Self-help book leads to questions…

Reading self-help books may not have been such a great idea because they always start with what’s wrong and then lead into how to heal.  The book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, spends the first 9 chapters recognizing the problem and how narcissist mothering effects your entire life.  But the subtitle is Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.

I wonder why self-help books take so long to get to the healing?  I’ve read 120 pages of this book and thus far I’m so deep in self-pity that I don’t know if I have the strength to go on and finish the last five chapters about ending the legacy.

Does anyone know what I mean?   When a book hits too close to the surface of your most vulnerable feelings and every page feels like a re-traumatization?

I’ve had a long marriage that I’ve committed to for 24 years.  We’ve had our ups-and-downs but we both try not to carry resentments around and it’s kept our relationship alive and intimate.  Well, that’s what I thought but I’m reading the chapter on how daughter’s who didn’t get love from their mother’s end up repeating the pattern in their adult relationships.  I thought everything was generally okay in our marriage but the author says “we choose a partner largely on an unconscious level… we are attracted to the familiar….you will likely find someone who recreates that mother-daughter pattern of behavior.”  She goes on to infer I have chosen a partner that can’t meet even reasonable emotional needs because that is what is familiar and feels safe.

I’m having a self-pity-party right now, feeling like I’m such a loser to be with a guy that loves me like my mom did.  Emotionally detached, constantly busy, moving through life focused on his own needs.  Yes, I’m weak right now and believe that is true.  And it’s my fault entirely.  The vicious cycle of the mind of an abused/depressed woman.

I can’t get better when I get stuck on the part about where I am in my life and how fucking stupid I am to have allowed myself to be in this position.

I’ve got to keep reading, only 13 more pages until I get to Ending the Legacy.  I’m almost there…I will continue the book and get to the ideas for recovery, the chapter titled First Step.  I’ve come this far; I can read 13 more pages to get to the healing.

My husband and I were open to each other when we first met.  He cried about his mother abandoning him and I cried many times when his love was so strong it nearly scared me away.  How is that not finding someone different from my mother?  I never told my mom she shouldn’t bother loving me because I was defective, I would only think it was a reason for her inability to love me.  But in our early years of dating, I told my husband (H.) I wasn’t worth it many times.   I tested the shit out of his ability to tolerate my unstable emotions.  He always stood by me and professed his love; H. passed with flying colors.

My mom never said she loved me, except in letters and cards.  It was the same with my dad before he passed away.  I grew up with a bunch of intellects.  (Side note—since my mom went into a retirement home, I say I love you after every phone conversation.  She always acts surprised but answers back, “I love you too, Dear.”)

My husband is emotional and needy; he tells me that he loves me more often than my parents ever did.  He is Italian (not trying to stereotype just stating a fact) and comfortably expresses all of his emotions – sadness, happiness, anger, disappointment, whatever.  I have learned a lot from him.  He’s taught me its okay to react and then to let it go.

Then why do I feel I chose someone who can’t meet my needs?  Maybe it’s that my needs can’t be met.  There is an empty hole that my mom left when she didn’t know how to give me the love I needed.  I carry it to all my relationships.  I don’t really blame my husband for our lack of intimacy.  It’s all me.

I can put on a façade, however, and do the right thing.  Yesterday was H’s birthday and I catered to him all day.  The children and I gave him cards, presents and I made a 7-layer chocolate cake because he always says my cakes don’t have enough frosting.  This one did and he loved it. I intentionally bought him a card with a sincere saying, “you are the perfect man” although I saw funny cards that are typically more my style.  I did what I knew he would appreciate.  The only thing I didn’t give him on his birthday was sex and I know he wanted it so today he pursued me.

I hate to always bring my intimate relationship onto this blog and I swore I would not do it again.  But, then, the whole love/intimacy/sex thing is such a major part of my growth.  Sex and intimacy is a key factor with all survivors of sexual abuse.

My husband had just returned from a week-long trip and I could tell he wanted intimacy.  He always seems to want me more after he’s been away.  Sex has been the farthest thing from my mind because I’m all wrapped up in my problems and issues (after delving so deeply into this book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?).

I tell him, “I’m not in the mood.”

