Posts Tagged ‘January’

Committed Monogamous

October 4, 2017

Relationships are dangerous.

Oh holy fucking shit.

That’s it.

It only took 44 plus years.

And one scary, traumatizing, controlling partner to ruin me for traditional dating.

Not that I think that traditional dating is the answer.

There is no answer.

There is no right.

There is no wrong.

There is only the feeling of love and I don’t have a particular expectation around how I find that love or let myself have that love.

Oh.

I suppose I have definitely introjected the idea that I need to be married to be a whole person, to be enough, that I am somehow not lovable unless married.

And then.

There is the other, not so conscious thing that has been happening for me for over past eighteen years.

I say eighteen years because that is when I broke up with the one man I was in a significant long-term relationship.

We were together for five years.

We probably shouldn’t have been together for more than five minutes, but I’m not going to judge that young very lost, very sad, very fearful woman.

I didn’t know better and I got sucked in.

I got suckered in by my own naive ideas about what love was and how to be in a relationship.

What the fuck did I know about being in a relationship that had any kind of sustainability at the age of 21?

Especially when I look at where I had been the few years prior to the start of the relationship.

Homeless.

Helping out with my sister and her daughter and her first husband.

Helping out my mom, my dad, anyone who fucking asked because I only had this idea that if people needed me I had some sort of value.

That I might be enough, when I felt, although it was not acknowledged, I couldn’t acknowledge it to myself until I had two, almost three years sober, that I didn’t love myself.

That I had no idea how to do it because the love I had been shown was so deadly that I couldn’t escape it fast enough.

In fantasy, in sci-fi books, in chocolate bars, in music, in school, in the backyard of the house in Windsor, in crushing on “unattainable” boys who weren’t interested in me.

It was safer that way.

I found ways to fill that hole of loss of love.

Food became a big one.

Taking care of other people, that was great, focus on someone else and don’t think about myself, my needs, my wants, my desires.

I mean.

I wasn’t allowed to have needs, wants desires, so why even bother?

I would only be disappointed.

I came into my therapy session today talking about the weather, the turn of seasons into Fall, that I was being proactive, that I had purchased a light box to deal with the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that I have a history of experiencing.

I segued into a being proud of myself moment for acknowledging that yes, I could have gone to a 7 a.m. yoga class today, but then I would have been crazy pressured to make my therapy session, I would have gotten a quick fast shower, but no coffee, no breakfast, and just barely slapping some make up on and well, I like my makeup.

Not to mention my morning latte and bowl of oatmeal.

Plus I also knew that I wanted to be available for a phone call and if I went to yoga, I’d get less sleep, not eat, no coffee, and miss a phone call from a very important person.

I woke up this morning and reset my alarm, I knew I wasn’t going to yoga and I knew it was the thing to do.

I had my nice breakfast, I had my nice latte, I put on my makeup.

I do remember thinking to myself, heck, I could wear eyeliner today, but therapy.

I mean.

I do have a tendency to cry.

Then I thought, fuck, life is wonderful, what do I have to cry about?

But.

I trusted my gut.

Yeah, I still wore blue eye shadow, it was tasteful, I swear, but I didn’t give myself the winged black kohl liner look that would have put the vavoom on my makeup.

I restrained myself just in case I might cry.

Guess what?

I cried.

My therapist and I were talking about relationships, marriage, family and then I was talking about my ex.

I was talking about five years of living with an addict who was super controlling, although I had no idea at the time.

I talked about what it was like when I decided to break up with him and what happened.

I talked about how he hit me.

I talked about how he knew that I had been hit as a child and it was my boundary, and how he broke it.

I talked about being scared.

I talked about how he stalked me for two years before I could finally pull the trigger and call the cops.

I didn’t talk about the nightmares, but, ugh, they were awful.

I did talk about the police being called and that there were messages on my machine and how not even after listening to a half of the first one the police were ordering a restraining order on my ex.

We went to court after the initial one was filed.

My ex stood in court and asked for the longest one he could get

He knew himself.

He knew he would keep haunting me if he didn’t ask for the longest restraining order he could get.

It was for two years.

We saw each other about two weeks after it expired.

We had one last 24 hours of trying to make something work that was never meant to work.

I said my goodbye.

I was moving to California.

We spoke one last time when his grandmother died.

I had helped with her when she was becoming to senile to help herself.

I will never forget giving her a bath and her tiny frail little body and how she just sat in the tub and let me bathe her and wash her hair.

He thought I should know.

A lot of emotions came up as I talked to my therapist.

How I didn’t want to tell her about how he spit on me in front of my friends, in the face, because I was leaving him.

I will never forget the shocked look on my best friends husbands face, he was frozen in active disbelief of what was happening.

Another friends’ boyfriend intervened.

