Ready… Set… GO!

So, J comes back this weekend.  I have been really anxious about it for the last few weeks, but I feel that I’ve come a long way and that I have some really great support from my friends and group.  I don’t feel like I’m as anxious about it as I’ve been in the past.  In a way I’m looking forward to being able to come to some resolution about the situation.

J is an engineer in the oil industry.  One of the things that we talked about when we first moved here is that he may have the opportunity to work expat.  I remember in early 2011 we were having this conversation.  He really wants to have children and so do I.  But I told him that we would have to wait until after he did the expat before we had kids because I didn’t want to be pregnant or have children alone.  I think I came off pretty firm about this.  His reaction was that I was basically not being very reasonable, that the money was really good (which it is), that it isn’t a big deal to be pregnant and by yourself.  (Much of this conveyed through patronizing remarks, tone, and boy language).  Prior to leaving for his most recent time overseas, before I told him I wanted a divorce, his “plans” included the option of me getting pregnant before he left (i.e. the first trimester alone).  I told him that was not going to happen.

Recently he brought up the fact that he has the opportunity to go expat starting in November.  Another element of this story is that his best friend, who he works with and has been in Europe with for the last three months, is going to go… although that “isn’t a factor”.  He told me on Monday that he thinks he needs to tell them ASAP if he is going to do this so that he doesn’t lose the opportunity.  I told him that considering all that has happened in the last few months, I cannot tell him “yes, go do this”, but if he needs to tell them yes and then back out later, that is his call.

First of all, given the state of our relationship, I find it almost comical that he thinks this is a good idea to even bring up.  Secondly, he’s still in the mindset that he wants kids ASAP, but doesn’t seem to really see the issue I have with being a single mother.  Why be married anyway?  I can get a sperm donor if I want one?  And why did I move here when I could be living where I want since he’s not going to be here anyway?  I guess I feel like I gave up so much to come here and I really didn’t need to.  Although, that isn’t to say that I’m not totally happy in this city and with my job, but you get the point.

So, I have a feeling we will have a lot of “Come to Jesus” meetings when he gets back.  It should be interesting.  I am hopeful, though.  I’ve found a great deal of strength within myself and have a better understanding of what my non-negotiables are in a relationship.

On a side note, I found out that one of my greatest mentors and friends had a heart attack yesterday.  He’s a marathoner, only 56, vegan and a very good friend.  He’s recovering in ICU.  But it reminds me that there is so little time and that we must do what we need to do because you never know if tomorrow will come.

Hope you are all having an inspired day!

~AA

Reality

J will be home in two weeks.  He’s been in Europe since early February.  I told him I wanted a divorce in December, but so much has happened since then that I sort of came to a place where I felt that perhaps we can get back on track.  But I just don’t know.  I’m so scared about him coming back and things just going back to the way they were and my life just going on with me in a supporting role, not as my own leading lady.  I hate this.

People keep asking me if I miss him and if I’m excited that he’s coming back.  This is one of the hardest things to answer…because in all honesty, I’m nervous about him coming back, I’m nervous that I may have shut off so much that there isn’t a way to “get us back on track”, I don’t “miss” him in the sense that I feel like my life is missing something without him.  In fact, I feel more like myself now that he has been gone than I have in years.  I don’t feel self-conscious.  I’m not lonely.  I don’t feel inadequate.  I feel like me and like I don’t have to be ashamed of my desires, my demons, my needs.

What does that mean?  Does it mean anything?

I’m trying to stay open to this entire thing that is about to happen when he gets back.  There is a part of me that feels like I really need to make the effort, but I also feel like I’ve made a significant effort in the past that didn’t work.  Is it really necessary for me to give it another go?  But I guess he really needed to hear that I was willing to leave him because of how unhappy I was.  So, perhaps he needed that reality check before any progress could really be made.   I just hope that I can be open minded.  If I have the divorce papers in front of me, I will want to have that piece of mind that I did do my best, even if I may have already shut down more than I realize.

I guess it all really doesn’t matter in the end… this contemplation.  It will come, it will happen and it will have a result that no amount of pondering will provide until it happens.

~AA

Fate

It never fails… when you are suffering, something comes along to give you the refocus and hope you need.  Perhaps it is a friend, which I am very grateful for B…she has been such an amazing support, or perhaps it is an article.  I follow a blog that has some wonderful words of wisdom.  Today, the one that I found it my inbox was “11 Ways to Become the Person You Love“.  How appropriate!  The first one is really important and I need to spend some time contemplating it and learning to practice it:

Stop judging, and appreciate the beauty within you. – Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself.  When it comes to living as a compassionate, non-judgmental human being, the only challenge greater than learning to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is learning to walk a lifetime comfortably in your own.  In every smile there is beauty.  In every heart there is love.  In every mind there is wisdom.  In every human being there is a soul, there is life, there is worth, and there is the ability to see all these things in everyone, including one’s self.

