Category Archives: relationships

Feeling vulnerable without alcohol

Telling Lynn my marital woes didn’t have the desired effect. I thought freeing my pent-up resentments to an objective therapist would help; but, strangely, the opposite happened. I walked in feeling confident and full of self-righteous anger and I left anxious and distraught. My original anger was directed at my husband for choosing the home and town we’ve lived in for 20 years. I was forthright with Lynn, divulging my frustrations. All that sanctimoniousness disappeared when Lynn asked a simple question, “What would your life be like if you had made the choices in your marriage?”

Lynn touched a sore spot and the truth hurt.  Fear crept in and I couldn’t speak of my own needs. Quietly, with eyes cast down, I sullenly spoke, I don’t have goals. If I had things to aspire toward I would be disappointed and let down. With tears and sadness I realize the reason my life is not different is because I haven’t spoken up about my needs or desires. I own the problem in its entirety.

Okay, so let’s get this straight. First my anger is directed at my husband and I see myself as the unappreciated and unloved victim and when that assertion is challenged I retreat to the safety of believing its my fault that my needs are not met.

Which the fuck is it? The answer to that question isn’t as important as how to stop my mind, no matter what the scenario, from arriving at the same conclusions. I constantly blame myself. I either don’t get something because I’m not worthy or it doesn’t happen because I’m weak.

This is hard shit to swallow because I reject either of those things. I stuff this down with my alcohol consumption and rarely do these feelings see the light of day. My wine signifies a glass of straight up denial.

Where do these ideas originate?

The obvious answer is survivors of childhood sexual abuse learn to feel unworthy. I assumed my mother didn’t stop my brother from coming into my room at night because she loved him more. With every nice gesture or favorable event that happened to this brother, I became more certain that he was worthy of good things and I wasn’t. I didn’t speak up about the atrocity that occurred against my prepubescent body; instead I stifled my voice and learned to endure life.

My therapist reiterated that my childhood left behind a belief that no one loves me but she stated, “You are not a child anymore.” She reminded me I have a voice and people around me do care what I want and need.

I wonder why I’m so stuck in my old ways.

I hate myself for turning the entire resentment issue into something bigger than it is. We “depressives” know how to blame ourselves about everything. It’s true my husband makes a lot of the major decisions but the reality is I don’t speak up for myself; I’d rather suffer in silence and allow resentments and anger to fester. How fucked up am I? I’m not a child anymore; what’s my problem that I wallow in self-pity instead of making changes to get things that I want in my life?

So, I pretty much left therapy feeling angry that my husband doesn’t do or care about my needs and, ultimately it’s my own fault because I don’t speak up.

I have always thought that no matter who I’m with I’m still stuck with myself.

Ideally I would like to learn to speak up for myself without shutting down with anger, resentments, shame, and self-blame locked inside and so, I had the best of intentions to not bring my befuddled feelings home from therapy. I didn’t want to be angry with my husband or have a pity party for myself.

Let’s just say, that didn’t work.

All day long I was a quiet, hateful, sulking angry wife. I tried to manage my feelings, but eventually I headed for the door to buy a mood altering bottle of wine. I honestly felt the need to drink was as strong as the desire a suicidal person may feel while they prepare to jump. I saw no other options to relieving my anxiety. The self-berating thoughts that play in my head were overwhelmingly strong and I did not know how to calm myself. I had no coping skills or tools in my tool box.

Husband stopped me from blowing my 90 days of sobriety by talking me down off the cliff I was dangling from. When he asked, “Where are you going?” and I replied, “I need a bottle of wine.” He responded sympathetically and was very calm as I’m sure he did not want to upset me further. During this interaction I was unsettled and anxious but not angry.

My husband listened to me complain and then he heard me berate myself for not speaking up about things I wish for in my life. He said I haven’t changed or gotten better in all the years I’ve been in therapy. He meant I continue to give myself a psychological beating. We’ve been together for 30-plus years and I didn’t want to believe him but a part of me felt he was right. I thought I was making progress in my life but he thinks I live in the past and can’t let it go.

