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.

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.

Too Broken

In my EMDR session last week we were talking about how I have such a low opinion of myself. I’m always expecting that I’m going to fail, that I’m not going to be strong enough. That no matter what, I’m not going to be good enough. Lori and I were talking, and somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that I am weak. That I am “broken beyond repair”.

And that is a horrible thing to think about yourself.

I used to always have this mentality that I could get through anything, because I never let anything penetrate my emotions. Because, to be honest, I didn’t really have emotions. My range was from happy to annoyed, and I didn’t feel anything outside that range. I didn’t live in the world, but I could handle anything. I always knew that I could handle anything. I wasn’t truly happy either, so I decided on things I wanted for myself and measured my ‘happiness’ by if I achieved those goals. I might be terrified and have panic attacks, but no matter what, I got through it. I did what I set out to do.

When I met Rob and started therapy, I accepted the fact that I was opening myself up to a wider range of emotions, and (I felt) by doing so that I was exposing myself. Making myself vulnerable. All of a sudden I was having to learn how to deal with emotions that I had never dealt with. Emotions that most people learn when they are 7, that I had ‘stuffed’ for almost 14 years. It was overwhelming, terrifying, and exhausting. I started to actually have relationships and experience true happiness, but I felt so fragile. I felt as though I couldn’t handle anything. I had (willingly) gone from blocking my emotions and being able to take on the world, to opening this Pandora’s Box of feelings and feeling steamrolled by life.

I started to (sort of) get life under control (until, that is, the PTSD got out of control, so I guess my life never really was in control) and then started EMDR and–again–willingly pried my emotional range even wider. I willingly entered into a therapy where I strip myself to my core on a weekly basis. I know it’s necessary, but oh, Lord, it is so hard. And I haven’t felt strong the entire time I’ve been in therapy. There have been times (like when I took a break for the summer) when I have seen how far I have come, but I have felt like a bundle of emotions tied together with tears during this whole process.

And to realize now that that I expect myself to always be broken. To feel like I’m never going to feel ‘healed’, is just horrible. Before I started any treatment, I didn’t care. That was how life was, and wasn’t going to change, so why think about it. Now, I have fought for so long and all I want is to be healed. But I really don’t believe that I ever will be. I’m too broken.

And now I’m dealing with some health issues that I don’t want to be facing, and the house is a mess, and with this realization it just all feels like too much. I just want to hide and cry. I just want things to get better. I just want to not be broken.

My Post Secrets

Few people know I was abused.

Fewer know that almost everyone believed his story that I was lying, causing me to lose all my friends.

Hardly anyone knows that I’m writing a book about the abuse, the lies, the bullying, and my recovery.

No one knows that I’m scared to try and find a publisher for my book because I’m afraid people will still believe his story.

And I’m a little afraid of what that says about my recovery.

Losing Myself

I hate feeling like I’m losing myself.

I used to be able to process things and work through them, now I have to shove them aside so that I don’t burst into tears. Then I come home and burst into tears. I’m not able to remain in control like I used to. I don’t have the confidence or the surety that I once had, and I hate that I’ve lost that. I know that it’s temporary, but in a way, it’s worse to know that I had it and now it’s (temporarily) gone. I feel as though I’ve become helpless. I know I used to be worse, but I never had a ‘better’ to compare it to. I never knew what I was missing.

And now I do, so while I’m trying to hold it together and make myself work through the situation, I also feel as if the former, stronger, part of me is trying to hold on but is slipping and can’t figure out why. It’s like losing the ability to do something you could always do. I’m losing that part of me that made me feel free. And that scares me more than I can put words to. And I hate that after all the work I have put in, it’s already slipping away. That I’m already slipping away. I’m so heartbroken.

I know this can be fixed, and that in time it will be fixed, but it’s just so hard. And I’m so tired of it being hard. I knew there would be some regression, but I didn’t think it would be this drastic, that it would hurt this much.

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.

How Much Do I Share?

For so long I never shared anything with anybody, and to be honest I didn’t want to. But now I’m starting to want to share. To bond. When I first started wanting to share with my friends, I was terrified. I had no idea how to share. That was actually part of why I started this blog. I wanted to share myself but from a distance. Sharing myself through a blog with people I didn’t know just felt safer. It was a medium I could control.

Since starting EMDR I have been wanting more and more to share myself with the people in my life, but I haven’t known how. I’ve bonded with a few new people and told them the truth about my past. I’ve even shared pieces of my past at GIRL Time, but I’ve remained guarded. I’ve had the constant fear that sharing myself will cause someone to reject me, judge me or even use it as a reason to be against me. I’ve been afraid of meeting the same reactions I got when I was a child and not having the strength to withstand it, just like I couldn’t back then.

