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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

When you have no answers 😔

This post is not about H, or infidelity, or therapy.  Instead, something very different but equal on the heartbreak scale.

My sister is 11 1/2 years younger than me.  She had just turned 7 when I left for college.  I missed much of her growing up years, but when she gave birth to her first child, 5 years ago, I promised myself I would be more present in her child’s life, even though I live a hundred plus miles away in a different state.

My sister and brother-in-law are typical middle class Gen-X parents.  They love their kids, have tried to provide a comfortable life for them, and in my opinion have done a great job.  Even so, mother and her first daughter have had an uneasy relationship.  As a toddler, my niece began throwing fairly violent tantrums, including hitting and kicking her parents.  She’s an otherwise sweet, smart, funny girl.  Recently, the uncontrollable behavior has increased, and my sister and brother-in-law have sought help from doctors and therapists.  Last week she was tested for a wide range of mental health disorders, including oppositional/defiant, bipolar, sensory processing, etc.  A diagnosis is a couple of weeks away.

Throughout this summer, I have awoken to frustrated texts from my sister, all cries for help.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do on a daily basis, due to distance,  as well as my inexperience with raising children, with or without mental illness.  I try to be positive and supportive from afar.

Anyway, I was able to travel to their home this weekend for a visit.  Honestly I was hoping my presence would be a deterrent for a meltdown, since I’ve never really seen it happen while I’m with my neice.  Her parents and toddler sister could use a break from the rage.  Unfortunately it was not to be, and I’ve now experienced several tantrums over the past 24 hours.  When she’s not crying/kicking/screaming/throwing things, she’s very pleasant and good fun to be around.  It seems to come from out of nowhere.

My sister, on the other hand, is a shell of herself.  I know she’s tired, angry, and disappointed that her family isn’t what she had hoped for.  I observed her staring at her daughter, just waiting for the next fit to begin.  And when it did, my baby sister lost it.  She screamed at her husband, who was trying to move the girl into her bedroom to calm down. She screamed at our mother, who was also in the house at the time.  She screamed at me, and in front of her younger daughter.

I guess H does factor in here after all.  If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that H was subjected to quite a lot of yelling and screaming by his family throughout his life, especially as a child.  It made a very negative impact on him, and he’s only now, at 50, figuring out how to appropriately cope.  And all I could think of while in the midst of the conflict today was these babies that I love so much, and how their mother’s harsh words and actions might affect them later in life.   I asked her to stop raising her voice. I told her lashing out isn’t going to be productive.  She sneered and walked out.  My brother-in-law expects her to pack and leave with the smaller girl any day now.

My sister tends to enact a scorched earth policy on people who disappoint her – she and our brother have barely spoken in years due to a conflict, and her relationship with our mother isn’t great – so I fear our relationship may be coming to an end since  I spoke frankly to her this weekend.

She’s my best friend. For 37 years and counting, I have loved her more than anyone else on Earth.

My heart is breaking, for the pain this family is going through, and because I feel so helpless.

☀️

 

 

 

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I’ve forgotten her name.

I admit I’m having some foggy thinking and memory loss lately, as I work with my new doctor to help reverse the damage my latest endocrinologist has done by cutting my thyroid med dose in half. Even so, I was delighted to realize yesterday that I can not recall the last name of original OW from D-Day #1.  

I will remember her first name forever unfortunately, but her surname escapes me.  And I haven’t felt a need to go back and look it up.  That would be pointless, meaningless. 

I came to this realisation when H asked me what he should do if he were to run into her ever again.  We have been in the same neighborhood watering hole at the same time as one of the OW’s friends recently, which was the reason the conversation came up.  Just in case.

Honestly, I’d like for H’s conflict avoidance to kick in if he sees her, so that he will simply turn around and leave. Problem solved. But if that doesn’t happen, he needs to tell me.  Right away.  I think he gets it. Finally. 

I guess this is progress, even on the tiniest level. 

☀️

Same here, Maureen.

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Evidently I have little to say when the sailing is smooth, but I felt I should check in to say hi all the same.

I was just looking back at my posts from last May.  Wow, what a difference a year (and a man who finally starts fighting for his marriage) makes. 🙂  I was pretty sure we were done back then.  For good reason.

