Confusion

I faced a dilemma this week. One I’m not sure I resolved. I have a friend, a kind of special friend, the kind that come with benefits of the …. beneficial kind, if you know what I mean. 😉

I could write for hours about how all this started. About how he opened up to me and told me how long he’d been attracted to me. Mentioned times at a friend’s house, BBQs and parties, years past, and him remembering all this time what I was wearing and how I smiled or flicked my hair. About how nervous he was. About how much I learned from this, about him and about men in general. Their vulnerability in the face of … vulnerability and emotion. And how much I learned about s*x and how it can be decent and warm and loving. But those are other stories, for other times.

The last couple of times haven’t been so great for me. Sure, physically, there’s something, but inside I’ve felt like a piece of meat, and sometimes come out the other side feeling like this. We had a date for tonight, but for days I’ve felt really uncomfortable about it. A knot in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t work out. I’ve done it before, so why the knot? Why this time? Was it body image? The flashbacks that crept in last time? Pure laziness? My recent dance with depression? All of these things? Eventually I realised I didn’t want to feel like that again, despite the attractions of s*x and a night of intimacy. And despite the pull of past messages and past behaviours about doing what men tell you to do.

I woke this morning feeling pretty clear that I didn’t want to do it. Or didn’t want to feel like a piece of meat and have all that come up again. So I cancelled. For a minute or two I felt good about having a modicum of self-respect. And then other stuff came up that’s left me even more confused. I started to feel guilty for cancelling and letting him down. I felt stupid for some reason, I think for thinking anything would happen, or for thinking he would care that I cancelled (he didn’t) or something. I’m not really sure. And a sense of panic that I’d done the wrong thing. An internal pull between wanting to feel loved, and not wanting to feel like sh*t afterwards. I can only assume this is more old messages, though I’m not sure where they come from or what they mean.

It’s too confusing. Why does everything have to be so complicated and messy and confusing? Why can’t one thing in my life just be simple?? 😉

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Reflections on 2010

I like New Year about as much as I like Christmas. I’m glad the hoopla is finally over and I can shift into something resembling normal for the year. A couple of my bloggy friends have done a “year in review”, so thought I’d give this a whirl. 2010 was a big year for me and another bloggy friend reminded me that as survivors, we tend not to acknowledge our achievements nearly often enough. So here I am.

Some of my biggest (tangible) achievements:

  • Changing jobs – twice. Getting the hell away from that awful boss I had, and then getting a brand new job in a brand new sector.
  • Giving the whole relationships and dating thing a whirl. This wasn’t the big success I had hoped it would be, but it was an achievement for me to saddle up again. I learned a lot about myself in the process. Perhaps my biggest achievement was standing up for myself in The Great Leap Forward. 🙂
  • Taking holidays – several of them – and believing I deserved them 🙂
  • Doing group therapy, which saw my healing move forward in leaps and bounds. I met some amazing people, learned a lot about myself and realised (even finally believed) that I’m not alone driving the survivor highway. I also even believed that I’m one of those “amazing” people – I’ll never forget the day the Wonder Therapist looked at me and said, “now do you see what I see?” (umm, not really, but kind of LOL)
  • Health – this has been a really mixed bag for me, as I’ve had two rounds of surgery to endure and various other health issues. I’m listing it as an achievement, though, because I’m learning (slowly) to address health issues. I even went to the dentist for no apparent reason, other than a general check up! 🙂

I’ve also made many smaller, less tangible steps forward – wearing skirts, for example, as well as heels again. I’ve used public transport – for years a surefire way to a panic attack. And I’ve been out, at night, and discovered I’m not nearly as afraid of the dark as I once was. 🙂 I’m also not as scared of being stuck in a lift, and have sat in the middle of rows at the theatre without panicking. 🙂 I’m also starting to learn how to listen to my body – when it’s hungry, when it’s tired, or in pain. I’m still not great at this one, but I’m learning.

