Using My Pain To Encourage My Wife’s Joy

While I was studying with my son yesterday, my wife went to meet a group of strong, independent women. The women who go keep a journal of their dreams and they share them and discuss them with each other, as well as give mutual support. I don’t mind my wife going out and doing things without me. I don’t even mind when she’s met men for meetings and networking purposes. So long as the time and the meetings don’t interfere with our marriage or the care of our child, I think it’s a good thing that my partner spends time around others who are strong, independent and supportive.

In a previous entry, I wrote about the difficulty my partner and I had a few years ago. My issue is that some of those people were only concerned with their own self interest and were very negative. The gossip and talk was negative, because they were (are) very negative disparaging people. I had a problem with this because that’s what my parents and their family are like. That kind of thing pulls a lot of triggers for me. But their attempts to break up my partners and my relationship and marriage, was so that my wife would continue to focus her life on them. My wife is a caring, giving person, but this means she didn’t even have a life of her own – everything revolved around these other, more negative people.

After I reached a breaking point, she was able to set boundaries with these negative people…she actually doesn’t have contact with them anymore. But she also started meeting these other positive, strong, independent, enthusiastic women. The difference is that most of them have just as big of a heart and a gift for empathy and compassion as she does. I don’t get along with all of them, but then again, I don’t have to. They are dynamic, positive women who love and support her as much as she loves and supports them. They all understand and respect our marriage, even though not all of them get along with me or understand me. But then again, they don’t have to. They are a support system and inspiration for my wife and it makes me very happy that she’s found and spends time with them all.

I was glad she went yesterday. When she came home, she was glowing and very excited. She sat with me and we talked for an hour or so. At times, she seemed lost, almost somewhere else, almost rapturous. She told me about her dreams and the insights that these other women had about them. She seemed refreshed and renewed. She seemed empowered, energized, with a passion for taking on the rest of her life. I was very happy for her.

My big struggle yesterday wasn’t anxiety so much as the steady emotional pain which is such a hallmark of my CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder). There are only a very few times, fleeting moments really, when I ever experience any relief from them. I do what I can, but CPTSD isn’t something you can just turn off or ignore. It’s always there. It’s a wound (or wounds) which will never heal. I feel like Frodo at the end of “Lord Of The Rings.” There was a price for carrying and destroying the ring of Sauron and it effected him to the end of his days.

Despite this, I do live in the world. I’m happy to see my partners excitement and feel privileged to share it with her. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to have a support system of others who encourage and make one feel accepted, loved and uplifted. I do what I can in this way for my wife. I’m happy to see she’s also found this in the company of others. I don’t want my pain to further infect the world. There’s already too much of that. If I can’t be free from my troubles and pains, I can see and vicariously experience the joys and excitement of others. If I still feel my pain, I understand the impact it can have on others. I don’t want anyone to experience such emotional pain. If there is anything I can do to prevent or ease the pain of others, then perhaps that is the meaning of what I’ve gone through myself. If I can’t find peace for myself, then perhaps I can help others to find it.

If that is the purpose of my life, I gladly accept it.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

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Day 2, Round 2: Helping My Son By Fighting Myself

I guess anxiety has become a theme with me the past few days. As a friend has recently commented, it’s a daily struggle, not something to be casually ignored or tossed aside. This is very true and I hope I didn’t give the impression it’s easily dealt with.

One example for me is working with my son this weekend in preparation for his exams this week. He’s struggling with pre-calculus and it’s been more than 30 years since I cracked open a mathematics text book. Not only that, but I never reached the precalc level myself and the video’s we’re watching make absolutely no sense to me. So I’m watching him struggle and am unable to help. Because school was so stressful for me, it’s pulling a lot of triggers and invoking a lot of negative thoughts / emotions and bad memories. When most of the previous night I was up experiencing the things I did, at school I was exhausted, emotionally drained (yet still terrified), and unable to think clearly. “Failure” was a theme reinforced by my parents (and their families).

I did what I could to hold it together. But by the end of the day I was rather frayed. When my poor wife came home around dinner time, I started to fall into a pattern of sniping and snapping at her. This, of course, is unacceptable, but in being mindful I was aware of the path I was heading down. By this time, there was no controlling or dissipating the anxiety. Struggling with it all day, it was starting to express itself as anger.

Well, even though it was still early, I knew it was time to go to bed. I apologized to my wife for my barking at my wife when she had walked in and explained what was going on within. I’m fortunate that my partner is very supportive. She doesn’t completely understand the why’s of it all, but one of the great things about her is that she doesn’t feel the need to. Love has it’s own reasons which override all else. So I shuffled into the kitchen to get some juice, shuffled back to her and gave her a kiss and then went to bed.

Once upstairs, I lay in the dark seething and almost shaking with worries and anxieties about all the regular things I usually do. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep if this continued and I know how skilled I am at getting myself worked up even more. I breathed deeply and listened to one of the local sports stations. Thoughts and emotions continue to come in waves. But as time went on and I focused my attention on the discussions of the past football season, those waves slowly became less powerful and after some time I was able to drift off to sleep.

Of course, a few hours later, I woke up. This is an issue with my Cortisol levels (Adrenal hormones) and there isn’t much I can do about it. Trouble is that when I can’t fall back asleep, the anxiety (and other negative thoughts and emotions) usually kicks in. Again, I can only do the best that I can with what I have to work with. I tried to refocus on calm, peaceful things as best as I could and then was able to go back to sleep around 5:30 or so.