It’s better now.  There are two of us working on the relationship, which helps immensely.

I’ll soon be crossing a trip to Las Vegas off of my list of things to do, just days after the upcoming two year Original D-Day antiversary.  I’ll be back to express my feelings about that in greater detail.  I just have to figure out how I really feel.

We survived the trip to New Orleans;  hopefully we’ll survive Vegas, too.

Until then, all is well.  Happy Monday, everyone!

☀️

Today’s Mood 😕

H said something during a conversation tonight about the past that hit me the wrong way.  ( No, I don’t think he is cheating. ). But,  I still believe that HE in some way deep down believes it was my fault. That he was justified to cheat.  So when he said something about liking the attention he got back then from a former OW and, after all, he wasn’t getting enough attention at home at that time, I went off.  It is ridiculous that this even comes up at this point.

Everyone likes attention, H.  So while you were “out with Mr.Alibi” all those years ago, where do you think I got attention?  Oh, that’s right, I didn’t.  I lived without.   I sat at home and occupied myself.   I thought this was just how a long term marriage ended up. While you were out dating various women, of even better yet, paying for sex.  I can see how that’s all my fault. Not.

H has made great strides, as I thought I had,  but damn, this misguided comment really hit me hard.  And where is he now?   Is he here with me, holding me, trying to comfort me?  Nope.  He’s turned his back on me. Closed the door.  Can’t take it that I’m upset.  Just like so many times before.

When will this stop hurting so much?

☀️

Last week’s MC session + “Why Did You Stay”?


During a conversation we were having in our latest MC session last week about what things were like   for us last year    at this time, the question came up:
“Why did you stay?”   Therapist was looking at me when he said it.

I smiled, and replied “sometimes I wonder.  I often ask myself”.
It’s true. On those days when H just can’t help himself but to tell me a dumb “joke” that has some relation to strippers or prostitution, I wonder if he will ever gain the maturity it takes to see that those things are truly the opposite of funny.   Or his latest comedy  –  that he’s “BEEN GOOD FOR YEARS”…um, no sweetie, really it’s only been months..well maybe A YEAR but not YEARS…and he then explains with his silly math to prove that he’s correct.  (He’s not.)   Or when H can’t let go of his need to be a passenger seat driver while I’m behind the wheel.  It’s irritating, but not grounds for divorce.

So I’m still here – why?

Even if the jokes are dumb and inappropriate, he tries really hard to make me laugh. Sometimes he succeeds.  He has been working hard to make things better, finally.  Working at a lot of things – his job, the rental property, dealing with his mother, and our communication.   I had faith that he could.  He does things now, good things,  that he would never have done “back then”, to show me that he’s growing.  He has a sweetness about him that really does melt me.   He loves our dogs and refers to the four of us as “our family”.  I think he loves me. I want to see what’s next. 

Maybe that’s not much of a list, but it’s a start.


 

 

Projecting

It’s sort of unfair to you, the reader, that I’m more likely to write when I’m feeling off or when in despair.  Many days, everything is going well, and I’m optimistic that everything is going to turn out just fine with H and me.  I am less likely to feel inspired to write on those days, so you don’t hear about how H is successfully making improvements in his life, which has a direct result in improving mine.  You don’t know that we laugh together, and talk together, and cooperate like never before.  Just take my word for it, we do.

Even so, sometimes I have rough days, or rough weeks, and this has been one of them.

In my perception, H has a nasty habit of presupposing that I am upset with him.  Maybe a car door accidently closed too loudly for his liking, and he thought I slammed it.  Maybe I phrased a question the wrong way, making him think I expected something of him when in fact I did not.  Sometimes he’ll look at me and say “are you mad at me” and I have no idea what I may have done to bring the question.  No, I’m not, I’m just over here minding my own business. Should I be?

It gets to be exhausting.  Wondering if my next move or comment will make him cower in fear.  Or make him shut down to silence.

I don’t ask much of H.  Don’t cheat, don’t lie, hold down a job.  That’s about it.  I’m perfectly capable of caring for a home and dogs, working, seeing to our needs.  My expectations are not complicated.    Just don’t cheat, just don’t lie.  Go to work.  Stick with that program, and you’re unlikely to disappoint. H seems to be doing those very things – so why is he so convinced I’m mad at him?

