Monday, December 5, 2011

an armless man

There are these moments when I see clearly how hard Roi is trying to learn to live with the new him, the new me, the clattering and discordant us. 

The new him is disbelieving that he was ever that man who once set to work seducing the bookkeeper of one of his clients. Who made plans with her to meet at a resort in upstate New York. Who sent her a photo of himself petting the face of a horse because he knew she was an animal lover. He laughs like an adult remembering childhood antics that are so distant they are more like memories of storybook tales rather than events experienced firsthand. 

The new me is a tattered assortment of vague elements. A moth-eaten sweater. Stuttered attempts to reclaim things that used to flow without effort. Hope, motivation, progression toward things, curiosity. The official depression has lifted, but I feel as substantial as a ghost. 

I've lost all patience, all empathy with Roi and it seems at least weekly I tear him down for being who he is. And yet each time, after his initial arrogant defense, he tries harder, tells me he loves me, and gives more. I wonder now if I'm the cruel one. If what I'm asking is as absurd as asking an armless man to will himself to grow new limbs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

maybe i'll fry up an egg

Existential ennui. A problem we only have when life is luxurious enough for it, no? 

Lately I've found myself hoping that Roi would screw up in some major way again. Not yet, not now because I still couldn't handle it. But maybe a year from now when the economy is moving again (will it ever move again as it used to?) and when Lexie has moved on to college so I can go for my masters, and when I'm strong again like I continually will myself to be on the daily. Because then I'll be ready to leave I tell myself, and the leaving will be good. 

In this vein I've made a couple of meebly surveillance sweeps. Checked the caller ID, browsed his internet history, nosed into his usual hiding spots for alcohol and painkillers. Blessedly I find my heart's not in it. In part because I've found nothing to raise my hackles, and what's more his behavior has been consistent. No signs of trouble. Nothing on the radar. 

Unless you count his unusual spike in sexual interest after coming home from a physical therapy appointment where I learned she had worked on his hip, and had him change into a flimsy set of shorts to do so. Or how when he left he saw his physical therapist and another woman talking and he was sure they were chatting about his physique. All of which plays into the fantasies that drove his particular flavor of sex addiction.

I suggested that his sudden libido surge (after six months of sexual anorexia) might have been triggered by these events, but he looked me in the face and said rather sincerely that, no, in fact he was just a "regular guy for once". 

Because regular guys are always convinced that two women talking must be fawning over his build. Because when Roi looks me in the face and says something sincerely it must be true. 

I walk into the kitchen, stare into the refrigerator and have a thought about the nature of sexual fantasy in "normal" relationships. Maybe's and what ifs float around lightly in my head without taking any kind of root. Maybe he got triggered. Maybe bringing that home to me is progress. Maybe I don't know shit about what healthy sexuality looks like anymore. Maybe I'll fry up an egg. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Updates from the Land of Endless Insanity

My neurofeedback treatment continues to go well and I feel I'm improving daily and more my "self" than I've been in a long time, but the jury is still out on how much of my "self" is problematic versus my situation being problematic and where all the lines are.

Lexie is doing reasonably fine and she and I have become increasingly close over the last year.

Our cat died recently and that devastated me. That event was sandwiched neatly between Roi doing prescription drugs again under the auspice of shoulder pain, and Kyd coming home intoxicated for the first time in a long while and raining chaos and blustering, slurred anger down on everyone for a few hours before passing out.

All the while the country's economy is still hanging on a precarious edge and jobs remain scarce in my area so prospects for leaving or for affording the in-depth, comprehensive close treatment Kyd needs feel ever far off, though I continue to look, continue to try while pedaling the wheels of my own recovery as fast and steadily as I can to stay one hair ahead of slipping back into anxiety or depression.

One day at a time, one day at a time I tell myself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lighter Ground

I've missed this space. I mean, I think I've missed this space. But then, Fall is coming on and I always write more in Autumn as I fold in on myself. 

Roi and I feel very very done, but I've stopped trying to predict what might or might not happen with us. There's been some recent drama - nothing nearly so awful as before, nothing even involving a woman as far as I know - just enough to focus an unforgiving spotlight on where we are with each other. A constant stand off where I can't let go of any more, can't be fed one more spoonful of bullshit, don't have the heart to give in even just a little and he feels persistently villainized, imprisoned far too long for misdemeanor crimes, a victim of the train-wreck he helped orchestrate. 

The possibilities for forgiveness and healing seem impossible given our positions, but this doesn't make me any more inclined to extend the slightest favor in his direction. Even while sometimes my silence feels like a favor. 

And as I caught up on the blogs I follow here I read about a friend who now regrets the compassion she gifted during her ex's amends because he hasn't changed his core diseased thinking. And that's what this is about for me now. That forgiveness is a tricky state of mind and can be used against one to excuse bad behavior and that's the bullshit I'm not going to swallow. I can forgive the existence of the disease, but not  the unfettered continuation of it.

