Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Loving myself

Today I am focused on learning to love myself, give love to myself. To many people, I am one of the most loving people they know. I give lots of love and support and before I got so far into my addiction that I started to isolate from everything and everyone ... I was the most considerate and kind person I know. I have always done for others, put others first. I learned this in my family ... make other people's happiness your number one priority and that makes you a good person.

I am only now beginning to realize how badly I have hurt myself and others by doing this. Since I've been in therapy and in recovery ... I've heard many times, "You've got to learn to love yourself." Every self-help book you read says we must love ourselves. I would say, yeah, yeah, I know. I know it's about me not loving myself. But lately I am finally, after all these years beginning to "get it."

I will go out of my way to give other people, whether close to me or not, a lot of love, put them first, make sure their needs are met. I will call them when they are sick, check on them when they are having a hard time, speak kind and loving words to them. I will always take the smaller, less messed up version of the meal, take the smaller cookie, all so the other people can have the very best. When my husband says you need to be my secretary, my social agent, and stop crying ... I do all of it, because that is what he needs, even though it makes me feel less than. When my stepfather would call me into his bedroom while my mom was away shopping, I went, because that's what good little girls do, even though I dreaded going. When my husband hints at sex, even though I don't want to be with him and having sex with him feels like what the sexual exchanges with my stepfather felt like ... I still just grin and bear it and go on, because that's what good wives do.

It's only in recovery that I have began to give myself the good things of life -- to go to meetings when I need to, to listen to my body and my mind, to pray for strength, to say no when I need to. I am FAR from where I need to be, but I am thankful for the conciousness.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Emotions vs. Thinking

Over the past few months, I have realized what I am trying to achieve in therapy is a sense of wholeness. Due to PTSD and other issues, I have spent a good part of my life living what amounts to two lives. There is always a secret me, a part that I am ashamed to show to the real world. I learned to live this way as a child – I kept the part of me that was ashamed about being abused, ashamed about wearing yard sale clothes to school locked away deep in me. I always knew that person was there, but I didn’t acknowledge her.

A few months ago, the therapist had me do an exercise in which my logical self (my thinking self) had a debate with my emotional self. What was revealed was very, very telling as it relates to not only my desire to achieve wholeness, but the two parts of me that still exist. The first therapist I ever saw said that my ability to disassociate with one set of feelings in order to operate in another was the equivalent of multiple personality disorder, though I don’t quite go so far as to give my personalities names and I know myself as both personalities. So, as I did this debate between my logical and emotional parts, I sort of revealed to myself some of the traits of both personalities that fight for control in my subconscious.

My logical self is basically the part of me that has lead me through the most “successful” periods of my life – helped me to go to college, helped me to work my way up the ladder in my career, find a handsome, ambitious husband filled with the wonder of a million new things. But then, low and behold that emotional self, which had not had a chance to live began to kick and scream, wanting a real place in my life. That pissed the thinking self off. She had always been in charge, and she was safe and she wasn’t going to give in to any flighty emotions. Emotions are bad things that create problems, she said. Of course, over time, the emotional side had grown, right along with the thinking side, but simply had been stifled and pushed aside – especially in a marriage where emotions were also not seen as healthy, but rather unhealthy or weak.

As it turns out, I have unconsciously been working toward wholeness for a long time – but there is a severe battle between the emotional and the logical parts of me. The logical side, the thinking side is bound and determined that it has to be in control and is very bitchy and condescending to the emotional part of me, the part of me that feels so needy and almost empty at times. The emotional side is a bit smug as well though … feeling that the logical side can “think” it is in control, that it can function without emotional healing and love, but knowing that in fact the thinking side is really miserable without befriending the emotional side, and eventually must learn to co-exist and unite with the emotional part of me.

For years, I have craved and hungered for someone to just hold me, tell me they love me not just in words but in actions, feel good being next to me, touching me. I have wanted someone to hold me while I cry, to tell me how good it feels just to laugh with me and to be close to me, to be honest with me. I have wanted to separate the distance between myself and another human being, to show that I was not repulsive, that I was worthy of love and capable of it as well, that I could be touched and not hurt or made to feel dirty. The child in me that was violated wanted to be touched in healing ways that showed me that my body was good and sacred, to be soothed and comforted, to be spoken to in soft, vulnerable tones that let me know that the other person was opening his heart to me as well.

I have tried to control my husband into doing these things, shame him when he didn’t give me what that child was craving, but somehow I could never just open my own heart enough to show all my hurt, and to ask for help in healing, to say this is what I need and why. I tried, but always in ways that were not direct, again, often shaming and blaming, or lashing out when I was really needing something soft and loving. In retrospect, I think it has been ironically hard for me to trust that someone, anyone could or would actually want to help me in the ways I have needed them to. I have wanted their help, but I have closed them out. I remember so many times I have yelled at my husband, “Please, just let me in, just let me see a little bit of what is inside of you.” But all he was seeing of me was my frustration, my weakness, the results of that inner turmoil, of my need. He had fallen in love with the logical self, and never knew the emotional self existed. I never trusted him with most of my real feelings, I was never truly honest with him about many things. When I began to be severely depressed and seek out emotional support wherever I could find it, I closed him out completely. He would ask me how my counseling went, how my meetings went – I would never tell him much more than “fine,” “good,” “OK.” I could never bring myself to tell him what took me to that counselor or to those meetings. I still can’t. I have no idea why …

Through counseling and recovery work with others who suffer from the same sorts of problems, and special friendships I have began to be honest, to see what it feels like – very freeing, the world doesn’t fall apart just because I show myself to it. But there is still something that prevents me from being totally honest, afraid of judgment, afraid of losing control. Most of the time, I just want to run away and hide in a world where there are no feelings. But I know that is killing me too, slowly and surely making me completely insane. I live with a civil war inside my head day after day… how to free myself, I have no idea.