We drove back to my house with my ex tailing us like an insane man.

My friend’s husband managed to lose him and we took a circuitous way back to my house and, yes, I literally threw clothes into garbage bags and ran back to my friend’s car.

It was January.

It was cold.

I was heart-broken, lost, and in shock.

“Committed monogamous relationships are dangerous for you,” my therapist said with distinct clarity.

I had expressed that I hadn’t really been in a long-term relationship since I had left my ex.

And then she flipped the frame.

And then she gave me the most beautiful perspective.

She told me how it was something a lot of people did, they replicated the same relationships they grew up.

My father, alcoholic, violent.

My stepfather, misogynist, violent, I always remember the blood on the floor from the broken back window of the kitchen in Windsor when my mother had locked him out and he broke the window with his bare fist and turned the lock, the look of his hand, that image is frozen in my brain, bloodied grasping for the lock and turning it, how we ran out the front door and spent the night at my grandparents.

How we went back the next day.

The years of terror that followed that I wouldn’t let myself see as terrorizing.

Of course committed monogamous relationships are dangerous.

Jesus Fuck did you see what happened to my mom?

Did you see what happened to me the one time I get into a long-term relationship.

Not to mention the three-month crazy man I dated when I was 19 who introduced me to crack cocaine and threatened to kill me in a drug induced delusional state.

But who’s counting.

Then she gave me the gift.

She showed me that I had done the best I could to keep myself safe, that I had rules and bylaws  and ways of keeping myself so busy that I couldn’t date.

I spent the last fifteen years trying to figure it out and she went and did it in a session.

Oh.

Of course.

I did a lot of the work too, and she’s right, I did keep myself protected, but I also acknowledge that after a while it stopped working and I longed for a different experience.

And I’m having one and I’m amazed at my life and I’m ok with the fact that I spent so much time and effort taking care of that small little girl who kept being put in dangerous situations through efforts to maintain a “committed monogamous relationship.”

But.

Well.

I’ve grown up.

And emotional intimacy, though still a frightening area, is not the scary thing that I thought it was, it is sweet and sacred and amazing.

I had to go what I went through and I’m not sorry for it.

I am so grateful for getting out, that’s all, that I got out, that I grew, that I changed, it took years and so much work.

So much work.

But.

Fuck.

Worth it.

So worth all of it.

My therapist went over time with me today, it was the first time ever I had talked about the relationship in therapy and I touched into the terror and fear and pain that I was so busy keeping at bay, she brought me back.

She made sure I was back in the present.

She let me talk about the love in my life, the resources I have, my resiliency and that I wasn’t that person anymore, and that I had done an amazing job at taking care of myself.

She urged self-care and tender compassion for myself today.

I think I did ok.

I showed up at work and I showed up for my clients.

And I bought chocolate persimmons today at the market after I got out of my session.

I love persimmons.

I love myself.

I am lovable and worthy of love.

I am enough.

God damn.

Am I ever.

I fucking did it.

 

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From Garbage Bags

October 24, 2015

To graduate school.

I was sitting in my Therapeutic Communications class and something was said about the video we had just watched, a really intense video of Nancy McWilliams demonstrating psychoanalysis with a woman who was trying to negotiate a domestic abuse situation.

It was a surreal story.

It was just an hour of therapy and so much ground got covered and the therapist was amazing, directing subtly, strengthening the client, reflecting back to her, empathizing with the client.

I got a lot out of it.

A LOT.

I also got annoyed with a fellow in my cohort who kept asking questions.

Pushing questions that, as I saw it, were serving the person asking them but then, the professor used the questions to illustrate some key points in the reading we had to do for class and also to help teach the class some really salient information about being a therapist.

We, as a class, were then invited to see how our own need for resolution may be at odds with the clients.

I remember flaring up inside when the questions were being asked and feeling that there was this well of antipathy inside me.

I got annoyed.

Then I realized that I was annoyed because if I had been that woman, if I had been that client, and the solution was to get me to see a solution immediately, I wouldn’t have been able to get there, in fact, I would have said, fuck you, fuck the therapy, and I will deal with this on my own.

In effect.

What I did do.

On my own.

With a lot of help from some close friends, I got out of an abusive relationship.

It was not physically abusive until the end.

He hit me when I broke up with him.

I ran out into the street.

In the middle of January with no socks on, a pair of jeans underneath a flannel nightgown.

Now.

For those of you that know me, this is highly unusual.

Even in the dead of winter.

Even in Wisconsin.

Even in January with below freezing temperatures.

I always, since I was about 17 and the step father moved out of the house, I always, slept in the nude.

That night.

I wore a nightgown.

Intuition.

Premonition.

I don’t know.

I can’t say.

But I did.

And when I ran shivering, scared, uncertain where to go and which direction to take.

