The “processing” process

My therapy session today looked again at some recurring themes in my life. Control, anxiety , low self esteem, poor boundaries, lack of self respect (drinking / abnormal eating patterns) .

Sober, I have made some quite significant progress in understanding how these things link together, in part how they originated and the healing process and self awareness is developing. My therapist tells me she believes I will not make similar mistakes again – that “processing”, becoming self aware, ‘knowing stuff’ is a kind of a one way street – once you know this stuff, you can’t ‘un-know’ it… and that a space where I learn more and shore up my self respect, will mean that if I am ever brave (or foolish) enough to enter the dating pool again, I will know what I good for me and what is not.

i don’t quite share her confidence yet, but as I have no intention of doing any such thing at present, I suppose that doesn’t matter. And yet I think about it. Angela asked me why? And I think it’s because. I am afraid I will never again love anyone as much as I did ex P. I do see, and believe, that what I loved was a mirage, the “too good to be true” charming, handsome, interesting person he presented as. The reality, which started to emerge after about 12 months, is that he is undermining, selfish, bullying, critical and dishonest. All that he presented to me initially was a facade behind which an anxious, insecure, narcissistic and aggressive person was lurking.

I remember the early days or our relationship;  a breathless whirl of adoration and excitement, how lucky and happy I felt, how I felt, I had finally, at 46, met “the one”. How we seemed to say and think the same things at the same moment, how pleasing and cherishing me seemed to be his first priority. And yet it was all SO wrong.

in the end he had chipped away at my already fragile self confidence, making comments about my appearance, my ‘crap’ son, my ‘shit business’ (which incidentally provided him with every penny he spent for years) , shouted at me for coughing In the night, refused to discuss anything with me that he didn’t want to, threw things at me, abused emotionally all of my children (although the eldest the worst) and left me tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

And then I get angry all over again. Really really angry. With myself for being so spineless, for having seemingly learned NOTHING from my marriage; for allowing him to take advantage of me, for believing his words and not looking at his actions, Angry with him for all of the above reasons but most of all for NOT caring at all how I felt.

I know that anger fades. I don’t want it because it indicates that strong emotions remain. Anger or hate is not the opposite of love;  no, the opposite of love is indifference. And I know I will, in time “process” the anger, express it, mull it over, talk it through and it will settle. What I am afraid of is that the intensity of love will never return. I will never meet anyone I can love as I loved him … and that’s bollocks because what I loved didn’t really exist.

I just have to have faith that in time I will process that too.

 

This too shall pass..

This morning was one of the most difficult I can remember for sometime.

i took Lola out early, and walked her for a good 2 hours, through our local beautiful park. Usually the exercise, connection to the natural environment and sheer joy of the dog in running, sniffing and chasing the ball is grounding for me. Not so today. Today I felt almost agoraphobic, anxious, agitated and uncomfortable. I was plagued by recurring thoughts about ExP, and spent much of the walk fighting back tears – had the park been less crowded I think I would have howled, perhaps literally in an attempt to expel my discomfort.

When I arrived home, I found the boys up, making pancakes with all the ingredients scattered over the kitchen; puppy wee on the floor,  muddy paw prints, foot prints and dog hair everywhere.

I actually thought about walking out.

instead I gathered the kids, explained that I was overwhelmed by what needed to be done to make the place manageable  for me, so that I could relax and cope with my return to work. And then I phoned my mother and asked her to come and help.

And I don’t often ask for help. I asked her to supervise the children cleaning their den, to enable me to get on with steam cleaning the kitchen floor, the halls, and hoovering everywhere. So she did.

And I cleaned, and they did their bit, and my agitation settled as my environment improved. I worked very very hard, but my home is clean tonight, my garden is free of dog poo, and all the washing is done. Homework is up to date, everyone is fed and settled.

Tomorrow is ExP’s birthday. I’m sure that why he was in ny head. I don’t have a card, but I have sent him a message, wishing him the best for the upcoming year. I’m satisfied that I have acknowledged the day, but not “opened the door” for further communication.

The way I felt this morning was horrid, and I barely knew where to put myself. In the past I would have drunk, today I had to sit with it and wait for it to pass. And pass it did. I’m quite calm now and not upset at all.

Little steps.

 

A milestone… I hope

Today is my 259th day of consecutive sobriety, and it is 14 weeks today that my relationship ended. In a way that seems so recent, and in another, it’s like another age.

Yesterday a former colleague came to see me, and her partner fitted the new latch and side gate that ExP made. I was so grateful. We messaged ExP to ask where the keep for the lock was. He offered to come over today to show me – but I have declined.

i don’t want to see him.

