Fibromyalgia, parenting, love and loss

Posts tagged ‘Family’

Wearing all black and feeling blue

sadness

It’s a typical rainy Seattle morning and my mood matches the weather. I’m feeling a bit lost and uncertain of my life-work stress and relationship stress. R and I were “off” most of the weekend, and then Sunday the blow-up came. I have 5 kids (yes, I said 5!). My eldest (16) wanted to go with me to buy school clothes, so I took my youngest (1 1/2) and we went to the Mall. R works from home as a sportswriter and he works Sundays, so I thought that by taking the youngest that would help him be able to focus on his writing. His job is super stressful-he has to crank out article after article for 9 hours a day, all while watching our 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old. Before I left, I made sure to make our 3 year old lunch so that R wouldn’t have to. As we were driving to the Mall, I got a text from R saying that I should have taken our 3 year old with me. He said that he’s sick of my acting like it’s okay for me to leave one of them with him while I go out on the weekends while he works. Now, the weekends are my days off (I can’t help it if his schedule is different than mine). The only time I go “out” on the weekend is to go grocery shopping and I always take the youngest child with me. I never go out with girlfriends or by myself. My weekends involve errand-running and chores around the house. It’s not like I just go out on my own, playing all weekend. I’ve always tried to be considerate of the fact that he’s working, and so I tend to the kids’ needs so he can focus on his writing. R says that my “alone time” is when I go to hot yoga. I go three times a week, at night except for my Sunday morning class. Sunday morning is no skin off his teeth at all because he and the kids are still asleep by the time I get home. It’s not like he’s up early with them. So, that doesn’t really count. That leaves two nights a week that he’s with the kids while I go to yoga. I started going to help heal my chronic back pain. I’ve had it for three years now due to a car accident I was in. I’ve tried chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, you name it. Nothing has helped. So, the yoga is something I do for health reasons as well as to help me cope with the stress in my life. R says that because I go to yoga weekly, I shouldn’t have anymore alone time on the weekend; it’s all used up.
I hear what he’s saying, but at the same time, I find that point of view unfair. Hot yoga is hard as hell, so it’s not something I do to relax. Anyone who has done it knows what a work-out it really is. Yet I continue to go and push myself because I believe in it and am hoping it will help me eventually.

Our 3 year old is a beautiful, wonderful, funny, smart child, but he’s a handful! Endless energy from morning until nightfall. He is also prone to throwing fits in public because he gets easily frustrated. I’m hopeful that it’s just a stage, but it is what it is for now and so taking him along to go grocery shopping (or the Mall) is a blow-up waiting to happen. Historically, it’s always been stressful. That’s why I did not take him along to the Mall. For R to castigate me for “not acting like the kids are my responsibility” when I’m not working and he is seems grossly unfair to me. I do see the kids as my responsibility-that’s why I don’t go out for alone time on my days off and that’s why I take the one who’s youngest and needs the most care along with me. He acted like I was being selfish by not taking our 3 year old to the Mall and it makes no sense to me. I’m frustrated and feel like R is acting like my jailer, not my friend. I work my ass off every single day. I have a 3 hour daily commute, my work is incredibly stressful and I have 5 children (three of whom are children from my marriage and thus not R’s children). I have endless responsibilities and the work is never done. I chose to have 5 kids and I would not change that for the world. They are my light, my heart and my love and I am beyond proud of each of them for their wonderfully unique qualities. They are my gifts and my blessings.

R and I argued via text (silly, I know but I was out and he was home and this is how we often end up communicating). Finally, I just stopped texting him and it’s been “chilly” in the house ever since. I don’t want to talk to him; I’m angry and frustrated and feel misunderstood. Monday night, he finished work at 6:00 and asked if I was okay with him going golfing (he goes once or twice a week after work). I said that was fine. He came home with clothes for the kids (he stopped by Walmart on the way home from hitting balls at the driving range) and a gift card for me from Marshall’s. I guess he was trying to make things better, but a gift card isn’t going to make this right. It was a nice gesture but it doesn’t fix the problem. He is not seeing this from my perspective at all. I understand how hard it is to be home with the kids and also try to work at the same time; I’ve done that. He is a wonderful father-endlessly patient and I admire the way he handles it all. I just don’t feel that he is being much of a partner to me (and I know he’s feeling the same way about me). We are at a standstill. Our relationship has always been a roller coaster. When we’re on our relationship high, it’s full of passion and love and connection. When we’re low, it’s lonely, cold and frustrating. When I discovered his infidelities that happened in the first two years of our relationship, I almost left him but we went to counseling and really worked on moving past it. Our communication got better and we both were invested in making it work. Sure, I still have my days when I think of what he did and I’m left feeling angry and hurt. Then I move past it (for the day, at least) and focus on what we have now and the family we’ve created. He’s grown in so many ways since those early years. Getting over or coming to terms with the hurt he caused me has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yet I’ve hung in there because I’ve believed in the love we share.