In daily life, all this looks like is that Roi and I have become barely tolerant roommates and we make that work as best we can, each taking flight as often as possible to lighter ground where we can catch a break, catch our breath, and feel ok for a few hours. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

message from a woman to men - this is not news

First off, there's this. An essay written by a well-meaning MAN telling women, "I see it, I see what we do, I see what the culture does. It's insidious, and it's not cool." 

He's talking about gas-lighting in the name of getting away with poor behavior. On one hand, right on. On the other hand it irks me a little. Because women have been saying this for what feels like nearly our entire history, at least since the advent of property and women being tied to it. So this MAN feels pretty proud of himself for speaking out, for showing his solidarity with the womenz, all because, at the root, this legitimizes it. Just look at the title. We need a MAN to say it so it can be true. 

So yes, thank you Mr. Man. I know you meant well, and in an ideal world it might actually make a difference. I actually do appreciate you opening your eyes and ears and seeing some truth and then having the guts to speak it out loud, but until women can speak these truths without needing a man to legitimize it, we're still not there yet. And it pisses me off that I felt a little relief when I read it, like WHEW, now a man's said it...things are gonna be alright. Because yes, I too believe at my core that I have to have my experience legitimized. 

It's not a harmless problem to have in the deep unconscious, handed down generation after generation. Sprinkle on some childhood emotional abuses and I'm ripe to be duped over and over by the emotional abuses of addicts (diseased as they may be, the behavioral product is emotional abuse, let's just be clear). 

But then, when we turn to therapy or 12-steps for support, we find more of the same. The too many stories I've heard and read of wives/girlfriends being told in therapy that it's just porn, or maybe you just need to be more sexy for him, or in 12-steps - you've got to let go of expectations, or you're just as ill as him or don't take it personally, it's a disease.

Because gas-lighting and victim blaming are two sides of the same coin. 

And I'm just at this point where Bill Wilson, or uninformed therapists, or my partner's male SLAA sponsor who doesn't know me OR my experience, DO NOT GET TO DICTATE HOW I FEEL, nor do they get to tell me my feelings or behaviors are wrong, or misguided, or reactionary, or ill, or any damn thing at all. 

I will legitimize my own story, thank you very much.

P.S. I wanted this to be a much more eloquent essay but a) I'm too tired to write anything but a venty post and b) I'm tired of even having to think about such things. If someone else is less tired and more eloquent than me, feel free to expand on this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

brain states sure feel real at the time

I know the new blogger interface is meant to be more "intuitive", but it's only annoying me. I don't like change. Way to be predictable, I know. 

For the record, I am now convinced more than ever that neurofeedback is a gift from the gods. I missed a lot of NF time over the last month due to being away, wanting more talk time, and then canceling an appointment which I cancelled because I was a mess and couldn't get up out of the bed to drive two minutes down the road and sit with my sweet cherub therapist. 


She was a little harsh about it, but it set me straight. She manages my stubborn streak well. 

But here's my point. A lot of shit went down last week, and I was a hot mess but attributed it to all the goings-on instead of my brain-state. This week, more shit, but I'm calm. The only difference is that this week I have two back-to-back NF sessions under my belt. So Therapist and I agreed, no matter how much talk time I'm craving, or how stuck in the bed I feel, I must. do. the. neurofeedback at least once per week. 

I think we were both a little fooled by how well I'd been doing. Lesson learned and filed for future reference. My brain is resilient and responds extremely quickly to the treatment, but it's now obvious that the cPTSD is still alive and well and number one priority for my treatment plan. Particularly when I'm still having to live inside the "trauma field". 

So let's get to what's been boiling in the trauma field. Roi has taken on a new client. And I knew the moment he told me that he would be gone for the afternoon "consulting" that something was up. Here's the breakdown. The client is a woman. The consulting happened in her home. She's a massage therapist. She has no real budget for our services so she wants to barter.

There are a handful of reasons this is triggering and all kinds of wrong. Some is probably already obvious. First, there's the history with erotic massage. Which means he should have said no when his friend referred the client. Which means he should have said no to going to her home to consult. Which means he definitely should have declined on the offer to barter. Then there's the litany of contradictory explanations and excuses. He feels obligated because she's a friend of his friend. She's not a close friend. There's "some" money she'll be able to pay. It's not even a drop in the bucket and we have much bigger fish we should be focusing on. He wants to help a local business. He never wants to help local businesses, always complaining how they're a waste of time because they never have the money to afford our services. 

Both Therapist and a friend have pointed out I'm not going to be able to stop him doing what he does, but fretting over it, fighting over it, trying to control it just throws me off the plan I need to be funneling every precious drop of energy into. 

Yep. Right. Last week, not possible. This week? I've sent out two resumes, cleaned and organized piles of stuff (all the better to pack), and worked. 

Also hanging out in the trauma field smoking a cigar and looking smug is Kyd's relationship falling apart over trust issues. Seems his girlfriend likes to keep a selection of boys dangling, just in case. Sans neurofeedback I can assure you this would be setting off explosions in my head. By now I would have played out a dozen horrific scenarios in my head and worked myself into a frothy freak-out. Instead I was able to listen, offer a few words of comfort and advice, and trust Kyd to be ok. Basically not contribute to his stress with my own sense of urgency to smooth out his road ahead.

