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The Aftermath

aftermath [af-ter-math, ahf-] noun 1. something that results or follows from an event, especially one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature

An Unexpected TV Trigger

I feel bad coming here to vent when I haven’t posted an update in a while, but this blog is where I keep thoughts / feelings that I don’t / can’t share in Real Life, and tonight something shook me little bit, so here I am.

I will be back with a proper New Year 2020 post soon. 🙂

Anyway, everything’s OK.  It’s just that H and I have been watching a series on Netflix.  I hate to name it, because spoilers, but I’ll just say it’s based on a true story.  The main character is a guy who I didn’t know anything about before starting the show, and based on his line of work, I expected him to be a bad guy, a womanizer and murderer; a Tony Soprano- like character.  However, four or five episodes in, I found myself feeling like maybe, just maybe, this man was different.  He seemed to love his family and took good care of his friends.  In fact, during a scene when a female business partner was making a move on this married man, but he rebuffed her advances, H and I both expressed surprise that this was the first show we’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever?  without a plot that includes infidelity involving a principal character.

Well.  You probably know how this turns out without having seen the show.  Because there is no such thing as a television drama without infidelity. 😒

It turns out that I got played, as did this character’s beautiful wife, who finally discovered his many, many affair partners halfway through the series.  And during the scene where she confronted him, and he didn’t deny any of it,  I felt that old feeling again, that thankfully, I haven’t experienced in some time.   It’s the chill that goes down your spine, the dropping of your heart into your stomach, the disbelief.  I trusted this guy, and he betrayed me.  I’m a smart girl, how could I have been such a fool?

It just sucks.

But I’ll be OK.  I know that is no longer my situation, and I’ve recovered well enough that I can sit with those feelings for a few minutes and then bounce right back.  Four years on, I’m happy and proud to be able to say this.

Maybe it’s good to have a reminder sometimes, to help ensure that I won’t allow that to happen to me ever again.

☀️

 

Happy Christmas 🎄

Hello, friend.

This can be a downright horrible time when your world has just been blown to smithereens by betrayal. If you’re hurting today, please take some time to breathe and care for yourself.

Don’t bother with reflecting on holidays past – just know that next year will be a little better.

☀️

She’s Gone

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Photo by Nita on Pexels.com

 

It has been a little under three years since H accepted his truth, gave up the fantasy world he’d been living in 50% of the time, and got busy working on growing into an emotionally mature adult.  Part of that recovery was examining the ways in which his upbringing shaped his ideas about women, sex, love, relationships, commitment, and so on.

It wasn’t his mother’s fault that he behaved like an a@$*#0!% as an adult, but it also wasn’t his fault that she was a horrendous mother.  As children, we generally look to our parents to protect us, to teach us right from wrong, to be the smartest person we know, and to be our greatest source of encouragement.

Unfortunately for H, (and even more unfortunately for me) H’s mother was a disappointment on all fronts.  She was an entitled layabout who was as likely to blame her young son for their sad living situation as she was to blame her ex-husband, who left when H was a toddler.  She didn’t take good care of herself, or her boy, but instead little H grew up believing it was his responsibility to take care of both of them.

I originally thought I would say the one thing she did get right was to convince her parents to allow H and her to stay with them, but on second thought – it was that living environment, with the constant arguing amongst the adults in the house, that fostered H’s stunted emotional maturity and raging conflict avoidance.   It wasn’t long ago that H shared with me the sad image of himself as a not-so-little boy, surrounded by stuffed animals in his room – a barrier designed to protect himself from the screaming and yelling on the other side of the bedroom door. 😔  It wasn’t a great time for him at his grandparents’.

So, no, she gets no points for securing that roof over his head.

When I first met her, thirty years ago – I didn’t know any of this, of course, and I was just happy that she seemed to like me.  Over the years I learned to despise her, because in many ways she was truly despicable. Even so, as her health failed, H and I attempted time and time again to help her.  But you can’t help someone who refuses to help themselves.  The past 24 months have been especially difficult for H, as they battled over many things in regards to her care and well-being.   One highlight during this time was when hospital staff reported her to APS for self-neglect.  Such a proud moment (insert sarcasm emoji here).

She died this week.  H had purchased a bottle of champagne when he knew the end was near, believing he would want to celebrate at that moment, but instead he’s taken on the role of responsible boy again, ensuring his mother gets a send-off that’s much nicer than she deserves.  The champagne can wait until it’s all done.

I can’t help but wonder how her death will ultimately affect H.  He’s mentioned a fear that he will have feelings of guilt, as if he didn’t try to do everything possible to make her happy and comfortable.  I assure you (and him), that H went above and beyond for this woman, and even on her deathbed, days away from taking her last breath, she was rude and hateful to him.  My hope is that he’ll finally feel free from her, but where will that freedom lead….? 🤔

So, a session with Therapist is in order, hopefully as soon as next week.  Maybe they can share the bottle. 🍾 🥂

☀️

 

 

Happy Friday, My Friends 🙂

☀️

When you realize you must be healing 🙂

H and I have been in the progress of planning a getaway for a while now – the past few months have been one thing after another, you know how it is.