I would like to believe that the love we’ve always had will get us through this rough patch. Right now though, I don’t feel that hopeful. The frustration and feeling of being unsupported and misunderstood is too great. I can’t force him to see things my way. He wants to just gloss over everything and get back to where we were, but I see no point in that. It will just come up again and again unless we reach a resolution. I’m not going to go crawling to him and I’m not going to pretend that everything is alright.

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Dragged under

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R and I haven’t really been speaking since Saturday. The reasons aren’t really important; it was a fight. The main issue is that we didn’t communicate effectively to get past it. It’s the same old, same old, and that was supposed to change. We had promised to work on our communication, and most of the time, we have been. Now it feels like I’m in the same boat I was in before where I’m miserable, down, frustrated and alone. I love him with a passion I’ve never felt for anyone, but with that passion comes the lows. Those lows drag me under and I don’t know that I (or we) can survive it. To move through a house with someone, but not speak or share is awkward and wounding. It’s not that I want this; I don’t. Yet, I was/am angry with him and he doesn’t understand why and I don’t agree with his views on our argument and how I was supposedly wrong, and so we’re at a standstill. Then I sink deeper and deeper and cannot see the sunlight.

I would never want my parents’ relationship for various reasons, but one thing I do find positive is their constant love and friendship. They were always united-a team. I would like to have that in my relationship. Constancy. Security. Loyalty. Friendship. I have had so little in my life that I can count on, so my home-life is where I must have that stability and warmth. It can’t come and then leave me; I cannot live like that. Well, I cannot live like that happily or peacefully. Right now, I’m not ready to go crawling to him and he feels the same, and so I have no clue how to proceed. I work all day and want to go home, but then when I get home I feel awkward and angry and very much alone (except for with my children, obviously).

My mood is low, and that’s not helping me recover from the argument. I feel hopeless and sad and the tears will come almost without warning. I do not even remember what it feels like to not have mood swings. To live feeling joyful and truly at peace in all facets of my life would be so wonderful, yet it’s been so elusive and I do not understand why. I read the self-help books, I pray and nurture my soul and have earnestly sought growth. It feels like one step forward and two steps back and that’s no way to live.

In search of enlightenment

Had anyone asked me months ago if I was in touch with who I am as a person and my various neuroses, I would’ve said “sure, I have a pretty good grip on that.”  I knew I was flawed but trying to grow and evolve.  I understood that as far as people go, I think I’m kinder and more considerate than many if not most.  I move through my days trying to be a good person in the world.  My job is with a non-profit, so I know that I’m making a positive difference.  I’m a good, devoted mom to my 5 kids and I try to be the best partner I can be to R.  I’ve also understood for many years now that I struggle with anxiety and depression.

What I did not realize was how many negative messages I give myself on a daily basis.  I mean literally off and on, all day long.  I like myself bone-thin and I’m not that right now.  So, of course I’m constantly telling myself I’m a fat-ass.  Fair to myself?  No.  I should consider myself lucky that I can fit in single-digit clothing after having 5 children.  I know this logically, but that eating disorder I had as a teen still lives inside my head, lurking in the darkened corners waiting to pounce.

It seemed as if last week was a week for me to be insulted.  One guy at work asked how I maintain my “shape” since I don’t eat beef or pork.  Now, he meant this as a compliment.  In his culture, women with curves are deemed attractive.  Of course, I took it as an insult.  Then the man with whom I had an affair essentially said that a woman he’s interested in now is cuter than me.  What a thoughtless thing to say!  What on earth would possess someone to say that to someone they supposedly love/loved?  Jackass…

Since he said that, I basically want nothing to do with him.  He speaks without thinking sometimes and I knew this before about him, but to insult my looks is to cut me deeply.  It’s not that I’m shallow; it’s that I’ve always been so insecure with regard to my appearance.  My parents were constantly criticizing others’ looks, and so my sister and I always felt that unless we were thin, we were unworthy and unattractive.  These issues I have with appearance have been around for almost as long as I have, so for someone I was so close with to insult me on that level does irreparable damage to the relationship.  The upside of this is that it’s helped me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I made the right decision in staying with R.  He is my soul-mate; he is the face I want to see each day and the voice I want to hear.  He is my friend and partner in this life.  I’m so thankful that in spite of all we went through together, we stuck it out.  There’s no man I’d rather go through this crazy life with than R.  There never will be, either.