And number 11 is one that I will spend more time working on:

Keep looking and moving straight forward. – Moving on doesn’t mean you have forgotten; it means you have accepted what happened in the past and choose to continue living in the present.  Moving on doesn’t mean you’re giving up; it means you’re giving yourself another chance by making a choice to be happy rather than hurt.  Through all the problems you have faced, the burdens weighing down on your shoulders, the pain in your heart, you have only one thing to say, “I survived and I now know better for next time.”

It is important that I continue to work on forgiving and accepting myself for my failures.  And that I never forget my struggles because they have helped me become the person I am today.  I’m worth the effort.  I’m not a horrible person.  I’m a person who has made mistakes and I have the ability to learn from those mistakes.  I’m a compassionate person with the ability to forgive others and need to give that compassion to myself.

~AA

Contemplation

How do you know you are doing the right thing?  What is the “right” thing?  What does that even mean.  Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of guilt over the person I’ve become.  I’ve tried to push it down… to ignore it, but it doesn’t seem to be going away so it is time to admit that I don’t really feel like I’m a good human being.  I am deceitful and I don’t want to be any longer.  I want to be a better person, but I keep falling back into the same things.  My biggest weakness comes from my issues with relationships.  I’m tired of metaphorically looking over my shoulder.  Of living in fear of being found out.  It is time for me to make a mends.  To make a commitment to myself to let go.

Mom’s recovery

My mom is now out of the ICU… in only 2 days!  Here surgery (triple bypass) was on Monday, she was walking a bit by Tuesday and out of ICU on Wednesday!  Go mom!  Now we just wait to see how her body responds to the surgery.  Hopefully not too much scar tissue.  I’m going home to see them in May.  It will give her a few weeks to recover and begin cardio-rehab, so we’ll be able to do a few fun things together.  I love her so much.  My dad called me to give me an update and told me that he missed having me there.  It meant so much to me.  I love them.

Good Day

My mom came through the surgery just fine.  She is recovering in the ICU and will be there for a few days.  The doctor said that it was a difficult surgery, but he is happy with the results.  Very tired.  Waited almost 9 hours today from the time we left her to the time we were finally able to talk to the doctor and got to see her.  She was sedated and intubated, so she wasn’t able to talk, but she did open her eyes just for a moment when we said hello.  Very long day.  Very tired.  Hope for more good news tomorrow.  Now we just wait to see if she reacts okay to the surgery.  Hopefully this is it!

The Shift

The shift from being the child to being the adult is an interesting transition that I was conceptually aware of and had seen glimpses of, but today really came into view.  When I saw my mom I felt like I couldn’t cry because I had to be the strong one.  My mom is scared and I’ve never seen my dad so consumed with anxiety, fear and sadness.  He is terrified of losing my mom, as am I.  I cannot imagine much worse than losing her.  My dad is a very “stoic” man, for lack of a better word.  He’s very vocal about his opinions and rarely, if ever, shows weakness.  So, to see him in such a state is new for me and I’m having to learn very quickly how to interact with him like this.  And it has been a bit “shocking” to my system.  (I apologize in advance for my lack of vocabulary.. my brain is a little fried right now).

This morning my dad had to go to his doctor and asked for some anxiety medication that he started taking.  The two of us went to dinner tonight and he opened up to me in a way that I have never experienced.  He told me how fearful he is of losing her, how he doesn’t know what he will do without her, how he is worried that she will survive the surgery just fine but that the blockage will just come back later (as it has been doing for over a year).  We talked a little about what would happen if she were gone in terms of taking care of her parents (my grandparents).  My dad wants to be here for them until they are gone, but he never thought that he might be the only one taking care of them.  I told him that I would help him with their affairs if she weren’t here to do it.

God, I hate even talking about it.  I cannot imagine life without her.  I have this guilt that I haven’t given her any grand kids.  I know she would really love being a grandmother.  Neither one of my parents have ever pressured me about children, but I know it is something they would love to experience and a gift that I would like to give them (and, yes, I do want children anyway).

I cannot tell you how many times I almost cried over dinner.  I just feel like I have to be strong for my dad right now.  He needs to have someone that he can let it out to.  I have those outlets, support and I do cry, but I really feel like they both need me to care for them a little more than normal.  Please know that doesn’t mean that I don’t show them emotion, because I do.  I just don’t lose it the way I am prone to.

The one saving grace for today is that I talked to C.  It was such a help.  I felt so strung-out from all that has happened this week.  Not talking to him makes me crazy as it is and add all this stuff with my mom and my little complex personal issues and you have a ticking time-bomb.  When I was finally able to talk to him, I felt like I went from really strung-out to only partially strung-out.  I’m fairly confident that I’ve aged a few years in just a few days.  But I guess that is what life is about.  Learning, growing, dealing with the good and the bad.  It is essential that I keep these things in mind.  Perspective is so important.

