Category Archives: psychotherapy

Therapy session was tough…

This is from my newer blog that chronicles my problem with using alcohol. I drink to hide from my depressive feelings and trying to break the habit is not as easy as I thought.

My Healing Recovery

This is a follow up to my last post regarding being honest about relapsing to my therapist.

Yesterday I had a session with Lynn and, after getting the pleasantries about her vacation and my surgery out of the way, I squirmed uncomfortably on her couch and bluntly said, “I should start by telling you that I started drinking wine again.”

She asked a few questions, the first one, “What day did you have a drink?”

I answered, “May 18th, the last time I saw you before you went on vacation.”

She asked me to tell her about what happened and I dismissively replied, “Who, what, where, when and how don’t matter as much as the why.” She nodded and played along. I say played along because I feel like I was deflecting from the whole truth because I didn’t have the guts to be totally straight forward. I…

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Depression without alcohol

Lynn lowered the Celexa from 20 mgs to 10 mgs and within a month I felt depression lurking. Oddly, I was clear-headed and “normal” for about a week while the medication slowly left my system.   This phenomenon has happened enough times that I’m certain others have been on this merry-go-round.

It starts with taking an antidepressant and as the ride goes up I begin to feel some relief.  When I get to the top, along with relief comes the negative side effects that outweigh the good ones or my therapist and I feel I’ve spent enough time at the top with medications and decide to withdraw me from the meds and see if the ride can continue on its own.  Will my brain be able to balance its chemicals properly?  I hopefully believe maybe I’ll stay on top and the medication’s side effects will go down.  For me, there’s a brief period where it looks like that’s going to happen – I’m on top of the world!  Look, Mom, no antidepressants.  I’m back to myself again.  I have normal emotions and the negative ones aren’t over powering all the others.  Then, every damn time, I begin the decent.  It’s happening as I write.  My emotions are morphing from contentment and acceptance to displeasure and a feeling of rejection with myself.

This time I don’t have alcohol in my system so I’m not self-medicating and the experience is all the more real.  In fact I think this is a first!  Depression without alcohol.  Man, does it suck.

About a year ago I told my therapist I need to treat my depression in order to stop drinking but she said I need to stop drinking to treat my depression.  Here is what my therapist said: “Your drinking is the big elephant sitting in the room.”

I don’t disagree with her analysis but who wants to live constantly aware of the elephant.  Not I.  I want a glass of wine to dull the awareness of my depression and forget about the actual depression.

A couple of days ago, I called Lynn and she suggested we increase the medication to 15 mgs and see if the side effects and the depression both lessen and I find a happy medium.  While I wait for the meds to kick in I’m sleeping a lot and eating more chocolate than I should.  I am also guilty of taking an extra clonazepam (Klonopin) last night.  But at least I waited 5 hours between doses and, more importantly, I didn’t drink.

I’m committed to getting my mental state under control without abusing alcohol.  No more drinking to numb out.

Sorry for all of the metaphors.  I’m not sure what’s up with that!

– Daylily –

Sobriety and depression

I took a reprieve from My Depression Chronicles and focused on a second blog to address my drinking problem http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com. You might call me a “high functioning alcoholic” and when I hit bottom (as they say in the world of alcoholism) DUI’s, prison, divorce and child protective service were not involved. My bottom was high. Drinking was a problem for me but to people outside my immediate family, no one knew. I did my excessive drinking at home, mostly on the weekends between 6-10 pm.

I am feeling slightly depressed and don’t want to confuse my followers on my drinking blog so I’m back.

I’d have to say that quitting drinking has not had a positive effect on my depression. You’d think it would. I expected as much given alcohol is a depressant so if removed shouldn’t I feel better? Less depressed?

Quit the opposite. I feel dreadful. It’s been 3 weeks and a few days since my last drink. I’m lifeless. Everything is dull. No color. I want to sleep more than I did when I was hung over. It’s strange indeed. I couldn’t explain it so I did some research.

