Readjusting

I picked J up on Saturday.  It was good to see him, a little anxiety provoking, but good nonetheless.  Over the weekend, I just tried to keep things very neutral.  He’s got some severe jet lag and it is apparent that we are on two very different planes of communication.  I think this is due in large part to the fact that I have been in individual and group therapy.  So, I didn’t really think it would be productive to delve into relationship issues right away.

To the communication/perception issues, we’ve been having this discussion about him possibly working internationally since we first found it was a possibility in January of last year.  Even then I told him I thought it was a bad idea for a number of reasons, one of the main being that he wanted to start a family but would be gone for a month and back for two weeks.  I told him that wasn’t going to happen and told him why.  He wanted me to consider it.  Now, he has the opportunity to do a rotation in Nigeria.  I know he wants to do it, but I feel that it is a bit unrealistic given the current state of our relationship and the fact that he STILL wants to have kids.

I have worked in higher education for a number of years and prior to coming here, I had to give up an amazing job so that J could take a job with the company that he wanted to work for.  I told him that my former boss called me about a job (not the first time he’s called me) and that we had an interesting conversation that ended in my former boss telling me that he would want me to come work has his Chief of Staff with a tenure-track faculty appointment if/when he gets a presidential appointment (which he will in about a year or two).  Basically all could ever want professionally.  We were talking about this over breakfast on Sunday.  The short of it is that J told me that he doesn’t want to change industries and that he doesn’t want to leave his current job for the next 5 years; basically saying that he isn’t supportive of this opportunity.  He’s supportive if it means he doesn’t have to sacrifice, but if he does, he’s not supportive, you know?  I reminded him of everything I gave up (two orchestra job offers so he could stay in school and didn’t have to transfer and most recently, a job that I loved so that he could take a job he wanted).

I think this just goes to show that we are not thinking on the same plane.  He’s got a lot of work to do in terms of understanding my needs.  I didn’t go to school for 11 years, get a Ph.D. and work my ass off to become a broodmare for someone who thinks it is completely acceptable to leave me for a year/year .5  (one month off, two weeks back) while pregnant or with an infant.  So, we’ve a lot of work to do.  lol.

I’m meeting with my therapist today and am looking forward to it.  J is supposed to meet with him before we meet as a couple, but J doesn’t really like the idea.  I get the impression that he still doesn’t understand that there are some really big issues that need to be addressed.  In his mind, he’d rather just sweep the last few months under the rug and more forward without finding the right way to move forward.

I’m really trying to be open to this and to him so that I can make the best decisions moving forward.  I want to give him the “handicap” since he’s basically just been working and living it up in Europe.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you posted about how he takes to reality.

~AA

 

Waiting….

I have to go pick J up from the airport in about 3 hours.  I’m really interested in seeing how I react/feel to this.  In all honesty, I feel very a-emotional about all of this right now.  I don’t have much anxiety, I’m not excited, I’m just sort of here.  Cleaned the house this morning… always a favorite past-time when I don’t want to think about something.  Having lots of coffee… basically just relishing the last few moments of alone time before the journey really begins.

The other night I had a really vivid dream.  In general, I’ve always had a propensity to dream about doors.  The dream Thursday night was particularly interesting.  I dreamed that I came home and locked the door behind me as I always do… two locks, a regular lock and a deadbolt.  But then someone started trying to get in.  The door was bowing towards me and the individual was able to unlock one of the locks,  but not the deadbolt.  The top of the door started separating from the frame because the bowing was so heavy–heavy is the right word.  It wasn’t scary, just ominous.  In the past I’ve had lots of dreams about a man breaking in to attack me, but this wasn’t that dream.

I was about 10 feet away from the door in my dream and I knew that one deadbolt wasn’t going to hold much longer.  I don’t really know who was on the other side of the door, only that it was a man, but not the man from other dreams that tries to rape and kill me.  I had to get to the door to re-lock the lock that he undid and that did provoke a little fear.

