Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Shame Spiral: Please Don't Judge

How do you know when a relationship isn't working?

Apparently it isn't when your boyfriend packs everything you have at his place into a suitcase and two laundry baskets and throws it out of his house into the rain.

I guess its not when you've cried so hard the night before Valentine's day that you burst multiple blood vessels in your eyes.

But when you, granted, in a fit of blacked out drunkenness, get into an argument about God knows what stupid bullshit, and it leads to you swallow 15 little white pills of Ambien....with the sick, twisted theory that maybe if you try to kill yourself he'll be nice to you for a little while....you get clued in.

And once you regain consciousness roughly 36 hours later and you realize what your little stunt put your friends and said boyfriend through (not to mention being incredibly lucky you did not, in fact, die) - the shame sets in. The utter shame, self loathing, personal disappointment that you, a beautiful, successful, 31 year old woman could do something so pathetic and so fucking stupid - is almost more that you can take. Let alone the fact that the man who was taking you ring shopping the week before is seriously reconsidering some major factors in his potential choice of future wife. Namely: sanity and stability.

And you are reconsidering...everything.

Neck deep in the shame spiral, trying not to mentally ass-rape myself, knowing that because I made a bad choice, doesn't mean I am a bad person, doesn't mean (necessarily) that i've undone everything healthy I gained in therapy (although Dr. B did get a call and I have an appointment on Friday), it doesn't mean I'm a mentally ill nutcase incapable of having a long term, meaningful relationship. Does it?

And the scary thing is that I know that none of these are the questions I should be asking. That I SHOULD be asking "why did I do it in the first place"? And the answer is...because...the thought of living without him is....not an appealing one.

That sentence is filled with all sorts of wrong. I know this. The only thing is that the idea of living in a war zone doesn't exactly leave me with warm and fuzzy, furry bunny feelings either.

The truth is that I want to stay. I want us to work. I want to be a sane, calm, normal girl that he can love. Not this crazy, codependent, clingy, pathetic shell of a woman I used to be. Frankly, I'd like to see that girl in the mirror again. I don't know when she disappeared. What's even scarier is that I don't know what to do to get her back.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Conversations with My Father (Part Deux)

I think sometimes I over think things when it comes to my life - the romantic aspects of it. Clearly, finding yourself rolling head first down a hill in the rain with your best friend, doesn't exactly paint a picture of the "well examined life". Then again, judging on your viewpoint, perhaps it does. But I digress.

I blame it on my parents. They have given me such high standards both in the example they themselves set and the way they raised me to never to settle, to strive for excellence and whatever you do....don't marry the wrong person. As such, I put such weight into these issues that many times i find myself staggering beneath it. It’s a hard realization to know that there's no book I can read, no test I can take, no instruction manual to follow step by step in order to arrive at a good and happy life.  

My heart has been hurt so much over the years that I have learned to instinctively distrust it, working hard training my brain the dominant & more trustworthy of the two organs. But, in the end, I don't believe there's any perfect answer. No silver bullet. No cheat sheet. I'll just have to take the best information I have and use it to make the best decisions possible. And when I still feel that information lacking, I ask my father for his advice.

My latest query was to ask if it "bothers him that he and my mother don't share a lot of the same interests" (stoic history PhD marries bubbly elementary school teacher) and whether or not he's found that an obstacle to be overcome in their marriage. 

Ever the thoughtful professor, he penned a reply which I have included below. Frankly, I believe the sentiments are universal and everyone loves a bit of fatherly wisdom. 

Thank you, dad.

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Hi Sweets.  I've been a bit bothered by your question the other day, inasmuch as I do not think I answered it very well.  So I will try, briefly, to expand a little.
We like to think that we should have long-range plans for our lives, and while we are encouraged to do so and need to do so, the reality is mostly aspirational.  The reason for this is simple: we change as we grow older.  And as we change, our likes and dislikes change, goals change, financial circumstances change and so those plans must change as well. 
The future is a mystery with respect to many things, but especially with this abstraction called 'happiness'.  Most people in this world have never experienced it, I am convinced, and have made their lives commensurately miserable in the pursuit of it.  For 'it' itself is myriad in its forms and seems as fleeting as gossamer.  Yet it doesn't so much 'flee' as 'evolve' as we grow older.  The happiness of youthful passion inexorably gives way to the warmth of familiarity and sentimental attachment.  The happiness of watching a child grow, will give way in time to the stark reality of anxious nights, emotional conflict and a life-long uncertainly over the fate of that child.  The initial paternal giddiness gives way to celebration, dread, satisfaction and second-guessing, as life gives and takes its rewards and its tolls. But that's the whole point of living isn't it? 
You asked me whether I wished Mom knew more history, and the answer is: of course I do.  But I knew that history was not her strong suit when I married her.  Instead, I looked to her character, her maternal instinct, her loving nature, her eternal innocence about many things.  Where is the guarantee that a history degree would have come with all those?  Does that mean that, perhaps, I am not as happy as I could be?  Probably.  But then who is, outside the silly movies which have distorted our perspective on such things?  The familial detritus which litters the twenty-first century social landscape provides ample evidence that most people never find their ideal.  And while that may rule out attainment of the will-o-the-wisp we call 'happiness', it hardly makes impossible the more achievable, stable and nurturing objective: contentment.  And if, in the end, I can say that I am content with the way I've lived my life; that will be compensation enough. 
I hope this helps.  Didn't mean to go on.  And I certainly don't mean to tell you what to do, or what decisions you should make.  I said my piece enough as I was raising you.  It's up to you now.