There’s a test one takes to determine the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms called CIWA-Ar. I took the test yesterday because of the way I’m feeling.

The test is based on a rating scale of symptoms and my results showed no signs of physical withdrawal. I’m not having tremors, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, memory issues, or visual disturbances; the only thing I feel is cloudy in the head and tired. I guess that is a symptom but certainly not enough to warrant a detox facility. No impending seizures or heart attacks.

Researching further I discover there is this term “PAWS” which stands for post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The PAWS symptoms come 7-14 days after detoxification. These are more subtle but no less bothersome.  PAWS is “a bio-psycho-social syndrome. … It results from the combination of damage to the nervous system caused by alcohol or drugs and the psychosocial stress of coping with life without drugs or alcohol.” http://www.drugalcoholaddictionrecovery.com/?p=37

The way I feel is as if I were depressed. But, I wasn’t depressed before venturing into sobriety. On the contrary, I was holding steady and my depression symptoms were at bay. I was and continue to take my Celexa, Wellbutrin, and Klonopin as prescribed but they aren’t working like they were. My lethargy is remarkable and I recently began consuming large amounts of diet Mountain Dew and chocolate, purely for the caffeine. That can’t be good for my biological system but I have to do something for this malaise. I’m still wiped out even with the caffeine.

I don’t miss alcohol. The idea of drinking makes me feel ill. Truly. I drive by the liquor store and feel glad I’m not self-indulging because it leads to feeling crappy the next morning. I seriously don’t miss it. In a dream I envisioned having to drink after a Saturday afternoon nap and when I woke up I was glad it was only a dream because I no longer want alcohol. I’m sure you are all saying that is weird. I think so too.

In the early days of sobriety I jumped full steam into A.A. literature and meetings. I shared my feelings with strangers and cried in my car after hearing the stories of alcoholics hitting low bottoms. I openly shared my struggles with my family. It’s as if I purged myself; now I’m either exhausted or shut down. Which is it? I don’t know. I have a sponsor who I have avoided in the last couple days. I don’t want to talk about drinking and praying and A.A. meetings. I have separated myself from that struggle because I’m tired of all of it. Is it normal to want to get away from the problem? Or the perceived problem? Or is this depression rearing its ugly head and my pattern of isolating myself when I feel low and lethargic?

I’ve not seen Lynn (my therapist) for a few weeks and I don’t want to. I have this negative attitude of screw her. When I was at my lowest I shared my feelings and she told me to stop drinking. Where was the empathy and support? Nowhere on that day. So, now I’ve stopped drinking and I’ve also lost the sense of safety I was developing with her. Emotionally separating from her can’t be good for me. Having just quit drinking one would expect this to be the time when a therapist is most needed.

I pull my hair in front of my face and take a deep sigh. I don’t have the answers.

My history of childhood sexual abuse taught me to be selfish when I feel physically or mentally distressed. I can only share my state of my mind with others for so long. Inevitably the time comes when I need to shut my feelings and thoughts inside myself. Okay, I shared how I feel and think; I learned how other’s suffer with painful feelings and thoughts; now let’s go to our separate places. 

I need alone time.

This chosen inaccessibility is where similarities with others end. I notice most women can reach out, express their troubles, and accept the assistance of others. These people join self-help groups, make lasting connections, and grow to have a broader support system. They actually appear happy and socially adjusted. Not me. I’ve been in this exact place before. I rationalize that it’s in my best interest to share painful emotions and so I force myself to do it. Then, like a turtle I retreat into my shell; returning to the safety of my private life.

Is this wrong? Have I not made some progress? I would have to say I absolutely did. Now, people in my real world, leave me alone for a while. I need time to process my newfound sobriety.

♥ Daylily ♥

Therapy feels wrong but who knows?

