One year ago, Tom left home to run an errand. He was supposedly going to pick up a small boat. He said it was sitting on a trailer that had a bad tire, so it might take a few hours. I told him to pick up some fix-a-flat and to please call me and let me know how it was going. By 9:30pm, we had talked three times. He was still having trouble with the trailer and was planning on turning around, leaving the boat, and heading home. He said that he would take a few minutes because he misplaced something, but he was heading home.
By 10:30pm, he still wasn’t home. I called him, but he was no longer answering. This wasn’t the first time he had done this. We had Life 360 on our phones, so I could see where he was. I finally had enough. I texted him, “If you don’t call me, I will head out there.” In order to do this, I had to borrow my dad’s vehicle because Tom was in my Tahoe. Why? Because he had wrecked his truck three months before and I was in the process of buying myself a new vehicle. Of course, he didn’t call or text me back. I didn’t trust the people where he was, so I called his mom and asked her to go with me. She agreed. I borrowed the van from my dad, picked up his mom, and drove 20 mins to where he was. As I pulled up, he was walking toward the Tahoe to get his phone. Apparently, he had decided he wanted to get high with the people he was hanging out with.
Me: Why didn’t you call me or answer your phone?
Tom: (I don’t remember his answer…probably something like I didn’t want to argue or you knew where I was.)
Me: Please follow me home. I can still “fix” this. I’ll just tell my parents that you were working late (they live next door to me).
Well, that pissed him off, after all, why should he have to answer to anyone?
Tom: Stop making a scene, go home, and I’ll be home in a couple of hours.
Me: No, follow me home or I’ll follow you home.
Tom: No, I will be home in a couple of hours.
Me: I’m not okay with this. You need to make up your mind. It’s me or all of this (gesturing at the house where he was getting high and the people that were somewhere around).
Tom: All of this.
Me: Then, I guess you need to move out…
Tom: If that’s what you want.
Me: Are you going to be home in time to take me to work in the morning? (He had been taking me to work and picking me up.)
Tom: Yes, I’ll be there in a couple of hours.
I think we talked on the phone around 1am. He said that he would be back soon. At this point, I’m still thinking I might be able to fix this if he does make it back in time…but I knew he wouldn’t be there to take me to work.
I called him at 6am. No answer. His phone was dead. I called at 6:30. Nothing. By 6:40am, I called my dad, “Can you take me to work?”
Tom called at 6:55am: I’m on my way.
Me: (sarcasm) Good. I’m on my way to work. Are you going to pick me up from work? We need to talk.
Tom: Yes, I’ll be there.
I got through the day. No idea how. I just did. He picked me up, and we headed to the house. We talked in the kitchen. I told him I couldn’t do this anymore. He decided that he would leave that night. I helped him pack a suitcase, and he left.
Over the next several months, a local friend and I packed his stuff that was all over the house into boxes. He would show up basically whenever the hell he felt like it. He wouldn’t show up when he said he would, he would show up without calling, or he would bring someone with him without telling me. He had stuff all over my property…in the house, in the sheds, and just outside in the open. I let him have access to my Walmart Pay to buy food…because I’m a soft-hearted idiot. I moved my deadline several times from September to October to finally December 31st. In September, I cut him off from Walmart Pay and had to change my credit card because suddenly I no longer had access to some of the bills I was covering for him (cellphone and car insurance).
I saw him on Christmas Day. I helped pack a full trailer load. He was planning on coming back one more time, then whatever was left I would get rid of. On Dec. 28th, he was arrested at the abandoned property next door for allegedly trying to break into the house and steal copper. His new fiancé begged me to help, but I wouldn’t. She apparently got him out on New Year’s Eve.
He has called a few times since then…mostly trying to find out if tax checks have arrived for him. I’ve now told him at least three times to fill out a change of address form. Two weeks ago, he told me that he had changed the address on his license and that he was heading directly to the post office. On Tuesday, a check arrives. He lied to me. Again. I have a choice. I could put “return to sender” on it or I could either contact him or wait for him to call me and give it to him. He has a fiancé and is taking care of her two little girls. Assuming this is the stimulus check…that’s $1,200 dollars. I should not have to make this choice. This is not my responsibility. So, what am I going to do? I was going to talk to my therapist this evening, but that got postponed to tomorrow. I guess I’m probably going to wait for him to call or try to contact him. Why? Because I’m incapable of choosing my well-being over someone else’s. For all those who think I’m this strong, intelligent woman, I’m sorry to disappoint you…I think we might have finally located her, but we still haven’t completely pulled her out of the rubble yet.