When I got to the door, the door was bowing in so heavily…like a cartoon door it was firm but bending.  The hinges where about to burst.  I dreamed that there were suddenly more locks, one at each corner of the door in addition to the regular two.  I had to focus to reach the locks.  First the ones at the top, then the ones at the bottom.  The ones at the hinges where the easiest of the four to lock.  Then the top right… it was like moving my hand through something viscous, the closer I got to the lock, the more resistance.  Then the bottom right… I don’t remember being able to lock that one.

The overall feeling during this dream was a heavy weight.  An oppression, but nothing that was scarey, it was almost a sadness.

I looked up “doors” and “locks” in dreams and it came up with the following:

To dream that the door is closed or locked signifies opportunities that are denied and not available to you or that you have missed out on. Something or someone is blocking your progress. It also symbolizes the ending of a phase or project. In particular, if you are outside the locked door, then it suggests that you have anti-social tendencies. If you are inside the locked door, then it represents harsh lessons that need to be learned.

 To dream that you are locking the door suggests that you are closing yourself off from others. You are hesitant in letting others in and revealing your feelings. It is indicative of some fear and low self-worth. If someone slams the door in your face, then it indicates that you are feeling shut out or some activity or that you are being ignored.

I have a feeling that this is symbolic of the phase of my life that is now ending (time alone) and the one that is about to begin (the figuring things out now that J is back).

It was an interesting dream, very heavy.

~AA

10 years ago…

Ten years ago I graduated from my undergraduate work.  I work at a university so this time of year always brings back fond memories.  I cannot believe so much time has passed.  It is so hard to see how much we have changed and all that we’ve endured unless we take the moment to do so.   Here are ten things I’ve learned since graduation:

  1. Your parents want what what they think will increase happiness and decrease pain, not necessarily what is best for you.  They do this through the lens of parent love, but their wishes and hopes for you may not be what is in your best interest.  Take it with a grain of salt, consider their love for you, and do what you feel is in your best interest, not what will make them happy (I’m still learning to do this).
  2. Education is always beneficial, but it doesn’t matter what your degree is in… as long as you finish it.  So, make sure you spend the four years of college (or 11 in my case since I went on to get a PhD) studying something that inspires you.  You get a job through who you know and who you are as a person, not solely because you have the “right degree”… it doesn’t exist.  But being smart, creative, and an agile thinker will always serve you well.
  3. You will regret more of what you don’t do than of what you do.  It is better to make a move and make a mistake than to never move at all.  I saw a bumper sticker with the quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~John Bingham  Amen to that!
  4. Don’t stoop to another person’s level.  Since entering into the “real world” I’ve realized there are a lot of lazy, lazy, lazy, uninspired people out there… don’t be one even if you find yourself surrounded by them.  They may make more than you, have a better office, have a better title, but at the end of the day you know that you did your job to the best of your ability and then some.  Always take pride in your work.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others.  I am very guilty of looking at others and thinking, “wow, they must have it all, they must not have the demons in their head like I do”.  This is false.  All the perfect people and families you see on Facebook are just facades.  There is always more going on than you can imagine.  So don’t compare yourself to others.
  6. Learn to forgive yourself.  I have an easier time forgiving others than I do myself. It has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do and I’m still not good at it.  The compassion you show others should also be shown to yourself.
  7. Never lose your enthusiasm for life.  Marvel at a sunset, take time to smell the flowers blooming, be in wonder at the beauty of a butterfly, let music wash over you, jump for joy when you hear the ice cream truck, trick or treat, believe in Santa for the night, do everything that you did as a kid.  Just because your body ages doesn’t mean your soul has to.
  8. Great friends are there when you are at your worst and at your best.  They are there when you make mistakes, they are there when you are successful.  They provide support when your soul is crushed and they laugh when your spirit soars.  You will only find one or two that are truly great friends… count your blessings when you do.
  9. You will never stop learning who you are.  The 20’s were a wild ride and so far the 30’s have been a great period of self-discovery, but you will never “figure it all out” or have a complete understanding of what you need in this life.  But always make time to get to know yourself along the way.  You may be surprised at what you learn.
  10. Serenity.  I love the serenity prayer because it is so relevant, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  The last part is the hardest for me… the wisdom to know the difference between that which I can change and that which I cannot change.