And you know, I'll be damned if he didn't handle it pretty well. Told her they needed a break, and was quite clear with me on why this is the right thing to do, and then put himself and his aching heart under the headphones to mix some music. I've got to trust my boy. Trust the tools nature and my teachings have given him. Trust that he's got to learn to handle his own bumps in his own road and my only job is to listen and help when asked. 

So yeah, neurofeedback people. It works.

Friday, September 9, 2011

in the dreams of good and evil

I haven't had enough neurofeedback lately and it's showing. I am being reminded, not-too-kindly, that my brain is still vulnerable to PTSD symptoms, and that talking to therapist or anyone else does little to help me in the intersections of triggers. 

Two nights ago I had terrifying dreams. There were two tracks, both interchanging, and equally chilling. I only remember bits of one. I was in a house, standing in an dark entrance hallway. Outside it was black and creatures of various sorts came to the door. I would sense their presence and have to let them in. Each time a harmless animal would rush in and then straight out through the back. The "good" animals I was somehow helping, but often they would be followed nose to tail by other animals, mostly neutral, but some were dark, low-lying, shadowy things clicking and skittering along the edge of the hallway and detouring off the hallway to the upstairs and I could never get the door shut quick enough to block them getting in. 

I couldn't let in the good without letting in the evil. 

Later, I was standing in the living room in a panic because I knew there was a fox upstairs. A shy little fox, and yet I knew it wasn't a fox. It was something else, some evil disguised as the fox, meant to trick me and do me harm and I wasn't going to be able to protect myself from it or convince anyone else in the house of the danger as long as it was in the house in the form a fox. I stood there sweating, eyeballs rolling in my head,  frantically searching for a way to protect myself. 

In a flash of insight I knew what I had to do, and when the fox came downstairs I wasn't fooled by it's small frame or timidness. I grabbed the thing by its face and squeezed its skull between my hands as I forcefully repeated, "I know what you are, I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE". After several seconds the fox exploded and transformed into one of the dark shadowy skittering things, and then vaporized.

I forced myself up and out of the dream then, just barely able to pry my eyes open and will myself to keep them that way until the dream had passed. 

Meanings seem evident. 

It makes me question whether it is safe for me to stay on here with Roi until I am financially able to leave without disrupting Lexi's life. Resilient as I may be, living in a trauma field day in and day out where every interaction is like opening that front door to let in the "good" but not being able to shut it fast enough to keep out the evil - who can keep their head in that?

I used to think, "a better person than I", but I've taken to recognizing that my life force, my will to live unencumbered, is strong and it is this part of me working within wounded parts of me that keep me resisting and clarifying and pushing back instead of playing games that do not come natural to me, or throwing in the towel and pointing the nose of the car in the direction of "family" next time Lexi and I are in it, or just plain not fighting. 

There's no perfect answer for how to be in this, how to breathe an air filled with toxins that change shape, odor, color, and opacity and only get the oxygen.

The neurofeedback - it's like an oxygen tank I get to carry around for a few days until it empties out. I need more of that to keep from losing consciousness. Less talk time in therapy, more physical time.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Therapist is really settling into her chair in a way I haven't seen before. She's got one leg over the arm now, the other leg tucked underneath the first one. We're talking about my "future", as in career and livelihood. It's never easy for me to explain what I want to do, and frankly, there's no real job title for it either. I have several "talents" that look unrelated, or abilities that suggest talents I don't actually have, and it's taken me a third of my adult life to circle around this mix of talent and abilities and wants to find the one or three common threads and how they fit together. 

I only started getting any real clarity a year ago, before the big bad sad, when I was happening to have a lot of lunches with a friend who was also a personal coach. She was the centrifuge to my handfuls of ingredients. We were meeting this way to work on some collaborative projects together, but after a time she was all, "Briar, you need clarity", and I was all, "I KNOW DAMMIT". So she asked me questions and I answered, and there was nothing new or surprising until we got past the point in the conversation where I would normally switch topics because I could feel the other person getting exasperated or overwhelmed or lost or bored. 

I never got much chance to work with what we pulled out of those conversations - by that time I was already clutching onto the edge of sanity by my fingernails. 

Therapist leans forward a little now as my throat clenches with frustration, my voice tighter and higher. "How long ago did you come to see me?", she asks as she reaches for my file. She shuffles through a few papers and announces, almost to herself, "June 9 weeks, just over two months." 

I'm not sure what she's getting at. She drops the folder back onto the table and looks at me, "It's rare that someone comes to see me in as much distress as you were in and makes this much progress in just two months, you know that, right? You're quite resilient." 

