Freedom

Last night’s session was based on my feelings about my ex-husband’s wedding and my boyfriend.  I didn’t think we’d go there but we stayed there for another week, and in hindsight I think it was the right place to go.

I told her quite honestly I want a wedding.  I’m jealous they got a wedding and I don’t know if I will ever have another one, or a man that will want to marry me.  I’m still not convinced I should marry my boyfriend, but I know I want a wedding and I have it all planned.  We basically narrowed this down to wanting to feel wanted.

The theme of my life, apparently.

Marriage to me is security and completeness and crossing a finish line.  Even though I know it’s not, it’s just what I have been taught.  I have a mother that can’t stay single, 5 big white weddings in her lifetime, who taught me that my value was in if I was loved by a man.  Strangely this is a belief even though she didn’t provide that by marrying a good father.  When I decided to divorce, she took my ex-husband’s side, along with my sister.  My value was in if I was dating and how fast I was committed.  My value now that I live with my boyfriend is in when we get married.  Her rationale is I need to marry to have a man take care of me financially even though, I take care of me financially now.

Another way in which the people in my life do not know me, trust me to be me or let me be ME.

My therapist reminded me that security does not exist.  People change.  She said she doesn’t believe that all people should get divorced and she’s not against marriage, but to live an entire life in one relationship and never expect to change or grow in different directions is ridiculous and unrealistic.  Just because I get married or have a good wedding does not mean anything.  It doesn’t mean I will always have a place to live or money or security.  It means I’m married.

Mostly I want to feel wanted.  It’s a basic human need but with my past full of abandonment and abuse, it’s natural for that need to be present and show up front and center a lot more frequently.

We delved into our house.  It’s not mine, it doesn’t feel like mine.  The decorations, the paint, the mess, the stuff in it.  It’s his and my things fit around where they can.  When I made the suggestion last week that I would buy a shed and convert it into a studio, I was told he’d just help me clean up a bit.  Which we did, but it’s still his stuff we cleaned.  He doesn’t get it.

I want to feel like I exist and I’m loved for me.

I talked to her about my first apartment that I got as a newly divorced woman.  It’s right next door and I stare at  it when I am outside.  I refuse to go back in it because I fear I may move right back in.  Not because I don’t love my dude, but it was my first taste of me.  I decorated it, I fixed myself food I wanted in it, I had fabulous sex in it, I paid for it and I lived in it.  All me.  I found it, made it mine and it was home.  My first home.  She told me to use that as my measuring stick.  If something going forward doesn’t feel like that level of happiness, get rid of it.

At the time I was in that apartment I didn’t always appreciate it because i was grieving my divorce and dating men to fulfill the hole, but on a lot of levels, it was all mine for me that I created.

I’m supposed to tell him how I feel about our house and I will.  I came home and asked if we could go out so we did, we got tacos, I bought us some ice cream cones for our walk home, we read next to each other then watched a documentary on Vivian Maier.  It was wonderful to be together last night and I know that he just doesn’t understand, but the difference is, I found a man that wants to try.

I’m hoping to dig more into my past next visit.  I feel like I’m behind a bunch of walls to get to the other side, she mentioned this as well.  But at least the point I’m at now, I can see the walls and know they exist and are not permanent.

-Lulu

I Remember Freedom

Reception

My ex-husband got married on Saturday.  I knew it was coming.  I wrote about it here.  I prepare myself and my daughter all week.  I laid out a day of no plans whatsoever to deal with whatever surfaced.  Mostly I was okay.  Until I saw the pic of their rings and then I cried.  I sat on the couch and sobbed for a good 30 minutes.

I started to feel sorry for myself.  That no friends had called to check on me, no family checked on me.  My sister was still mad at me for not wanting to babysit her kids all weekend, but I don’t normally look to her for support ever anyways.  My mother stopped by and when she was reminded of the wedding, thought it was a good time to ask ME about when I’m getting married.  (I’m not engaged.)  That her ring was beautiful and it was official.  I went down the spiral of sadness and why me.

However, my boyfriend was perfect.  He was petty about her ring, checking for clarity, he was astounded when I wondered aloud if she had to buy her own ring like I did, he was sweet and there for me and helped clean the house and took me shopping all day.  He also didn’t hesitate to buy me a pint of ice cream, as well.