Of course, the year has had its ups and downs, with continued triggers that spin me out of control sometimes. The Wonder Therapist says “that’s what life is like” – it’s completely normal to have ups and downs. I did notice that sometimes the downs have come from me taking on too much leaving me vulnerable, mentally and physically. I’m guessing there’s a lesson in self-care in there – perhaps that’s a job for 2011? 😉

I’ve also continued to have struggles with my family – especially my mother, though at times I’ve been able to see the family dysfunctions from a distance and maintain (or at least try to) my own “self”. I’m  learning to accept my father’s bad behaviour: not accepting the unacceptable, but accepting that it’s *his* behaviour, and nothing to do with me. Nothing I do can change it, or make it better. He is the abusive a$$hat that he is, and that is no reflection on me at all. That’s progress for me, too. 🙂

One area that doesn’t feel so much like an achievement is that I still feel quite distant from “me” – from the person my therapist described here. That person still doesn’t feel like me, even though I *know* it is, and even though I wrote – and believed – posts like this one.

One thing that’s really helped me is the Expressive Arts Carnival (you can see all my entries here). I’ve loved the activities and the encouragement to do things creative. They’ve helped me think about things differently, and get in touch with different parts of me.

I’ve also learned to more consciously drawn on my lessons in therapy, and the blogosphere – as you all saw in my Christmas survival post, just this week. 🙂

My favourite posts for 2010 – and by chance also the most popular – were these:

Thanks for being with me in 2010 peeps, and I look forward to sharing 2011 with you! 🙂

The Great Leap Forward

I am a political junkie. Or at least I used to be. But that’s not what this is about.

Not-so-Nice Guy came back on the scene a few weeks ago. He contacted me to say he was sorry for being such a “b*st*rd” (to use his word). Yes, he was.

Don’t get excited: he still is (and I can think of a few other expletives to add to his list, too).

This time around NSNG didn’t wait too long before pressuring me to do some Things I was entirely uncomfortable with. We discussed these Things. At length. Repeatedly. Ad nauseum. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. (The Things he wanted were s*xual, sordid and deviantly s*xual, but I’m not going into the details because I don’t want to trigger anyone – let alone me.)

I even said to him that it was the Things, or me. I didn’t say that to blackmail him, but because I realised this was a deal breaker for me. All I got from him in recent times was trigger after trigger after trigger. Looking back, I should have seen the signs earlier.

He knew a little of my past in this area, but still wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Then he accused me of trying to “control” him because I wouldn’t do the Things (and because I wanted him to make a time to catch up this week, before I go away for three weeks).

Finally I said to him:

“Well, if standing up for myself makes me ‘controlling’, then GO ME, I say!”

It’s only taken me a few decades, but I finally managed to stand up for myself. Can I just say that it feels GREAT! Better than great… just, well, GREAT! 🙂 I’m soooo proud of myself, and the Wonder Therapist is delighted, too. 🙂

I’m still upset about tossing him to the kerb, mostly because it’s bringing up all sorts of old messages about me being useless, a failure, blah blah blah. But rationally I know this is for the best. I know (and almost believe) that I deserve better.

I deserve someone who thinks I’m amazing… like this schmaltzy clip … I have no idea where to find it, but I’m starting to believe that I deserve it. 🙂

So that, my friends, is The Great Leap Forward of 2010. 🙂

Courage, stupidity and randomness

I don’t know if it was post-anaesthesia brain fuzz or the furriness of pain killers, but I contacted Nice Guy last week. Yea, I know. I can hear your collective gasp from here. Possibly one of the dumbest things I’ve done, but it’s done now. I told him I missed him, and that I liked him, and that I was hoping we could possibly may be catch up. He said yes. 🙂