I knew I couldn’t go running down East Johnson Street, he would find me too fast.

I ran to the Sentry Shopping Centre that was on East Washington.

I ducked along the cement walls and found my way to a pay telephone, remember those?

I called 911.

I got a response and they said they would be sending a car out to me.

That was when I heard my ex-boyfriends car.

In all actuality, our car, it was just as much mine as his, we had both bought it, an older Jetta.

I could hear it turning and I hoped it was heading toward East Johnson.

But.

It wasn’t.

And I got frantic with the operator on the phone and tried to cram myself down into that very small phone booth and make myself invisible in my flannel nightgown with corn flowers on white cotton, with a ruffled that was piped with blue ribbon, with cuffs that reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie.  I watched the car, the little blue Jetta grinding up the street, hoping against hope that he could not see me flattened against the wall of the phone booth.

I believe.

Looking back.

That was the last time I ever wore a flannel night-gown.

It’s been thirteen years since that night.

Almost fourteen.

Will be fourteen in January.

That’s when I left him.

The operator on the 911 call held me together until the police arrived to take me to a friend’s house.

I will never forget the way the lights looked wicking past the back seat window, the calls coming in over the radio, the destination never seeming further away as the sodium street lights glowed sullen in the snow, the hush of the streets, the lack of traffic, the drive around the lake on John Nolan Drive.

Then my friend’s house.

I refused to talk to the police.

I did not give up the ex-boyfriend.

I was too co-dependent.

I did not want him to get in trouble.

He got in trouble anyway, it just took a little longer.

I suppose I could have navigated it differently, but I didn’t know the difference and I didn’t know how to do it.

I do now.

But I look back at that girl, that young woman with such love and compassion, what I went through to get from there to here.

And.

How long I told myself that it was normal, that it was something that happened, that I could somehow normalize the trauma of fleeing my own home in my nightgown in January in Wisconsin.

I was isolated.

My friend, my best friend and her husband were in town visiting and they noticed it.

Another friend and her partner were in town.

They all had tried to get me to see the light at some point.

My ex-boyfriend pretty much blamed them for the timing of the break up.

He was probably right, but I did not understand how much until later.

My best friend navigated me going into work the next day to tell them I had an emergency and was leaving town for the weekend.

The plan was to get my stuff and take me up North to Hudson where I could chill out and figure out what I had to do next.

I was in shock.

My ex saw us leave my place of employment, he had been driving around Madison all night looking for me and who knows how many times he was circling the block where I worked.

He whipped into the parking lot and flew out of his car, our car.

He tried to get to me.

He tried to talk to me.

My friends were all in shock.

Then.

He spit on me.

Full on in the face.

Suddenly the guys stepped forward and corralled him.

My friends got me into the back of their car.

We pulled out burning rubber.

Two seconds later my ex got in his car and pursued.

My friend’s husband lost him after a few intersections.

We flew to my house.

I unlocked the door and having no idea what to do, I grabbed a large black garbage bag and threw random clothes into it.

I ran around my house.

My sweet little home that I had lived in, nested in, hosted Christmas dinners and Thanksgivings in, had made our home, was now an unfamiliar territory or terror and fear and I just had to get out of it.

My ex didn’t get back to the house before I left.

I was that fast.

I huddled in the back seat of my friend’s Saturn and numbly watched the landscape go by.

I remember passing a refinery and thinking how spooky and eery and utterly beautiful it was in the night with the flashing lights and the mists shimmering into the black void of sky.

I reflected on this in class.

All the memories that came up.

Then the tears.

The joy of knowing, that despite myself, for it would be another long year and a half before there was closure and ultimately, really not until I moved to San Francisco in 2002 did I get finality on the relationship (he stalked me for a year and a half and I got a restraining order that he violated once then he got to go jail and do work release through the Huber program the city had in place for inmates with work release options, two full years of restraining order and yet I saw him twice more before things were all said and done.  Ah alcoholism, how I love thee, not), I had made it out.

I made it out.

I had tears of utter gratitude and awe on my cheeks at how far I have come.

From being a woman fleeing her own home with a garbage bag full of random grabbed things.

To a fully self-supporting, radically self-reliant, strong, resilient, loving, kind, compassionate, tender-hearted woman.

From garbage to graduate school.

A small transformation.

A flowering woman in bloom.

A wide open heart.

Vulnerable and strong.

“We both were tempered by fire,” my friend told me, leaning into me in sweet confidence, “but the heat of your fire was hotter than mine, and I want you to know I acknowledge that.”

Tempered.

Strong.

Flexible.

And full of empathy and compassion.

For the client on the video screen who couldn’t get out.

And.

For myself.

The woman who did.

My life continues to unfold.

And amaze.

I am graced.

I.

Really.

Truly.

Am.


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