But something between seeing it was official and having him be so sweet to me, I just lost it.  Losing it though ended up being a good thing.  I sat with myself and told myself to cry.  To just feel it.  When my dude asked me what was wrong, I told him the truth.  That I lied when i said I was okay if we never married, that I wanted it.  I was sad that my ex wasn’t as scared as we were to try again.  I was jealous that he will get another wedding to remember vs. just ours.  After writing all of my memories of our wedding here I realized how awful it was and how many red flags were there.

He listened, hugged me when i asked and got me Kleenex, then got me ice cream later as we watched a comedian on Netflix to end the day.  Then I had a friend texst me to see if I was okay.  The next day another friend texted me petty things about the pics on Facebook of their rings and made me laugh.  (Yes, I know being petty is not a great quality, but I allowed a little this weekend.)  I do have good friends, I have a great boyfriend and a fantastic kid (who looked amazing in her wedding outfit and tinted lip gloss-a first!) but most importantly, I’m reminded that I have the skills and a great therapist to help as well.

I am jealous, sure.  And did I feel better when I saw pics of her dress and the event and relieved when she didn’t have a wedding I have imagined for myself?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  Did I die a little when my daughter texted her dad last night and told him: “Good night to my perfect mom and dad.”  And when I asked her about the mom thing she said “well, she is my step mom now.”  Yes.  Yes I fucking died.  I have stuff to work through and pain will always exist, but mostly I know I’m actually feeling this and it won’t kill me to feel it.

It won’t kill me to be sad or jealous or mad for a little while and it will end.

-Lulu

 

Things You Neve…

Things You Never Tell Anyone You Know How to Do

Spend hours researching everything down to the best sticker chart to use for potty training.

You knew to save the boxes from the grocery store for art projects even though they clutter up the kitchen.

You know her favorite books to read to go to sleep, and which ones to read when you need her to go to sleep faster or the longer ones you have to make sounds with when you want to snuggle for a long time.

You know how her little fingers flitted around as an infant.

You watch her sleep and pause at how gorgeous she is and always will be, even when she won’t agree.

You pick her up in the middle of the night, though she’s dead asleep, to rock her against you to settle your soul as much as hers.

Inspired by this poem, inspired by this lady’s post about it.

Aside

Betrothed

Me: “So my ex is getting married this Saturday.  I don’t feel anything and I don’t know if I should.”

T: “Well, what is going on inside you when you think about it?”

Me: “I just don’t care.  At least I don’t think so.  I mean, I feel like I should but I don’t.  Sure, I’m jealous they are having a wedding and I’m not on that path, but I feel nothing for him or that I’m losing him, etc.  My daughter is sad though.  I guess I just don’t trust that I’m not just numb.”

Seeing how I’m sitting here eating my weight in rice crispy treats as I put off writing about this.  That I’ve woken up around 2:00 a.m. and been unable to go back to sleep every night this week.  That I have had vivid dreams every night when I do sleep.  I think I’m becoming less numb or something is breaking through.

Here’s the thing I know to be true:  I’m not in love with my ex-husband.  I’m not grieving our relationship any longer.  I’m not grieving what we could have had, I’ve actually moved through that process in the last few years thoroughly and my therapist agrees.  She said I seem to have issues from the actual marriage I need to resolve, but not feelings for him.  So that I take comfort in.

I don’t have any real issues with his new wife.  She loves my kid and quite honestly, takes better care of her than he does.  I’m not jealous of her in any way shape or form, mostly I pity her.  I did have a chat with my therapist about her, because she seems so different than me.  She’s a bit abusive with him emotionally and controlling, but she thinks it’s textbook narcissism.  They leave the doormat Empath for someone to control them.  Makes sense.  I have my boundaries in place for her pretty set, so that’s fine too.

So what’s my freaking deal?  Well, my kid is not happy about it at all. She was in tears this week because she said it means we won’t be getting married.  So I know some of my anxiety is for her.

Thinking about her in her light blue dress and flower crown that she will be wearing makes me tear up.  Is it because I wanted it to be my wedding she was in first?  Perhaps.  Is it because I can’t give her what she wants nor do I even want to?  Perhaps.