I’m still not sure if this was courageous (or “ballsy” as my therapist called it) or just plain stupid. My therapist said it was incredibly “ballsy” and a good thing to do – she almost couldn’t believe I’d done it either. I’m not really sure what made me do it. I felt the weight of post-op depression starting to sink in, and the thought that I’m all alone in the world start to weigh me down, and figured if I don’t contact him I’ll just never know. He sent me a lovely return email saying lots of nice things that he didn’t have to say. Anyway, hopefully we’ll catch up a bit later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

***

I rarely dream about my therapist but I did this week. I dreamt that she’d sent me a text message cancelling my appointment because she was going out and wanted to wear an evening gown. I emailed her about the dream, and she emailed back:

The Wonder Therapist: “That’s me! Dressed for a day’s work.”

LOL 😀

***

Speaking of a day’s work, I have a job interview this week. I’m excited, nervous, anxious, all the usual things. I’ve started preparing, though I’m not usually good at the early preparation… more of a last minute, fever pitch preparer. 😉 They sent me a document to read in preparation. Would you believe it’s a document on child abuse??? Ugh. That stuff used to be so easy for me to read. Now that I’m actually feeling my emotions I find it incredibly difficult. I’ll do my best to switch off so I don’t make an a$$ of myself in the interview!

***

In other news, I went to the symphony the other night. Possibly not the smartest thing I’ve done while recovering from surgery, but I really wanted to go, and couldn’t find anyone to take my ticket. I only stayed for the first half, but got to see and hear one of my favourite pieces. I was sitting up front so I got to see the pianist’s hands dancing effortlessly up and down the keyboard – it was brilliant.

Not-so-Nice – Part 3

I’m feeling better about the situation with Not-so-Nice Guy. Not better, exactly, because I still wish he wasn’t Not-so-Nice, but I don’t feel so wretched anymore. In part because of things the Wonder Therapist said; in part because of things you have all said; and probably in large part because my attention is diverted elsewhere for the moment, but more on that later.

I talked, and sobbed, with the Wonder Therapist. She said a couple of things that have really stuck with me. Not that I quite believe them yet, but at least they’re in my head:

  • Why end my life over a guy I’ve really only known for a short time?
  • Why does Not-so-Nice Guy’s “rejection” of me (which is how I see it) mean that I’m stupid, useless, worthless?

Of course, I couldn’t rationally answer either of these questions. She also said that what I’m feeling is completely normal. It’s the natural grief over a broken heart/broken relationship. It will pass. Rationally I knew this, but it certainly hasn’t felt like it.

I also talked to a friend. One of the women from The Group, who has also had some relationship issues lately. She suggested I think about what I can learn from this. Sounds clichéd, I know, but I think some of her questions are helping me process this.

  • What would you differently next time? What would you do the same?

My instinctive reaction to this is that I wouldn’t open myself up so much next time. It only leads to hurt. But this is a double-edged sword, because if you don’t open yourself up, you potentially miss out on great things. I guess I need to learn how much to open that door – enough to enjoy the good, but not enough that I get sucked in to believing there’s hope and that I’m onto a good thing, when I might not be.

  • What did you like about yourself in the situation? What didn’t you like that you can work on?

How’s this for confoozed? What I liked is that I was able to open myself up… aarrgghh!! Not completely, but I was able to walk some scary lines, share a little of myself without being rejected (initially at least) and be open to receiving something positive in return.

And now just to really mess with your heads, what I didn’t like is that I opened myself up; I let myself believe that this was a good thing (and it really was) … that only ended in tears.

  • What didn’t you like about him? What are you looking for in a person that you can look out for next time?

This is really tough for me. It’s hard to name things I didn’t like, because there was so much that I did like.

What I’m looking for in a person, and what I largely got with Nice Guy, is someone who’s intelligent, funny, shares some of the same interests – particularly an interest in politics and current affairs (even if our views were almost polar opposites). I’ll never forget the night he said to me:

Nice Guy: “You might think this is really weird. Don’t think I’m nuts or anything, but on election night, I like to sit at home and watch the count.” Looking embarrassed.