What all of this is leading to is that I have to stop attacking myself.  I no longer choose to rip myself apart, compare myself to others and let myself be damaged by what others say or think about me.  R and I were talking in bed about this a few nights ago, and I confided in him about how hard I always am on myself; how I don’t feel that I’m “enough.”  He told me that I’m more than enough, that I’m a good person who’s trying to become even better.  In that moment he was a true friend.  He showed me parts of myself that I did not see.  What a gift that was…

I have to give myself permission to be flawed, to be someone on a journey who isn’t at her final destination yet.  I have to say it’s okay to have moments of self-doubt, but to keep moving anyway.  I have to believe that what others think of me is their issue, not mine.  I cannot internalize the messages the world sends me.  I need to finally find, love and accept myself-flaws and all.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Gautama Buddha

My God…what have I done?

A couple of months ago, one of my closest friends (a male coworker) and I went out on a Saturday night.  There was nothing particularly unusual about this.  R was working, I wanted to go out, so my friend and I caught an art exhibit and then went to a gay bar.  I don’t drink, but he had a few beers.  As the night progressed, he occasionally put his hand on the small of my back.  I was a bit surprised by this, as physical touching had never been part of our friendship.  Eventually, we left the bar, went back to his house, and I was about to get into my car to make the long drive to my home.  We both stood there rather awkwardly.  There was something new that had been introduced to our relationship that night, and I didn’t know how to handle it.  It felt like he wanted to kiss me.  We exchanged a few words and I basically got into my car as quickly as I could.  The whole thing made me unsure of how to act, or what to say.

A day or two later, he sent a text and basically apologized for being “handsy.”  This spurred many texts back and forth, as well as face-to-face discussions about it.  R and I were at one of our lowest points yet.  We essentially went a month without really talking to each other.  Sure, we’d exchange comments regarding the kids, but aside from that we were living separate lives.  So much anger and resentment had built up since I discovered his cheating that our relationship had pretty much eroded.  We had our ups and downs throughout the entire 5 year relationship, but never had we gone that long without truly speaking.  We were roommates and co-parents and nothing more.  So, the stage was set for my relationship with my dear friend to transform.  Previously, I only saw him as one of my best (if not my BEST) friend.  We took daily walks together on our breaks at work, we told each other our deepest secrets, and most importantly we accepted each other without judgment.  I had never had anyone in my life who understood me on such a deep level before.  I don’t know…maybe Rich did/does, but at that point in time, it sure did not seem that way.  It was wonderful feeling so unconditionally appreciated and accepted.  All my life, I’ve felt like an outsider looking in.  Deeply connecting with people is a rarity, so when it happens, I cherish it.

My coworker was in my office one day, and there was a lot of sexual tension in the air, and he made a comment about never before having been so nervous to kiss someone.  I asked him to do it, and he did and it was wonderful.  How I viewed him had changed so much in such a relatively short period of time.  We had always been platonic.  My love for R had  been so all-consuming that I really didn’t notice other men.  He was all I wanted, so there was no need for anyone else.  However, during this particular time, I had never felt farther away from him.  I could tell that he didn’t like the person I was, and I returned those sentiments.  We had reached such a low spot there it seemed a given that our relationship would soon end.  I had even contacted DSHS to look into getting assistance paying for daycare for the kids if R and I split.

Fast forward to a week or so later, and my coworker and I left work early to go to his house.  We kissed and explored one another, but we did not take it all the way.  I just couldn’t.  So, I can’t say that I had much guilt over what had transpired.  Given the years of R’s cheating and even more years of lying about it, the fact that I made out with another man didn’t eat at me.  As the weeks wore on, my friend and I grew even closer.  See, we had been best friends, so love was already there between us.  We understood each other, had great communication and enjoyed each other’s company.  The foundation had been laid long ago.  It was just taken to another level with the physical intimacy.  One weekend, I decided that I needed to focus on my relationship with R and stop what was going on between my friend and me.  We would continue the friendship, but that was it.  That didn’t last long.  Almost a couple of weeks ago now,  he and I met at a hotel near my house and made love.  It was beautiful and meaningful and everything I hoped it would be. Along with that, there was deep sadness. He told me he loved me, but I couldn’t say those words aloud.  Crazy as it seems, that felt to me like the ultimate betrayal to R.    He and I had made an agreement beforehand that this would be the only time.  It felt like that itch that you just have to scratch, you know?  We wanted to experience and share that together.  After that, we would resume our friendship and I would make my decision about what to do with my relationship with R.  Whether or not he and I would have a future together was totally up in the air.  I had to get my life sorted out one way or another.