All I do know is I’ve set aside the entire day on Saturday for self care and let my boyfriend know of my plan, of which he supports.  I’ve turned down my sister and I’m not watching her kids (another story for another day) and taken the abuse for that decision.  I’ve turned down my mother’s offer of a visit, though neither of them are aware that the wedding is Saturday (or at least they don’t care about the impact on me).  I have a hair cut scheduled and drinks with friends on the plate.  I’m not doing a thing except what I feel like all day.  It feels safe to have that freedom ahead of me.

You know, I’m still having troubles with memories, but my wedding day I can remember quite well, however it occurs to me it’s all negative for the most part.  I remember planning the event almost completely by myself, thinking he’d decide at the last minute he didn’t want to go through with it.  I remember our proposal a month before our wedding date, in the factory parking lot where I basically convinced him to marry me because Halloween was on a Saturday that year.  I remember picking out a plain black dress one afternoon hastily by myself at JC Penney, though I don’t know why I was alone.  I remember a planning meeting we had with our mothers and mine was being a psychopath so I stepped outside with his and she told me, “They are all crazy.  You can elope if you want too.” I remember loving her for that so much.

I remember my mother changing my flower order to white roses from Calla lillies because that’s what she liked and me being surprised the day of when they were delivered.  I remember the night before we had a sleep over at our apartment.  I think he went out to eat with a buddy and I stayed home.  I remember having a meltdown because my dad’s barn looked trashy and maybe we should just use a church, so he stayed up and cleaned it all for me and surprised me the next day.  I remember when we went to the mall to get rings and bought the cheapest things we could find.  Then our family surprised us with nicer rings at the altar, though I secretly always hated them because they weren’t our style at all.  The cheap ones were lost when we cleaned up the ceremony, however, because I looked many times to try to recover them.  When he lost his and I lost mine years later, I wasn’t really sad about it.

The day of I remember being so nervous, and the day dragged before the ceremony.  I remember my sister doing my hair and make-up.  Where was my mother?  I don’t have a lot of memories of her. I remember rolling up turkey and lunch meats with my mother-in-law and grandparents.

I remember our grandparents got us a hotel room but we cancelled the night of because he didn’t want to go.  He wanted to stay home.  I felt bad because they had to pay for the room anyways.

I remember seeing my biological dad walk up the driveway and being shocked.  I remember the man I call father surprising me by dressing as Elwood Blues and giving me away as such.  I remember telling my mother to “shut the fuck up” right before I walked down the aisle because she was rushing me as I hugged my sister and best friend, Jordan.

I remember my great-grandmother bawling in the receiving line when she came up to me, but I’m not sure why.  I remember the local newspaper took photos of us because we were having a Halloween wedding and those were the only real photos we ended up having.  I remember not wanting to open our gifts in front of everyone but my mother made us.

I remember going through the drive-thru at Arby’s on the way home, then having sex with him for the first time that night and then the next day and how it was just okay.  Mostly relieved it was over.  I remember thinking waiting for my wedding night was idiotic, yet strangely something to be smug about.

I remember that we planned the ceremony for 5:30 and I spent the weeks before checking the sun location to make sure it wasn’t going to be too dark, since we didn’t plan for lights.

Mostly I remember it being rushed and not mine or ours, but he had little input anyways.  I remember wanting to have an anniversary party one day to make up for the whole thing.

I don’t know how to end this post, but I need to go.  These memories are mine and they are the truth and reflect how i feel about the day.  I wonder if I would have described our wedding the same way a year after it vs. now.

Perhaps.

-Lulu

Memories of Made of These

“There is a good chance that somewhere in your life, there is a champion. She will be an older student. A teacher you have never had. The secretary. Someone else’s mother. But that person will have a car, and she will make time for you, and she won’t judge or ask questions. Finding her might be hard; you might never have spoken to her before. If you’re lucky, she’ll find you. Trust her when she does, even if no one else has ever stood up for you.”

I knew it.  I went into therapy last night thinking I had no idea what I was going to talk about, and no idea how it would end other than maybe some light conversation.  I drug my feet, though I’m now to the point where no amount of feet dragging will get me to miss it.  I knew I was going to admit I’ve been lying to myself about how numb I am and how I don’t feel anything, or that I live in my body as me vs. an observer.  That was all I had.