My husband reassuringly told me everyone has pain from their past but it doesn’t define them or continue to be the driving factor in their lives. His words were like a gentle caress to a baby bunny. They felt compassionate and forgiving.

I had backed off the ledge by this point and my anxiety was reduced to a manageable level. My husband hugged me and whispered, “I love you. I want you to be my wife and tell me what you want.” I shrugged and stood limp and lifeless, drained of all emotions.

I didn’t drink, though and I’m grateful for my husband who helped me through a tough time.

I’m afraid I still won’t know what to do next time. I need tools in my toolbox. So, I called Lynn and asked if she was available for a session on Saturday. This is monumental in my life. Me asking for help. Lynn agreed and said it would be good to talk while the conversation and events were still fresh in my mind.

Daylilyœ 

Being married to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

There are two sides to every coin

Good Evening! If you read my last post then you know I emotionally broke down over the weekend. What a crying mess I was. I spent all Sunday in bed, restoring my equilibrium. I am feeling so much better. It is not hard for survivors of sexual abuse to fall off-balance. Fortunately for me, time settles things and makes all the difference. As I go deeper into my issues there is less recovery time – which is a relief! 

My husband took the brunt of my rage but in truth I was triggered by seeing my brother who abused me, telling my step dad about the abuse and then re-telling Lynn in therapy. Only a person with trauma would know how bringing too much to the surface can put a survivor into a tail spin.

I regret how hard I was on my husband. Admittedly there are issues in my marriage, any marriage, really. What does it do to a guy whose wife wants to run away every time she feels slighted? Either physically run or mentally check out by drinking wine. Yes, he said some mean things but I didn’t tell you about how I told him, “Fuck off” and “You don’t control me.” When he didn’t want me to walk on the road at night it was because he cares. Our road is rural with no lights, no sidewalks and right now there is snow up to the edge. I was being stubborn and felt trapped and wanted to do something stupid like stumble down the road. He was angry that I was drunk. We were both at fault but I have to concede my part, that life with a survivor of sexual abuse is hard on the spouse. I can be unpredictable with intimacy and trust and half the time I don’t even know why I act the way I do.

I met my husband when we were in college and we’ve been married for 24 years. Although the relationship seems especially strained right now, most likely it’s because I am trying to grow, change and improve. There have been a lot of backslides during the past year. My emotions are up and down, left and right. My husband does try to get some control and it’s not always been that way. I have directed our relationship by pushing him away or needing him so desperately that it’s overwhelming for him. He has stuck by me through years of a tumultuous relationship. I give him credit and I recognize everyone has their limit. He hit his limit when I was drunk (again) on Saturday night. Even though I “only” drink on the weekends, I keep saying I’m going to stop. He’s tired of hearing my promises. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s stuck in a tough position.

I’m still going to work on our relationship issues. I want to track when situations trigger anger. That is when I disassociate. I may find my husband is over-the-top with his criticisms and controlling ways but I must also see my part in our marriage dance. I’m a real bitch most of the time. I complain about everything. The house, the chores, his lack of help, the long list of things that need to be fixed, how I need help with the children’s busy schedules and that I hate to go food shopping and I wish I didn’t have to cook meals and clean up afterward. I am not the easiest person to live with. That’s the reality.

Yes, my husband is showing frustration and impatience. In some ways, I think it is his right. I’m not the warmest wife or happiest homemaker.

Thanks for reading this one. Journal/diary blogging has a way of being partial and imbalanced. I needed to try to show both sides of the coin. I know this side doesn’t make me look good. In order to make changes I must be rational and balanced.