Her point, I gather, is that I'm being impatient. And I am. My birthday is next week, and I can't help but feel time is slipping through my fingers. One of my competitors in my industry has announced his book will be launched in November, he's already in editing stage. That could've been me and I blew it. And someone else has come out of left field with 1/8 the experience I have and will be presenting at the industry's biggest conference on MY GODDAMN TOPIC. That should've been me. I'm losing ground every day. I've already lost ground I can't get back. I'm not being pessimistic, I know how this shit works. I was positioned at the front of a cutting-edge wave, I had made incredible in-roads, but all those months I spent being depressed I dropped off the radar and other people moved in. Nature abhors a vacuum and all. 

I've got other plans, and I know I'll be ok, but no amount of well-meaning sentiments will convince me I didn't lose something back there in the quicksands of the Big Bad Sad. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

suffocating mud

Lately I've taken to hostility with Roi. It has a different flavor than anger or resentment, though one could see how the latter could manifest as the former. This is less about, "you hurt me", or "why can't you just be well?", or "I want my amends dammit", and more about, "get the fuck out of my way or I will hurt you". 

Roi sober is better than Roi not sober, but not by much. He's oblivious of his own feelings, completely disconnected between what he's feeling and what comes out of it. He exhausts me. Every conversation is loaded, and even if I let go of 99 out of 100, it takes work to let go. 

Whatever "recovery" I have under my belt so far is still not enough to stop the relentless draining throughout the day, so I walk into another room when he comes in, take long baths to avoid conversations, and cut him short on just about everything. At this point I have to wonder why he would even want to try. 

This on Facebook: "You will NEVER leave where you are - until you decide where you would rather be."  Rocked me off-center and I thought, yes. I've known this is my big obstacle. Having let this relationship, this work take me so far off course of myself that I don't know at all anymore where or what is next, having no plan except, "out". Of course there's the quaint notion of putting one foot in front of the other - hardly comforting considering where that's led me. I'm aching for, needing a plan and the lack of one leaves me feeling stuck in a suffocating mud. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

sometimes therapy is just 'meh'

And other times you find yourself like a half-dead fish gasping for air while being gutted alive. Everything, everything, tilts on its axis and you see yourself in the world in a different way and you can scarcely believe it. 

The realizations come without warning, breaking in waves over the breast bone. It fucking hurts, like chest-cracking open-heart surgery without anesthesia. 

I knew before I went in that I was looking for the connection and interplay between multiple emotional abuses in childhood and my fucked up relationships. It seemed obvious. It seemed...simple. Of course, of course I'm somehow playing out those abuses repeatedly. It's in all the textbooks. 

Therapist decided today was the day to tickle at my random thoughts, to gently nudge here and then there, to turn me again and again to face down particular corridors and walk to their end and open the doors I found there. Doors linking past and present. 

There was my frustrating need to expend energy on getting people to give me permission to be. Why if I knew someone was wronging me and they refused to see or apologize or make it right on their own was I so determined to batter myself up against their wrong thinking repeatedly? Why expend so much of my valuable time and energy getting them to see? Why the need for their permission to feel hurt? Why the need for them to have the right view so I could move on?

All people? Or certain people, she asked. 

Certain people...people who are consistently mean to me (even if they are sometimes also nice, generous, giving). awareness...a truth is coming up and I feel like crying. 

I'm one of those people, I think. I look at Therapist with a rising shock in my eyes. "I'm repeating the abuse...I'm repeating it because I want to come up with a different ending, and I think I CAN come up with a different ending. If I can get one bully to see their error I can relax, that's what I'm thinking. It's so predictable." 

No, it's still not that obvious. There's more, and each new revelation strikes its blow, swift and precise. Therapist says nothing now, she sees she doesn't need to. 

"I was a good child, and these people, they punished me because of it. My caretakers, my peers, they wanted to make me feel awful not because I was bad, but because I was good and open-hearted." 

It's true. As a child I was a little ray of sunshine. Talkative, brave, kind, curious, sweet, sensitive, and pretty. I was stubborn as hell, but I wouldn't hurt a fly. And for whatever fucked up reasons, my caretakers and peers took it upon themselves to make me feel as bad about myself as they possibly could. Seemingly without remorse.

"What you're describing sounds like evil", Therapist said. I heard those words through the pounding rush of revelations, it barely registered, but I felt myself nod slightly through tears.

Therapist asked me if I felt any anger or rage. Yes, I have a lot of rage. "Sometimes the rage comes through because we have moments of knowing how wrong it is", she said. 

All of this. It manifests in various ways. I repeat the abuse hoping I can undo the evil this time. I take on the burdens of others hoping that kind of good will be appreciated. But instead my strength gets used, ABused. My ex-husband, when we were splitting and he couldn't bear to be alone started an affair before we were properly separated. His excuse, "you were always the strong one". 

Bottom line, I can't fix this problem from the inside. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

i was a child

I cook a dinner of fresh ravioli topped with a sauce supplemented with fresh veggies from our visit to the farm stand yesterday. Roi is out in the driveway fixing something on his motorcycle (for some reason I find it necessary to point out that said motorcycle is NOT a Harley nor one of those new "crotch-rockets", but rather an understated classic). 

