Monthly Archives: April 2010

rewriting my dictionary

Last week I posted about the deep-reaching nature of my healing process.  In that post I explained how perhaps the most difficult task for me is self-acceptance.

At the root of this struggle are some very rigid ideas about what it means to be successful, to be happy, to be good.

I first realized what my ideas about success and my beliefs about what a “good” life looks like were back when I was married to Mr. X and we were in the midst of dealing with infertility.  Suddenly, I realized that not only had I always thought I would be a mother, and not only that I had always thought that I should be a mother, but also that I must be a mother in order to have a meaning in my life.  It’s pretty heavy stuff to face the idea that you may never realize the path you thought was necessary for a meaningful life.

I don’t know how much I was actually able to challenge this belief of mine before the Great Escape and subsequent months of agony leading up to my divorce.  I do know that I realized somewhere in those months that I also had very harsh ideas about what it means to be divorced, and even what it means to be single past a certain age.  Ouch.  There is nothing more painful than being the object of your own rejection.

I don’t want to believe that I think a good life requires a (happy) marriage with children.  I don’t want to believe that being childless and divorced makes me somewhat pathetic.  I am becoming more and more aware all the time of the system of beliefs that under-girds much of my pain and want so badly to start over, to rewrite my dictionary of ideas, to release all that no longer serves me.*

I have a very difficult system set up for myself.  It’s a no-win way of living, and I’m tired of it.  It’s taken going through this last year (or thirty) of loss and angst to become cognizant of how much of my pain radiates from within, from my own worldview, and not from my circumstances.

More and more I am hopeful that I can change that worldview, that I can rewrite my internal dictionary, that I can learn a new way of being in the world.  It’s hard, but not as hard as not changing would be.

*Thanks to Lavender Luz for this phrasing.

goodbye, redux

I just clicked the categories for this post.  I usually do that at the end, but for some reason I changed it up today.

Divorce.  Group.  Grief.

Last night at divorce group, we talked about grief.  When the facilitator opened the class and mentioned the topic, some jokes were made about how we needed to have boxes of tissues out.  Little did we know.

The task of the evening was to write a letter saying goodbye to our former partner and the things we miss.

Oh, I thought.  I’m way ahead here.  I’ve already done this.

About two months ago, at the suggestion of my therapist, I wrote a letter of sorts.  It started out as an accounting of the things I miss, but turned into an inventory of the things I don’t miss.  It was helpful at the time, and I thought that, well, I had already done the exercise.  I decided to participate in my “small group” (four participants and a volunteer-leader who has gone through the class before) as a way of being a good sport.  I’m nothing if not a good sport.

I didn’t really think I’d have much to write in the twenty minutes allotted, but somehow I filled up both sides of the paper I had been given.  Somehow.

And this time, it didn’t turn into a listing of what I don’t miss.  Somehow I was able to hold the space, and think of the beautiful moments.  I remembered that many of them were tainted by our dysfunction, either then or later, but somehow I was able to write out my grief for what I had lost, and not shift into protest mode.

The time was up, all of us in a suspended space.  I heard someone in one of the other small groups start to talk.  Then, my group’s leader told us we would then be reading our letters aloud to each other.

Say what?

It was very difficult to read my letter aloud.  I had no idea that what I had been writing was not to be for my eyes only.  Reading the letter, hearing my own voice speak what was in my heart was much more difficult than simply writing it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about letting go.  Mr. X dominated 6 years or so of my life while we were together, and he has dominated this last year since we’ve been apart.  A large part of me is saying “enough already.”  As I wrote last night, and as I read my words aloud, I felt a bit of him slip out of my grasp.

Before we split into our small groups, our facilitator played a song for us.  As soon as I heard the first notes, I recognized it.  In almost any other setting, at almost any other time I might have thought it was too corny for words.  Somehow, last night, it fit.

what it’s about

(ICLW intro post is here)

One thing I’ve been working on in this whole “divorce recovery” and “emotional abuse recovery” process is being okay with my progress.  This may be the most difficult task of all for me—being okay with myself.

Mr. X did not treat me well.  We’ve been over that before.  The thing is, by the time I met him, the messages I would hear from him about my unacceptability were already ingrained in my deepest beliefs; he just rode the train tracks that were already in place.

So this “recovery” is not just a recovery from our breakup, or from our relationship, but from the messages I’ve heard and believed about myself my whole life.

When I spoke to my therapist this week about learning of X’s impending marriage, and the fact that they were officially together so much earlier than I thought, she surprised me a bit with her response.  She said,  “As I heard you talking about this, it was obvious to me that these feelings you’re having are really about your family, not about him.”  Huh.  Well, yeah, okay.

For reasons that have to do partly with my parents, and partly with myself, I have always felt insecure, always felt that I had to mold myself a certain way in order to be found acceptable.  So when X came along, the patterns I fell into with him felt very familiar in a very deep way.

The best thing that I take from my disastrous relationship with X is that this pain I’ve experienced has helped me to become more aware of the ways in which I need healing, and motivated  me to do the necessary work for that healing.  If things hadn’t turned out so spectacularly bad with X I may have just bumbled through life without ever deeply examining why I am so hard on myself, why I persistently feel inferior, and why I have exhibited such poor boundaries in some of my relationships, much less worked on doing anything about it.