Last week we finally came up with a plan, decided on a place and time, and booked a place to stay. Then I submitted the dates to my manager for time off – July 1 through 5.

It wasn’t until yesterday – a week later – that it dawned on me. July 1. 😳 The dreaded day, The First D-Day. Over the past three years, I’ve planned for and anticipated triggers for 7/1, but this time, I guess I sort of forgot 🤷‍♀️

Now, make no mistake – I haven’t forgotten what happened before and after that day. The shock and pain is unforgettable. The work I’ve done to get myself to this place has been hard. But four years on, the significance of July 1 has softened. Thankfully, I can happily plan a trip without concern that I’ll freak out on that particular antiversary.

If you’re just getting started on the journey back from betrayal, please believe me when I say that you are not always going to feel the way you do today. The sun does continue to rise, and you can rise along with it. It takes time, but you are going to be ok. 🙂🙏

“Everyday is Valentine’s Day”

Several years into The Marriage Before D-Day, a co-worker asked me what H and I had planned for Valentine’s Day. Without skipping a beat, I repeated the phrase I’d heard like a mantra from H so many times before – “there’s no need to do anything special on that one day – everyday is Valentine’s Day at our house.”

🤮 Whatever.

It wasn’t true, but I believed it, or at least I wanted others to believe it. I thought that what I had then was good enough. Or was all it was going to be, anyway.

Or…all that I deserved?

Aha. That’s it!

What a shame that I spent so many years thinking I didn’t deserve something special from the man who supposedly loved me more than any other – even if it is a Hallmark holiday.

Today, H is much more attentive and present, everyday, but I still would call him out if he claimed everyday is Valentines’s Day. And I’m interested to see what today brings.

Remember – you ARE enough, and you DESERVE to be loved, cherished, and made to feel special. Don’t settle for less.

**Edited to add – just as I hit “Publish”, guess who walked in with a lovely bouquet 💐 H may get this right yet. 🙂

☀️

Oh, the holidays 😐

I haven’t looked up any statistics on this, but I’d guess most people fall into one of two camps when it comes to the Christmas holiday season – love it 🥰 or hate it 😡. There probably aren’t a lot of people who are “ok either way”😬.

As a child, Christmas, and to a lesser extent, New Year’s Eve, was a magical time when my family of modest means found a way to bake, decorate, and celebrate in memorable ways. It wasn’t perfect, and there were not a lot of expensive gifts under the tree, but those that were there were appreciated. As an adult, I still look back fondly, am grateful for the memories, and wish I could continue on with some sort of happy holiday traditions with those I love.

<here’s where this post takes a turn, sorry 🤦‍♀️>

Unfortunately, among the deceptions committed by H early in our relationship was to feign enjoyment in celebrating holidays and gift-giving. Just two months after we met, he drove four hours to deliver many thoughtful gifts to me and spend Christmas with my family. I thought it was amazing that he was willing to skip his own family’s traditions to be with me and mine. (If only I’d known…)

He kept it all up for a few years, but eventually lost interest, and I found holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries to be “just another day” for him and sadly disappointing for me. He would say “don’t get me anything” and was incredibly anxious leading up to the day, which, you know, isn’t very much fun for anyone.

Thirty years later, and after lots of therapy, I now understand that he actually despises holidays, family gatherings, and receiving gifts, but understanding the reasons why doesn’t make it easier for me to accept. Sometimes it feels unfair. And sad.

I don’t ask for much, and I can and often do buy things for myself. Gift giving in itself is not so important, although I could enjoy it, with the right person. It’s not “things” that I want or need. It’s the experience that I crave – being able to enjoy Christmas songs while riding in the car, putting up decorations, wrapping gifts – every year, I do all of these things alone. H has no interest, or more accurately, loathes any and all of it. And to do it alone is kind of pointless.

Work and other obligations kept me close to home this month rather than being able to spend time with my family, and maybe that’s what I’m really missing.

Last week, for some reason that I’ve been unable to decipher, we took a little day trip to see an extensive Christmas lights display, at H’s suggestion. It was fun and beautiful, and I don’t know if it’s a hint at what’s yet to come as H continues to grow into maturity, or if this is all there is…is patience the key here, or will I just be let down in the end?

Anyway, I woke up this morning to iPhone videos from my siblings’ family celebrations (a few hundred miles from me) and that, along with the usual tension from H about Christmas was just too much. (He actually expressed relief, while still in bed at 8:30 am this morning, that “Christmas is over” since we’d survived dinner with his mother last night.” OK, then. 😬)

I haven’t cried in a while, but today I spent most of the morning in tears, curled up on the couch with Girl Dog. These are not the feels I was hoping for. Merry Christmas, indeed. 😕

I know that this is on me – if I want to feel joy, it’s up to me to do things that bring joy. What I know is that I need more than I have today. How and what will I change to ensure next year doesn’t go down in tears? I’ve gotta do something differently.