Admittedly, I am one of those people who doesn’t look any different from anyone else but my inability to stop abusing alcohol makes me a person that needs some kind of help.  I feel like it’s love, empathy and support that I need but my therapist is acting indifferent and tough.  It may be the right tactic but it feels wrong and hurts.  I want to push her away and isolate myself.

I know the therapeutic relationship mimics my personal relationships outside of therapy and I don’t know how to get help from someone who portrays themselves as indifferent.  To help understand, a total lack of affect and an abundance of intellect is my family of origin.  How can I heal within a relationship that feels so similar to my upbringing, where I hid my feelings from powerful, intelligent people.

As a survivor of CSA I battle the inner demons of self-hate and a sense of not deserving anything good.  I am dumbfounded as to find something inside me that believes I should recover just because I’m worth it.

This leads to my question: How can a person like me, who feels completely inadequate, trust her therapist and be able to get the help she needs?  This is a major road block to my success.  I want to enhance my sense of self which in turn will fuel the desire to stop drinking alcohol for my own good. Is this thinking backward?

My therapist says I must first stop drinking because it is the elephant in the room.  Sounds logical to a person with inner resources but sounds like jumping from a plane without a parachute for a person who lacks self-worthiness.

♥ Daylily

Shop for lingerie

What’s a better pick-me-up? I’ve been riddled with depression, anxiety, feelings of shame, anger, and guilt; really, you name an emotion that attacks from the inside and I’ve been feeling it.

Tonight I went to the mall and bought myself a present: panties, bras and camisoles. And no cheap Hanes briefs from Wal-Mart (which I wear everyday so don’t get me wrong about that). My recent weight loss boosted my self-image and I don’t feel like an obese sea cow swimming in the lingerie department. I went all out and bought the softest Jockey panties and camisoles I’ve ever felt. No, they aren’t satin and lace or very sexy but they are stylish and comfortably cotton. I know I will feel happier tomorrow just knowing I did something nice for myself.

My mood was so low today that I almost shut down my blog and cut myself off from my therapist. The only way I can explain it is when I feel judged or criticized I get defensive. For some reason when others are disappointed in me I take on their condemnation as my own. I feel utterly worthless and push others away because I’m not worth their worry or care. The pattern goes like this: someone I trust hates a behavior of mine; I can’t change it so I hate myself equally as much.

I woke up feeling so bad I fantasized about suicide. I thought just get me the fuck out of this world. I didn’t plan anything or take the idea any further than wishing I wasn’t alive.

I called Lynn, my therapist, and we talked things out. She made me realize that I focused on one tiny part of our session and blew it way out of proportion. Lynn assured me she is committed to working with me. She observed that all of my relationships have the same dynamics and if I work on how I feel with her I am helping my other relationships too. She’s right.   I can get so stuck in inner turmoil.   The conversation was pretty long and it helped to be able to express myself to someone who was reassuring. I won’t go into the whole binge drinking thing except to say she explained her position a little better and I understand where she’s coming from. First of all, I did choose a therapist who is a prescribing doctor so of course that person would be concerned if I mix alcohol with her medications. What really made me see her point was after I asked “Would you tell a patient who self-harmed through bulimia or cutting to just stop the behavior?” Her answer was, “Alcohol is a form of medication and I am a prescribing therapist. I have a responsibility to be concerned about mixing the two.” I calmed down after that and said, “I can understand that.”

What I know is this blog is about my depression. Lynn has her eye on that when I lose my focus. Of course, she’s right that I’ll never be well until I stop drinking. It does not mix well with my medication nor help my depression.

My perspective is slowly changing.

♥Daylily

Therapist betrays me (or so I feel)

I truly believe Lynn wanted me to breakdown and cry in therapy today. There was some crying but I did not breakdown. It wasn’t because she didn’t try her hardest. She absolutely did! Contrary to what she hoped, I got angry.  I’m so pissed off I am thinking of ways to get out of therapy.