I DON’T WANT TO SEE HIM.

i don’t want his undermining snidely comments about the puppy, about the job that Has been done on the side gate, about me, the house and everything. that is what he would do: criticise me and everything  about me. I just can’t take it and I don’t want to.

He would ask solicitously about sons 2 & 3 – and probably about my extended family, and studiously ignore the existence of son # 1.

Ive had a tough week. Being off work, looking after Jasper has not been a break. It’s been one long round of cleaning up , mopping, feeding, basic training and trying to get small things done. I’m stressed, anxious, anorexic (in the medical sense – meaning not eating) agitated and disheartened. My life is boring.

BUT… and this is a big BUT …

  • i do not think I am in love with ExP ANY longer
  • i can see how he undermines me and I don’t want it
  • i don’t want to see him
  • Both sons #2 and #3 have had good school reports this week
  • i am sober
  • i am growing emotionally and psychologically, I can almost feel it. It hurts , it’s difficult,awkward and very painful …
  • i have a space, where I can go, every week and explore these things in a non judgemental, non emotionally charged environment; with someone who reads what I say, and feel and helps me with interpret it. I feel safe and contained with my therapist,but able to be very honest.

I expect this this is my first day of the “acceptance” part of the loss. He is not the answer. He has been a big part of the problem.i don’t expect (sadly) that this feeling will stay – I expect regression, but I do expect it to return, and return more often. I expect it to take root slowly, and as long as I continue to nourish it; by remaining sober, but not seeing or communicating with ExP, by plodding on, I expect it to flourish in time.

Until now, I have known I cannot continue with the relationship for my children, because of the financial drain. Today I don’t want to continue with it for ME. Me, Lily, the woman, who can suddenly see the undermining, lack of care for my feelings or needs, criticism, unkindness – as damaging TO ME. And I feel that I matter

marking my place.

a very happy thanksgiving to my friends across the pond.

Lily 🌷 xxx

Eating disorder

i am developing an issue with food. Or “not food” to be honest. Not eating.

weight, body image, appearance.

Here we go again.

like a lot of young women, I had a variety of eating “issues” in the past. My height, 158 cm, means that I show extra pounds easily, and both of my parents were /are overweight. From the age of 18 I have been ‘dieting’ pretty much continuously. At times I have been anorexic, not seriously, but enough to drop my BMI well below ideal: much more often I was bulimic. I have taken all kinds of slimming pills, laxatives (although never appetite suppressants as I’m afraid of them) .

in the last 10 years my weight has bounced between 8 stone and 11 stone. The former makes me look like a lollipop and the latter like a weeble. My relationship with food and eating/  fuel/ weight  is entirely screwed up.

like most people ,(well women anyway) who stop drinking, I calculated how many calories were in my daily bottle of Sauvignon, and assumed that the 700 calories a day I would no longer be imbibing would result in a steady measurable weight loss. It didn’t. At the beginning I actually didn’t care. I was far too busy focussing on not drinking , and I took heart from sobermummy’s experience that her weight loss, started at about 100 days. I didn’t have too many issues with carb stuffing, but my weight stayed stubbornly static at about 10 stone 7. That’s 147 lbs and a BMI of about 26.

Then, of course, as my sobriety lengthened, the clarity of thought that slowly developed , made the way I was living, the stress of my financial situation and the relationship between ExP and my children, the main focus of my thoughts. And being “out of control” of those things turned me back to one thing I could control – my eating. The starving / binging cycle started again. Very secretive, very stealthily I found myself binging, and then compensatory starving. Then the starving started to feel good ….

i can eat ‘normally’ , around other people, but not for long. I’ve lost weight, and that feels good. To an extent it is good, I’ve lost a stone -15lbs to be exact , and look better for it. All my clothes fit and I feel more confident BUT …

Since I split from ExP , since I have been doing counselling and since there are so many uncomfortable, painful feelings around my head … it’s become a different kind of addiction. Feeling hungry, or not (and very often it’s not) has become another way of punishing myself? Or controlling something that feels out of my control.

Im concerned about this – but I don’t seem ready to do anything about it. At the moment I’m almost enjoying the denial, I don’t know why.

My weight is a very good barometer of my emotional well being. When I hover at 10 stone, it tells me that my emotional state is ok. Prior to my “breakdown” in 2014 my weight plummeted to just over 8 stone and then I fell apart. It’s a kind of early warning sign. I AM noticing this – I can’t and don’t want to get back to that state of extreme anxiety and depression. I don’t think that I will.

but I’m marking my place here. I’m being honest that all is not well. And I need to address it.

Somehow.