☀️

Busy, busy…taking down dragons, one by one…

Let’s see…my last post was in early October.  Gosh, it seems like a year ago!

🐉 Since then, my MIL was moved into assisted living, without her agreement.    She is experiencing early onset dementia, and when she was last hospitalized, APS got involved in her “self-neglect” case.  H and I agreed with APS that MIL needs 24 hour care, even if she doesn’t think so, and the two of us are neither capable or willing to personally provide the care that she needs.

🐉 H realized he would need some extra emotional support at the start of the situation, since he is getting pushback not only from his mother but also her siblings, so he started sessions with Therapist again.  He invited me to come along, but it’s not meant to be a couples therapy type of thing – H acknowledges that he’s “damaged” and essentially wants me to help him keep up with his therapy homework, to continue using safe coping strategies and learning to sort through his emotions in healthy ways.

🐉 Sometimes sitting together with H and Therapist is a little triggery for me, because even though he and I have come so, so far over the past three years, hearing him struggle emotionally reminds me that if he decided to, he could/would use women to cope with the stress he’s experiencing.  But he hasn’t, he’s not,  he chose to reach out to Therapist on his own, and to include me, so that’s a big Positive step in the right direction. 🙂

🐉 But when it rains, it pours, doesn’t it? So the weekend after MIL went to her new living situation, our Boy Dog seriously injured his knee, and required surgery.  You may recall that he had the same injury with his other knee just a few weeks before D-Day #1, three plus years ago.  Back then, nursing him back to health was one of the distractions that kept me just barely sane during that summer. This time, it hasn’t been so bad, since we knew what to expect.  He is on limited activity for 12 weeks, so I spend a lot of time cooped up in a bedroom with him, so that he’ll stay calm and quiet. So far, he’s healing well.

🐉 And I am too, but I guess it’s no surprise that November and December will continue to be a tender time for me for a while.  This year, I didn’t bother to bring up to H his brilliant plan that he came up with three years ago, where he was going to spend Thanksgiving Day with The Tenant, in order to “take her family’s Christmas card photo for them”. 🙄   It didn’t end up happening that way, and he was with me that day, but still that painful memory came to mind last week.   So.much.stupid.stuff was going on those last weeks of 2015!   🤥 It’s hard to believe he thought back then that he would get away with any of it. 🤦‍♀️ He didn’t get away with it, and we’ve both survived, and will continue to move on and grow.

🐉 I finally decided to steel myself and watch “Love, Actually” today.  Once one of my holiday faves, it was ruined for me when the Emma Thompson character’s story became too familar,  a lot like my own.😭  Anyway, I sat through it today, and didn’t flinch, didn’t cry.  Also – didn’t really enjoy it.  Probably won’t bother again.  At least I tried.

On to the next…🐉

☀️

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Not sure whether to 😆 or 😭

H has been dealing with some family things lately.  His mother’s lack of self-care alongside her defiance to cooperate with her family on any level has landed her in the hospital, again.  This cycle has been repeated several times.  Only this time, APS was called to check on her for self-neglect, so going back to live alone again, even with outside help,  is really not an option.

H wanted his mom to go to assisted living six months ago, the last time she was released, but she refused, and her brothers, for their own personal/financial reasons, stood by her decision.  So H has been fighting a losing battle from all sides. He arranged for a home care aide to look in on her at home, with the goal of keeping her at the level of health and activity she had progressed to in rehab.  It was a six month long experiement, but really an exercise in futility.  MIL had no intention of doing anything but vegetate, even though she was told the next time would be the last time.

Its frustrating, and exhausting.  I told H several months ago, if you need to go talk with Therapist, please do, it’s ok with me.  He said then he was ok, he didn’t need to see Therapist.

So here we are.  Six months later, still fighting against the family to do what’s right (and now legally necessary) for his mother.  In order to afford permanent residential care, which is astronomically expensive, especially at her (young) age – only late 60’s- her home will have to be renovated and sold.  Yet another responsibility that falls on H.

And…so…he’s on his way right now to talk to Therapist.

Our last session was August of last year.  As a couple, we’re doing ok.  Individually we’re still healing from everything that has happened over the past 3+ years.   I have good days/bad days, all that.  He does, too.  We’re both trying to use the tools we learned over those two years in therapy to be better people, and better partners. We both know that we only have control over our own actions.

He just wants some peace, and the opportunity to be happy.  I want to help him.  But this thing with his family runs deep, obviously from the day he was born, and I can listen and be supportive, but I can’t make it go away.

A year ago, I had no idea if we were truly done with needing Therapist, but I hoped we were.  Even so, I am happy he decided to make the appointment.  I really am.  I’m glad he decided to go that direction instead working out the stress the way he used to!   This in itself shows how much he’s grown in the past couple of years. I’m grateful.

I just wonder if I should have a session, too?🤷‍♀️

☀️

 

 

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