Before proceeding, I must point out that this is my perspective. By no means am I accusing her of crossing ethical boundaries but my retelling will make you think so. My perception is one-sided and self-protective.

Lynn purposefully challenged my thinking today. It came on the heels of last week when — for the first time — I opened up to her, admitted that I missed therapy and divulged a great deal of painful feelings regarding my past.

I feel trapped because now she knows I trust her so she went in for the kill.

I know I’m skirting the issue. You are probably asking yourselves about now, “What the heck is Daylily talking about?”

How I opened up. How I exposed my weakness and how my therapist turned it around and pushed my problem right up to my nose.

Once again I stated my modus operandi: change takes time. I not only tell my husband this but I also use it to reassure myself that I’m headed in the right direction. I need time to put a safety net in place for the fall out when I stop drinking. I have no idea what I will do with the feelings and thoughts that I’ve learned to numb and push down with alcohol. Admittedly, I’m scared to be alcohol-free.

I disclosed the contentious marital conflict last weekend.  I told Lynn my husband yelled at me, “Therapy is not working because you are still drinking.”

What felt like a sucker punch, Lynn followed up by saying, “You must stop drinking and then work on the emotions. The drinking is the elephant sitting in the room.”

I expected her to tell me, your husband doesn’t know how hard you’re working. Instead she sided with him.

Lynn threatened to withdraw my medications if I don’t stop binge drinking. She said, “It is the policy at our practice to decrease and eventually cease all prescribed medications if the patient has an issue with alcohol.”

It was then that I shut down. I couldn’t look in my therapist’s eyes. I felt betrayed.

Lynn asked the number one therapist question, “What are you feeling right now?”

My answer, “Cornered. You are threatening to take away my medication for depression.” I began to cry softly but not enough to ask for her help with it.

Survivors of sexual abuse are good at believing no one really cares.

When I feel cornered I want to bolt out the door. I waited as I watched the minutes tick away.

Lynn said things like, “You always have options.” And, “You can find another therapist who will not tell you what I am.”

My nasty response, “I know I have options.”

Lynn said I was angry.

“Yes, I don’t like to feel that you are siding with my husband and ganging up on me.”

She said my husband could come to the next session.

“Right,” I replied sarcastically, “So the two of you can both tell me I’m behaving badly.”

I said, “To get through that session I would need to wear a protective plate of amour.”

Lynn tried to offer assurance that she would be on my side to help explain to my husband the hard work I’m doing. I didn’t believe her. I still don’t feel she was sincere. What she was offering was an intervention. The same thing my husband suggested.

My nasty side came out and I said, “Let’s just invite my whole family and have a true intervention.”

Lynn told me she wasn’t going to take away my medication today. She tried to reassure me that she knows it’s a process. Blah, blah, blah.

My protective inner-self was hurt and I did not absorb any of what she said. She was judging me and that’s all I felt.

Lynn did offer suggestions about what to put in my “basket” to help me when I stop using alcohol as a crutch; but this is not the positive post to express hopefulness. First I need a place to express a sense of betrayal and disappointment.

Please no comments about my therapist being right. I’m a bright woman and I don’t need to be told that. What I need is support and understanding on this journey.

♥ Daylily, in a nasty mood

Retrogression

Encarta® World English Dictionary

My session with Lynn yesterday was the best I’ve ever had. I was open, vulnerable and felt safe being that way. I talked to her about moments when I disassociated in situations that involved my family over vacation. I only remember the events because I consciously wrote them down before my brain worked its magic to lose the memories. This is not a topic I’ve talked about much but it is common practice in my life. I especially “forget” fights that I have with my husband if he hurts my feelings (which can be often because he is gruff and controlling a lot of the time). The other times I disassociate are talking to my mother about my feelings and whenever I feel angry. I don’t like to carry anger. Forcing remembrance of negative feelings will allow me to handle them. Not “handle them better” because I currently just separate my head from my heart and forget.