You see, I’m still developing my sense of self. When those kids rejected me, I couldn’t see that their reaction wasn’t because of who I was, and so I absorbed it. I took all the hate, judgement, and blame and turned it inside myself. I truly believed that I caused their reactions. That their reactions were an indicator of who I was, and they were simply reacting to that. Since they treated me like a dirty unworthy person, I believed that that was who I was. And I carried that with me. For years, I truly believed that I was an unworthy person. Unworthy of love. Unworthy of praise. Unworthy of any positive reaction from anybody. I still struggle with the idea that I deserve praise for my achievements, even when I know–on some level–that I truly have done a good job.

But through the EMDR I have started to get to know myself. I have started to strip away the words those children thrust onto me and I’m starting to see the person that has been trapped all these years. But I’m still growing in myself. Instead of being a young woman, confident in who she is, I am still learning who I am. I am still protecting myself, learning to be proud of who I am, be sure of who I am. Because I want to share. I want to open up. I know that not everyone I open up to is going to love me, or even like me, and that is okay. I don’t need that. I don’t need their approval. All I need is to have the confidence to stand firm in who I am, and if a day comes when someone reacts poorly to what I share, I won’t backslide and lose myself. Instead, I will have the strength, the knowledge, and the self-confidence to know that their reaction belongs to them alone.

It does not define me.

Thinking about Work

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is work. I left my last job in October of 2011 because my PTSD had gotten so severe (now that I think of it, I think I was in a ‘self-neglect’ phase) that I was almost suicidal.

My job had started off really well. I was a bookseller at Half-Price Books and I was really loving it for the first few months. For the first time I had a full time job that I was enjoying and I was even making friends. My boss really seemed to like me and she and the other managers had been giving me good reviews. I was highly optimistic about my future there.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong or when. We were dealing with a ton during that time. Rob had just been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and we were adjusting to the new life that comes with that diagnosis. In addition to having to learn to manage the bi-polar, Rob was also taking full-time classes AND working full time. I was trying to help Rob as best as I could adjust and was helping him with his classes to lighten his load. With both of us working full time we hardly ever saw each other, especially because we often ended up working opposite shifts or having different days off. Also, we moved in July and in August my parents said they couldn’t take care of my dog anymore so he needed to come live with us, but a few days after him getting here the apartment people told us he wasn’t allowed so I had to make hurried arrangements to move him back to my parents house and pay for them to care for him. Oh, and also sometime during all that we had to battle fleas.

So I slowly started slipping into my ‘self-neglect’ phase, but I was trying so hard to fight it. I started seeing Sheila every week and that seemed to help for a while, but I guess not enough. My boss-Ginny- started treating me oddly. She switched my schedule, along with a few other workers, around to shifts that she knew we didn’t want. She stopped talking to me in the break room. Anytime I spoke to her she was curt and seemed irritated with me. I had no idea what was going on. I tried to give her space and just do my work. Then she started criticizing everything I did. When a customer was rude she scolded me for not being a better employee, even when the same customer had given several other employees problems just moments before. Things like that just kept happening. And I had no idea why.

I asked some of my co-workers who I was (am) friends with, and they said that Ginny just did that sometimes. She just seemed to go through stages where she tried to get rid of people and to just hang in there, she would stop eventually. That it had happened to them.

But it hurt, I felt like I was being singled out for no reason. I felt bullied. One day she called me into her office and said that my attendance had been poor and if I called in again I would be put on probation (oh, I forgot to mention that during this time my migraines were changing and I was being heavily monitored by my doctor, and my grandmother had been suddenly admitted to the hospital for heart failure and was not expected to make it through the night so I rushed to see her. Surprisingly she is still alive today.) I really think that conversation was the final straw for me. I went on my lunch break and cried hysterically in my car for the entire hour. I felt awful. I knew that my attendance wasn’t exemplary and I needed to do better, but the PTSD immediately made me feel trapped. I just wanted to do my job, but every second was a struggle.

I fought through the next week, minute to minute, crying most of the day even while working. Trying desperately to hide it from my co-workers and the customers. Trying desperately to shove my feelings down. But they just got worse. Every day I walked into the store I felt more like a caged animal, starting to go insane, wanting to scream and tear at the bars. One night I talked to Rob and told him how bad it had gotten. I had been keeping a lot from him, especially about Ginny’s treatment of me, because I didn’t want to say it out loud. I didn’t want to admit how bad it was. But I couldn’t handle it anymore. So I told him I needed to quit. I didn’t want to, but I needed to. I finally got my courage up to tell Rob how broken I was and that I had let it get too bad. So bad that I needed to leave my job. That I was sorry, that I wanted to fix it, but I felt the only course of action was to quit and regroup.