I just want her to be okay.  You have no idea what a beautiful woman she is.  I’ve spent the majority of my life striving to be like her in terms of compassion, kindness, nurturing others, and grace.  She is amazing.  I’m truly have the most amazing mother in the world and I tell her all the time.  And she is beautiful.  I’ve always thought that the older she gets, the more beautiful she gets.  My dad was showing me some pictures tonight that he took of her and he just kept saying, “isn’t she beautiful.”  She really is.  Inside and out.  I hope to be half the woman she is one day.  She has given everything to her family and I love that about her. I love everything about her.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’m mentally wasted.  Time to try to get some sleep.

~AA

Overfunctioning

Sitting in the airport yet again.  I have really traveled a lot the past few months!  And while I am “lucky” enough to have the extensive traveling experience that I do, I regret that I do get irritated with those who do not have as much experience as I.  I’m almost flabbergasted at the number of people who don’t know the rules of travel…simple rules like you have to take off all your jewelery (including your watch), you have to take off all of your loose clothing, take everything out of your pockets, take off your shoes and belt, take out your laptop, your liquids have to go in a separate bag (no exception), only one person goes into the scanner at a time (not two), and no you cannot wear your hat into the scanner.  When I got to the security line I was actually a little worried that I might not make it through in time….so many people and so many of them that have no clue about traveling.  Luckily the security woman opened the little strap-like cattle shoot and sent my line over to the “elite express” to help get us through security.  I really lucked out!  Thank goodness. I even had enough time to wait for a nice soy-mocha from Starbucks (I don’t function without coffee).

So, the title of this post: overfunctioning.  This is something that we discussed a bit at group and something that I’ve heard a little about.  And I think I am totally guilty of overfunctioning and need to move more to high-functioning.  I think this has been a problem in my relationships and was the initial thing that led to my first realization that I might have some OCD tendencies in 2005.   To quote a moderately credible website so that we have a working definition:

The definitions for the Overfunctioning Woman and High-Functioning Woman are fundamentally different. The High-Functioning Woman is indeed also busy and productive, but she picks and chooses what she will and will not do. The Overfunctioning Woman, by contrast, must do it all. Only in this way can she demonstrate both her competence and basic worth to herself and others. The Overfunctioning Woman is caught in a Treacherous Triangle and does not know how to get out. The three points on the Treacherous Triangle form an interdependent relationship of 1) overfunctioning, 2) poorly constructed or flagging self-esteem, and 3) a susceptibility to attend to the needs of others.

Overall, I think this provide two good definitions of what it means to overfunction and what it means to be high-functioning.  I think that, overall, I have made some progress in terms of my ability to realize when I am overfunctioning in work, but need to focus more on learning when I am overfunctioning in my relationships with others.  I need to learn to pick and choose what I will and will not do in my role as a wife or partner.  That is what I have a really hard time with.  I feel the need to be everything, to do everything.

We talked about my conflicting personality in terms of who I am fundamentally and how that is in contrast to who I’ve become or who I think I need to become in my marriage.  My husband is very traditional and I am more nontraditional.  My perception of what he wants from me is that he wants the dutiful 1950’s housewife who cooks, cleans, gardens, etc.  Basically he wants someone like my cousin who is a stay-at-home mom who gardens, raises chickens, buys half of an entire cow b/c she knows what to do with it, makes jam, cleans, takes care of the home and quilts (she is a master quilter…an amazing gift).  Has he made this desire explicit? Yes and no.  He is the most masterful passive-aggressive person I’ve ever met.  He merely needs to give me a “look” and I am put in my place.  He has told me that he wants me to cook more (I hate cooking and hate it more when I think it is my responsibility).  He has told me that I don’t clean things correctly (i.e. use the wrong cleaning things…but I’m the only one cleaning).  I’m the one usually doing the laundry and I don’t think he has run the vacuum in about 3 or 4 years, but has no problem complaining when things are messy.

This feeling that I’ve been doing so much (i.e. overfunctioning without firm boundaries) and the feeling that I’m still failing has damaged my self-confidence.

So, I need to make sure that I continue to work on these boundaries with him and with others.  I naturally want to take care of people, but I need to take care of myself before I can take care of others.  Since J has been gone, I’ve felt so much more confident in who I am and I don’t want to lose that.

Have to run… time to catch my flight home!

