Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thoughts from therapy -- looooong post

Monday was my regular visit to my therapist, and, as usual, it gave me a lot to think about. I reported how lovely the reunion with Hubby had been, and expressed that my lovely vacation really had not been that great, which was disappointing. It's not that anything was wrong -- it's just that I don't seem to have the ability to enjoy things as I should. The trip itself was perfect -- it was me that was not.

I asked the doc for an assessment of how I'm doing, where I am, and if I'm making any progress. Her responses were all positive, but cautious, as I pretty much expected. In her words, I'm wrapped very tightly, and only now, after nearly 5 months of work, are we getting to the 'real' me. I have been told before that I'm difficult to get to know, because I don't reveal much, and though I feel like I talk my head off during that one hour per week, apparently it's not enough. I expressed to her my disappointment at not feeling any better than I do, and my concern that maybe therapy is not helping, or that maybe I need a different kind of therapy.

I explained, too, that I'm discouraged that I don't feel better after upping my Effexor dose 3 weeks ago. I wonder if that means I am going to have to take more, yet again. I don't know how much you can take, but I wish I could take the lowest dose possible, or not have to take anything at all. My psychiatrist said I have a "complicated depression", and I have no idea what that means. It definitely feels complicated, though.

Lately I've been having daily headaches. By lately I mean pretty much since January, right after I had the "pseudo-flu" and then a sinus infection following. Yesterday I saw an ENT who said he couldn't see an infection at this point, but still wanted me to take Levaquin, a very strong antibiotic, for 10 days to see if it would resolve my problems. So I'm taking that now, along with some Acidophilus to help with abdominal upset, and we'll see how that goes. Yesterday afternoon, I took the advice of a massage therapist I saw recently and took a nap with an ice pack under my neck and a cold gel mask over my eyes. When I woke up, the headache was indeed gone, so I may have to try that again. I have a little headache now, for which I'm thinking of making a cup of real coffee, instead of the decaf I normally drink.

I think my greatest disappointment at this point is for my Hubby, who must deal with this incapacitated woman on a daily basis. He does so much for me, emotionally and practically -- I don't know how he maintains such a cheerful disposition. I tell him this, and he tells me not to worry, that he loves me and is here for me through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, but he has no idea how much I hate the thought of his having to think of it that way. I know I am a drain on him, emotionally, physically, and financially, but I am powerless to change any of those things. I am afraid I will wear him out, that he will need to look in other places for someone to enjoy. He's not that kind of person, I know, but it seems so unfair for him to have to deal with me. This is not what he signed on for -- he thought I was whole when he met me, and now he's discovering that I'm not. For what it's worth, I thought I was whole, too, but much to my own chagrin, I am not.

It's not that I don't have pleasurable moments -- I do. I enjoyed going to church on Sunday, watching over a children's class as a substitute for whoever else was supposed to be there. I enjoyed going out to lunch with a group that does this every week -- met some new people and connected better with some I knew already.

I laugh, I smile, but it's an effort at times.

My therapist said that I'm very skilled at presenting myself in an appropriate, professional manner, so that people have no idea what's really going on with me under the surface. She said I'm quite good at intellectualizing, that I try to learn and understand as a defense mechanism. This is not the first time I've been told this. I want to understand myself and others -- how is this a handicap, which it apparently is to some extent? You read, you observe -- that's how you learn and increase your understanding, isn't it? There's a saying that goes something like this: No one ever learned anything by talking. I think that's my guiding principle. People like to talk about themselves, but I don't. I'd rather listen and learn.

Lately I've been doing a lot of reading -- the authors have mostly been Alice Miller, the Swiss psychologist (at my therapist's suggestion), and James Hollis, another psychologist who happened to be a student of a friend of mine, oddly enough. He mostly writes about midlife and the perils and possibilities of that time of life. Alice Miller writes about abusive childhoods, and I have a hard time allowing myself to identify fully with that, even though things she writes about resonate with me deeply. I don't want to identify myself as an abused or neglected child, nor do I want to identify my parents as those who abused or neglected. I don't want to be "a victim". Yet, I have been victimized in a variety of ways by a variety of people and institutions.