He’s persistent, though.  He whispers in my ear what he wants to do to me.  His whisperings are all nice things that will please me.

I tell him, “I’m just not feeling that way right now.”

H. keeps at it and while we’re in our pool he’s constantly pulling me against him so I feel his interest in me.

I tell him, “My head just isn’t into it.”  It’s as if he doesn’t hear me because he tells me what we are going to do later, after the kids have gone to bed.

Going back to the book, I’m certain my behavior is unhealthy and indicative of a dependent/co-dependent relationship.  Why can’t I give back when my husband is offering love to me?

I try to be loving and give him a hug in the pool.  I lean up against him so he can hold me.  Then when the kids are all in the backyard playing a game, and we’re alone by the pool, my husband is using the hair clipper to buzz his hair (which is a regular routine of his).  He tells me to come over and get a haircut so he can lick me later.  I know exactly what he means but I’m scared of showing I might like what he has planned so I say, “The kids will see” although they won’t because they are behind high hedges, laughing and playing with their friends.  H. asks me to come over and help clean up his haircut around the ears, which I do.  We’re close and I’ve been with this guy long enough to know he won’t hurt me but I still hold back.  I also know if I don’t show I trust him his feelings will be hurt, because he is putting his emotions out there and I know it’s a bit of a dance that I must reciprocate.  So, before I can run to safety, I pull my bathing suit bottom to the side and he gently buzzes my public hair.  Just around where he wants it to be short for his own enjoyment.  I don’t like the feeling of the stubble but I go along with it for him.  At least he doesn’t request an all-out shave because that I would refuse.  No way do I want my female parts to look like a prepubescent girl.  It would be a flashback to when I was sexually abused as a child.  But, he has never suggested he likes that…thank goodness.

WE jump back in the pool and, as soon as I get out and dry off, H. asks if I am going inside now.  I hear the hope in those words and say, “Yeah, I’m going to take nap.”  I should say do you want to join me? But lately, I’m feeling low on self-assertiveness.  That’s all he needs to hear, anyway.   H. is out of the pool in a flash and beats me in the house and upstairs to our bedroom.  I won’t go into the details but this guy of mine tirelessly works on pleasuring me.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that he actually gets excited when I feel good from what he is doing.

Survivors have difficulty believing sex is not just for the guy’s pleasure.  I know I have felt guilty-pleasure for many years that I shouldn’t like sex.  But, I do and I’ve found a guy who it’s safe for me to feel vulnerable and truly enjoy sex with.

I should believe I’ve done better in my marriage than I did with the relationship I had with my mother growing up.

I admit I’m not a very emotional person but allowing myself to be exposed in my marriage fulfills an emotional need to connect with others.

Hey, connecting with one person on this earth is better than feeling disconnected to everyone.

But, I also wonder if it’s right or wrong that sexual intimacy fills the empty piece of me in a way that day-to-day interactions never have?

I don’t believe I’m validating myself through sex like I did in my younger years.  I think I’m actually making progress that I can accept my husband’s love, even if it is by physically experiencing it in action.

♥ Daylily

2 responses to “Self-help book leads to questions…

  1. I understand so much of this post, and I have the same doubts about sex, but I too am learning it a healthy and needed part of intimacy in marriage. Our husbands sound similar in some ways, I have also tested mine to the limit, always thinking I am not worth his trouble so he should just leave. I also understand the mind-body disconnect, especially after reading those self help books. But I’m starting to understand that my husband’s love and desire for me are a strong constant, and do not depend on my mood. And the times when I allow him to persuade me into the mood have been some of the most amazing passionate experiences of my life. I always joke with him that I don’t understand the typical sit-com jokes about sex lasting only 2 minutes, he would never do that to me. I wonder if he would naturally be like this, or it is how he learned to show me that sex with him is a form of love, and allows him to desire me without his own guilt. So complicated. I am happy you have a husband like this. And please get to those healing chapters in that book! I also punish myself with reading heavy, traumatizing stuff as I am still trying to put myself back together.

    • Thanks cyber-friend! You have no idea how much it means to me to know I’m not alone. For so many of my younger years I believed I carried a secret that no others shared.

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