Sometimes, progress looks like breaking down.
So, this is my 100th post for this blog. I had thought about sharing fun posts from the past, but instead, I’m going to stick with being open and honest. I warn you that this post is long and emotionally raw…this is me and this is where I am today.
Last night in therapy, I was actually able to breakdown and cry for the first time in months. I’ve mentioned before that I have the ability to appear strong and stoic. With my friends and family, I haven’t shed a tear in person since all of this happened…my eyes have watered, but not a single tear escapes. I don’t typically cry easily, but I’ve also never had a problem crying before. I cried a lot during the last few years in my relationship with Tom (both in front of him and not) and also for the first couple of months after the breakup, but only when he would come over to get his stuff. Then, suddenly, I just stopped and couldn’t cry anymore. I still hurt like crazy, but no longer had a way to release it.
I told my therapist that I have been experiencing some rather painful heartbreak again over the last week. She caught me off guard by asking me how I knew exactly what it was that I was feeling and to describe it. (Umm, because it hurts?) But, I took a moment and thought about it. It physically feels like my heart is breaking. It’s how I felt right before I started telling her about everything that was going on. She asked if I thought it was also loneliness. Yes, I do. But, it’s also the same type of really intense pain I get when I’m holding on to too much, like when I’m holding back what I’m feeling because I’m trying to not be a burden on someone. It’s all of that type of pain.
I told her about the concert, which I had written about in my last post, about how I couldn’t feel anything except disappointment. She asked if there is anything I could think of that I want to do that would make me feel good. I told her, “No, not at the moment.” I’ve gotten into a light exercising routine recently and that isn’t even helping me feel better. Her next suggestion was to try walking into a room and pretending to be happy to see if it forces a change in your mental state? Seriously?! Every damn day, I smile at everyone I meet, and it’s not like I walk into meetings as if the world is going to end. No one knows what I’m going through at work. My parents don’t even know how bad I feel. And, no, faking it does not help improve my mood. This is how I stuffed things down for so long.
I have also still been experiencing bouts of moderate to severe anxiety. One time this week, it was triggered by Tom’s step-sister texting me. We’ve always gotten along. She was being nice, and she’s very sorry for what happened. Unfortunately, she will always be tied to memories with Tom. And, I guess sometimes it is harder to talk about him. Another time within the last week, it was triggered by revisiting some old emails to a dear friend where I had just started going into detail about what happened. Apparently, I can no longer look at what happened objectively like I have been doing this entire time. Additionally, I seem to be experiencing general anxiety around the same time every evening somewhere between 6pm-9pm. The meds I have are as needed, so I typically take 1-2 half tablets a day…assuming I don’t stubbornly decide to not take anything.
Then, I decided to bring up the new video game that I am trying to use as a distraction. It’s called God of War on PS4, and it has a good, emotionally involved storyline. Now, I won’t go into all the details of the game because I don’t know how many of you are gamers, but I do want to mention something that I noticed. My mind treats everything like a logical puzzle to solve, as such, you just need the right pieces to see the big picture or to find the right keys that fit into the correct locks (like an escape room). So, why would a video game be any different? Typically, in these role playing games, you have a map. When you first start out, the map is covered in fog or obscured in some way. All you know is where you are. As you meet other characters, you are given advice, items/tools that will help you, and hopefully a direction. So, you head off and slowly the map opens up as you meet new characters, take on more tasks, and finish side quests as part of a bigger main adventure. As you reference your map, you see where you’ve been, you know where you are, and you are more comfortable with the direction in which you’re going because of the choices you’ve made. I told my therapist that I am stuck where the map is covered in damn fog – I don’t have pieces or keys or a direction to go in! I have ideas and thoughts about what to do and what to plan, but I feel like everything I try isn’t working and I have no idea what to do about it.
Therapist: Yes, you do. I’ve told you we can do accelerated resolution therapy, EMDR, or a couple of other exposure therapies. That’s how we treat PTSD. (At this point, I’m thinking – yes, and I finally agreed to try those even though I have my reservations…but I have no idea what you’re waiting on.)
She went on to describe a situation where someone wasn’t able to process the grief of losing her first husband and it was now affecting her current marriage, but with EMDR, she was able to process and finally move forward. Then, she mentioned another situation where someone lost a child after a horrible accident while they were on the way to the hospital in a helicopter.
Therapist: Why do you think this mom wouldn’t want to try to treat her PTSD?
Me, I know this answer very well: Fear. She’s afraid to feel. She’s afraid to experience the loss of her son all over again. She’s afraid to forget. Fear. I realized through some help from friends a couple of months ago that fear has too much control over me.