Lynn gave praise for my efforts and said I should continue to write triggering moments down on paper because even if I lose them on a cognitive level she said I am pushing the feelings that were produced by the events deep down inside of me. I understand this. I need to learn to handle them better.  The feelings are intimately a part of me, causing depression and a need to numb myself with alcohol. Lynn and I will work toward helping me find new ways to manage difficult situations.

I asked Lynn, “What do I do with the feelings if I’m not able to do my usual forgetting?”

Ironically I can’t remember what she said. Whatever it was is out of my grasp right now. Last night I ended up resorting to what I know. I drank too much wine to help myself feel calmer. When I drink I feel relaxed and easy-going. I don’t complain or yell. I get things done around the house and then say good night and go to bed. Drinking is my form of self-medication.

Last night my husband got pissed-off and went into one of his rants. He accused my therapist of not helping me and said he doesn’t see any improvement. Husband stated, “You said you are seeing her to help you with your drinking.” He yelled, “I’ll let her know that you are not better. You still drink. Let me come to your next meeting and I’ll tell her that.”

I tried to explain that change takes time but he was too angry to hear anything I said. A big argument ensued where I walked outside with the dog and my husband followed asking, “How much did you drink?” I didn’t answer and he nastily said, “Do you even know?”

I know it was too much but I felt I didn’t deserve his anger. I’m trying to heal and learn new skills but he is only seeing my bad behavior. I closed myself off from him and I don’t recall much else because I don’t want to. He was mean and hurtful. He said, “What do you need, an intervention?”

What does he think I’m doing in therapy? I am allowing Lynn to help me with my problem. He does not see it.

I admit I drink to cope. I have cut down to only drinking on the weekends and this weekend it was only last night. I’m not condoning my habit because I do want to stop. Drinking prevents me from being the best I can be. In order to change I need alternatives, strength and self-love. Dear God, how I would like to stop drinking because I care and think enough about myself to do it. I am working toward that goal.

I wanted to walk down our road during the heated argument but husband said if I stepped off our property he would call the police. He took out his cell phone to prove it. I work in the same small town where I live and I have a reputation to up-hold. Many people know me, including the police with whom I have a professional relationship. I cannot have the police called. Husband had the upper hand. I felt trapped and I began to sob and cry. I hated myself, my husband, my life.

Husband changed his attitude to be more caring and he wanted me to go inside. The last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere with him. I wanted to run away and be anywhere than with the man who hurt my feelings. I looked at our big house from the driveway and all I felt was dread at the idea of going into it. I cried and husband tried to console me but the fight moments beforehand broke me apart. He was hurtful and turned me into a mess of crying tears.

I eventually did go inside and my children hugged me; I kissed them goodnight and went to my bedroom with my dog and climbed into my bed. I cried as if I were 10 years old. My house felt void of love. One thought kept repeating in my head, Shelter and warmth is all I have. I had a flashback to my childhood home around the time I was sexually abused. I was overcome with the sensation of feeling completely alone and emotionally neglected. The roof over my head and the blankets around me was all I had. I felt self-pity and sadness. No one cares about me. I am not worthwhile. 

I connected how my husband treated me to how I felt growing up in my own family. I’m always alone in my emotional struggles. No one who cares about me has ever known how badly I want to feel emotionally steadied by another human being. Even when my husband tried to calm me down outside all I felt was unloved and scared he would hurt me again. He told me I have so much good in me and he will stand by me forever; but his inability to understand the work I’m doing in therapy put a big wall between us.

I fell asleep by myself, literally sobbing into my pillow.

Here it is the next day and the tears are still perched on the edge of my eyes. My heart is heavy with self-hate. I feel even my blogging friends think less of me. You are probably sickened by my lack of resolve. How can I be such a failure?