Me: “Oh my god – me too!!!”

And then we talked about all the things we like about doing that, how it’s the highlight of our political cycle, and how it annoys us that other people think we’re nuts because, even if watching the count is a bit like watching grass grow, when you’re a political junkie, it’s awesome!!

I also want someone who’s sensitive, kind and compassionate. Nice Guy fit that bill, too. It shone through in spades in the way he talked about other people, especially those important to him – like his family, and even his ex-wife. He also showed an interest in me. He sensed that something “not quite right” had happened to me in the past, and he was patient, and caring and understanding about that. I never did disclose anything to him, but he was nothing but kind in wanting to understand and being patient with me.

I also want someone who understands the meaning of the word “no” when things get, ahem, hot and heavy. Simple, right? Apparently not with some men, though Nice Guy oozed respect in this regard.

I want someone who has a job and a life. It doesn’t matter what that is (within reason), but I don’t want someone who is struggling to set themselves up. This might sound horribly judgemental, but I figure at my age, being “set up” comes with the territory. If you’re not set up, either something terrible has happened or you just can’t get your sh*t together.

If I’m completely honest, I could have lived without a little of the passion he had about things that don’t interest me – like cars and military history. But I still loved that he was passionate about those things, even if the subjects themselves bored me to tears. 😉

I’m sure I could keep writing, but that will do for now. It’s something for me to think about anyway.

The other reason I think I’m doing better is that my brain is fairly full thinking about my health issues. I saw the specialist again today and I’m having surgery on Friday. Not the greatest news, but at least they can do it sooner rather than later. I’m hopeful that this will be the end of these troubles, but there’s no guarantee.

I’m also kind of proud of myself because I talked to the specialist about my gynaecological health, and fertility prospects. I was incredibly (and I mean INCREDIBLY) scared about asking those questions. Even though I really want a family, I’m not sure I want to hear some of the possible answers. He was fine about it – he always is. He’s a gentle, caring soul. We’re going to look into all that once the surgery is done with.

I expressed concern to the Wonder Therapist about the prospect of having another general anaesthetic. Here’s what she said:

The Wonder Therapist: “Sorry, a minute ago you were telling me you’re going to top yourself over a guy you hardly know, and now you’re worried about the health impacts of another general? That seriously doesn’t make sense.”

Me: laughing “I know. I never said it was rational!”  

Both of us laughing.

Puzzled and pointless

I’m still feeling wretched. I have moments of feeling ok – like the first twenty seconds of being awake, until I remember what has happened – and then I fall apart again. I thought I was ok to go to work today, but as soon as I left the house the tears started again (actually they started in the shower, but you don’t need those details). It’s like in the early days when I didn’t understand how the world could go on; when everything in my world seems to be falling apart.

I can’t sleep. I’m not hungry. Everything just feels wrong and I feel broken. The food thing has me puzzled, as I’ve traditionally been captain of the binge eating club to squash any emotions. Why not this time, too?

I haven’t been able to see my therapist yet. She wasn’t able to see me last night as there were workmen at her office. I’m pleased she didn’t subject me to them or their noise, as tradesmen are a big trigger for me. I’ll see her tonight instead. (For those of you worried that I won’t go, I will. She shuffled another client around to see me, so I will go, if for no other reason that not to muck her about given she did this.)

I’m puzzled that you all seem to think this wasn’t my fault, that there’s not something inherently wrong with me. If there’s not, then why can’t I find anyone who wants to be with me? For some reason the universe has seen fit to deny me the things I most desire. I don’t understand why.

I never thought there was much hope, but my therapist thought there was. So I put my faith in her. Silly, silly me. That’s only led to heartache and pain, as I should have known it would.

There seems no point to anything anymore. I can’t see how I’ll get over this. I know I can’t go back to hiding in loneliness and isolation. But I also can’t go forward. That’s where my thoughts turn to the pills.