One Sunday, I commented about how my coworker was at an electronics store and there was a sale on laptops, so he was going to front the money for me and buy one.  One of my boys needed one, so I was interested in buying one for him for Christmas.  The fact that this other man was going to do that for me really irritated R.  He said that I hadn’t even shared with him that I wanted to buy a laptop.  He immediately went online to try to find better deals.  This behavior was uncharacteristic of R, but it set everything in motion.  Over the next day, R wasn’t himself.  One night right after I went to bed, he came in and asked if I loved him.  I said “of course, I always have.”  The next day, R texted me about having an “emotional affair” with my coworker.  I didn’t deny it.  Throughout that day, his emails and texts (while I was at work) were panicked in nature.  When I got home from work, he hugged me and told me that we could make this work.  He had been crying and even took an extended break from his work (sportswriting) because he could not focus.  His attitude and behavior completely changed that night as the reality sunk in.  He came in twice once I was in bed (asleep) and awakened me.  He told me I could not remain friends with my coworker, that I had to face the consequences of my actions.  I would not answer him and promise to do that (at 2 in the morning), and he became enraged and slammed the door.  I fell asleep and awoke the next morning to find him sleeping on the couch.

Within a day or so, he took the kids (since we have no daycare because he works from home) and went to his parents’ house for a cooling off period.  This time away gave him many insights into his behavior, why he had kept me at a distance, insecurities he’d always had but never shared with me, and on and on.  He has opened up in ways I never anticipated.  It has even shown me that I never realized truly how closed off he has been the entire time.  At the time of this writing, he’s still feeling pretty vulnerable although not as raw emotionally.  If he is feeling this way, he tells me about it (which he never did before).  He has asked me to not speak to my coworker, and this has been the most difficult part of the whole thing.  I understand where R is coming from, but what he is not understanding is how much I need that friendship.  Yes, we became far more than friends.  However, I believe that in time and with clear guidelines in place, we can return to platonic friends.  There may be an underlying sexual tension, but we wouldn’t act on it.  Maybe I’m being unrealistic, but I think most things are possible if all the players agree to the rules.  I do not want to hurt or betray R again, but at the same time, I can’t see losing my friendship-it’s that important and meaningful to me.  If R and I weren’t together, then I could see a permanent romantic relationship with him.  However, I’ve committed to trying to make it work with R, so I won’t allow myself to stray again.

So-what to do?  My hope would be that after a month or two “cooling off period” from my friend, R would be okay with our talking at work.  I wouldn’t ask to go out and do anything socially with my friend.  It would just be nice to be able to talk to him as my dear friend and share our stories and just be present for each other.  I’ve given R all of myself for so long now, and I’ve fought so hard to stay with him.  I’ve tried rebuilding myself after having been broken so many times.  I need my friends now more than ever.  Especially this friend.  He’s become a part of me.  Maybe it’s an awful thing to ask for or expect or hope for.  All I know is that I feel like a part of me is missing now that I can’t have my friendship.  I know Rich sees the hurt in my eyes.  He’ll ask me what I’m thinking about, and I’ll say “nothing” because I don’t want to hurt him or bring it up right now while everything is still so fresh.  Time will tell how this plays out.  I’m no victim here-I made my choices.  I honestly have no clue what’s in store.

I have felt a depth of love for R that has literally made me crazy at times (more often than I’d like to admit)!  We’ve gone through struggle after struggle and have remained together through the years.  This last year has by far been the hardest, though and I cannot help but wonder how much pain one has to endure before finally saying I give up.  He says he will show me for the rest of our lives how much he loves me.  He’s even talked about getting married at some point; that he wants to show me and the world the permanence of his love for me.  That’s a bold step for someone previously opposed to marriage.  Will these changes stand the test of time, though?  And if they can, does this mean we will be able to leave our pain in the past?  Maybe some wounds are simply too deep to heal.