 

 

Immaturity

When I look back at my past life, I regard many of my behaviours as astonishingly immature. That’s quite a HARD thing to admit to myself, although it’s been niggling away at me for some years.

Not in the work sphere, where I have usually been very conscientious, and regarded as a “safe pair of hands”, with good judgement, a broad knowledge base and caritas. Indeed the worst criticism I received in an appraisal was that I ‘cared too much’ and became too involved with my patients. That’s when I worked in hospitals, and I think my boundaries are better than that now. 

No my immaturity was in my relationships with others; particularly men, but also with family. My generous brother offered me a home when I moved back to London, and in retrospect I did not behave well. In my defence I was lost and bereft after the end of a long distance relationship, but it’s not an excuse for the extreme selfishness and messinesshe had to put up with. 

Underneath the story of Ben’s conception is the understanding that onsome level, deep inside I wanted something to love me. Someone to love me. I’m an educated woman who knows perfectly well how contraception works. I was so far in denial I not only failed to prevent pregnancy, but failed to recognise it for almost 3 months.

 I grew up a lot once I had a child to care for but I have still allowed my heart & Emotional state to rule my decision making in a way which I do not find admirable; no I find it immature, ungrounded, foolish and selfish. 

I wonder how I can have had such a split existence? A professional life governed by discipline, commitment and solid achievement, and a personal life full of loss , pain, stupidity, selfishness, and desperately low self esteem.

Angela says I have not been properly “nurtured” as a child. That I didn’t learn self esteem and self worth from my birth parents. I believe that about my father who had little interest in me; I find it harder with respect to my mother, who I know loves me very much. But, whilst she is great at practical help, she’s quite critical as a mother. I don’t ever recall, for example, her telling me that I looked nice – even now she will critisise my clothes (memorably she told me a couple of years ago that my shoes made me look like a prostitute- they really didn’t) and never every praises me. I know she loves me and is proud of me,but maybe her generation find it hard to demonstrate. 

Is immaturity a result of poor parental attachment (in the loosest form) is it related to the large amount of alcohol I drank – kind of halting or delaying personal maturity, whilst allowing professional development to continue (obviously I was not drunk at work) … is low self esteem a character traitor does it come from experiences? 

I’m not in the blame game – I’m trying hard not to ‘blame’ myself for the place I am now, and I’m certainly not ‘blaming ‘ anyone else. I’m trying to understand. To see why and from what place I made the decisions I did …. maybe to try and inform how I parent my own childrenand to try to make better decisions in the future. 

The role of alcohol in all of this is shadowy, not overt; but rather subtly, pervasively, subversively preventing personal development. Obscuring clarity, comforting me, numbing painful feelings and giving me false social confidence. Falsely reassuring me that “everything is fine” … it really wasn’t. 

I hope through my ongoing sobriety, my therapy sessions and my sitting with the deeply uncomfortable feelings that are stirred up by looking at some of this stuff, I am belatedly developing a personal maturity befitting my age, 

What would that look like ?  It would look like financial stability and security, it would look like no further relationships with men for at least a year, it would look like planning and sticking to a training schedule for my events next year,: it would look like prioritising myself, my sobriety, my health and my mental health. 

It would look like forgiving my mother. 

It would look like forgiving myself.

 

Humdrum

humdrum. I rather like that word, and it describes my life pretty well at the moment. There are no big highs, but also no long, deep lows. My stress levels are undoubtedly lower than before.

My home life is humdrum,  being mum to three boys (and two dogs) sorting out their needs, homework, the shopping, cleaning, washing, ironing.. all day today I have minded the puppy, house training him, cleaned up the endless muddy paw prints from repeated trips to the garden, done my accounts, cleaned, washed, walked Lola twice, taken the car to be serviced and MOT’d.

I think about ExP quite often. Not in a yearning way, but in a ‘rationalising way’, trying to make sense of the whole thing. I bit quite cross doing my accounts when I realised just how much money I had ‘given him’ in the last financial year. From my perspective now I cannot understand how I allowed such an obviously ridiculous and financially abusive situation to continue for so long.

The anger is less violent, less consuming and lasts less long ,than it did at the beginning, but it can still take me over with moments of hot impulsive fury. During those momentS, I would like to scream at HIM. But I know it won’t help, won’t change anything and the moment passes in an hour or so.

Im grateful for the reduction in intensity of emotion. I can cope better, feel less raw. It’s exactly like how I felt a couple of months after I stopped drinking , as though my sobriety had brought some balance to my emotional state. I’m still a bit up and down, but I could never have done this if I’d still been drinking.