~AA

 

Midnight

As midnight approaches, I’m reminded of graduate school.  I feel like I’m back in graduate school for some reason.  Staying up all night working on something and having to get up early to finish it off.  I used to do that a little more frequently than I’d like to admit.  Stay up until 1:30 a.m. or 2:00 a.m., sleep for a few hours (i.e nap), get up at 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. to finish it before a 9:00 a.m. class!  Those were the days, I have to say.  Tonight I just can’t sleep.  I’ve been packing and doing some laundry that I needed to do, but for some reason I don’t feel like sleeping.  I sort of feel like staying up all night for no apparent reason. I’m really tired, mentally especially, but my brain won’t shut off and I have all this nervous energy.

Tonight I went to my group therapy.  It was a good discussion.  One of the things that we talked about was death and our relationship to it.  It came up because of the situation with my mom.  The interesting thing that came up was that those who experienced loss early and/or a good deal of loss, particularly the loss of a close friend or family member, thought more about death than those without such experiences.  For example, two people in our groups who were in their late 30’s said they never think about death.  There were about 4 of us that admitted to thinking about it more frequently.  The two that never thought about it had never experienced loss, those who did think about it had experienced loss early and/or the death of a close friend of relative.

Why am I talking about this?  Well, it just goes to show how a person’s experiences shape their present.  I lost a number of people that I was close to when I was younger.  I have a tendency to have that mentality that says, “Life is too short to sit spinning wheels.  You only live once, you shouldn’t be complacent.”  Conversely, J has never lost anyone close to him, so he doesn’t think in these terms.  He had a rough childhood, that is true, and he lost his mom in the sense that she abandoned him, but she didn’t die.  I have the “I want to experience everything life has to offer, change things up” ambitions and others are more okay with seeking the status-quo.  This is an incongruency that exists in my marriage.  J is seeking the house, wife, kids, soccer practice life while I’m seeking all of that plus growing my business and making an impact in the world.  Whether or not I will be able to achieve those last two things is irrelevant because that does not get rid of those desires.

All in all, I love my life.  I love my family, I love my friends, I enjoy what I do, I’m growing my little business while teaching online in addition to my “day job”, I’m writing more, I read great literature, I can run and dance and play, and I can love.  I am so blessed to have the most amazing friends in the world even if it is only two or three people.  And, yes, C is among those that I still consider my best friends who provide with essential support.  What do I really have to complain about?  I cannot share things with the person that I want to, but that is okay.  I truly feel we have a connection that will never break regardless of what life throws at us.  We are friends first and I think that is how it should be.  I know he is there for me if I need him and I know he will protect me.  I think this is his new role.  He has become my protector.  I like that. (He’s so sexy).

~AA

GRRR….

Wish I could talk to C.  All this stuff with my mom sucks, but I will be okay.  I just wish this would stop happening to her.  I’m glad that I am going home.  My dad sounds really freaked out.  He’s pretending to be okay, but I know he isn’t.  I think it will be good for both of them if I am there.

C and I have really sucked at not communicating.  We’ve emailed a few times.  I think we are both just so used to that support and connection that we cannot help it to some extent.  I had him send me the final version of the novel he wrote for me.  I’m going to edit it.  I want to read and edit it.  It makes me feel close to him even though I cannot talk to him like I used to.

He’s been going to therapy as well. He mentioned that he had a good session yesterday. I’m really happy to hear this.  I hope his therapist will be helpful.  Help him realize that he should not carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He’s a lot like me in this regard.  I naturally feel guilty about almost everything.  Even if there is a natural disaster, I’m not doing enough to help.  What’s that about!?

You know, being faced with mortality really makes you think about things differently.  It is so easy to put things off and to trick yourself into believing something isn’t really wrong when it is.  But when you face the possible loss of someone you love, it helps you realize what is important and makes me question why we waste so much time in unfulfilling relationships and jobs, waste time not loving one another, waste time not appreciating one another, waste time caring about relatively unimportant things. I don’t know why we do this.  Perhaps we are afraid of what might happen if we do what we really need to do.

Yesterday I met with my therapist as well.  We were talking about the issue I have of not having a voice in my marriage.  This came up because I told him that I felt like I had to ask permission from J to fly home for my mom.  How ridiculous is that!  But that is how much control I have given him.  This relationship dynamic we’ve developed happened because of both of us, not just him.  I want that to be clear.  I realize that I had a role to play in how we have developed over time.

So, my therapist asked me, “what is the worst thing that would happen if you weren’t the ‘perfect’ wife and said what you needed to say.”  I said that I was fearful that I wouldn’t meet the goal of being a good wife and that he might leave me.  But when faced with mortality, is that really the worst thing in the world?  Oh well, he left you.  There are a lot of people facing worse things than I.  I need to be thankful for the beauty in my life despite the complexity.  And that is how I think of C.  He was/is a beautiful part of my little complex life.  The worst thing that could have happened would have been not experiencing what we shared.

Life is to short.  I’d rather get hurt loving with everything I have than living safe and guarded.

~AA