I guess the only answer is one day at a time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My state of mind

Many of my conversations with my therapist focus on what is real and what is not real. I am a person living with PTSD, sexual compulsions and people and food addictions. Those things are a part of me, but they don't define me. They do, however, at times make it hard to see me -- even for me, thus my dilemma with what is real and not real.

So during a conversation with my therapist yesterday I shared that I had felt a lot of depression, cried a lot, felt overwhelmed as time moves closer for me to move yet again to be with a husband who I love, but who does not meet my emotional needs for support. He is someone I cannot be honest with. It's not that I choose not to be, it's when I try to be honest with him, either he turns his head, or I just can't get it out. So, I've given notice at my current job ... and moving forward as if I am going to leave and go be with him, but I have no real desire to go there. I feel like going there will dissolve all the work I have done to get better -- all my work in therapy, all my work to heal from my sexual abuse, all the work I have done to manage life with all the above mentioned issues. I will just go to him, exist with him in a financially secure world, with no emotional support.

As I talked about this in therapy, I described my feelings as two worlds about to collide -- the part of me that has lived in an emotionless marriage, who disassociates from the trauma of my abuse and strained relations with family and friends and the part of me that needs love, support, caring and compassion. My therapist told me that these increasing feelings are real, that my feelings of being overwhelmed is real, and that my pain is real.

I replied, "but I don't feel it as pain." She was puzzled and said, "But you felt pain on Saturday when you laid in bed and cried and screamed, and you felt pain today when you stayed home from work because you were feeling so depressed." I said that's not pain... that's insanity. She smiled and said that my mind was playing some clever tricks ... letting me hide out in the idea that I'm insane, rather than feel pain.

My mind, which is a constant state of civil war, is a source of pain ... it holds memories, it creates chaos, it helps me function and keeps me from functioning. My only key is acceptance. I accept my life, and trust my Higher Power to guide me, pray that I can get out of its way, and have the courage and strength to do the next right thing.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The truth

The truth is ... I feel like I am insane. I can't make decisions, I can't take action. I am making decisions, I am taking action.
I didn't go to work today. I told them I had the stomach flu. Truth is it was damp and rainy and I didn't want to go and I wanted to stay at home and read some self help stuff and write and watch TV and check out of the world. I went to an Al-Anon meeting instead and changed a few lives by sharing with the group what my therapist had told me about the fact that I can't make decisions and have no idea what's real because I have no foundation. I have spent my life trying to please others. I have no idea what I want. I just want to hide the truth most of the time.

I am not responsible for my life. I don't go to work a lot of the time. I lie and say I have meetings and come home and nap or drive around and do nothing. Or I'll go in late and say I've been meeting with someone or did some work from home. The fact is I probably literally work about 20 hours a week, and get paid for 40. When I'm at the office, I often type e-mails or read e-mails or have idle, useless chat with people who don't really matter to me. They are just a diversion from actually showing up in my real life, where I have to be responsible. Right now it is 12 noon, and I haven't showered, I havent' changed out of the clothes that I wore home after I left my boyfriend's apartment this morning.

The truth is I am afraid I can't work. I was doing some job search stuff this morning and I found a couple of jobs that looked interesting in the city where my husband lives and where he thinks I am moving at the first of April. I had posted my resume on the site, with the address where my husband now lives as my address, but I couldn't bring myself to push that little button that says APPLY NOW, to send it to the employers who might hire me. Likewise, I can't bring myself to look for work here where I am now either ... even though I've given my notice at my current job and know that reality is going to kick in very, very soon.

I'm married to one man and practically living with another. The 'other' man is the one who I can tell my secrets to, who listens to me and tries to understand me, who holds me when I cry, who has helped me to heal, but who is afraid to make Valentine's Day plans with me because he's afraid my husband will fuck them up, by calling or texting or doing something incredibly stupid. I can't tell him that I'm afraid that I can't work, because he's just making it financially himself. If he has me and his ex and son to take care of ... that's way too much. Besides that ... I need to be responsible for myself. But not wanting to be responsible ... wanting to hide away, is the reason I feel my husband is a safety net. If I finally decide I can't work ... he makes enough money to support us both. God, I hate being the person who is writing this. I have a lot of hate and self-loathing now.

I read something I wrote in February 2001 yesterday. That's how long my life has been so fucked up I can't imagine that I ever thought I was going to be a success.