He listened to me. He asked if he could do anything to help. He was supportive but I could tell he was antsy about me quitting. Later that night I came downstairs to see him crying. It felt like I had been stabbed. I felt like I had let him down. I knew that I had made a mistake. I knew I shouldn’t have let things get as bad as they had, that I should have said something sooner, but it was too late and I had to deal with things as they were. And I knew he was worried about money. But I couldn’t go back. But I couldn’t hurt him either.

I hugged him and told him I was sorry. That I would make it work. To forget what I had said. And I tried to bury it. To push it down.

And the next day I went to work.

I cried most of the day in the back room while working with the stock. I had to take a Lorazepam just to walk into the store, then another one at lunch. I think I took another 1 or maybe 2 during the day too. I know it was a ridiculous amount of medicine. And I was still on the verge of a panic attack the entire day.

After work I dropped something off to Rob at his work and I mentioned to him again that I needed to quit my job. I told him my day was awful and I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t remember what he said but the gist was that we couldn’t swing it. I nodded and as I started to drive away I burst into tears. When I got home I took off my work clothes and threw them on the floor by the door. I wanted to be as far from my job as possible. In my underwear, I went upstairs and crawled into bed where I sobbed, literally sobbed, until I got a text. And then another.

They were from Sheila and my mom. I guess Rob had seen my face as I drove away, because he immediately got in touch with them, letting them know he was worried about me and that they should contact me. It was good he did. I wasn’t planning anything, but I felt so trapped. I didn’t feel as if I had a way out of my life. I texted with Sheila and talked to my mom, and when Rob got home we decided that quitting Half-Price was the right thing. I called the next morning and quit. My mom came up and returned my name badge so I didn’t have to go to the store, and I spent the day crying and trying to pull myself together.

That was my last job. I had thought that it would be impossible to keep a job with the PTSD, that eventually they would all make me feel trapped. But now I have the possibility of a future without PTSD. I could have a job. But I’m still scared. I know that some (most?) of that is residual from Half-Price.

Sheila and Lori have suggested taking the job thing in little steps. One step that I thought of is to make a list of things that I want from a job. Here is what I have so far.

My Job Should

  1. have a greater purpose than money
  2. not fill more time than my time with Robby
  3. still allow me to go to church

Basically, I want a job that means something. I don’t want a job just to have a job. I’ve worked at Kroger and Walmart just to earn money and it didn’t work out. I want to go to work each day and feel that what I do is important and makes a positive impact on the world. I would love to teach somewhere.

The second requirement is harder to explain. I don’t mind working. Rob already works 40hrs a week, so I don’t see him then anyways. I just don’t want to work opposite hours of him all the time because then we would never see each other and our relationship would suffer. Ideally, I would only work 1-2 shifts opposite him.

Finally, I want to be able to attend church. If not every week, then at least most weeks. Church is very important to me and I love not only going, but teaching there as well. I don’t want to lose that from my life. I think it is something I really need.

I don’t think my list should be too hard to fulfil, and I hope that it helps me find the right job. Because I do want to work. I just want to find the right work.

Trying to Let It Go

It has been several months since I last wrote.

EMDR has been going well. Hard, but well, and I’ve been feeling extremely overwhelmed. We’ve been dealing with a multitude of very heavy subjects, from adoption decisions to financial struggles, and it has really worn me down. I know I haven’t been taking care of myself like I should, and not writing falls into that category. Ironically, the things that help me cope, like writing, are the first things I let slip when I am struggling. I will withdraw withing myself while simultaneously neglecting my personal needs. Usually, I will just keep slipping, slowly going downhill until I reach a breaking point before I can finally break out of the negative cycle.

But I am trying to remedy that.

I want to heal. That’s why I started this entire blog. This entire journey, the EMDR, all of it. And I guess part of healing is learning to recognize and address my negative cycles, and I think the first step is starting to write again. When I get to the ‘self-neglect’ stage, it’s like I come up against this inner block. It’s not that I don’t want to write, because I do. Desperately. But there is just this wall I seem to hit inside that won’t let me feel anymore. Like I’ve reached my feeling quotient and I have to stop.

Have you seen the movie Frozen? Elsa is trying to run from something inside of her and she says “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”. When Rob and I saw that movie in theaters I had to work really hard not to cry because her words were exactly what I have been feeling. I don’t want to, but it’s as if I am full and can’t take anymore, and so I just start to shut down.

But I need to do what Elsa does and let it go. I need to be okay with the fact that people know that I am a broken person. It’s part of what makes me who I am, and I want to be (am trying to be) proud to share who I am. Because I want to see what I can do. I want to let it go.