Then I went in and boom.  One of the most shocking and revealing sessions I’ve ever had.

I did reveal that truth, that was I have been prideful and not willing to go deep.  I say I will and I think on things and write, but I didn’t admit to myself how numb I really live until recently.  My homework last week was to go through childhood pictures and look in the mirror, in my own eyes, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I had a medical scare this week where I was sent to the ER for a massively heavy period.  We talked on that a bit, how my body is overall very healthy but it likes to grow weird shit in weird places.  She thought that sounded like my immune system was not keeping up and being depressed weakens your immune system overall.  Interesting.

Then we got a little deeper and now I am blown away.  I asked her how to feel things from my childhood or my past, really feel them and sort it out, because I admit I’m numb and I thought I was doing so well but I don’t actually feel things. When I think about the past I think things happened and I watched but it wasn’t happening TO ME.

She said, “Tell me what your favorite outfit was or your favorite pair of shoes when you were little?”  I couldn’t answer. I have absolutely no memory of any of that. Everything I did remember, like my favorite stuffed animal, was all stuff I had at my grandparent’s house.  I admitted I wouldn’t take my yellow bear stuffed animal home to my mother’s, I left it at my grandparents.  She asked me why and I told her I guess I didn’t feel safe with things I loved at home.

I ask her if people were supposed to remember details like that, favorite dresses and clothes.  Who bought them for me, etc.  She responded, “Absolutely. You were a girl, those things were part of making you, you.  How did you figure out your style or what what you prefer and what color was your favorite?  Who bought you things you love?” I couldn’t answer.

Legitimately have no memories like that at all.  I can remember going into Payless Shoestore with my mom, at some young age, because I needed new tennis shoes for school and I had to buy “Pony” brand and I hated them, but I knew it was all we could afford so I said nothing. I can see the white shoes and remember thinking “they sorta look like the name brands…” That is my only real memory of anything like that.  I have no idea how I got my clothes or toys or anything, especially anything that I loved.

I laughed nervously because I was just shocked.  I told her as such.  She told me that she was so sad for me right now, more than I was for myself.  She said, “I bet it wouldn’t have occurred to you to even know you should have a favorite dress, would it?” I said “No!!!!”

She asked me how do you think you got your clothes, or your shoes, or your toys?  How did they come into your life?  What did you feel when you woke up in the morning?  In your bedroom?  When you went to sleep at night?  I couldn’t tell her. I have no idea.

Then when I told her my main fear is raising my daughter to have the same life and she asked, what is your experience like for your daughter?  I smiled.  Now I know I’m not 100%, raising her like I was raised!  I don’t buy a thing for her unless she is there and approves.  My kid likes foxes, so she wears her costume everywhere.  She is fine.

She said if you can’t remember your favorite pair of shoes or where you got your favorite dress, what else do you think you have suppressed?  Then it hit me. It could be a whole shit storm and I have no idea. No wonder I feel like a woman inside of a suit of armor or cloaked and weighed down.

She said you weren’t allowed to feel and you were clearly protecting yourself, and probably depressed from a long time ago.  I basically only remember my grandparent’s houses because I was allowed to exist as me then I shut it off when I had to go back to wherever my mother lived at the time.

You Own Everything

I’m supposed to write out memories and really dig into remembering details.  She wanted me to start by thinking about my ex-husband and how much control I had over my life or what I didn’t have control of, and really get into the details of things and how I felt.  That’s my homework.

To let the sadness come and the fear, because though it will feel like never-ending waves and that it will never end, it will.  Emotions won’t kill me.  The other side of processing them will be beautiful.  I can believe that.

I told her quite clearly that I don’t care what the scale says one day or today.  I am just tired of carrying this weight because it is a visual representation of emotions I do not deal with properly.  I’m carrying this and lumbering along and I feel like I’m stuck in a fat suit.  I’m not talking about cellulite or what size my clothes are, I just feel weighed down and slow and I know it’s emotional vs. physical.  She had no doubt that when I start dealing with emotions and really living, I won’t have any issues with my weight.

I’m terrified and yet, I can’t wait to get started.

-Lulu

Breaking Free

I have just finished “When Love is Food” by Geneen Roth and again, blown away.  I wanted to make a few notes about the parts that really hit me.