I call out to Roi from the front porch that dinner is ready and he jumps to attention and hastily puts away his tools and something in my chest squeezes and stops for a moment. Roi is hungry, of course, but he's acting eager on my account. To please me. To do something right. The world tilts and shifts suddenly and here now comes across the yard a man who is loving me in the best way he knows how what with all his damage and while this doesn't incite something I could identify as love, it does make me tender.

It's not my fault he's been wrecked in the ways he has, and I should never have been a recipient of the fall-out. And his earnest bids for love are so ill-timed and over-done they can't possibly undo the betrayals and abandonment. But watching him "hop-to", earnest and child-like, I cannot in this moment hate him as I have. The early evening sun slants down through the tall oaks and pines softly touching his shoulders, his blonde head, and I hear him saying, "I was a child once".

After dinner he invites me upstairs so he can make his amends. He delivers them matter-of-factly, pulling absently at the tuft of hair on his chest as he speaks, the two of us lying side by side on the bed. He has an action plan, he intends to carry it out. I don't look at him, but instead at our feet stacked in a row, his baritone words vibrating through the mattress across the back of my shoulders. I am neither angry at all he has omitted nor softened by his commitment. I am simply perplexed at what comes next. I'm not sure what I was expecting; I hadn't bothered to imagine this moment.

I bring up honesty and we bat at the topic philosophically for a few minutes until that dissolves and then we lay there quietly. He notices that he is developing a bald spot on the side of his leg and I cluck in empathy over the plight of aging. 

Shouldn't I be crying, I wonder. Should this be so casual? Like a couple mechanically following the routine of their day after decades of marriage. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I have no title for this

Today I discovered that a big honcho in my industry is on his second divorce and already on to his next girlfriend. Younger and prettier of course. Meanwhile, everyone is all abuzz over the book, "Sex at Dawn" which is essentially about all the evidence that shows how we are not meant to be a monogamous species. 

Great news for the sex addicts of the world. 

I have all kinds of jumbled confused thoughts about the subject of this book. I haven't read it, but I've read damn near every review. I can't speak intelligently on the book or the subject both because I haven't read the book and because being involved with a sex addict has completely skewed my sense of my own sexuality or what I think about sexuality in general. 

And that's been pissing me off lately. 

But here's where I am today, and understand my point of view is coming from a place of wholesale exasperation with the whole business of sex period. 

So what if there's boatloads of evidence that we're a philandering species? That women will mate with as many men as possible (evidenced, apparently, by the size of the homo sapiens penis) and that men will do the same competing to make their sperm number one. 

There's also unshakable evidence that we're a murdering, warring species. Where's the book justifying that? Do we want to read that book? 

There's also plenty of evidence that it's in our nature to eat as much food as possible and for our body to store fat, but given our modern day conditions of abundance and processed foods, should we follow our biological nature or should we try to find healthy adaptations by applying our minds to the problem?

Is the idea of bringing back a sexual free-for-all supposed to be some kind of enlightened evolution? Do we honestly think it will reduce our suffering? Are we so naive to not realize that we no longer live in conditions where this could be functional or even enjoyable? For instance, at the time in our history when we were more sexually fluid we lived in smaller groups and shared resources where the number of potential mates was limited and our survival depended on the cooperation of the entire group, not just who we were sleeping with or who sired our offspring. For instance, birth control, because without it our ancestors could only have so much sex before the tribe would run out of food.

Our ability to have sex was naturally limited. Where will the limits be what with modern transportation and the population explosion and never mind the see where I'm going with this.

I don't disagree with the evidence. I disagree that we live in conditions that make a return to our past possible and therefore it's useless to present the evidence without also offering solutions. And in the meantime, people are gleefully devouring and discussing the book in hopes it will give them free license to toss out discriminating wisdom and give in to sloppy behavior because, after all, it's in our biology. 

So go on everyone, eat until you pop, screw everything that moves, and murder anyone that encroaches on your territory. It's in your biology, so it must be right.

P.S. I'll remind you that I haven't read the book AND that I warned you I'm exasperated...just plain exhausted with the whole business of sex at the moment. Maybe I'll feel differently after I read the book.

Friday, August 19, 2011

and sunlight crashes in

Roi and I fought horrifically a few days ago. I was still coming down off the high from my week away (more on that later) (maybe) and he wanted to jump right into solving the problem of Kyd living with us and not seeming to make any moves himself to get independent.

The thing is, I agree with Roi. Kyd needs some boundaries and he needs to be accountable to us for no other reason than when people are connected to one another there's a certain amount of accountability. But I wasn't in agreement with Roi's approach which was to draw up a binding and punitive sounding contract. I objected to the tone, and the intent. He wanted my "feedback" which is code for he wanted me to agree with him so that he could feel ok with it. I didn't agree but I patiently explained my reasons and what could change in the agreement so I could get on board. I know Kyd, and I know addicts. Give them one little thing to argue over and they'll seize on it like a cat gnawing at a burr stuck in their coat. 