~AA

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

Toying

I feel a bit like I’m being toyed with by J.  My girlfriend B came over last night and we were talking about this.  She and her husband have been seeing the same therapist that I’ve been seeing, so she’s familiar with this concept of Imago therapy as well.  Basically it boils down to 1) I think he is testing my boundaries and trying to get the “upper hand” in terms of control and 2) I feel as if he is trying to keep “tabs” on me.

J has been in Europe since early February.  About three/four weeks ago he asked me to put an app on my phone called “What’s App” so that we could text internationally without being charged for international fees.  In general, we never text… not even when he is on the same continent OR when I’ve told him that it would be nice to get text messages from him throughout the day to feel more connected (yes, I’ve asked for this).  Since I’ve put it on my phone, however, I feel like he’s using it to keep up with when I’m “online” and as a means to make me feel guilty (i.e. control).

One weekend, I had gone out with some friends.  This was the first weekend that he asked me to put the app on my phone.  One of the features of the app is that it shows when you were “last online”.  He saw that I checked the app at like 2 a.m. and was grilling me about what I was doing out at 2 a.m. with people from our soccer team… yes, people from the soccer team that we both play on.  He then asked me if I’ve been messing around with someone, an accusation that has been waged against me since about 2 years into our marriage (that’s for another post and no, I’ve never cheated on him).  He proceeded to lecture me on going out while not having my wedding ring on (lest you forget that I told him I wanted a divorce in December and we’ve been separated since then).  He then told me “I know it sounds hypocritical since I haven’t been wearing mine either, but…blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse”.

Flash forward… he usually only sends me messages on What’s App on the weekends and recently he’s been making passive-aggressive comments like “I wish you had more to say”… as if I’m not, apparently, communicating with him enough.

Finally, when I was at my lowest (i.e. the attempt at suicide in January), he apparently went through my phone records and was asking my girlfriend B about phone numbers, who they were, why was I calling these people, etc.

I feel like these are mind games, does that sound correct to you?  Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? My gut tells me that if I were hearing this from my girlfriend, I’d tell her to run.  But for some reason, I have the ability to keep rationalizing things to myself.  Isn’t this an element of an abusive relationship?  I find it confusing.

I’ve spoken with my therapist about all of this and he’s said “keep conversations neutral right now”.  And I’ve done my best to do this.  There is no reason to get into fights when we’re thousands of miles apart.  And I’ve told J as much.  Thank goodness I have therapy today.  One of the things that my therapist told me once was that he’s there to help us see if we can resolve things, but that if not he will help me move on.  I do find comfort in that.

~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

Little Girl

Tonight I went to my individual therapy session.   It was good and good timing considering what happened at group last night.  You know, one of the things that we talked about toward the end was how we have the adult us and the little girl (or boy).  The little girl part of us is the part that is wounded and scared.  So, my reaction to M and the fact that I need to “please” comes from my little girl.  The little girl I was when I was reliant on others for survival.  The little girl who wanted approval from my dad.  The little girl that was scared her brother might kill her.  The little girl who trusted, was used, and discarded by a man.

We talked about how I am no longer “that little girl”, but that she still is part of me and I give her power in certain situations like with J and with other personal relationships.  So when I feel rejected or invalidated, that little girl is the one that is fearful.  She’s the one with the anxiety and fear of not surviving.  This is opposite to me, my adult self, that knows I can take care of myself and I do not need anyone for survival.  But my adult self and my little girl live together in me.  She is the part of me that helps me to never lose my childlike enthusiasm for life.