♥ Daylily

Family dynamics

My husband, kids and I have been home for Christmas vacation. Husband and kids are having a grand old-time but I am busy cleaning, organizing, doing laundry and keeping the kitchen up. To my kids credit they helped clean their closet yesterday (because I forced them to). There is some pride in getting that nasty job done; but last night I was pissed off that I was not enjoying the same vacation as my husband. I expressed my displeasure a few times and each time my kids and husband say, “Don’t do it.” That’s easy for them to say. If I don’t do it everything will pile up for me to do later. I have ignored the kitchen for 24 hours and the counters are piled with dirty dishes because the dishwasher is full and someone needs to empty it. The roaster pan from Christmas still sits on the stove top, waiting to be cleaned. It’s been there for 4 days. (During this writing I hear the sounds of my husband cleaning the kitchen and making the kids pancakes).

Last night I was angry enough that I wanted to run away. This coping mechanism is totally a mental escape that allows me to not feel trapped. I learned it as a young girl who suffered in silence with the shame of incest. Maybe getting older is not such a good thing because I realize I can’t simply “run away.” I have a house, husband and kids.

So I did the second best thing I know to cope with a shitty situation. I opened a bottle of beer and then had a couple of glasses of wine. I went to bed at 8:30 pm just to get away from everyone. The alcohol worked by easing my anxiety/anger but I wondered why I’m afraid to demand my needs get met. What would happen if I told my husband to help me instead of what he does, which, when he is not working, is hobbies or sitting in the recliner and watching TV.

Earlier in the day I tried to express myself in a non-confrontational way. I asked my husband, “Will you do me a favor?” His answer was an immediate “No.” I responded, “Why would you answer that way?” He laughed and said, “Because it’s the way you ask it.”

I’m not even going to go into the conversation because it triggers a sense of helplessness. I really should address this issue in therapy. Well, I have and Lynn tells me to make lists but I can’t get my husband to do anything on my lists. That would be a topic for therapy.

I am writing on a new laptop I received for Christmas. My husband surprised me with the gift even though we had agreed not to spend money on each other. I know that was sweet of him and I shouldn’t be so angry. He knows a lot more about computers so he spent hours on Christmas day installing Microsoft Office 10, updates and virus protection. When he transferred all of my files from the old laptop, I became nervous that he would open one of my blog posts that are kept in a folder called “Weblog.” He passed right over the specifics and I worried for nothing.

I had to enter a password for access to my new computer and so I typed it in without showing my husband. It asked for a hint in the event I forget so I wrote “flower.” Husband needed to get into my computer so he asked for the password. I said, “It’s a flower.” The children guessed sunflower and Mayflower (that’s my younger one who was thinking of the pilgrim’s voyage to America). Husband guessed daylily, typed it in and got immediate access. “How did you know that?” I asked. His answer, “You told me you had a handle by that name on some website.”

I felt a wall of self-protection go up. Oh crap, what if he has been to my blog? Quick, think, do I say bad things about him? I wondered, Is he the one who visited the day I had one visitor read almost all my posts. I quickly decided he hasn’t been to my blog because he really doesn’t have an interest in what I write. He’s never liked my ramblings on paper and the times he has suffered through listening to me express things similar to what I write about he looks bored. He spent all day on my computer and I know he didn’t read my documents. Emotional stuff is boring. I know this about him.  (I changed my password anyway).

Tomorrow we are traveling to visit my mother and step-dad. They are both 78 years old and live a few hours away by car. We have a reservation at a hotel and will hang out with them most of the time. I look forward to the break from all the things I do around my house. My mom lives in a retirement home and wants to show us off to all her friends in the dining room. She also said her place needs a snowman out front. This is how my mother is. She likes to show others she has the perfect family and so I will play along. I do love her and I like to make her happy. So, I’m bringing along a scarf, hat, carrot nose and my kids snow gear (We haven’t thought of what the eyes and mouth will be yet). My boys will be instructed to build a snowman and just as I was the dutiful daughter so shall my children be the dutiful grandsons. I know I sound sarcastic but all kidding aside; I want my boys to make Grandma happy. I am bringing my Sony Handycam to get some video. Life is short and she is getting older. I want to have video to look back on as a way of remembering my mom.