She writes :”For 17 years I ate compulsively.  For 22 years I involved myself in relationships that left me feeling the same as eating compulsively: always sick and always empty.  I had no idea how to take care of myself with food or with people.  I didn’t know eating a meal was an act of kindness and would give my body the fuel it needed to think clearly, and move fluidly.  I didn’t know that choosing a kind, available partner was an act of kindness.  I thought it was naughty and exciting to eat donuts until I was sick and to be with men that made me live on the edge of myself, balancing disaster.  Lovers with whom I could not rest.”

For 20+ years I have also lived this life.  I’ve been with much older men who treated my early developed young body like a thing instead of a person.  I married an emotionally unavailable and emotionally abusive, selfish man child.  I had an affair with another boy who was icing on a cake I couldn’t ever eat, nor really wanted to.  I dated two emotionally unavailable men who used me for sex and loved to confuse me into thinking I was only theirs.  I had an affair with a married man who professed love but instead gave me only selfish confusion.  My entire love life has been for the benefit of the other person and completely confusing to me.  Sickly, sweet donuts.  Basically a mirror to my relationship with my parents, namely my biological father.

Lovers with whom I could not rest, indeed.  She writes, “Women get a crumb from their fathers, so when they get two crumbs from a man, they accept it.”  I’ve been living on crumbs and donuts for all these years.  No wonder I feel like a lost woman in a fat suit.

She goes on to say: “Many of the women said they associated eating sweets with being with their fathers, with the way they were treated by their fathers. Underneath the liquid cherry-filled nights were mad cravings for mashed potatoes, rice and vegetables, whole-grain muffins.  The sweets didn’t satisfy them; they needed something more substantial.”

So where do I go here?  I’m very delicately trying to live the Eating Guidelines she proposes in her books.

  1. Eat when you are hungry.
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
  3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
  4. Eat what your body wants.
  5. Eat until you are satisfied.
  6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

I have been doing this for the past week, including two weekends and I must say it feels weird, but good.  Mostly it feels right.  I overate a few times where my body was clearly done and I didn’t stop and as soon as I started to feel shame, I stopped and talked to myself about what was really going on.  It was the first Monday I didn’t feel shame that I wasn’t starting a new diet or exercise program.  I saw someone bring in the Tuesday donuts and I started to go follow them and thought “wait, I just ate breakfast.  What is going on?”  Turns out I was procrastinating about working so I turned around and went to my desk.  I didn’t have breakfast at home one morning and had a few extra minutes so instead of eating in the car from a drive-through, I went into a cafe and ate.

The one problem I am having is eating without being distracted.  I like to read and it’s about my only time to read, when I’m eating breakfast.  I’ll work on that.

The other area the book(s) go into is intimacy.  Along with the Eating Guidelines she talks about these rules for intimacy, as well:

  1. Commit yourself
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Trust yourself
  4. Pain ends, so does everything else.
  5. Laugh and cry easily
  6. Have patience
  7. Be willing to be vulnerable
  8. When you notice you are clinging to anything and it’s causing trouble, drop it
  9. Be willing to fail
  10. Don’t let fear stop you from leaping into the unknown or from sitting in dark silence
  11. Remember that everything gets lost, stolen, ruined, worn out or broken; bodies sag and wrinkle; everyone suffers; and everyone dies
  12. No act of love is ever wasted.

She writes, “A relationship is not about finding peace by being with another human being.  It is about making a commitment to maintain contact and not run away when your partner is a mirror for the hardness in your heart.”

“The hard part wasn’t meeting the love of my life.  The hard part is staying with him.  The hard part is staying anywhere.  If I’m always leaving, I can’t be left.  When I’m still and quiet I’m a target.  When I’m moving no one can catch me, hit me or hurt me.”

I spend a lot of time in therapy talking to her about my yearning to pack up and leave, take my kid and move and just live alone so I don’t have to deal with men or relationships or anyone else.  I look at it as focusing on me, but that’s not all it is.  It’s also running.  I want to change jobs all the time, I get bored easily and want to move.  ALL of this hit me as my truth when I read it.

I can’t wait to start the next book, and ultimately, my life.

-Lulu

 

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