The important thing to remember is that I am not trying to get rid of my little girl, merely learning how to live with her….how to coexist.  This makes sense to me.  So, my little girl and I need to learn how to play together.  And I need to make more time to really get to know her.

Who is your little girl (or boy)?

~AA

Meandering Thoughts

I feel like so much has happened over the last few months, weeks, days, yet I have a difficult time putting them into words… sometimes because I’m really busy, other times because I cannot remember what happened, exactly.  I seem to be doing really well at work, which is good, but I still struggle with my relationship issues.  I think that is where my greatest issues are.  I’m not very good at being vulnerable with people and it makes me very anxious to do so.  Last night in group I almost left because I was feeling so anxious about a response from one of my group members.  She didn’t attack me or anything, but more so dismissed what I was saying and sort of made me feel bad about saying what I did.  I literally almost freaked and left.  It was in that moment that I realized she represents some part of my relationship with J, and others, that triggers this in me.

There is one guy in my group who is a very good Imago match… as in, he is almost exactly like J.  So, I have a heightened response to him when he opens up in groups because I desire to hear or see those things in J.  It can be difficult, but it is also good for me to see.  M, the girl in my group who got to me yesterday, really makes me feel those times that I am dismissed and sort of invalidated–mostly by J.  I didn’t realize that until last night and it was very painful.  I was hot, tearing, couldn’t talk above a whisper.  Felt like I was either going to bolt or vomit or both.  The group encouraged me to talk about what I was feeling despite the fact that I didn’t want to, and I did, so it ended up being very good for me.  Very difficult, but good overall.  That’s one of the essential things I’m learning from group…to simply say what I need to say.  I listen to that John Mayer song “Say” a lot.  It is sort of my little mantra.

For those of you struggling with mental health issues, and I think most of us are if we were to be honest with ourselves, don’t be afraid to push yourself into the painful parts of therapy.  There will be good that comes out of it.  Being in a place where I can admit my fears openly and can admit my anxieties without fear of rejection is huge.

Take care of one another.

~AA

Orgasms

Alright, it’s time to talk about something really important: orgasms.  I always forget how therapeutic orgasms are!  And am so appreciative every time I realize it after.  Ladies, and men, it is time to remember to take a moment to tend to your physical needs!  I’m fortunate enough to have been masturbating since I was 12 years old.  It happened accidentally, but once I figured it out, I kept on going.  Unfortunately, there are too many women who are ashamed of masturbation and don’t really know how to tend to their body.

Well, the good news is that it is never too late to get started!  And your body and MIND will thank you for the effort.  I’m telling you!  Such clarity and less stress after orgasm.  Sure, if you have someone to have sex with, that’s great… but unless you really understand how your erotic body works, you are only getting part of the pleasure you deserve.  The orgasms I have during sex now pale in comparison to what they once were.  My entire body is on fire, I cannot be touched because my entire body has been rocked…. if you understand the sexual needs of your body, you too can have this kind of experience.  I never want to “cuddle” after sex (which some people think is strange), but it is because I’m so sensitive that it feels as if my skin might shred apart if I’m touched.  It is AMAZING!  And I have an orgasm through intercourse regularly.

How to get started masturbating (for women):  If you’re a beginner to masturbation, I recommend ordering from a discrete website like Adam & Eve.  It is completely ambiguous wrapping and nothing indicates what is inside.  And start out with something not so terrifying like a bullet vibrator.  I can personally speak to the quality of this one.  Quite, effective, easy to use.  I use it alone and add it to other things.

Regardless of whether or not the vibrator is flexible or firm, make sure it vibrates.  This simply makes it easier on you so that you can really learn to get comfortable with masturbation.  And unless you are ready for the more anatomically correct or adventurous vibrators, stay with something more traditional like a wand.  Although I have to say that the more anatomically correct vibrators are very fun and not that intimidating in person.  Again, just make sure they vibrate and you are not simply ordering a dildo.