Therapist: Do you know when people are finally ready to try something different?
Therapist: When it finally affects every part of their life – home, work, when they are with friends, and when they’re alone..
Me: Well, hell, I’m at that point…been there for a while.
Me: I wish I could just allow myself to be angry at Tom. I always told him I didn’t want to be angry with him, so it’s something I always tried to push down.
Therapist: Why do you think being angry would help?
Me: Because it helped me get over my first long-term, long-distance boyfriend. I was angry with him for being more and more disrespectful, for not choosing to move closer for a couple of years (he stopped one class and finishing his thesis shy of graduating grad school), and for not considering what I wanted out of life. There were other factors that made me see I did not need to put up with him, so I ended it. Hah, then I met Tom two years later, and we see where the hell I am now.
Therapist: So, you said that you would cry and get angry with Tom whenever he would finally get home…
Me: Yes…he would pull up under the tree in the front yard so my parents wouldn’t know when he was coming or going. (They can see my driveway from their house.) He would walk up to the door, and I was always there to meet him. By the time he would finally walk in the door, I was relieved that he was alive and not in jail. Sometimes, I could patiently wait on him to tell me what happened. Sometimes, I would be crying and yelling at him. He knew what was going on with me. He watched me change from trusting him to being in so much pain, fear, anxiety, and sadness. There were times when I wanted to flip the latch on the door and not let him in.
Therapist: You really have won the award for being the most enabling person in the world. (I nod in complete agreement to this statement.) You had a choice when he finally would come home. What were your choices?
Me: I could do what I did and let him in, or flip the latch and kick him out.
Therapist: Why didn’t you flip the latch?
Me, Shit. I do not want to admit this answer aloud. (eyes start watering): Because…(starts crying)…because I knew he wouldn’t stay. He wouldn’t choose me. I knew that then.
(Pause…after all, I hadn’t cried in front of her before…)
Therapist: What would you have said to a friend if she called you and just told you what you told me?
Me, I know this answer too…because…this is what I’ve been holding out hope for. (Please note: I am not trying to put pressure on or make anyone feel bad. Everyone who has been there to support me through this has done everything they can, and I fully appreciate everything you guys can do.): I would tell her, “Honey, hold on. I’m on my way over.” (crying harder) I’d tell her that you are not alone, and you do not have to do this alone. I’ve got you. I am right here.
Therapist: But, what if she tells you it’s not you that she wants.
Me: I’m there as one friend supporting another. And…this is what I want, what I need… People don’t want to feel so alone. They want to know and feel that someone is there. To have someone there while I feel this. (So, I don’t have to be strong for once.) I knew, on some level, Tom wasn’t going to come back to me. I…was so angry at his dad for dying. (more crying)
Therapist: That event is probably what started it, but Tom continued to use drugs and then it altered his thinking so much that he is not who he was before.
Me: Yes, but he had a choice before it completely took control.
Therapist: You’re right. He did have a choice, but he chose drugs. You knew about his history and a bit of his family history. Why didn’t you just walk away from him in the beginning?
Me: Because he wasn’t entirely truthful about how much drug use was in his history. But, besides that, I fell in love with what he did and who I thought he was. Our first date, we didn’t even eat. We talked so much. We spent every afternoon together, then we slept over on weekends. He would make me lunch, and we would eat at his jobsite. (crying again) I never had to ask where he was or who he was talking to because he told me. We were open about everything. He knew when I was upset. He could just tell if I was holding something back. (crying even harder) I had been more honest with him than I had with anyone in my entire life. He could hug me, and I felt loved and safe. And, he just threw me out with the trash.
At this point, the hour was up, and we needed to leave. She looked at me as we walked each other out, “well, you can’t say you haven’t cried in a while anymore.” I smiled shyly, feeling just a little lighter, “I guess you’re right there.”
As I finish typing this up, my anxiety is most definitely still present. I know I’m still a long way from completely moving on, but I think this was a breakthrough step in my book. When I tweeted about last night’s therapy sessions, I didn’t expect it to even be noticed let alone receive the likes and replies. I am truly touched by the support I’ve been receiving. Thank you all so much…as someone whose self-worth has taken a severe hit, it really means the world to me. ❤️
Posted on February 21, 2020, in Acceptance, Addiction, Anxiety, Communication, Depression, Grief, Guilt, Life, PTSD, Vulnerability and tagged Acceptance, Addiction, Anxiety, Denial, Depression, Grief, Guilt, Life, PTSD, Release, Vulnerability. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.