. Part of me thinks I haven’t wanted to write. It takes too much introspection. And I’m kind of scared of the introspection. To find out if I’m truly happy.

I’m happy with most things. I like my job. It has it’s bumps and it’s aggravations, but I like what I’m doing. I love my husband and our kitties are great. I have good friends but I do with I could see them more often.

I’m frustrated with some of the personal stuff. Our day-to-day. I wish we had more time than just a few hours in the morning. I wish we did more things together. I wish Robby would be more proactive about some things, like his therapy and helping with things around the house. I wish I had the chance (and the drive) to go to the gym.

I think the main thing, the thing that all these wishes have in common, is that I wish I didn’t have to be in charge all the time. I feel like I have to take the lead. I have to be the rock. I feel like I give more than 50% of this relationship. I know that relationships are supposed to be 100%-100%, and I truly feel like I give 100%, but I guess I don’t feel like I get that back. I’m really curious to see what that survey Lori gave us reveals (more about that later).

I guess I just want to feel taken care of.

At the beginning of our relationship, when we were dating, Robby did everything he could to take care of me. And any time I’ve ever struggled with the PTSD, he has been beyond caring, and I love that. I just want him to be caring and supportive all the time. He doesn’t have to do everything for me, and I don’t want to be treated like I’m made of glass, I just want to feel as though I’m in his arms, not like he’s standing by while I live in the relationship.

Worth The Fight

If you couldn’t tell by my recent writing, Rob and I are really struggling. And we’ve both been coping (or rather not coping) in our own ways.

I cope either by eating everything in sight, or by not eating at all. There have been times when things were so bad that I only ate about 1 meal a day. I once lost about 15lbs in 2 weeks. It’s not a good way to cope. But it keeps me sane(-ish). My other brilliant coping mechanism is to either wallow or shove my feelings aside. For the past few months, I’ve been shoving and now I’ve gotten to the wallowing part. Basically, I cry, watch TV, and do nothing other than write, cry, and watch TV with occasional spurts of manic cleaning. Again, not the healthiest, but I’m still here, I’ve made it through every rough patch and I don’t see why I won’t make it through any future rough patches. It might not be the healthiest way to handle things, but it seems to work for me.

Rob used to cope with things by doing very destructive things. Drinking, smoking, etc. Basically any vice you could think of is what he would tun to. But over the years he’s moved away from destructive habits. There would be times when he was struggling and he would buy a can of dip, or backslide in some other way, but he has done so well the last several years, and I am so proud of him. But he is struggling more right now than he has in a long time.

Today, he was talking to me about how he’s been backsliding into one of his less-destructive habits: overspending. We have a pretty strict budget, and part of that is our weekly ‘mad money’–cash that we can spend on fast food or any other splurge items that we want. We withdraw a certain amount, and once your share is gone, it’s gone. But for the past few nights, Rob has been buying food that he didn’t have the cash for and just been putting it on the card instead of only buying what he could afford. I was a bit freaked out at first. This used to lead to bigger and bigger spending, and more and more destructive habits, until he swung manic.

But then he talked to me about how since he doesn’t want to fall back to even worse habits (he had considered buying dip and cigarettes) he is just sort of accepting the fact that he will overspend a little as a coping mechanism. He said he didn’t want to freak me out by talking about the things he was thinking about, that he didn’t have a plan to ‘misbehave’, he just knew what he was prone to and wanted to think through every possibility. So we talked about our different ways of coping, and we both agreed that neither of us have that great of coping skills. We also agreed that being aware that we are struggling is more than half the battle. He’s going to get in touch with his therapist on Monday and we have a couple’s appointment on Friday, and until then we are just going to cope as best as we can and be there for each other.

I was so glad that Rob was willing to talk to me, and I told him that. How only a year ago he would have just shut me out. And what he said back to me really made me stop. He said he was glad that he felt he could talk to me, because before with the PTSD he felt as though he had to watch what he said because he was never sure how I would react. And when I stopped to think about it, I realized he was right. I really did get confused sometimes, and sometimes I did really overreact. Granted, sometimes my responses were completely warranted, but looking back I can see where it would be disorienting to try and figure out who would be responding, me or the PTSD. In a way, it must have been like me trying to figure out if I was dealing with Robby, manic Robby, or depressed Robby. And I had never realized that before.

So I thanked him for being willing to work with me even when I had the PTSD, because he was willing. He was always willing. And I am so glad (and so is he) that I started EMDR. It’s been a long, hard fight, but so worth it.

Adjusting

Well, Robby made the switch to 3rd. He goes in for his first shift in just a few hours. Other than being tired from staying up all night Friday in order to switch his sleep schedule and being nervous for his first 3rd shift, he seems to be doing really well, which is great.

I, on the other hand, am very anxious.

I actually have been since Friday night when I went to bed by myself. I was lying there, trying to be calm while telling myself that I didn’t need Robby to sleep, and that I could take care of myself, when it hit me: The last time I told myself those things while trying to sleep alone was when I had left.

I know that this isn’t then. We aren’t sleeping apart because we are broken. We are sleeping apart because our schedules require it.

But it’s still hard.

It’s only been a few days and we are still adjusting, but it is hard. I know our relationship is in a good place. I know that I’m not running from him because the PTSD is twisting my reality. But when I was filling the bed with stuffed animals, trying to forget that he should be lying next to me, some of the old wires started to cross and I started to feel alone. I have never felt more alone than those 3 days in that hotel.

And I never want to feel that way again.

I want our relationship to stay good. I don’t want us to become roommates who never see each other. I know we are going to have to work harder than we have the last few months, but I also know that we have been through much harder things.

But I’m still scared. I know how easy it is to still into bad patterns. I know how easy it is to drift apart. To become lonely. But I have to keep telling myself that we are prepared for this. We know what to watch out for and we know how to invest in and build up our relationship. We just have to do those things, and I have to have faith that we can do this. And as long as we both stay alert and proactive, I know we can.

But maybe that’s the other thing that worries me. Robby has a very hard time with follow through. He’s much better about follow through when it comes to our relationship than when it comes to taking care of himself, but it’s still something he struggles with. So I guess that I worry that we will say that we will be diligent, but when things start to strain, his struggles with follow through will make things harder. So I guess that’s where we start. Talking about my worries.