Adventure …

I have just booked a week in January to go to Nepal and visit son1.

I am SUPER excited and really really looking forward to it! A very kind friend of the family has volunteered to come and mind the home /children/dog whilst I am away…

Just me, going on an adventure ….

For the first time in absolutely AGES i feel like I have something to really look forward to, and travelling alone is surprisingly cheap !

 

A new perspective

Last night I spent the evening with my closest friend K. She has been there through the last 10+ years and offered no judgemental support and reflection for me. Ironically I was introduced to K and her husband J by my ex husband, and they have become my staunchest and kindest supporters despite my marriage breakdown.

K has always been perceptive, and last night she presented to me an “outsiders view” … of me and my situation. She picked the right time to do this. I’m definitely feeling more positive at the moment- I feel that I’m finally moving on and putting the past behind me.

Right now I don’t look at my last relationship as I was doing. I don’t feel the same. I was feeling that it would be impossible for me to care for anyone else as I had cared for him. That I literally could not conceive of loving someone else as I once loved him.

This feeling has been hard to shake off, and has taken me back again and again, to see if anything had changed. Hoping I guess that something would have shifted in his thinking so that we could, I could, try again. It didn’t happen, and I seem to have at last been able to accept this. The overwhelming problems are just not surmountable , and actually I’m not even sure I would WANT to overcome them.

Simultaneously the single life suddenly seems to have more possibilities … the inertia and ennui that has dogged me for months seems to be lifting, I can feel energy coming back; energy and purpose …

so, yesterday K outlined to me how an outsider might look at me. She pointed out that I have a nice house and comfortable home, that I have earned. That it has been my industry that has created this, with no financial support from any other person. She reminded me that I am not just a doctor, but one of a small number of partners running a large successful practice with more than 100 employees and 26,000 patients. That I look well, am resourceful and determined; that I am kind, loyal and honest.. in short she was trying to get me to see that an outsider could see me as ‘a catch’… that I should not sell myself short. That I should stand up and be proud of what I have achieved ….and that I am worth much much more than being put down by some bloke.

I think she has tried to say this to me before, but I’ve not been able to hear and believe it.

Yesterday I heard it, and whilst I Wouldn’t say I 100% believed It… as in “felt” it, I can see that technically she is correct, and perhaps I should raise my expectations …

This is a work in progress . Slow going. And I’m in no hurry to meet anyone at all right now … but …. food for thought

Giving up

A year ago, after the breakdown of my relationship I decided to get a second dog. As there were longer periods with no one at home, I thought it would be nice for Lola, our collie, to have a companion. Lola had been, and remains, a delight for our family ; and easy friendly placid dog who is loyal, affectionate and sensitive to Human mood. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wept into her neck and been comforted by her obvious concern. 

I thought a new puppy would give us all hope and cheer, as well as being a friend for Lola. So I contacted Lola’s breeder and arranged to see her latest litter of puppies. Acting on advice we decided to get a dog puppy this time, and chose a Grey collie. 

It wasn’t easy right from the start. Slower to train than Lola, the puppy chewed relentlessly , he was anxious at socialisation classes, became distressed when the TV was on, peed in corners long after he knew where the garden was. By the time he was 4 months old he had become aggressive around food,growling and snapping when anyone went near. He hated being brushed, nipping and twisting away. 

We took him to the Vet who could not find a physical reason for his anxiety, and have me the name of a behaviourist who came to the home and worked with us. This didn’t really help to be honest and Jasper started Being aggressive to other dogs when out walking. At about this time the dog walker said he could no longer safely walk Jasper, due to his aggressive behaviour with the other dogs. 

I researched a residential training programme, and after talking with them, sent Jasper (at great expense ) away for 6 weeks retraining.

He came back in the middle of August transformed.

But it didn’t last. 

Last week my current dog walker,who now takes only my dogs out, told me Jasper had got into two fights with other dogs. He did similar when son3 took him to the local park with a friend. He’s resource guarding again and snapped at me yesterday when I went to put the refilled water bowl down. 

I realised how very stressful all this is for me, and that though I love him,we all love him, we are not the right Home for him. He needs much more activity and interaction than we can provide : and so with a heavy heart I have decided to re home him. The breeder has agreed to take him back, so I know he will be ok. 

I feel guilty, relieved and sad. He is such a loyal dog I know he will miss us, and we will miss him .. I think it is the right thing to do , but it’s hard , 

Honesty

Being really, really honest in intimate relationships has always been hard for me. Not that I lie in day to day interactions, or about what I DO, but rather I suppress what I really feel and have often said something is ‘fine’ when it is really NOT ‘fine’ with me at all.

And then I’d have a drink to make myself feel better. To suppress my dissonant feelings under the surface

Lie’s by omission really, lies about how I ‘feel’, probably because I fear conflict, or I fear that what I feel or think is not valid or important. Sometimes I think I stuff down my unacceptable emotions of anger, resentment or anxiety because I don’t want to appear flawed. There is also an element of ‘I can manage this’ and holding all the problems generated by someone else’s behaviour, rather than putting the responsibility back where it belongs. In the mix is, I think, a fear that what I want will be ignored by those closest to me anyway, so why bother to say it? Why make a big deal out of what I think is important when it will make someone else unhappy / stressed/ uncomfortable? And in turn, their ignoring what I have articulated as important, will make me angry.

I have lived like this all my life. My earliest role models for relationships were exactly like this. My mother asking for something, and my father doing and giving nothing. And I have modelled this in every (intimate) relationship I have ever had.

I never saw my parents argue respectfully about something. I never saw them disagree but my father shift himself to change because it would ease pressure on my mother or reduce her workload. I never saw a ‘partnership’ working. Add to that feeling constantly critisised and never good enough by my primary role model, and no wonder I have / had a very warped sense of what ‘relationships’ are about.

When I say that I have a problem with ‘trust’ this is what I mean. Its very hard (in fact it’s been impossible) for me to trust another person with my true feelings, to believe that that person could will love me however flawed and imperfect I am. However unacceptable my emotion or reaction. somewhere inside I feel that any affection that people have for me is conditional, Conditional on my helping them, behaving well, meeting their expectations, not having unacceptable feelings or responses. Conditional on my respecting their wishes and feelings, conditional on ‘being GOOD’

I think this relates back to the whole self esteem thing. If you feel fundamentally unlovable then it’s a natural extension to try and present a front that will be acceptable and lovable. When taken too far – as I have done, it becomes a huge toxic mess where the ‘real feelings’ are suppressed beneath a veneer of ‘niceness’ whilst underneath, with no space to escape, the real feelings of being taken advantage of, or resentment, or anger and frustration seethe away.

This is one of the areas where therapy helps. It is a small space in a hectic world where I CAN just be me, where I don’t feel judged or critisised, where I can voice ‘unacceptable’ feelings and thoughts and have then accepted as mine. Through this process I hope I can learn that my feelings are just what they are, that they are neither right nor wrong , but just part of me. Through it I hope I can learn that I am no more and no less flawed than anyone else, and that what I feel and want and need has as much validity as what anyone else feels or wants or needs. I hope that I will learn (have learned? am learning?) is that suppression of my own wishes does not lead to calmer waters, but rather to a specific kind of hell for me, where my true self is ignored, overlooked and subjugated to the stronger will of others. That in this place, where I DON’T COUNT, there can be no happiness or peace for me, because I’m not even asking for what I want.

And that doesn’t work long term. It just doesn’t. Because how ever much I try to deny what I want, I still want it. However much I tell myself that ‘It doesnt matter’, It really does. And the wants don’t go away, they just fester and burrow through relationships like woodworm, leaving a crumbling damaged facade that supports nothing.

It was not wrong to want a husband who did not take drugs. It was not wrong to want a partner who could support himself. These things are ok to want, they are ok to need and they are even ok to insist upon. What would have happened had I insisted on them from the start ?

One of the barriers to real intimacy is honesty, amongst other things this means the willingness and capacity to be truly honest about what you want / need from a partner. To be accepted for who you really are, someone has to know who you really are, and in order for that to happen you (I) would have to SAY it (as no-one is a mindreader).

There are a thousand more thoughts I have about this right now. It feels like a very important thought process that I’m just grasping the edges of… a start to rebuilding from the bottom up. If I could believe that I have a right to think / feel as I actually DO… then I think everything could be changed …

co-dependency

I had a very illuminating therapy session last night.

Illuminating in a number of ways. First because I realised I was expecting to be ‘told off’ for seeing my ExP. Told off and critisised, and possibly end up feeling that I had let Angela (my counsellor) down. That feeling, that I had ‘let her down’ comes from having spent the last 14 months working hard with me, only for me to go and sabotage the efforts by revisiting the very person who cause so much pain and heartache.

The expectation that I would be critisised, because I had dome something ‘wrong’ and ‘stupid’ comes straight from my childhood- and that attitude from my mother persists in the way she treats me to the present day.

Of course that’s not what happened, and the acceptance from Angela that I am an autonomous person, and not an idiot, that there are many nuances to any story gave me the courage to examine my motivations in more detail.

We looked at my feelings about the early days of the relationship, and my conviction that I had met ‘the’ person; and what that meant, how his strength and conviction provided me with the courage to stick to my beliefs and move forward from my marriage. How my extreme fragility at that time(even though I wasn’t fully aware of it) attracted me to his emotional support We talked about how my lack of self confidence and need to ‘rescue’ set me up to be the financial ‘giver’ and how that met some needs in me. The very low self esteem I have written about before meant that, in some ways, by providing something that he indisputably ‘needed’ (money) made me feel more secure, in a way I might not have with someone more independent.

We talked about co-dependency / interdependency as a framework for looking at why this relationship met so many of my needs as well as his.  Co-dependency is a word used to describe an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. This is me exactly. Codependency does not refer to all caring behavior or feelings, but only those that are excessive to an unhealthy degree. One of the distinctions is that healthy empathy and care-giving is motivated by conscious choice; whereas for codependents, their actions are compulsive, and they usually aren’t able to weigh in the consequences of them or their own needs that they’re sacrificing. Some codependents often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs. I think I was, to some extent, dependent on his lack of income, to make myself feel secure: why would he be with me otherwise?

Alongside that come a fear of intimacy / trust issues on both sides. I don’t mean trust as in infidelity, but deep trust, that you partner will care for you and support you whatever – and we both came with baggage; his from a broken marriage which was very damaging, and me from my past and my marriage to a drug addict.

I have also recognised how very, very much I am afraid of being ‘alone’ . No on a day to day basis, on the contrary, a ‘day to myself’ is a luxury I enjoy at the moment – but in the long term, being without a partner to do stuff with, to go on holiday with, to build a future with. Angela raised this with me ages ago, and because ‘day to day’ I am happy alone, I couldn’t see that I HATE the idea of being alone for ever. This is undoubtedly a pull back to the familiar being in a ‘relationship’ scenario.

Also featuring in there somehow, is the complete lack of ‘drama’ in my life as it is now. Nothing bad, but nothing very good either. Its all a bit humdrum. No drinking removes the highs (and lows) from a drunken evening, Its hard for me to relax in social situations without alcohol, so although I can do it, I don’t enjoy social gatherings as much as I once did. For someone who has lived the majority of the last 30 years with some drama of another – some extremes of emotion featuring quite highly in the picture of my life, the humdrum / lack of anything to get excited about, is hard; I feel ’empty’ with no way of crawling out of the shade into the sunlight.

Talking about this stuff, in a non judgmental way was so helpful. I don’t have any answers yet, but I do at least have a framework of thoughts and behaviours to look at. The future is still unknown and the issues haven’t gone away, but perhaps I am understanding the drivers behind my feelings rather better….