We’ll see my oldest brother, who was the perpetrator of sexual abuse upon my prepubescent body. Ironically, he has always been my mother’s favorite. I feel slightly sickened by the reality of such facts but otherwise I’ve forgiven and moved on with my life. My brother has admitted his mistakes (been counseled by his pastor) and we have made amends. It took years of therapy but I no longer think of what he did to me when I was a young girl. My boys like to see their uncle and all of this will make my mom happy.

I have been open about the sexual abuse within my family (with my siblings, not with my children) but my step dad has never been told. I sometimes have the desire to disclose this family secret because he has been part of the family for over 10 years. I love him for the wonderful grandfather he’s been to my kids. He is also so good to me and my husband. What would it serve for me to share this? I wonder why I want to. If my mother hasn’t told him would it be wrong for me?

œDaylily

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

Doubling SSRI brings relief from depression

One week ago today my therapist increased my SSRI, Celexa, from 10 mg to 20 mg.  The effects are obvious.  My worries have been lifted.  Not kidding.  Peace has befallen me and it didn’t come about from mindful meditation, exercise, cutting back on my drinking or weight loss.  All it took was a little white pill that’s smaller than the eraser at the end of a pencil.

I’m reminded of my “about” page where I assert my depression is no more than a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters.  For a bit, I lost sight of that belief.  My effort at changing thought patterns required me to look hard at my negative thinking and that in itself caused a spiral downward into depression.

I’m a bit worried because this time was the worse yet.  I gave into a sense of helplessness like never before.  But, on the flip-side, for years I’ve envied people with mental illness who are able to express themselves and put it all on the table.  I’ve lived a closeted life of depression and it’s been quite isolating.

Last Monday was a first; I exposed that part of me to a few close people in my life and I felt embraced and supported.  I feel liberated!  It feels like a miracle has taken place.

In-a-nutshell, I do not feel anxious about anything.  I am my calm, rational, even-keel self.  When I was on Paxil I enjoyed this feeling for about 3 years before I got tired of the weight gain and lack of sex drive.  Let’s not go there!

For now, I will enjoy the calm waters.  I need a break from the turbulent ocean I’ve been crashing around in.

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
I take credit for making this reprieve occur.  Whether it’s seeking my therapist’s help, calling my mother or doing a shit-load of grief work at the radical forgiveness workshop, it happened because I am actively pursuing a better state of living.  I am determined to continue exercising, meditating and easing up on the alcohol. ♥ Daylily

Intimacy

My husband told me, “You don’t know how to be intimate.”

We’ve been married 23 years, together for 30.

How could he say that to me?

Last night he wanted a sexual encounter and I pushed him off.  I complained about this and that, including personal attacks on his performance since he got on high blood pressure medications.  He was hurt and left the bed.  That’s when he stated, “You don’t know how to be intimate.”

I was already in a funk of self-hate but his observation made me feel worse.

He’s right, I am a miserable excuse for a wife.

He’s been mad for days because I’m not cooking full meals.  I have no appetite and I lack any interest in food.   Sadness is all-encompassing at how much of a sucky wife I am. I hate that I feel disconnected and distant.

When my husband left the bed I wanted to get up and leave the house.  Not only do I want to avoid intimacy, I want to avoid all contact where there is an expectation of me to be someone for somebody else — wife, mother, daughter, sister.  It’s too much and I want to be alone where I can’t disappoint others.

Somehow, my recent attempt to focus on self-forgiveness and learning not to listen to the conditioned stories of my childhood has totally backfired.  My life sucks right now but no one else is different.  It’s just me — alone — and blaming myself.  I’m stuck in a rerun of my past that I can’t shake.