Each time I offered "feedback" Roi went back and rewrote the agreement, but he would do the exact opposite of what I recommended. If I said, "simplify" he added paragraphs. If I said, "explain the positives" he did, but then followed it by what he himself would get out of it. So I brought it to Therapist who chuckled softly to herself and sighed a little and then suggested that I withdraw from the whole thing completely because there was no way it was going to work. 

So like a good therapee I went home and calmly announced to Roi that I was going away for the day to think. Later I told him I shouldn't/couldn't be involved. And as he does when I try to take the sane route out he seduced me into conversation by seeming to be open to understanding what the problem was. And as I do, I took the bait and we were off to the race tracks where much hoof-pounding and whirling, choking dust clouds ensued.

It got ugly fast and ended with him concluding I was, as usual, insane and exhausting and maybe he doesn't have time for a relationship, to which I viciously responded that "fine, we'll see other people". Fine. FINE! I swept my body violently from the chair and made for the door barking over my shoulder that I was going to fuck someone else and enjoy the hell out of it. 

Ah me. 

I wish I could say my intent was only to shock and I didn't mean it, but no. My frustration at Roi's lack of amends (which he promised our therapist and me two months ago), his sexual anorexia of the last six months or so, and feeling so trapped with it all, is in fact leaving me to feel very vulnerable to the attentions of other men. It doesn't matter that I know how foolish it is. Christ, if I could act in accordance with my rational mind I wouldn't be here.

Nevertheless, it did shock Roi into a moment of clarity. And he was seemingly awed by the revelation of how damaged he is and spent a good hour speculating and explaining the root causes of his "personal defects".  It should be splendid. It should be a ray of hope. Only the words he spoke as though they were new I've heard a half-dozen times before.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I've been too long without writing. When this happens I get overwhelmed about where to begin or how to cover it all. I get frustrated that all the beautiful or important things I wrote in my head are gone. 

I could talk about the recent Sisyphean battles with Roi or how Therapist recently said the word "narcissist" in a sentence about Roi. I could tell you about the blissful week I spent on a cushion in a shrine room surrounded by the noise of children all about. I could tell you how I quit smoking and if I had only known how much better my skin would look I might've done it much much sooner. I could tell you about some futile crushes I've developed recently (the Sensei, the tall Russian, and the goateed Matthew Broderick look-alike) and how obviously wrong and stupid it is for me to be extending any energy on such foolishness. 

But for today I'm just saying, "hello, yes I'm still here". Still here trying to crack the code of me. Still here in battle gear hacking away with a broad sword at the tangle of what's what in this relationship. Still mothering and laughing and sleeping in too late and sometimes crying and moaning on the telephone to the precious few who won't grow tired of my need to follow every thread to its end. Still kicking the shit out of a punching bag when I have the energy to. Still dancing to trashy Euro-pop and synthetic 80's tunes every time I find myself alone in the house. Still having moments of clarity and double the moments of confusion.

Still here. Still me. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Not written much lately. Lost contact with that inner divine, replaced by responsibilities and the upward streams of practical life. It's annoying me. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

three weddings and a monk

Last night I got together with a few friends from my alma mater (an all women's college) and we sat around talking about lives, politics, social issues, and of course reminiscing. At some point it came up that I wasn't at a certain event, or had left early, and I felt my stomach do the old familiar drop as I was stung by the memory of why I wasn't there. 

It was a reunion event a couple years ago, and I had set out in the early afternoon for festivities, but as the day softly receded into night I began to get anxious about how many hours Roi had been alone so when the festivities were being moved to another venue, I took the opportunity to bow out. 

I wanted to stay with my friends, but I couldn't. My head was so tragically wrapped around the addicts in my life. I hadn't always been this way, but as their disease progressed, so did mine. Or rather, in the case of Roi, as my knowledge of the extent of his disease progressed, the more sick I became. And I started missing out on things. 


I had to cancel an expense paid trip to take part in a science of mind discussion with the Dalai Lama and a dozen or two major scientists from around the world because Kyd had pulled something that made it impossible for me to go. I missed the wedding of two very dear friends because I was afraid to leave Kyd with anyone, afraid to bring him with me because of how he might act. I missed another wedding a year later for the same reason, and then I missed the wedding of someone else very close to me because I couldn't, just could not bring myself to leave Roi alone for that many hours now that his addiction had come to light.

Roi had given me ample reason to fear leaving him alone. As I uncovered transgression after transgression after transgression there were any number of things he might do with too many hours strung together without supervision. When I would go out with my girlfriends, he would call old girlfriends and lovers. When he went to meetings, he would stop at strip bars on his way home. When he was left alone for a whole day he would spend it cruising Craigslist for erotic dancers and masseurs. When he told me he would be late coming over it was because he was on the phone with a woman. When he would say he was going to bed it was only a half truth; he would get in bed and then surf porn. If I went away for more than a day he would spend that time at beaches or parties or bookstores cruising for opportunities to meet women, but also to just look at them and maybe glimpse a little more than he was intended to. 