So that’s kind of a lot.  And I’m really working on cutting myself some slack for not just being “over it,” because this is about so much more than a six year mistake.  It’s about my life.

april iclw: make yourself at home

True story:  I married a crazy person, but didn’t really realize it until last spring.  At the end of March ’09 Miss Famous and I got the heck out so that I could get far away from his emotionally abusive ways and stayed with my parents for a few months.  In September, Her Famousness and I moved to a city about an hour away from my parents and I started a new job.  My divorce from the crazy Mr. X was finalized in December and this month I started a divorce recovery class/support group.   Miss Famous and I are still getting used to living in our new city, mainly because I became a bit of a hermit after we moved here, so the place I know best is my own house, but I am starting to feel inklings of wanting more social in my life.  I just found out last weekend that X is getting married in June, and also that his “official” relationship with Version 2.o started a lot sooner than I had thought (they moved across the country together in July and were shacked up from that point on), so I’m kind of dealing with that at the moment.

All in all, I’m making progress, slow though it may be.  I love the ALI community, as I became acquainted with the infertility beast back when I was married and discovered what an amazing group of people make up that corner of the blogosphere.  Blogging has definitely been therapy for me, mostly because of the fabulous people I’ve met here in cyberland.

Here’s a picture of Miss Famous, looking pretty cute, if I do say so myself:

with weekends like this…

It kind of makes one yearn for the workweek.

The trip to see my family was not all I had hoped for.  My older sister, who has bipolar disorder, just had to get her medication adjusted because she’s been cycling up into a manic phase.  The good news is that she went to the doctor on her own and has been fairly open about what’s been going on.  The bad news is that she’s taking it all out on her daughter, my 12 year old niece who lives with my parents.  I’m very proud of my sister that she went to the doctor on her own, I’m worried that she’ll get sicker and stop taking her medication (which is usual for people in a manic phase), and I’m pissed at her that she’s being so awful to my niece.

I got back late last night and today I’ve been holed up in my room, napping and watching silly TV shows.  I did a little internet search and found out that Mr. X is getting married in June.  Saw their wedding website and everything.  I think I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop since I found out they were living together.  I think it just dropped.  I don’t know if I am in shock or if I’m really not that upset.  I’m probably just in shock.

Maybe I’ll write something reflective about this later.  Right now I’m just going to go back to the silly TV shows and snuggling with the dog.

famous friday: breaking the hiatus

Yes, Miss Famous knows she has been absent for quite a while, and for this she apologizes.  Something about no time due to taking care of her crazy owner, I don’t really know what that means.

Anyhow, La Famosa and I will be going to see the family this weekend to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  My sis who lives farther away will be coming with her three girls, and the niece and nephew who live close by will, of course, be there, also.  Miss Famous doesn’t actually know yet that we’ll be making this trip, though if she did, her reaction would be something like EXCITED, EXCITED, Excited, excited, less excited, not excited, oh yeah those kids never leave me alone.  That is, if she could really reason through it in that way.  At any rate, that’s pretty much how she responds when we see them.  Super excited at first, winding down into tolerating them (especially my nephew, who is quite the bruiser).  On that note, I bring you photographic evidence of her not-as-excited phase of being with my little people.  (Things are too crazy when she’s in the excited phase to think about taking pictures.)

She has had a haircut since these photos, so my first thought upon seeing them was, “Wow, she’s furry!”  She’s back to her sleek summer self at the moment:

unexpected (updated)

I just found out that a former friend is pregnant.  I say “former” because she and her husband were friends of mine and X’s, and since the split, I’ve heard nary a word from him, and received one short message from her, which I replied to in great detail, and then didn’t hear a thing.

I had somewhat made peace with the fact that these two would no longer be in my orbit.  I even understood a bit, as X was friends with the guy for a while before I entered the picture, and I know that feelings of loyalty can be complex.  Anyway…

So I found out on the face place this morning that she is pregnant (not sure how far along, but she’s showing and shopping for maternity clothes).  I was punched in the gut by feelings of jealousy, and this reaction surprised me greatly.

I’m not sure why her pregnancy affects me more than others’…maybe because I have this couple so strongly connected in my mind with my time with X.  Maybe because X and I married three years before they did, and yet there were no babies (or pregnancies even) for me.

I think that this has clarified for me that there are so many things about my life that are not as I would choose them to be.  There are so many things about my life that I would change.  I am finding it far to easy to idealize this couple’s life, and see them as the symbol of what might have been with X and me (had he not turned out to be an abusive raving lunatic).

I find myself wondering what I can do to change those parts of my life that I find unsatisfactory.  Clearly, some things are out of my control.  Some are not.

Today I am reminded that, though the intensity of it is usually kept well below my awareness, my deep dream of becoming a mother is alive and well.



P.S.  Please don’t tell me about all the ways that my dream may come true.  Today I just need to feel this, I don’t need anyone to “solve” my problem, or make it better for me.

Update: OK, upon further thought I realize that what is bothering me most, is not the actual jealousy, or sadness, or grief, or whatever you want to call it, it’s that I’m having those feelings at all.  Apparently a big part of me thinks that I should just be over this whole thing and that there is something wrong with me if I feel this way at all.  Which then snowballs and gets me feeling super crappy.  So I am working on telling myself that it’s OK to feel what I feel, that I’m OK, and more cheesy stuff like that.  Still not happy that I don’t have a baby and maybe never will (ahem, see: P.S., above), but am feeling better about myself.  Onward and upward.