I was sexually molested by a neighbor at age 4. I don't know how long it lasted or what all happened, but I don't think I have to know that. Around the age of 8 or 9 a friend and I were approached by a young man with his penis exposed while we were playing at a ballpark. From the time I "developed", there were at least 2 friends' Dads who touched me inappropriately, and of course older boys who did as well. By age 17 a colleague of my Dad's (who had already passed away by this time, when I was 16) propositioned me to give me a job if I'd have sex with him. When I threatened to report him, he let me know very clearly that no one would believe me if I did, that there were no witnesses, and that basically, I was screwed when it came to ever getting at job there, because I threatened to tell. I've never told my parents or any authorities about any of these events.

Brought up Baptist and attending a fundamentalist Christian school through grade 7 made life very confusing. I *wanted* to be like these other people who seemed to *get* the whole Christian thing, but I could never buy into it altogether. I could never reconcile things in my own mind and heart. I couldn't understand a God who supposedly loved us, but also punished us and allowed bad things to happen to us. I couldn't understand a God who would supposedly let people go to hell even if they'd never heard of Him or Jesus. I couldn't understand why men were allowed to be the authority on everything, no questions asked, just because they were men. And I certainly couldn't understand why I was told to "stay away from Mr. Willie", the old pervert who liked to feel up the girls at church, rather than someone making HIM stay away from US.

At age 19 I was robbed at gunpoint at work. The robber put his revolver to my temple and ordered me to clean out the cash drawer of the sandwich shop at which I worked. He then ordered me, gun at my head, to go back to the safe and lie face down on the floor while the other employee cleaned out the safe. All this with a gun at the back of my head now, and no way for me to see what was going on. I just prayed that I wouldn't die, prayed that he wouldn't shoot, prayed that I'd get to see my family again. Then he looked for a place to lock us in, but there was no place like that in this building. He settled on putting us in the girls' bathroom, and instructed us not to come out or call the police. I wedged myself between the toilet and the wall, hoping that if he changed his mind and started shooting through the door or something, I'd be protected. He was caught the next day, and the police came to show me pictures of people so he could be identified. I started crying the minute I saw his face, even though he'd shaved his facial hair off and wasn't wearing a cap and glasses like he was when he robbed me. Between this time and the trial date, I received harassing and threatening phone calls at home from either him or his friends, and I couldn't do anything about it. Criminals are allowed to have all of your information if you're a witness, but you aren't allowed to know anything about them. I went to trial and testified against him; my coworker could not be 100% positive it was him, she said. I don't know if that was true or not, but I couldn't lie. For some technical reason, a mistrial was declared, so I had to do this whole thing all over again months later. He was convicted, and sentenced to 75 years in prison for the armed robbery, with another 15 added on for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. I guess he should be out roaming the streets now, but I can't even remember his name to even try to check. I'll never forget his face, though, or the feel of cold steel against my temple.

My first husband was an emotionally abusive alcoholic, who made life very scary for me. I never felt safe, I never felt secure, I always worried about what would happen next. I didn't understand what alcoholism was, and I had never known a person like him. I felt that I had to stay married to this man because that's what I was taught in church -- divorce is wrong and you should live up to your vows, period. I learned a few years into our marriage that he had molested his own daughter, before he and I had met. I was horrified, sickened, devastated. His daughter, 15 by this time, recanted her story when I told her I would take her and her brother home (they were visiting during the summer) and that I would have to leave her father. She convinced me, because I wanted to be convinced, that she'd made up this story to get sympathy from her very strict mother and to get out of trouble for some things she'd done. Not long after, we got a letter from the HRS stating that an investigation had been done and no evidence of abuse or neglect was found. Naturally, this greatly relieved me, but deep in my soul, I knew he'd done it anyway. I feared he'd done other things, too, but obviously could never find out. Eventually I succumbed into a deep depression and repeated panic attacks, as well as myriad physical symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, abdominal pain) due to the psychic pressure I was experiencing. I sought help from an anxiety clinic, and then a psychiatrist, and got better. Then he left me for another woman -- a younger woman, naturally, though I was only 28 at the time. I was devastated at first, but it didn't take long to realize that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Shortly after he came to me and said he would never marry again, and that he wasn't dating anyone, though I later learned he was living with this girl and her mother, for God's sake. I asked in some way about whether or not he considered the fact that other men might find me attractive and want to date me -- his response was "no", and I could tell that this thought had never crossed his mind. In other words, I was nothing to him. This really pissed me off, and gave me the strength and fire I needed to want to move on with my life, sans him. Naturally, this is when he checked himself into an alcohol rehab facility, realizing he was going to lose everything. And stupid me, I ended up letting him come home after his stint there, though HIS counselors told me flat out to divorce him and move on with my life. He had been diagnosed as not only an alcoholic, but also a sex addict. God knows who all he fucked and/or hurt, but I know there had to be many. I checked recently on the sex offender list and see that he's back in jail for lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under the age of 16. This is a broken, unfixable person, and he should never, ever be allowed to be around normal people, ever again, especially, most especially children.