And if I didn't go away, he did. It seemed there was always a reason he needed to be away, and it was always, always, imperative. He guilted me at every turn. To say no was to be selfish, to deny him. In his his mind it wasn't, however, selfish to sleep with a woman in Jamaica while I was at home dealing with Kyd's first major legal trouble. It wasn't selfish to have a sexual encounter with a woman in New York while I was by my son's side in the hospital. 

I feel sick when I write these things. But mostly now I feel a fierce, concentrated anger that has nowhere to go. So I dance for hours until my legs and neck and back ache with purified pain. I kickbox the shit out of the punching bag in our backyard. I swim until my thighs and arms burn. I hand it over to my therapist in small choking doses. I walk away from Roi and Kyd again and again with a sweeping motion of my arm as though I can wipe away the pain they bring entirely. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

sweating bones

The days still flow on by, a relentless passage of time. I've watched movies, danced some more, cried on the therapist's couch, held hands with my daughter, laughed about things, walked out on a conversation I couldn't have (and then walked two and a half hours to home), gone swimming, drove in a thunderstorm, cooked things and then ate them, stayed up too late and slept too late, and conversed with various friends.

These days are my life such as it is at this point in time. 

Therapist says I have a resilient little brain that is responding well to treatment. She says I am different already from when I first came to her. I feel it too and we smile at each other. It's still only the beginning, which is frustrating at times, but I am determined to not just come back, but to come back reinvented - stronger, wiser, softer, grounded and fierce. 

I feel closer to letting Roi go. The "thing" of Roi. He's more sober than he's ever been and that's different. I haven't once caught him ogling another woman, haven't smelled alcohol, haven't seen the pinpoint pupils. Yet he is small without these things. A deflated, simpering thing dragging his wibbly soul around in the length of his arms which hang limp at his sides. One might think he's depressed, and that in itself is depressing; that sobriety doesn't suit him.

He wants to be happy. He wants to be happy with me he says. But his sad discontent drapes over his shoulders, sagging them and when I look at him, I think, "I just can't". 

Roi has a white, pasty, piggy-eyed friend who moved to the Philippines to live out his days in financial luxury and sexual decadence. He's already gotten one girl pregnant, and to his credit, is supporting her. Of course it hasn't stopped him from continuing to fuck as many desperate young women as he can in between working and sleeping. Roi says he sounds happy. I want him to feel sorry for his friend for having to buy a proximation of love and acceptance in a foreign country away from family and friends. An awkward clinging hope that somewhere in Roi is a noble man, but that's how I got here isn't it? Hoping for something to be what it's not. He doesn't pity mr. pig-eyes, he thinks its swell that he "figured things out". It probably means that when I leave Roi will pack his bags to solve his money, love, and sex problems. I won't want to know, but I'll know. I already know. 

A sadness sweats down the inside of my bones.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

days and days

I watched the movie "Happy Accidents" in two parts, which stars Marisa Tomei as Ruby who we meet on her therapist's couch as she blots her puffy tear-streaked face and cries in a hundred different ways, "I don't knooooowwwww" as the therapist, Maggie, grills Ruby about her latest (and clearly mistaken) love interest Sam (played by Vincent D'onofrio who always manages to rub on all my wrong nerves with his quirkiness-meant-to-convey-genius-no-one-understands bullshit).

The whole movie is a set-up. Ruby is a classic codependent (yep, still hate that word) and Sam quickly appears for all the world like some sort of con man. When shit starts not adding up for Ruby, Sam finally confesses there IS something up. He's from the future and he's come back to find her. If I say more I'll spoil it for you. Is it worth watching? If you're a codependent who dreams of another ending? Sure. The best part of the movie is the "Ex-Files", a ritual shared among a group of girlfriends when they have a breakup of sharing a mug shot of the now offensive"ex", the war stories, and putting the photo into a shoe-box collection of "Ex-Files". At once pathetic and brilliant.

That was Monday and Tuesday

On those days I also went swimming with Roi at the local swimming hole and he behaved himself for once. It has been so hot I decided it was worth the risk. Besides, Roi is still in honeymoon phase. Then I went with Lexie and we paddled around on inner tubes holding hands so we wouldn't float away from each other. We laughed at our ungraceful repositionings and the stories we told and the sun and the sky.

Last night I found Lykke Li who I am now obsessed with. Not so much her music as with watching her perform live.

I find myself fascinated by her variability, her intensity, her shamelessness. Also too how one moment she appears as young as she is or younger, and the next she is so much older than her years, like here.

(Lexie informs me that Lykke Li is SO last year, to which I say, things are whenever you discover them to be.)

Then today, finding myself alone in the house for house and hours and wondering if I should go swim by myself, I decide instead to put on shorts and a tank top and dance. I dance to remixes of Lykke Li, 80's pop, indie-pop, and Lady Gaga's "Judas" (shut up, it's a kick-ass dance song, especially good for angry moves) while the cat lay flat stomached and limb-splayed on the edge of the rug meowing occasionally as if to say, "are you aware of the temperature? do you really think you should be doing that?"