Please don’t think that of me. I do not intend to harm anyone. I want most to be the peace keeper. When I fail I am my worst critic. I hate that about myself. Why can’t I care for myself enough to take care of my body and emotions as well as I try to take care of everyone else’s? I quit drinking for years at a time for my babies because I didn’t want to harm them. I quit drinking for months when an illness and surgery forced me to. Why oh why can’t I stop drinking and just cope with my feelings? I don’t like my husband to be upset with me. I don’t like it when I inflict self-abuse. I have no way out of this funk. Hence, the title of this blog post: retrogression. I am stuck in the past without a clue how to get out.

I work tomorrow and I will put on a happy face and act intelligent and professional even though inside I feel like a lost puppy who wants nothing more than for someone to love me who will not emotionally harm me.

The world does not feel like a friendly place right now.

♥ Daylily

I miss my therapist

I never thought in my (almost) 50 years I would gain enough trust with a therapist that I could actually miss her. Hesitant, guarded, cautious and restrained are more like it. This is not because I didn’t want to trust a therapist; I have just been uncertain about whether I could trust anyone.

Childhood sexual abuse caused undeserved feelings of shame, self-blame and guilt that I didn’t want to show anyone. How fucked-up would I look if someone knew the depth of my sense of unworthiness? In my head I felt sure that I had to protect my vulnerable self from being exposed. Those feelings are my weakness and I am defenseless around them.

But recently the tide is changing and I can feel it. Facing those exact feelings with compassion and mindfulness are causing them to lose their potency. I am not that negative voice in my head.

I haven’t seen Lynn for one month and I eagerly look forward to our session tomorrow morning. Well, okay, maybe eager sounds a bit strong since I’m rarely able to admit positive feelings so let’s say I’m feeling more willing to go to therapy than usual. For once, I don’t have an agenda. I feel calm and okay with the idea of her asking me questions about how things are going. My answers won’t feel “wrong” or indicative of some serious emotional issues. I don’t have to be guarded. There is nothing to hide. I am ready to kick my inner critic to the curb. The way to do that is to talk about emotions that I often judge as wrong. I will share my feelings without judging myself.

This is not an easy post to write because I typically don’t feel or write with encouragement and positivity; but somewhere in this post is a person who feels hopeful about the progress she’s making and who is feeling supported by her therapist. (Apologies for the 3rd person point of view in the second clause of the previous sentence; it is the only way I could express optimism). 🙂

—–Daylily—–

How childhood sexual abuse affects my marriage

It’s not news to anyone that a child who was sexually abused suffers long-term effects that carry over to adulthood. The early trauma is not an event that can be isolated because abuse touches all parts of a person’s identity, their social-emotional lives as well as the perceptions of themselves and others.

I have written about my experience of incest. I was prepubertal and research shows that the onset of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) factors into measuring the extent of trauma. Some studies show that younger children are somewhat more vulnerable than older children to trauma. I don’t need research to tell me this; of course a brain that has not developed (especially in terms of maturation and puberty) would be more affected. Other research shows that if the survivor lacks a sense of being protected by their parents, which is especially true with incestual CSA, the trauma can be worse. When I say trauma, I broadly speak of all the ways a child could be hurt; the more trauma the more far-reaching the effects and the harder the road is to recovery.

I’d like to address how CSA has affected my marriage of 23 years. I struggle with the ability to trust and be intimate with my husband. I fear re-traumatization if I stay in any relationship with the potential for emotional harm. When my fears over-power my rational thought, I want to escape. Yesterday in my blog I shared that I felt my husband does not respect or value me. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had similar fears? More than I can count. Just about every time I don’t get my needs met.

My marital relationship is a concern but I am awakening to a realization that the bigger problem is that I continue to replay the same stories in my head. Recovery is hard because I keep my shame, guilt and sense of unworthiness hidden.