The shame and self-hate is more than I can take.  I wish I were anywhere but where I am right now.  ♥Daylily

I do not like negative feelings

Next time I see Lynn I will address how I use wine to conceal anger and unhappiness. When a sense of frustration presents itself I go into a flight or fight response. This weekend I fought with my husband and I flew out the door. That is no way to cope with emotions. But, when bombarded by feelings of unjust, I want to flee or fight. Neither is acceptable so I’ve learned to drink to shut down my sense of frustration. I can’t run away every time I feel threatened and it wouldn’t be right to fight because I want harmony within the family.

I’m seeing for the first time that I may be drinking because I hate my home life. I am reluctant to blame my husband for all of this but the truth is, it is easy to do. He has a high-powered job that brings in the family income. I also work but it’s part-time and my salary is measly compared to his. I resent that he doesn’t see my work at home as a major contribution to the household. I get compliance from the kids but my husband does whatever the fuck he pleases. He will clean the kitchen, cook or make coffee but it’s when he feels like it. I do all of the chores every fucking day whether I feel like it or not. The under-lining anger I feel seems justifiable. I’ve been in a marriage with a guy who doesn’t appreciate me. I’m scared to say this out loud. I usually keep these thoughts buried deep. Allowing such thoughts to surface scares the shit out of me. I wonder if I have settled for less than what I deserve with the guy I’ve been married to for 24 years.

REALITY CHECK—Depression can show up as a feeling that no one cares. A fear that I’m not valued and that I’m not worth it. Furthermore, depressive thoughts can twist the reality into a sense of self-blame for our own predicament. An example, Right now I’m married to a guy that never supported me. To think that is crazy-talk. We’ve been partners in life for over 30 years and we have learned to accept each others short comings. My husband has never physically hurt me or verbally abused me. Yes, he can be stubborn and head-strong but so can I. He is quick to forgive and always willing to kiss and make-up. I’m the partner who holds grudges and doesn’t let anyone get close when I’m angry or hurt. As a sexual abuse survivor I’m the one with attachment issues.

I think I may use my husband to project a personal sense of self-hate and shame. Long before I even knew my husband I blamed myself for life’s troubles. It’s convenient that I can now use him as my problem. I’m okay; its him with the problem. If only I was not married, I day-dream, I would be content and not need to drink. In the back of my mind, I know this not to be true. The reality is I would still be stuck with myself and my self-esteem issues.

Which is it? I suffer because of the marriage or I suffer with myself? And what is the solution? I wish to God I knew. I lean toward believing the struggle is within myself and growth will occur when I can handle life’s up’s and down’s without drinking.

Next therapy, I’m going to talk to Lynn about all of this. I will spell out how I feel about my husband. I don’t normally allow these feelings to get to the surface because it makes my life feel unbearable.

I continue to move forward with my plan to make time for me and get out of the house more. Tomorrow I attend a women’s 4-hour workshop and Tuesday I try out a group yoga class. I also continue to listen to my meditation tapes and practice mindfulness.

I had resolved not to drink but ended up in a spin-out of emotions that led me to my old habit. This is okay. I’m recognizing the triggers and realizing the complexity of my goal. I am determined to stay the course. At this pace, I’m moving two steps forward and one step back. Hey, it’s better than walking backward! I need to tell myself this so I do not put guilt on top of my failures. Life is indeed a process and I am on the right course.

Daylily

Barely holding on to my resolve

When I don’t drink – how do I handle the stress of everyday life? What do I do instead of blocking my feelings with wine? That is the million dollar question.

My usual pattern is to suck it up/act intelligent/do the right thing/remain calm/play the part of a mentally balanced person by controlling all of my reactions through careful thought. I can only do this for so long and then… I need a drink.

There were weeks when I would drink every day. Lately I’ve shown progress by not drinking during my work week. But when the weekend comes all bets are off and I open a bottle of wine to decompress from the built up tension of the week.

I’m not saying its right; I’m just telling you the truth.

This week I told myself I would not even drink this weekend. I was going along fine, not a drop of alcohol since last Sunday, but Friday’s arrived. Now I don’t know how I can make it through without numbing my thoughts.

