I hate this part of blogging – the part where I haven’t written in two weeks, but I’ve got at least 6 things to catch up on, each of which could be its own entire blog post. But let’s be honest. If we waited for me to get to all of them, we’d be waiting a long, long time (do I need to remind you about that whole thesis business? hmmm??) So I’m just going to have to practice the long lost (to me) art of brevity and give you what I think cliff’s notes would do with the last two weeks of my life starting chronologically from past to now:
I think I mentioned my autoimmune disease in at least one other post. The thing about this that is important is that I like to pretend it’s not real. There. I said it. I don’t want to be a sick old lady with -itises that I drop into casual conversation as though you care. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t really work. It’s still there and occasionally, regardless of how well I ignore it, it pops up in the most inconvenient times and places to let me know that I need to take care of myself.
This time, it was iritis which is a condition where the colored part of your eye gets all flamey and painful. it usually affects only one eye at a time with a red sort of halo and it makes it insanely painful when exposed to sunlight – hence the doubled up sunglasses. I haven’t had this in almost 10 years but I knew EXACTLY what it was when it started and was able to catch it early. The really awful part is that I can no longer live in denial. This was a wakeup call to do what I need to do: sleep more, take my dumb pills, make time to see a doctor, reduce stress – all things that require me to care for myself, which we all know is not my favorite thing to do.
Do you know the weirdest part? FOR YEARS and I mean YEARS, I have been telling my mother to see the doctor for things that ail her and I have been genuinely baffled by this strange trait that makes her say, “I don’t have time for that”. And here we are. Apples don’t fall far from that tree, evidently. It’s what primes the pump for unchecked codependency if we don’t keep a close eye on it (pun intended).
Justin and I went back to see our pre-treatment marriage therapist, Dr. Dave. He’s the therapist that I credit with knowing exactly how to talk to Justin during his active addiction to get him to move forward instead of shutting down. Dr. Dave is masterful in his zen, chaco sandal-wearing, careful way and for that, I am grateful. He is also the one who kindly forced me to question WHY I was staying with Justin. At the time, it felt slightly terrifying to dig into the role that guilt, shame and fear played in our marriage but now that it is done, I can truly say that it was an important self-reflective exercise that actually made our commitment stronger.
This therapy session ended up centered on me which I found weird. I mean, there’s this guy right next to me who was just in THREE months of intensive self-reflection and for some reason, we couldn’t move past my need for approval and love and self-judgement about my need. Dave helped me have a revelation which is worth sharing:
Since Justin has been home, I have felt constantly emotional needy and subsequently dissatisfied with the affection and reassurance that Justin has given me. The more dissatisfied I get, the more clingy I become and the less affectionate Justin becomes. Its a vicious cycle. What we learned is that I perceive my need as a problem that has to get fixed. I judge my want as a bad thing (because somewhere in my universe I learned that wanting things is a problem) and something that makes me broken. Justin gives what he can, but it’s not enough because no one can fix this gaping hole that I’ve perceived my need to be. My disappointment at his inability to fix me sends him the message that he’s not capable of helping me so he’d rather just stay away entirely. Here is a picture of what it looks like when we get into that death spiral:
Ok, so really that’s just a picture of us trying not to kill ourselves while we watched the Utah Pioneer Day Pageant …because what WAS that?
Dave helped me see that need is not negative and that really it’s a huge part of what makes me amazing. It’s part of the core of my soul that allows for empathy and connection to others. In the middle of our session, I had a sort of vision of that core – a large cylindrical spine with space in the middle where things can move freely in and out and around it. Love comes in and moves through it. Pain comes in and moves through it. Goodness, peace, sorrow – my own and other people’s – all make their way through my core filling it for a while and moving out of it as if by design. All of a sudden, God helped me understand that it was not empty, it was open. *i* am open, not empty. My need is part of that openness. THere’s nothing to criticize there. I no longer need to put the task of filling my emptiness on anyone because it doesn’t exist. Justin can give me whatever love and affection he is able to and it does exactly what it is supposed to do in that flexible new open column of my core. Ahhhhh….now, doesn’t that feel better for everyone?
Every Wednesday, Justin’s Intensive Outpatient Program has a family group in which I actively participate. And by actively, I mean ACTIVELY. Sometimes I have to tell myself in my head to shut up. I just really really really love circles of people talking about addiction (and the free diet cokes!)
Last Wednesday, I was just not feeling it. Everything felt too overwhelming. Trying to coordinate one car, leaving work early when we have major deadlines, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner, my dumb eye pain…you name it and I was pretty convinced that it was all wrong because of drug addiction. So we get into the group and I waited until it was my turn and then I just let loose. I said what I was feeling and while a few of the spouses in the group nodded their heads in agreement, there were just as many baffled strangers staring at me when I finally fell silent. One guy said, “so I’m confused. I thought we WANTED them to be sober?” I guess my whining about how uncomfortable it is to be relearning everything sounded…oh, I don’t know! I was so embarrassed and felt horribly maligned and angry that I had made myself and my emotions so vulnerable to criticism. I hate being misunderstood! hate hate hate it! wah!
I left the evening fully prepared to eat my emotions in the form of 500 Five Guys fries, but as luck would have it, five guys was right next to a Target. So I tricked my emotional eating mechanism by telling us that I would get the fries after buying sensible first aid supplies for the camping trip. I came out of target with a different kind of first aid: three pairs of 8 dollar shoes that don’t require me to lose any weight before I wear them
…BONUS! It took me so long to decide upon said shoes, that I ran out of time for french fry purchase. This coming wednesday, I’m going to try to be misunderstood just so I can get more cheap shoes which replace fries which make me feel instantly superior as a human being.
There’s more, but I’m practicing the other long lost (to me) art of prioritizing and tonight sleep wins over blogging…just for tonight, though!