My thoughts regularly turn pessimistic and I fall into an all too common space in my mind that is self-protective. The proof is in every journal I ever wrote. I go between drastic states of believing that my husband is safe and loves me to an overriding sense that he hates me. Realistically, I am not in a relationship with a man who hates me. The relationship is unpredictable because I cause it to be so. A published piece of scientific literature about CSA says that dysfunctional family dynamics may occur in the families of survivors. These include “denial, unpredictability, lack of empathy, lack of clear boundaries, role reversal, a closed family system, incongruent messages (body language differs from speech) and extremes in conflict (too much conflict may result in abuse, too little may result in hiding problems and not dealing with them).” (Engel, 2000)

This is my reality — I do not think or react normally. CSA causes extremes in the quality of my intimate relationship with my husband.

My past shoves its way into the present and I re-live feelings of trauma and express myself in an extreme manner. I’ve never been diagnosed with a personality disorder of any kind, so this behavior is your standard post traumatic stress disorder. The reality is that my husband does not hate me nor does he think I’m stupid.

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I believed he hated me. I admit throughtout the day, I was recalling my childhood and I suspect it triggered my thoughts to go into protective-mode, hence the previous blog post threatening divorce. I have similar journal entries from the past 30 years, stating my husband doesn’t love me and I would be better off without him.

He proved me wrong yesterday by working in the kitchen all day, cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, from stuffing the turkey, to peeling potatoes to heating up rolls in the oven. I showed up just in time to set the table. He didn’t complain and in a sense proved he is good to me, to the kids and to my emotional health.

Dinner was followed by some television and then mutually satisfying sex that left me completely satiated. So much so, I forgot to take Klonopin at bed time and slept well regardless of missing my medication. This morning, my husband initiated more sex and I responded positively because he proved he could be trusted yesterday and so I felt safe.

This flip-flop in my thinking is the aftermath from CSA. It’s so paradoxical that half the time, I can’t trust myself. Is my husband loving or is he full of hate for me? My distorted thoughts aren’t reliable and so I’ve learned to go into isolation-mode when I feel unloved and low on self-esteem. I don’t want to do anything rash or sudden because I think it will hurt me more in the end to not be with this man I’ve loved for 30 years.

My instincts are good because it protects me from doing further harm to myself. Otherwise, I would still be living out my adolescence with sexual promiscuity, an eating disorder and drugs. I realize that when my thoughts turn to self-hate, I should isolate myself in order to stay safe. This defense mechanism has kept me in a good marriage, allowed me to raise well-adjusted children and kept me employed.

Things are beginning to change. I’m recognizing these stories and past patterns of thought are hurting me. No doubt they impact my relationships, and especially my marriage; but I count my blessings. I’ve never threatened divorce, I’ve only fantasized it would be best. I know it wouldn’t be the answer to my problems. My husband is aware of my past CSA and has stuck by me. He is a good man and I am ready to change my thoughts so that I can both give and accept love fully.

Daylily

Am I just “settling”?

Is my marriage healthy for me? Is it allowing me to be the best that I can be?

Huge questions.

Life changing answers that I admit I’m dreadfully scared of.

There’s so much buried anger and resentment in my marriage of 23 years. If I were to complain to my husband, he would respond “How do you think I feel?” He would go on to list things I don’t do for him, ways in which I don’t show love, behaviors of mine that make him feel isolated from me.

I have the same feelings of resentment for how he talks to me and how he responds to simple requests. I can list numerous ways in which he sounds bitter, angry and hateful toward me. It seems he always answers me by being snotty and angry.

He could say the same about me. We both feel unloved and unsupported.

It’s a vicious cycle of our emotional needs not getting met.

Did I marry someone with the exact likeness to my parents? I feel constantly criticized just as I did as a child. Brief interactions cut me down everyday – it’s no wonder I continue to have a low sense of myself. My husband treats me like I’m stupid. The same way I felt growing up.

Why have I been in a marriage to someone who can’t offer empathy for my emotions unless they are spilling out with sobbing tears?

I know why – because when I make a commitment, I stay with it. I tell myself I must endure, regardless of whether the relationship supports me or not.