I was fortunate enough to meet a man who appreciated me, in ways I had never experienced, and had a wonderful, loving marriage with him for 5 1/2 years. He died in 1999. My therapist says I also have some grief issues to deal with, which surprises me. I can't imagine that there could be more tears to shed, but maybe she's right. I've been dreaming of him a lot lately, which is unusual for me. I suspect uncovering things in therapy brings deeper things to the surface, and that reading books on grief/grieving, etc., also aid that. The month prior to his death, I lost my beloved grandmother, then 2 weeks after his death, I lost his uncle, and my grandfather. Within a year I lost his aunt, to whom I was very close. It was a really shitty year.

Later traumatic events include dealing with a very dysfunctional sister with multiple issues -- chemical abuse, possible bipolar disorder, exceptionally bad judgment -- including an emotionally and physically abusive husband. His abuse of her started while they were dating and goes on to this day. Only now they have 3 children. She calls me when something's wrong. She calls me, wanting me to help, wanting me to understand. And I have gone to her rescue more than once. She has been a stripper at times, has gotten into physical fights with other people, has done God knows what kinds of drugs and God knows what else to make a buck. She's passed out drunk with her then-toddler in the house. She's been in and out of psychiatric facilities. I've had to face down the asshole she won't leave permanently when he's been in a rage and trying to break down her front door; hubby and I were there last year after he'd thrown a car seat at her in her garage and broken the window of her car. He and I got into a verbal fight that basically insures that I can never, ever be around him again. Not sure if I can be around her, now, since she's decided to go back to him. She left him the day of the fight I had with him, and we moved her down to my mom's. But within 2 months, she went back. I don't understand her and I guess I never will. She's told my mom that she would call me 'if I would let her', and I explained to my mother that I was unclear as to how I was keeping her from dialing the phone. This was because I addressed a postcard to my niece and told her to have her mommy help her write me back.

Then there's the son-in-law, who threw hubby and me out of his house. We'd been called by daughter to come up because they'd had a domestic dispute which landed him in jail. Once the temporary restraining order was over, he returned home. He was angry that we were there and ordered us out of his house. He taunted hubby with remarks about being 'an old man' and was exceptionally hateful. Daughter doesn't understand why we just can't let bygones by bygones and pretend like everything's ok. This hurts hubby, because he can't have a decent relationship with his daughter and grandchildren, and that hurts me. I also hurt because I hoped that daughter and I could be friends, but it's obvious that this is not possible. I know this behavior of hers is not a new thing -- hubby and his late wife experienced basically the same kind of treatment for other reasons. But the bottom line is, it SUCKS.

I want these things out of my head, and out of my soul. I want to not dream about them. I want to be myself again. I want to not have headaches, and not have to make an effort to be sociable. I want to be able to keep my commitments, and not have to back out at the last minute because I just can't handle the idea of having to put on a happy face. I want to be able to keep house in a way that would please Hubby and not leave him with so much to do here. I want to sleep, a full night's sleep. I want to not wonder what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I want to be good at something, appreciated for something. I want to make my husband's life rich and full, happy and peaceful. I want him to not have to worry about me, or expend any additional energy on our life. I want him to be all that he can be, to play music and write and travel and enjoy his life. I want to be able to participate fully in those things.

In closing, I do know that I am fortunate. I have friends who do care about me, and I have a good life. I have the world's greatest husband, and lovely nieces and nephews and grandchildren who enrich my life. I want to be able to keep these things in the forefront of my mind, rather than buried in there somewhere. It's not fair to them to not have that be a more prevailing attitude -- it's not lack of their love or support that contributes to this situation. Whatever it is is within me, and I need to get it out.


No comments: