It’s been nearly a week since I wrote here because I’ve just had too much swirling around in my head to make sense of any of it. Last week my father called my husband again and left another voicemail. This time it was to say that he was bringing my nephew up to his other grandparents for Thanksgiving (they live 2 hours from me and he has to pass through on the way there). He wanted to know if we could meet for lunch “so my nephew could see me”. I was immediately torn. It’s been over 6 months. Other issues came up for me. On one hand, I think he’s somewhat of a fool to ask when he has shown no sign of missing me, being sorry, or willingness to change. On the other, I almost want the opportunity to give him a piece of my mind in person. I was having a lot of trouble with this and I asked my husband to call and find out if his return trip was an option (because he had suggested a day we both have to work and I definitely need my husband there if I do this) and what my nephew wanted for his birthday. They played phone tag and it became apparent that my father is hiding the calls from my sister. I’m not sure how to explain how much or why that hurts. Except that the fight in March that led to this involved him choosing my sister. He watched her physically and verbally hurt me and stood there refusing to speak up though I begged him to. I feel like that’s the way my whole life has gone. I’ve always had to fight for the smallest bit of attention and it just hurts too much to feel like I was never wanted and it hurts now to think about being somewhere I’m not wanted. I’ve developed a defensive mechanism – I need people to come to me, I can’t reach out because I can’t handle more rejection. It’s destroying all kinds of relationships in my life. Anyway, my father finally called at a normal time of day and wasn’t able to give my husband any details about his travel plans other than a sob story about having to stay in a motel over Thanksgiving because he couldn’t make the drive up and back and up and back again so close. The truth is, he should have given up driving a while back and it scares me for him to be driving my nephew around every day. The truth is, my sister should be taking care of her own child. And yet one sob story that’s left on the voicemail every time is that “neither daughter is speaking to me”. What can I say? My sister has walked all over everyone her entire life and he refuses to stand up to her or to make her stand on her own two feet. They live together and he pays all the bills and provides all of the child care while she verbally abuses him day in and day out. I finally accepted that I can’t make either of them change a long time ago. I guess I had harbored some hope that walking out of my father’s live might be a tiny wake up call but I was wrong.
Combined with the stress the whole situation with my father brings, my husband and I were struggling too. He can be inconsiderate sometimes but there is one disagreement we have that never seems to stop. He cannot help around the house and he cannot pick up after himself. I wake up every day to a dirty house and it stresses me out. I know that I’m sensitive to it and I’ve tried explaining it to him. He always promises to do better but he never follows through for more than a day. He can’t seem to grasp that it makes me feel like he doesn’t care about me because he clearly doesn’t care about something that is important to me.
On Sunday things were starting to boil over. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him I didn’t want to talk about it. I said this because I knew my bad mood was not all his fault and I was trying to move past it. He insisted on pushing me over and over again until it devolved into a fight. He just couldn’t give me a moment’s space and I ended up saying I didn’t want to go out with him that evening because I didn’t want to be around him. Later in the afternoon I asked him what he wanted to do and he blew me off. Normally I would have apologized and kissed his a$$ and made everything better but he’s been so irritable lately and he never apologizes, he never makes the first move to resolve a fight and I was frustrated and tired of feeling like I was the only one who wanted to fix things. So we stayed home. Later as we started bickering again he made it clear that he had really wanted to go and he was really mad about not going. I felt/feel horrible. I feel like I ruin everything for us. I fought off tears for hours before going to bed. This morning I woke up depressed. All I wanted was to reach out for him, to find some comfort, but I didn’t because I know he’s still mad. And I’m still fighting the tears.
Between the situation with my father, the situation with my husband, the ending of a long term friendship last week, and a stressful period at work, I just feel lost. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going. Unfortunately when the depression comes barreling in like this, I don’t necessarily care. I feel like staying lost.
I got stuck mid-week. I was at a point where I had processed my feelings about my mom but I didn’t know where to go from there. Is forgiveness the next step on the road to healing? I’m not sure it’s necessary as I don’t harbor ill will towards her. I don’t really know how to forgive. Maybe I already have without a conscious effort. Forgiveness is a problem for me regardless of whether it’s necessary in this instance. There are a lot of other things in my life that I need to forgive because I’m holding on tightly to the hurt.
I had a therapy appointment yesterday afternoon. We talked about the progress I’ve made with this issue and how it relates to so much of my life. Many people have hurt me in much the same way, it’s kind of a theme. And I don’t trust because of it. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My therapist classifies it as a fear of abandonment. I’m not sure I feel that abandonment is the right word, maybe rejection is more accurate, but our time was up. She asked me to think about how I deal with this fear and how I should deal with it.
I know that I deal with it by typically leaving people before they can leave me. In more recent years, I simply don’t let people get close to begin with. I have a constant fear that my expectations will never be met, that people will always let me down. And so often, that’s exactly what happens.
It’s finally becoming clear that most of the problems in my marriage are mine. I fought to leave my husband for the first three years but I didn’t really have anywhere to go and he held on tight. I’m so grateful that he did. I still have my problems, and I still start a lot of fights, but it’s the only relationship in my life with any security. And yet, I fear if I was 100% honest with him, that he would leave. And I would deserve it.
It was 2005 and I was on FMLA and attending the half-day program at the psychiatric hospital the first time a therapist told me to write a letter to my mother. Every therapist I’ve seen since then has suggested the same thing but I could never do it. Finally, on Friday, I wrote that letter. It was hard, really hard. But I realized that I had such a mental block that the reason I couldn’t write before is because I had no idea how I really felt. My mother was safely on her pedestal in my mind and a negative thought was not allowed. I felt guilty, I think, over how I had treated her for a few years and I didn’t understand why I had been that way. I chose to only remember the time when we had a good relationship which was, unfortunately, only the last 6 months of her life. Now, I realize I rebelled and treated her badly because it was the only way I could get her attention and I so desperately wanted her attention that I preferred to be punished than ignored. The truth is she was a wonderful woman, strong and beautiful. But she was human and she had her faults like the rest of us. She did the best she could. And now I can forgive her.
I have been holding on to so much pain that I haven’t left room for anything else.
It occurred to me this morning finally that the reason I have such a problem with my father now is because it’s the exact same thing I’ve been struggling with my whole life. I wrote about my mom but not really in any detail. I’m not sure yet how much I want to put out here. The short story is that I craved her attention my whole life but she was busy with my sister. My grandmother was in the picture and she was a good substitute for my mother in the early years but not so much as we both grew older and further apart. I never felt like my mom was there for me until my grandmother died. It was only six months later that my mom died. Suddenly my father became the stubborn, selfish child in the relationship because he just fell apart. He and my sister have become codependent. He repeatedly chooses her over me and he says it’s because she has a son and I have no children. I don’t resent my nephew but I do resent my father and my sister. I feel like I’ve been pushed aside my whole life. And sure, I could fight back, I could stand up and say I’m deserving too. Except, well, am I? I truly have no evidence of that. And furthermore, I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted. It just seems the places I’m wanted are few and far between. So, yes, I am finally understanding why my self-esteem is in the toilet. I know logically that it does not necessarily belong there but I simply don’t know how to salvage it right now.
Last Tuesday was my father’s 75th birthday. It was a milestone and I feel sorry that I couldn’t be a part of it. I imagine him feeling sorry for himself because his niece may have called but no one else would have taken notice. My sister doesn’t even buy cards. I thought about mailing him a card but I couldn’t decide so I put it off until it was too late. I know his birthday is difficult for him because it was also his anniversary with my mother. And yet, maybe it’s healthy that I didn’t put his needs before mine. It’s been six months since we’ve spoken. He sent a couple short letters and I replied but he’s quit. He hasn’t even called my husband in at least a month. I guess he’s let go now. I’m sad that he’s let go and yet I don’t miss him. I realize that I probably don’t miss him because we had such a poor relationship anyway. It’s less stressful not to hear from him. I guess a part of me had hoped that he would miss me though.
I was making wonderful progress exploring the issues and coming to new realizations. Then, suddenly, another issue in my life reared it’s ugly head. While I recovered in the short-term, it seems I’m not getting back to the progress I was making. I’m hoping working through the other issue some will help me get back to that.
So what happened? Basically I spent most of Sunday afternoon/evening fighting with my husband. Not physically, just verbally. It often starts with some type of miscommunication which doesn’t always lead to an argument. But it’s like we can be face-to-face and we’re speaking two completely different languages. He came inside and asked me a question. One that didn’t make any sense. I asked him to clarify a couple of times and still it didn’t make any sense. It sounded like a really stupid question to me (I know, I know). I became a smart-a$$. It evolved into yelling. And then I became what I would consider to be verbally abusive. I cussed him. I put him down. I said the kinds of things that I would never allow anyone to say to me. And yet, he shuts down. He acts like he does not care other than to tell me I’m wrong. And as usual, in the end, I am explaining all of my bottled up anger and resentment towards him. Explaining that it’s not about this conversation, it’s about the last 6 years. Trying to tell him what I so desperately need from him to try to continue our marriage. And when he continues to act like he does not care, I am the one who suggests a resolution and has to ask over and over if he’s okay with trying to meet me halfway to fix our marriage. And he still wonders why I think he is married to me simply to avoid being alone. Meanwhile, I’m just lonely.
I wanted to write before today but I just had so much going on in my head that I couldn’t make sense of it. I had an appointment with my psychologist this morning and it was tough but it was great. It’s only been four sessions with this new one and I can tell we are going to make so much progress. Her approach is so much better suited to me! We talked about the things in my last post. She doesn’t know about the blog but she encourages me to journal. Those (things from my last post) were still the primary things on my mind and I was getting stuck. She helped me make more realizations and connections and start processing it. I was looking at my childhood and my grief (for my mother) as two separate things. Today we put them together. Accepting the past for what it was and feeling everything both negative and positive are essential to moving on and to grieving. They are part of the process. Putting my mother on a pedestal and refusing to have a negative thought about her prevented me from feeling anything but loss. Just because there were some negative things does not mean she was a bad mother. It does not mean that I did not love and respect her. It means she was human. And I am starting to understand a lot of the things she did and the way she treated me. It wasn’t always right, but none of us ever is all of the time.
We then connected how I feel about my childhood directly to how I feel about myself today and the struggles I face. Whoa! It seems so obvious now but I was clueless. And, as my therapist says, it will be a long hard road, but I can turn things around. I can still heal and change my future.
So this was meant to be a weight loss blog. And it still is, really! My problem has always been that I binge eat and emotionally eat to stuff my feelings down. Part of the problem is I couldn’t deal with the feelings but a large part of that was that I didn’t understand what I was feeling. It was like walking under a waterfall and having no idea where the water was coming from. Now I know. Look up! So I will. I will look up to heaven and I will look up to God and I will face the truth so that I can heal. And someday I will realize that I’m no longer under the waterfall. And throughout this process, dealing with my feelings will allow me to quit the compulsive eating altogether. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen. In the meantime, I will try to feed my body the best I can and take care of it.