The following are deep-rooted excuses that I believe down to my core, ways to justify staying in my marriage:

I would still be stuck with myself, no matter who I was married to.

That’s one of my classics. But doesn’t that thought hurt me? It takes the blame off my husband and puts it all on me. I recognize self-blame as my lifelong pattern, learned in childhood, as a way to avoid abandonment. If I entertain thoughts that others are not good for me and I, God forbid, voice those feelings – I could very well be left alone and abandoned.

Children cannot survive on their own so the thoughts were justifiable when my parents divorced and I feared being alone.  But, I’m an adult now and I could survive. Why do I blame myself instead of my husband who hurts me constantly with his tough, hardened exterior?

My husband doesn’t physically abuse me nor intentionally hurt my feelings. He is a good man and I am just sensitive to how others speak because I live with a sense of unworthiness.

Which is it? I’m too sensitive or my husband is an egotistical hard-ass who doesn’t think before he speaks? My perspective is so distorted that I just do not know the answer. My dad was the same way and my brother’s grew up strong, ambitious and competent. They didn’t feel the criticism that I did. I truly could be over-sensitive.

I hope my two boys don’t feel their father’s judgmental attitude and turn it against themselves. Perhaps that is how men raise children and as a girl I am overly sensitive in close relationships with men.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I try to follow the word of the Lord and not be selfish. I have intentionally never written down the numerous ways my husband’s words have hurt me because that would be keeping a record of wrongs.

In my childhood, as a survivor of sexual abuse, I learned to rise each morning and shut out how I felt about my brother molesting me each night.

In my marriage, comparably speaking, I do the same thing and block the painful interactions and have learned not to remember.

My childhood patterns helped me master the ability to separate from painful emotions – to the extent of not being able to retain information that caused emotional pain only moments before. In my current life, this allows me to go to work, raise the children, do the household chores and stay married.

No marriage is perfect because no person is infallible. Any marriage has times of neglect because humans are not faultless creatures.

I must stay in my marriage and accept culpability for my part.  I can grow from this relationship.

That is true but I can only grow so far and no further — if my partner chooses to not see the part he plays in the relationship. Each person comes to a marriage with a past wrought with baggage. I’ve gone through a lot of therapy and I’ve been working hard to release my past baggage and learn to live in the present. Can I say that is so about my husband? Would my husband admit to his faults and accept he is not blameless?

That’s the question I’m dreadfully afraid of.  He most likely would blame me, depression, my history of sexual abuse, my inability to let go of feelings, my sensitivity and my self-imposed isolation.

The answer I would most like to hear from him is, “We both play a part in this marriage and we are equally at fault for the anger, resentment and lack of intimacy.”

This ideal is not far-fetched because my husband does care about me. He tries so hard to give me the love I need but over the years I have been unpredictable and he has rightfully used caution.

Where does all this lead me? At this moment, as I look truthfully at my marriage, I feel beat down. I don’t honestly know how much more I can improve in terms of building up my sense of worthiness and ceasing my behavior of drinking to numb my feelings, while I’m in this marriage with a guy that when I pull away the blinds, I see as playing a part in me continually feeling a sense of shame and guilt. I am perpetuating my past and something has to change. I can not continue to disengage from my emotions and think I will develop self-love and the ability to stop the negative thought patterns from my past.

If every relationship is wrought with fault and built-up resentments then I seriously wonder if I would be better off alone? At least until I could work out my own issues within a healthy atmosphere that doesn’t continually replay past patterns.

But, I must ask myself, why would I bail on a good man who has gone with me this far in my journey of self-discovery? He is painfully aware of my past and my present. Am I hiding from my own issues and wishing I could be alone so I don’t need to make those final steps to finding intimacy and real love?

Seriously, why would I want to start over after 20+ years?

I must talk to my therapist about this revelation and eventually discuss it with my husband.

Really big questions with no clear answers.

Daylily