I think a humdrum life suits me quite well right now . I worry a bit about what will happen when I feel the need to look for some excitement again, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m cured of wanting / craving excitement in my life. Maybe I’m going to enjoy some longer term stability with pleasure in little things ….

 

Later …

Of course it’s fine. He has been gorgeous, and Lola seems to love him now- they were playing together this afternoon – lovely to see. Puppies also sleep quite a lot, which I had forgotten, so we had several peaceful hours when I could get on with the housework.

Much calmer tonight, and more optimistic. Why on earth should I not cope with two dogs. I’ve trained one, why not a second? And my primary aim, which was to give Lola a canine companion , seems to be working out. 😍🐶

jasper is asleep in his crate, and Lola is asleep at my feet. The house is clean and tidy, and I’m off work this week

all small, petty things. But it’s what makes my life tick …

thank you for your supportive comments xx lily 🌷

Jasper

So yesterday we picked up our beautiful puppy. He is adorable and full of energy and fun. So far, Lola seems ok with him, the cat has swiped him a couple of times for annoying her, he’s eating and we’re starting with house training. So far, so good.

But I am feeling overwhelmed, he’s much noisier than Lola and cried last night in the crate which was heartbreaking. The garden is a mud swamp due to the rain, making the kitchen floor filthy again every time you take jasper out for a pee. The boys love him, but find accidents funny and don’t take training as seriously as me.

When I took Lola out for a walk this morning she was a disobedient as a 6 month puppy. And that’s really not like her. She wouldn’t recall , or bring me the ball and took pleasure in dancing just out of my reach. I suspect she is displeased with me on some level for getting a puppy, even though she has been playing with him. Like a toddler when a new sibling comes Along. Stressed me out though,.

I know I need to chill a bit. Mud is inevitable at this time of year, and at least Lola likes him ! We have wooden / tiled floors and have taken up the rugs so he can’t ruin anything.

Agitated and overwhelmed is how I feel this morning, and worried I have made an expensive and stressful mistake ( that’s the voice of ExP)

Bargaining

Yesterday I was discussing with my therapist last weekends meeting with ExP. In particular the part where I agreed to go for a “drink” with him and watch rugby. Why I did that, what I was hoping to gain? What the feelings I had at the time and afterwards were about – actually what feelings I HAD. After we had chatted for a bit, and I had tried to put the complex feelings I have into words, Angela said ” you are still bargaining”.

And that’s it. That’s the crux.

If you take the Kubler-Ross  model of the grief ‘experience’ ; (and after all the loss of a significant relationship is a kind of loss that induces grief) then ‘bargaining’ is one of the stages that many people go through. I’ve certainly done ‘angry’ ! The bargaining is a kind of desperate attempt NOT to face reality (that the relationship has failed) and for me is bordering on denial that this can actually have happened.

To me its SO obvious that my deal-breakers are ‘reasonable’ and normal that I literally CANNOT understand how this man, who says he ‘loves me so much’ can’t get it

  • That I cannot be 100% financially responsible for an able-bodied adult who cannot make any money in his chosen sphere and will not work in any other, whilst I get deeper and deeper into debt through supporting him.
  • That an adult who is rude, bullying and unkind to my child cannot live with him. And that the child comes first to its mother.

and I just don’t understand why he cannot see this. and my bargaining comes almost with myself

  • If only I had tried harder…if I give him one more chance he WILL see these things
  • If only we had got support from a couples counsellor…, someone who could make him understand
  • If only I had tried to talk to him earlier / differently…If I could have made him understand

And why can’t I accept that he does not see it, and will not see it because he doesn’t want to?

Because I think, I had so much invested in  this relationship. And despite all I know, he still ‘looks good’ to me. I have to trust the process of building my self esteem and confidence so that He (who is not good for me) will eventually not LOOK good to me either…

And in the meantime? I would be best advised to keep away from this person, accept that I was mistaken in my past assessment of him; accept that I cannot change HIM only my reaction to him; accept that in time I won’t want him at all, and plough on with in own furrow.

 

 

Clinic Day

So I’m sitting in the breast clinic waiting for my name to be called. Strange feeling. I can’t believe there is anything seriously wrong with me, or maybe I just don’t want to believe it’s a possibility. I’m aware of the stats; that 9/10 ‘lumps’ are benign, that of the 1/10 who do In fact have a breast cancer, 80% will be cured of it. 

But it is only sitting here, surrounded by a group of similarly anxious women, that I am really allowing myself to think about the scenario that it’s not ok, there are about 10 women currently waiting – statistically one of us will get bad news. Why NOT me ? 

Update 15.30, the lump is a cyst, and benign. Phew 🙂 thank you for your support xxx lily 🌷