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

 

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

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

Broken

I feel like there are so many parts of me that are broken and that, perhaps, they may never heal.  I am hopeful that they will.  That I will be stronger from all of  this.  This is more difficult than I ever thought imaginable.  I could not imagine doing this if there were children in the picture.  I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes, but that is part of life, right?  Mistakes are part of what makes life worth living.  They teach us things.  They force us to expand our hearts, to expand our ability to forgive.  Probably the most difficult thing is to forgive ourselves for our imperfections.  I have so much compassion for others, but the person I have the most difficult time forgiving is myself.  Why is that?

There are so many conflicting emotions.  I’m longing, alone, hopeful, strong, wishing to hold onto the past, wishing to move forward.  I went to my counselor today.  It was helpful.  I so needed to speak to someone.  To help me continue to move forward when all I want to do is give up.

Thank God for music.  It so resonates with me.  It helps me process the emotions that I cannot vocalize or put into writing.  Right now the song that is really sticking with me is Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper.  Some may think it too “pop”, but she’s been through so much and completely gets the underlying point of the song.  I love it.  It inspires me.  Gives me hope.  I feel like a Phoenix, but my ashes are still burning.  I haven’t risen yet.

Destroyed

I have been destroyed.  This weekend was horrific.  The only positive thing is that I think I’ve hit bottom.  I like to think of myself as a strong person, but I’m weak, I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed, I’m destroyed.   I keep reminding myself of that saying, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves to annihilation over and over, can we find that within us that is indestructible.”  I’ll get through this eventually, but right now I’m barely keeping it together.

This weekend J came home.  He is on a work assignment in a different state.  I was too exhausted to put energy into finding a place to stay for the weekend, plus it is my home too.  I didn’t leave.  So we were there for the weekend from Friday through Sunday.  It was hard.  It was confusing.  Saturday I went out with some friends.  I’ve come to realize that I simply don’t need to have a drink at all during this period of time.  I thought a few drinks couldn’t hurt.  Boy was I wrong.

Soon, everything started just welling up in me.  I excused myself from my friends and told them I was tired and going home.  I went to my car and just broke down.  In an effort to get out of there, I was able to drive my car a whopping 30 feet to a parking lot across the street and proceeded to fall apart.  I was so destroyed.  I couldn’t drive.  All I wanted to do was to run my car into a median or a large pole in an effort to end my life.  I was stuck in downtown, crying and completely losing it.  I didn’t know what to do, so I called the suicide hotline.  Which, by the way, was not helpful at all!

The lady told me to stop crying.  Asked why I was upset.  I told her.  She said, “well, if you’re the one who wanted the divorce, why are you crying?”  I hung up on her.  Eventually I got enough of my shit together to start making the drive home, although I shouldn’t have been driving in my state.  I wasn’t drunk, I was simply at the beginning of a nervous breakdown.  I was completely disoriented.

I made it home with great difficulty.  Started what seemed like an endless walk to my home (where J was).  I could barely get myself to walk, much less climb stairs.  I had to take breaks on the way up to the 3rd floor.  It wasn’t pretty.  Sobbing, shoes and purse clung to my chest like a doll.  When I got into the apartment, J was on the couch.  I continued to just lose it.  Wailing.  That is what I was doing.  Wailing.  My soul was so ripped apart, there was nothing to do but give in.  It was horrific.  It was terrifying.

He hugged me and held me while I collapsed on the floor.  Eventually I told him I needed to get into the shower–I find it soothing to be in a shower when I feel really terrible.  I got in the shower, but it didn’t provide me with the relief I needed.  I got a razor blade from my bathroom drawer.  I was in so much pain and distress and it wouldn’t subside.  I was so done.  I wanted it to end.

I started to try.  To let my lifeblood run free.  I pushed the razor against my skin.  It hurt.  I wanted to do it so bad.  To get it over with.  I kept trying, kept not being able to press hard enough.  J came in and took it from me.  He got in the shower and simply held me while I cried and broke down further.  He got me out of the shower and put me in bed.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t do anything.  Eventually even the tears wouldn’t come.  He stayed with me all night.  I’m glad he was there.