Tom ran all over my boundaries for years. He knew what they were; he just didn’t care. I am still dealing with the fallout from the emotional abuse and from being in a constant high state of anxiety. I have been grieving for a while. I lost the man I fell in love with to drugs years ago. I finally had to give up and physically let him go a year ago. Through all of this, I also lost myself. I gave so much of me to this man that there was nothing left. My confidence, strength, love, self-worth, vulnerabilities, and insecurities – everything went into this relationship and I did everything I could to save it.
I don’t love him anymore. I don’t regret telling him to leave. What I do regret is losing me. I am still so angry at myself for letting it go so far, for enabling, for allowing myself to be so vulnerable, for giving him all of me. If given the choice, I would not willingly put myself through this again. However, if living through this was the only way that I would have been able to meet the support group I have today, then I wouldn’t hesitate. While I was still struggling in the depth of my despair, friends (old and new) have opened their hearts to me and are still helping me put the pieces back together. You guys know who you are, but I have to name a few.
Erica– you have literally been there every day since day one. You’ve seen me at my worst and have never turned your back on me. I will forever be grateful for the friendship we have. You have given me so much love, strength, and support through my darkest moments. Holding my hand in spirit, reminding me to breathe, and telling me that I will be okay. I don’t know what I would have done without you, SIS.
Dotty – you and your hubby are the first spankos I’ve met in person. I am so grateful for your friendship, patience, and support you both have given me. You guys are amazing, and I am so excited and looking forward to being able to meet up again. Thank you for helping me make new memories.
Lily, Zack, Prux, and Alex – you guys have been so caring and supportive over the last few months. I appreciate all of you so much. I can’t wait to meet up one of these days.
My local friends – Thank you guys for helping me over the last year. You guys have listened to me repeat myself so many damn times. I know that couldn’t have been easy. Thank you so much for being there.
To those I haven’t mentioned – I see you and know you’re there. Your support, comments, and messages mean the world to me. Thank you all!
I love all of you so much and appreciate everything each of you has done to make my journey to finding my way back and forward just a little bit easier, just a little bit brighter.
You’re not afraid of emotions;
you’re afraid of feeling.
You’re not afraid of life;
you’re afraid of living.
You’re not afraid of death;
you’re afraid of dying.
You’re not afraid of pain;
you’re afraid of being broken.
You’re not afraid to be happy;
you’re afraid of losing everything.
You’re not afraid of helping people;
you’re afraid of being used.
You’re not afraid of being alone;
you’re afraid of getting lost in your thoughts and feelings.
You’re not afraid of giving up control;
you’re afraid of losing control.
You’re not afraid of putting your heart out there;
you’re afraid of trusting the wrong people.
You’re not afraid of being vulnerable;
you’re afraid of being vulnerable around those who don’t care what that means.
You’re not afraid of the memories;
you’re afraid of reliving the past.
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. ❤️
In the past, if anyone asked me how things were going, I always tried to sugarcoat or gloss over the negative stuff to protect Tom. I didn’t want to worry people, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I always hoped that he would come back to me and together we could fix things. I was also in denial.
To this day, I’ve always felt some degree of denial. Even when I first started reaching out to a couple of friends about what had been going on, I still felt that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Their responses and encouragement to tell my therapist what happened very slowly started to open my eyes – none of what I went through, what I had been living with, or what I was dealing with was normal or remotely okay. Up until that point, I was only feeling the direct impact of Tom’s actions, particularly when he wouldn’t answer his phone or would come home really late (after midnight or sometime the next day). Everything else (stupidly) didn’t matter to me…including his drug use, the money he was spending, and the emotional turmoil he was constantly putting me through.