The meditations have been working great. I have more energy and I feel good because I’m sleeping well without alcohol in my system. But, last night Husband and I got into an argument at the dinner table and I was the one who reacted with anger and stormed out of the house. This is unheard of – it’s not characteristic of me at all. As I said, I remain calm and rational at all times. But, if I can’t drink to forget that I always suck-it-up and discount my feelings than the shit is going to hit-the-fan.

Thinking about this, my anger at Husband makes perfect sense. The triggers for my drinking are the husband, kids, chores and responsibilities at home. I don’t have any “me” time or at least it feels that way. (Of course, if I got off this computer I would probably find more time!) I have to look at these stressors for what they are, I feel pure rage. Rage that I keep locked inside.  What do I do when I’m staring down the triggers without my usual coping mechanism?

Anyway, when I stormed out of the house, I got in my car and sent a text to my teenager, “I know you don’t like when Mom or Dad get angry but no worries. I went to get gas and do a few things at work. I’ll be home by 9pm. Tell your brother, too.” He immediately replied to my message, “ok thx.” Then my son #2 called to ask me where his science test paper was. GRRRR! I can’t even get away when I storm out of the house. Of course, I put on my loving voice and gently explained that I did not know where HE put his test but suggested a few places he could look. He told me “Daddy wants to see my grades.” I’m thinking then why the fuck doesn’t Daddy get off his ass and find the test with you.

You get the idea. I was pissed off. I still am. I have no coping skills to deal with anger and conflict. All I know is to drink and blot it out.

A member at the AA meeting suggested I try to “think through the drink.” Which I guess is a way of facing the feelings head on and knowing the craving will pass. How can that work when the triggers will never pass? I will forever be stuck in this house with way too much to take care of. The desire for a drink may dissipate but I will be angry at the world. What good is that?

Well, I didn’t drink yet; I’ve just been contemplating it. It’s early in the afternoon and I am off to watch son #1’s varsity soccer game. Later on, husband has dinner plans with co-workers so maybe I can try to unwind by the mere fact that he’s not going to be around. I am taking a lot of this anger out on him (okay, all of it) because I don’t like to hurt my children and I know no other way to release it.

I am stuck in a bad place right now.

Daylily

Post that gets the most hits on my blog is…

Husband doesn’t believe in my depression. It sucks to have a mental illness and be around people who believe it’s all in your head.  But the proof is that there’s a 3rd person telling us we aren’t as bad as we feel, people do love us, we have a job where we are needed or a husband or child who depend on us.  On a deep level we know that every single one of us is born equal.  Our behaviors or thoughts do not change our inner goodness.  Then, we ask ourselves, why am I depressed, feeling worthless and unloved?  I sincerely believe there is a chemical imbalance in our brains that causes ruminations and self-defeating thought and behavior patterns.  Most often early trauma can cause faulty wiring but it can also be as simple as genetics.

Due to all the hits about husbands doubting the diagnosis of depression I feel compelled to say that even if no one else you know believes in “mental illness”  that doesn’t mean it isn’t so.  Doctors, nurses and therapists all know it is a real illness.  There’s no need for shame or self-blame when it comes time to seek help, regardless of whether you get support from your close family and friends.

I’ve been on a path of healing from early trauma and depression for 3 decades.  My husband doesn’t believe in medication but I do.  I have a doctor and a therapist that also believe in the efficacy of antidepressants.   The family I grew up in can understand it on an intellectual level however, I feel judged as being weak for needing antidepressants.

I don’t fight about my medication with my husband or my family of origin because I do not seek them out for support with depression.  Occasionally I’ll bring up my depression with my husband but he will usually reply with a quick answer like, “Maybe it’s that you are getting too much sleep.”  In my head I know I’m sleeping too much because of depression but I don’t argue with him.  I go and tell my therapist or my best girlfriend.  Acknowledgment of your pain and suffering is very important when you don’t have immediate family and friends supporting you.   You can love your family regardless of their ignorance and get help elsewhere.  ♥ Daylily