Today, it all starts again and my son will come down soon to start studying. Regardless of how I feel, I need to be there for him today. I need to keep at least the appearance of anxiety and painful emotions in check. This is not only possible, but just because success isn’t guaranteed, that doesn’t mean I should just give up and not try. If I need to take a break, I will. If I have to stuff it all, I will. If I have to find some other way of supporting him, I will. He knows that I struggle, but he also sees and is learning by my example how to challenge difficult internal things. So I suppose he’s learning more than math today.

I may not succeed, but I’m going to give it my all. I’m certainly not going to quit.

An interesting quote came to mind just now:

“It’s better to fight for something than live for nothing.” – George S. Patton

Wish me luck today. I’m going to need it!

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

 

(P.S. This clip just came to mind. I may well lose. I may well lose spectacularly. But all I want is to go the distance.)

Mutual Misunderstandings And Wounds…But Also Devotion And Love

I feel better than I did when I made my last entry. Writing helps. Also, it’s sunny and 75 degrees today (in February!). But I thing which really helps is my wife.

As always, when I pick my son up, he calls my wife. As they were talking, I thought about how supportive she’s been of my trying to find my way and resolve everything. When it was my turn to talk, she wanted to know if I was okay and if I’d made any progress (with my internal struggles) from the morning. While she can be very single minded at times and her thinking can wander, she’s been completely devoted to me and very supportive.

It hasn’t always been easy. Part of the issues back in 2014 was the relationships she had with her family and some of her friends. There was a tension and many hurts – some of which I’m still not over. Maintaining relationships with one’s own family and friends are important in a marriage. I have no difficulty with this. But when it begins to interfere with that marriage, something needs to change. If it’s not workable, then separation may be needed. Otherwise, some compromise needs to be reached which both partners can be happy with. For many years, prior to 2014, there were many things we struggled with, but the most difficult was the intrusion of her family and friends. The core issue was that my wife is a very loving and loyal person. Sometimes in the past, she spread herself too thin and tried to rely on me to help. I didn’t mind at first, but many of these other people viewed me as an outsider, someone who was taking the time my wife was spending away from them. I always tried to live and relate to everyone with the adage that they weren’t losing a daughter or friend, but gaining the love and support of someone who had as big a heart as she does. Nope, they wanted exclusive rights on her time and attention. To be honest, I don’t believe they wanted her to be involved with anyone.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but this is the jist of it.

In the end, it got pretty hairy. I have issues with interpersonal relationships to begin with. Being reviled and humiliated when I was trying very hard to get along and play nice, made things very uncomfortable and painful for me. Everything reached a crescendo in 2014. I was done. Something happened which invoked a feeling of betrayal and rage which I couldn’t allow to pass. I had finally reached my limit. It was a very difficult time for the both of us and we began to argue about all the things of the past 20 years which had nothing to do with anything but the expression of our own hurts and anger.

My wife still has a full, loving relationship with her family…and many (but not all) of her old friends. But there were boundaries that had been crossed once too often and too maliciously. It was time to readjust those boundaries to more healthy positions. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to readjust.

These adjustments haven’t come without difficulty. There are hurts on both sides and one of the worst of what I inflict is, unfortunately, a “talent” I picked up from my mother and her family. The old saying that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a flat out lie. I grew up with the harm that words can do and again, unfortunately, became highly skilled in the use of malicious speech. The vast majority of the time, I don’t make use of it. But when I feel cornered or become enraged I have found it to be a very effective weapon. There are things I’ve said to my wife which I will carry with me for the rest of my days. There are things I’ve said which I will never forgive myself for and spend the rest of my life trying to make up for. I have insight and a talent for reading people…so I know exactly where to thrust that verbal blade where it will cause the most damage and be the hardest to heal. Unfortunately, as a child, I learned from the best.

But I mention all this to say that, despite all of this and much more that we’ve struggled with, we’ve been able to change and adjust so that we can meet each other where they are. As I’ve written before, we support each other for the benefit of both…and we sacrifice all for the sake of our child.

It’s been a challenging road and we both are still a bit tenuous with each other as we try to find a new, more supportive and healthy, way to live together and relate to each other. In the midst of our own personal struggles and pains, we reached out to each other. When faced with mutual misunderstandings and wounds, we chose to change in a way which allows us to heal each other. It takes two. One person can’t make a relationship work. It takes both being dedicated and willing to sacrifice for the other which makes relationships and marriage work.

I’m still trying to heal from horrors that my partner can’t even imagine. We’re both trying to find a way to bring out the best in each other and be that solitary person that can always be depended on. Yes, I’m hurt. Yes, my partner is hurt. Yes, our travels have caused some discomfort for all of us (my son included). But we are completely devoted and dedicated to each other.

…that is something I never had in my life, but the only thing I’ve ever wanted.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

 

(P.S. Here is a song I send to my wife when I’m sometimes struck with the love I have for her: Chris Young, “The Man I Want To Be”

I also just thought, relationships and marriage aren’t something which just happens. It’s definitely not infatuation or the “warm fuzzies.” It takes work – a lot of work – and a daily renewal of mutual love and dedication to each other. My partner and I choose to remarry every morning we wake up.)