If your feeling a little more adventurous, you can never go wrong with a Rabbit Vibrator.  This is my personal favorite…. clitoral and vaginal stimulation.

I would very much recommend using lubricant when you first start using vibrators.  You won’t have to use it forever if you don’t want to, but it does make it fun and easy until you get used to it.  I have tried pretty much all lubrication out there and highly recommend Astroglide.  The K-Y brands have great marketing, but pale in comparison to Astroglide.  You can never go wrong with it.  It only takes a little and lasts a long time during sex.  You can also purchase this at your local pharmacy or Wal-Mart/Target for quite a bit less, but if you’re going for discrete Adam and Eve will help you out.

Once you decide the type of vibrator you are looking for, make sure you are checking the “width” of the vibrator since there can be quite a range.  The “width” is the circumference of the vibrator.  For beginners, 1″ would be good.

Another way that you can begin getting comfortable with masturbating is by using a hand-held massaging shower head.  Yep!  That’s right!  A hand-held massaging shower head.  I have two shower heads in my shower, one of which can be a hand-held.  Sit back, relax and enjoy.

This may seem ridiculous, but orgasms really do help me feel better and less stressed.  I highly recommend including it in your day or week as needed!

~AA

Imago

According to Imago therapy, there are 3 stages in a romantic relationship:

  1. The Enchantment Stage
  2. The Power Struggle
  3. Real Love

The therapist that I’ve been seeing is an Imago therapist and so is his wife.  I’ve read the books they’ve recommended and have been participating in group and individual therapy; all of this has been extremely helpful to me and I’m hopeful that it will be helpful when J returns.

I think, and according to my therapist, J and I are in a real power struggle right now.  There are so many things that have transpired and we are actually on different pages right now because I’ve been going to therapy while he’s been out of the country for the last few months.  And very significantly, I have changed the relationship dynamics by telling him that I want a divorce.  So, even talking on the phone is difficult b/c we aren’t on the same page in terms of learning how to communicate with one another.  And he’s not very happy about my independence and boundaries.

Yesterday he called and we got into a bit of a heated discussion about some things.  This actually started on Sunday when we were on the phone he told me that I had disappointed him because he felt that I had made a promise to him before he left that I was not keeping (it had to do with me having drinks with friends while he was gone and I simply didn’t remember the conversation).  Then he told me that he was suspicious about me in regard to whether or not I’m seeing someone here.  This, unfortunately, is not a new accusation.  For as long as I can remember, he’s always been accusatory in this sense.  He’d say, “it isn’t that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust other people”.  And whenever I would try to communicate to him how I feel that something is wrong, he’d say “are you seeing someone else?”  It gets old after a while.  And this weekend he was mad at me because he asked me to put “whatsapp” on my phone so that we could text one another, but I didn’t text him on Saturday night when I was out with my friends.  I’d like to point out that 1) he doesn’t text me in general even when we are on the same continent and I’ve asked for more daily communication like this and 2) he hasn’t texted me using that app since Saturday.  So, I’m postulating (and suspected this) that he only wanted me to have that app so that he could “text” me the night that I went out with friends while presenting it under the guise that he wanted to stay more in touch with me.  I find this to be very manipulative behavior.

Anyway, I chalk this up to a power struggle.  He wants more control and he has said as much…recently.  When I first told him I wanted a divorce, I told him I couldn’t be around him because he has too much influence over me.  He said, “well, maybe that is a good thing.”  I’m trying to follow my therapist’s advice and just let it go for now.  I have concerns about his drinking there, but there is no need to get into fights when he’s in Germany, I’m here, and our relationship is in a very delicate state.  But I have been warned by my therapist that the power struggle will probably get worse before it gets better.  I just need to ensure that I don’t lose myself  in the process.  I’m very protective of my fragile state right now and do fear his return because of that.

~AA