Sunday was difficult.  Waking up and feeling completely empty, foggy.  I play on a soccer league and in a wind ensemble.  And I had practices for both on Sunday.  I went to soccer practice, but J is on my team.  He was there.  I was physically ill.  I left early, but he walked me to my car.  He had to go back to his work assignment, so we said goodbye at the car.  He tried to kiss me.  He told me to let him kiss me.  He started telling me that he wanted me to tell him there was hope for us.  I was dumbfounded.  After all that had transpired in 24 hours he thought it was a good idea to ask me for more (earlier in the day, he told me that “sex makes you feel better”–I think he was joking, but I wasn’t really in the mood).  I proceeded to break down again, got in my car and left.

My girlfriend B came over and we went to dinner.  I’m so grateful for her.  She has been my savior through this.  I told her everything.  It is so hard to reach out to others when you are suffering so horribly b/c you don’t want to burden them and you are ashamed of the things going through your mind.  I lover her so much.  I also emailed a bit with C on Sunday.  He is so accepting of me in my most horrible form.  I’m blessed to have two people who truly love and care for me no matter what.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.  My family loves me, but they aren’t helping me.  My mom is trying.  She’s amazing, but I haven’t talked to my dad in weeks.  My brother doesn’t really know how to help, but he checks in with me from time to time.

This morning is a little better.  I’m working, so that helps me move forward. I know it will be difficult when I’m back home and I can let my guard down, but I need to let myself feel the pain and to work through the pain.  I’ve taken a leave of absence from my soccer league and the band that I play with.  I cannot deal with any additional responsibility right now.  I just need to focus on getting healthy and refocused.

Be kind to one another.

~AA

New Year

Happy New Year!  It has been a rather interesting end to 2011, but I look forward to 2012.  I feel optimistic.  J and I met a few times for lunch over the last few days.  He is heading to a work assignment out of state today and will be there through mid-February.  He then will be in Europe until mid May.  It is sad.  I miss him in many regards.  Our meetings have been very amicable and I am grateful for this.

He met with a counselor who specializes in adult children of alcoholics.  I hope this will help him. He deserves such a beautiful life, but I couldn’t do it any more.  I know there are great things for him in his life as there are for me in mine.  This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.

And it has given me such perspective on who my true friends are.  B and her husband K have been amazing.  They have taken such good care of me and support me without judgement.  It is a wonder.  I’ve also been confiding in a new friend, M.  This has been very good for me.  My parents don’t really know what to do and my brother is trying to figure it out as well.  So, the fact that I have two people that I can rely on is just such a blessing.  I don’t know where I’d be without them.  They’ve consistently made time for me, listen to me, comfort me, give me perspective, and have helped me begin the healing process.

I’m so grateful for today.

~AA

Better

Today is a much better day than yesterday.  Yesterday was Christmas, as you know, but it was my first Christmas alone.  It was nice and lonely at the same time.  One of my friends Skyped with me for a bit, which was so nice.  I needed to see a friendly face and to be part of some Christmas celebration even if it was virtual.  B had me over for dinner.  It was so nice.  They sent me home with so much food that I don’t even know where to begin!

Yesterday I talked to J for a bit.  I’m pleased that things seem amicable at this point.  He keeps wanting me to reconsider, but I’ve told him that I just cannot.  There are many things he needs to work on and I am simply spent.  I’m a bit on alert b/c he has called my family and my best friend (B), but I understand why he did.  I just don’t want him making an effort to turn them into his tools to get me back.

When I spoke to my mom yesterday, it wasn’t very good.  I know this is a confusing time for them.  She said things like, “you know… it is difficult enough to find someone.”  Later that day, J said the same thing.  I want him to continue having support from my family and B as needed, but I don’t want it to be b/c he is trying to manipulate the situation via my friends and family.  The most poignant thing for me yesterday was the realization that even if my family disowned me for this decision (which I know they won’t), I would still make the decision.  This is my life.  Mine alone and I have to do what is in my best interest.

As B. Clewly Johnson so aptly stated,

Follow your instincts, your intuition. Don’t stay with people who, over time, grow apart from you. Move on. This means do what you think will make you feel okay – even if that makes others feel temporarily not okay.

Be inspired.

~AA