An eruption in Washington

No, it wasn’t the kind of eruption you’re thinking about.  It was an eruption of the more personal kind.  R and I had it out last weekend.  I cannot even recall what started the argument; I only remember how it ended.  We were both mad as hell and so we ignored each other for the rest of the day and through the middle of the next one.  That Saturday night, we went to a favorite spot and so this helped bring us together for a time.  Fast forward to Labor Day and we had it out again.  He thought I wasn’t being supportive enough; I felt he attacked me out of the blue. 

The next day, he said he had finally given up.  He was tired of my constant negativity towards him, and that he didn’t see any way my anger for him would subside.  I have been angry at him.  Very angry.  I believe that has been my right, given the fact that he cheated on me for over two years and lied about it for years.  He caused this righteous anger, and now that it’s here, I have struggled with how to get rid of it.  It’s not like I WANT to feel this way; I don’t.  It’s a miserable feeling.  I get irritated with him easily and I feel hopeless about the future and our ability to stay together.  This seeps into all other facets of my life.  Not exactly a joyful way to move through life.

I emailed my lawyer with questions about custody and what to do, he said he wanted to move to Olympia, I told him it was game on.  Not pretty.  Well, long story short, I calmly went to him one night and asked if we could talk.  We discussed the anger, and he said it’s only been getting worse.  He’s not wrong on that score; it has gotten worse.  That’s the nature of it, though.  It builds and builds and eventually something has to give.  The reality of losing him, of losing what we have, made me stop and evaluate everything.  What do I do?  Do I really want a life that doesn’t include him as my partner?  Is there any hope of ever moving past this?

At the bottom of everything-all the anger, the lies, the pain and resentment, there is love.  Deep love.  He is someone I’m attracted to, interested in, and one who can help me grow as a person.  While he could use improvement on the face-to-face communication thing, he’s remarkably tolerant, exceptionally smart and funny, and a devoted father to our children.  He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known and I believe my life would be diminished if he were not in it.  Maybe knowing this is a start.  When I’m at my angriest or most hopeless, I need to remind myself of the love that is there.  He’s my family.  I suppose I need to work on taking him as he is and finding a way to plow through the hurt to get to the abundance of love that exists.

Where’s the happy ending?

I’ve been lost in my head again today, wading through my memories as well as old emails in search of something, anything that will explain why R cheated on me.  Myspace messages he sent years ago, poems he wrote for me, love he expressed….and all the while he was having sex with other women.  I feel so sad for the woman I was then.  I was so in love-consumed, really.  The wanting of him was palpable.  And still, even after all that has happened, I want him still.  Deeply.  Profoundly.  Desperately.

Yet the person I feel all those things for betrayed me.  We still move around the same house; we still make love.  Heck, we make love now more than we have in a long time.  The chemistry was always there, but with busy lives and a house full of children, as well as a recent pregnancy, we didn’t make the time we should have for intimacy.  So now we reach out to each other because we know we could lose this love we have, and it could all be lost not over who he is now, but who he was then.

I shut the bathroom door and wept a little bit ago-just overcome with sorrow over where we are now.  I honestly don’t know if I have it in me to get over this.  Sometimes you can’t find the door, so you remain locked in your room of misery forever.  I want so much to let go of this pain and move forward with our family and this shared life we’ve carved out.  How I’ll do this escapes me at the moment, though, and that absolutely breaks my heart.

Who are we really?

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In my quiet moments, I reflect on “us” and I weep.  Well, either that or I’m filled with joy at the depth of love I feel for you.  There’s no middle-ground; never has been.  I see couples (I was one of those couples once upon a time) who have relatively smooth sailing in their relationship.  They may not be Romeo and Juliet-passionate, but they understand each other and move through life as friends and helpmates.  That kind of stability would be so wonderful to share with you….

Maybe I just need to change the way I look at “us.”  We live together, we share two children, we’re making plans and building a life.  That’s stable, right?  We just aren’t married.  We have our moments when we’re really hot, and other moments where we move through life in the same house, but are distant from each other, each lost in our own heads.  Leave it to me to fall in love with someone who gets stuck in that private inner world like I do…

When you retreat, I wonder where you are and what thoughts are swirling in your head.  I feel insecure and look for clues that will tell me if you love me still-I mean really love me.  Staying together for practicality’s sake is something I’ll never do again.  I’d rather struggle on my own that live with someone I don’t deeply love or who doesn’t deeply love me.  Can I count on you to level with me if you’ve lost what you once felt?  I don’t think so, and that frightens me.