Last night,  he may have figured it out.  Perhaps he’s actually upset with himself.  Maybe he’s seeing in himself whatever he thinks I’m thinking, and he’s projecting it on me.

I honestly don’t know.  What I do know is life isn’t much fun this way.

Here’s a little Sunshine for you


Hope you’re all having a good weekend.

Latest MC session – “You guys are doing great”…

…and when I think back to where we were six months ago, or a year ago, I guess we are.  Even six months ago,  H was still hemming and hawing about how to deal with The Tenant situation, and I was detaching myself from the relationship.  But then things changed, and he figured it out, and since September we’ve been finding our way back.

Some days are really hard though, and I get discouraged – mostly with myself.  I still find it hard to give myself a break and not be so determined to just be “healed!” already. (And then I need to remind myself of what I just typed above.  It’s only been six months since he really decided to commit to US again and to accept the boundaries that I need to feel safe.  Ok, it makes more sense to me now…)

But then there are days like today, when I came back from a nice long dog walk to a fully cooked breakfast (a birthday surprise prepared by H) that are fun and sweet and make me glad we’re both making the effort. Or evenings like last week after our meeting with Therapist, when H and I had dinner together and easily talked about so many things, and it just felt right. Or even the conversation we had while driving home, when H told me finding Therapist and spending the time and money over the past 18 months has totally been worth it, because he’s learned so much about himself and his relationships with all the people in his life.  (It wasn’t that long ago that H told me he “wasn’t getting much out of therapy” and he was ready to quit.  I guess like everything else, it just takes time. )

We’re working through the book “Hold Me Tight” with Therapist right now. Therapist says we’re doing just fine,  better than a lot of couples he’s seen.  He’s actually ready for us to wind it up soon.  He just wants to be sure we are armed with the tools we need to continue to do well. We’ve been going every other week or so, so I expect MC to be officially finished by summer.  That’s kinda scary for me.

We start each session talking about things that are currently causing tension in our relationship, mostly unrelated to affairs or prostitutes or strippers.   Instead, now we discuss H’s criticism of my driving skills, or my continued struggle to pay 100% undivided attention to H when I’m attempting to multitask.  These are things that have gone on for our entire relationship, but until recently, instead of expressing our feelings about them, we would grit our teeth and do whatever it was that we did to suppress them.  Now, all the feels are out in the open, and it can be hard to admit that even if we didn’t intend to hurt the other with our words or actions, the fact is, we did.  And we both need to do better.

I need to do better, so that I know that no matter what, I’ve done my very best to take this pain and make something good from it.  More compassion for myself  – my focus for the near future.

 

I’m failing at this

I’m not Supergirl or anything, but I can usually at least moderately succeed if I put my mind to something.  I can think of very few times when I actually failed at anything.  (Other than the Presidential Fitness test in school – I think I failed that miserably, because I didn’t learn the joys of athleticism until much later in life 😕). 

But, I am not suceeding at this being a wife thing. At least not at being the one H needs, that is if I expect him not to go find a side-piece, too.  I’m actually quite horrible at it, and I never expected it to be this hard.  

  • I’ve read all the books.  Gottman, Johnson, Chapman, etc.  I understand what they’re saying about rebuilding a relationship.   I nod my head as I read.  It makes perfect sense to me.   
  •  I understand more about what makes H tick, and what makes him pull away, and why. 
  •  I’ve paid thousands of dollars for therapy to help both of us get to better places than where we started.  

But still, sometimes I’m snippy or bitchy or unkind whatever you’d like to call it, towards H. About simple things.  Not affair related things, not anymore.   I know better than to say the first thing that comes to mind, but yet, I do it.  And it’s often hurtful, and gets me nowhere. And he doesn’t take it well, so we just keep spiraling. He’s doing what I asked him to do.  He’s not doing anything wrong. But I’m reacting as if he is.  

I could say “I’m just being myself”, but that’s not really ok.  H could have said he was just being himself when he was out f’ing other women, but that doesn’t cut it.  I expect him to do better, and I need to, too.  This is no longer about the past.  It’s what I’m doing now, and I need to correct it.

It seems so simple.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Why can’t I practice what I need to do to make this work out?

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