When I finally started opening up, I was never actually able to breakdown and cry. My eyes have watered, but I never felt a release or even allowed myself to really feel everything. There was relief that I could talk about things – that I was no longer keeping everything to myself, but there was still a lot of denial, numbness, heartbreak, and lack of being at peace. There is a lot of stuff I still haven’t fully processed – complicated grief, anger, fear, more pain than I care to admit, etc.
In addition to being in denial, I also felt very dissociated from events. I could describe every situation with very little emotion – in some dark way, I could even joke about a lot of it, like “can you even believe that happened?” Some things might be more of a struggle verbalize, but I’ve still managed to keep my emotions in check.
Things that have been harder to talk about were/are
- feeling like I lost the part of me that finds peace and release in being spanked and taken care of,
- feeling like all I did still wasn’t enough when all I wanted was stability, consistency, and a little attention from the man I loved and thought loved me,
- and begging him to stop doing the things that were tearing me apart (these conversations, I remember vividly).
- It’s also really damn difficult to talk about those moments in the middle of the night when I woke up and he wasn’t there…when anxiety and panic were my only company.
Every time I talk about any of this…I feel like I’m talking about someone else. That person over there went through this – I just watched. Which in some gut-wrenching way makes me feel even more powerless and heartbreakingly guilty because I stood by and did nothing. This dissociation has allowed me to be mostly in control of my emotions and reactions and pretend like nothing is still bothering me.
It’s very difficult to compare situations with others when the reasons that cause PTSD can be so different. For instance, I did not experience sexual abuse, yet I can’t deny that I identify so much with the woman in the following article.
Because I did not experience the same type of abuse, I feel that my experiences were somehow “less than,” and therefore, I shouldn’t feel as bad as she does. But, when the woman in the article describes how she had been dealing with everything, it resonates with me on so many levels, even to this day.
Now, if I compare my situation to the next article which talks about an addicted partner, I feel like my experience was far more severe and involved. I have quite a bit more to deal with because it wasn’t only that he was using drugs.
I know that I shouldn’t be comparing situations at all, but I am too filled with my own self-doubt, self-invalidation, and avoidant coping mechanisms. Sometimes, I don’t even trust my own feelings, and I project that distrust by thinking others won’t care or believe me either. My friends have had to call me out and remind me of what the hell I went through for me to even pause in my self-sabotaging cycle. I had to and still have to be reminded that I need to feel and it is okay to feel, but I’m still too wound up, overwhelmed, and afraid to breakdown that wall.
This next link that I came across is a rather long slideshow for those who are interested. It hits on so many things I can relate to. It is interesting that an addict can have so many narcissistic tendencies – they are really all about themselves when it comes to the drugs and their next fix.
Tom would do all of those emotionally abusive things when we were together, and he was very passive aggressive. He is finally no longer coming around to my house or communicating with me, but the emotional damage runs deep. I haven’t been able to breakout of doing the same emotionally abusive things to myself.
Last week in therapy, we decided to push trying something different to this week. Instead, we talked. How is that different from every other week, you might ask. Well, I still tend to be less emotional and more logical when I talk to people in person. But, this time was different. I was able to talk as if I was writing to her in an email, which is where I’ve always had an easier time expressing myself. I was able to be more open, and we finally talked more about PTSD.
I told her about a recent television episode of 9-1-1 where all of the first responders were in therapy trying to talk about what they were experiencing. They were all dealing or not dealing with various things associated with PTSD. I told her that I could agree with something each one of them said when they were expressing themselves and talking about what they were going through. She said that like those characters, I am going to have to move through and release those emotions. I can’t/don’t know how to do that. I said, “[my therapist’s name], I’m too afraid to feel any of those emotions. I don’t want to do that at work, with my parents, or by myself. I only feel safe trying to do that right here.” She replied, “Well then, we need to get you over there in that chair and start feeling.” I eyeballed the totally normal looking but very exposed office chair and nodded nervously. I think that’s when I added, “I hate how easy it is for me to lie and say I’m okay when I am not okay.”
Guess we’re going to try to feel feelings this week…in that chair…where I can’t sink into the couch or hide behind a pillow. Ugh.