Earlier, in therapy, Liz observed that Roi views me as an extension of himself and is probably incapable of otherwise. She has managed to de-pathologize him on a few occasions without my wanting to stab her. Still, I want to know what I am supposed to do to change this. I imagine myself as extra appendages of Roi and Kyd and Lexie. We explore how much this goes on in my life and I see it everywhere, stretching back and back. We peel away more layers and she says that often when someone is genuine all the way out to their skins it is often perceived as power or strength and others want to latch onto it and try to get some. What's not recognized is that it is also a very vulnerable state of being.

Yes, yes, yes. She has named me and the explanation I have been searching every corner and crack for is  now obvious. At the end of our session she said, "even in the midst of all this, I see you have a very vital spirit, a strong spirit, and it's going to want to do things".

At night, after the dancing, I score two boxes of art/craft magazines from freecycle: Somerset Studio, Expression, Cloth-Paper-Scissors, and Artella (the waltz of words and art).

I still haven't found a different job, still haven't made any decisions, but I am on my way back.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

discombobulated and slightly cranky

Life with Roi over the last couple of days has been decidedly un-newsworthy. There have been no discussions about how we should move forward. There have been no conversations of consequence at all. He has remained optimistically cheerful as though he can heal all that is wrong between us with a stupid grin and light conversation. 

I haven't the strength or the stupidity to open the topic. 

I did thuggishly announce on separate occasions to both Roi and Kyd that I refused to be in the middle of what is required from each for Kyd to remain here long enough to get on his feet, and to Roi's credit he talked to Kyd on his own. Kyd was not open, to his own detriment, but I cannot enter into that fray any more. Kyd belongs to me, but the house belongs to Roi, and while I have thoughts neither takes my advice so I just can't be involved. It makes me crazy when I try to solve their problems. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wanted: Life GPS

I am startled by Roi's return, literally. He has come home nearly two hours earlier than he estimated and I jump in shocked surprise when I find I am not alone in the house. He laughs and apologizes and we hop and bumble awkwardly for a moment in our too small kitchen. He thrusts a plastic wrapped bundle of flowers towards me, opening and closing his arms. I feel like a rabbit suddenly exposed to the gnashing teeth of a wolf and I can't stop moving around the foot or so of space around him to pick up a dish, throw a scrap of paper away, rinse out a cup - so he admires the flowers himself describing his selection to me and how they look ever so much better here in the natural light from the window. 

I flash my teeth quickly and take the flowers from him as I sweep by. I think I throw a thank you in his direction, but I'm not sure. The flowers I drop in the dining room on my way to the front door with a bag of garbage. 

We spend the next hour passing each other as he unpacks and I scamper room to room spotting things that need to be returned to their proper places. Twitchy, skittish laughter accompanies each passing and we toss explanations up into the air around us about where we are off to next, and what might come after that. 

"Just tossing this into the laundry", and, "just going to go through all this mail", and "I've got to get to the recycling center before they close", and "I seem to have caught this cold so I'm just going to lie down for a bit". 

After he naps we lunch at a local cafe and gawk words at each other, one moment sharing a laugh over something and the next moment sliding our eyes toward the window or the food when we come too close to edges that still cut. He tells me about the archeology lecture and the tiny Maine island that was discovered with a 1940's schoolhouse still intact and untouched with the last lesson still on the chalkboard as though the children might return the next morning to sit at their child-sized desks. He asks about my children. He lights eagerly upon the topic of the new Woody Allen movie thinking it safe and I announce brutishly that I've sworn off Woody Allen. I insist that we go see Harry Potter instead. 

"Of course, of course", he says. 

There's no better way to avoid someone you're in the company of than at a movie. 

Back at home we discuss the lives of our friends, by proxy to talk about ourselves. His friend won't be coming to stay for two weeks after all because the friend's new puppy isn't getting along with his cat, but also that it's at times too much to be around our "oscillations". Roi glances at me when he says this, and I am washed over with a small wave of grief and knowing. I see in my mind the last five years of push-pull desperation weaving through so much of our relationship. 

Is it even possible that we could ever be easy with one another? Why shouldn't we? Our intellectual interests are symbiotic, we are physically well-matched, we entertain one another well. Why should this be so hard?

Roi tells me about his other friend, an addict, who has recently hacked up another relationship and has decided to love heroine instead. I cluck and wonder aloud if this friend might not be avoiding commitment. Roi nods and explains how he realizes that one must commit to one life, and in his case he has decided it is with me, if that's what I want, of course. I can't say what I want. 

What's more, he continues, the addict must make a decision to recover. That he may still stumble, but without the decision he will always dance with the right foot in, while the left foot heads for the door. We talk philosophically on these matters, as though we are like-minded individuals who had just met at a dinner party, as if it is not our lives we speak of, as if the consequences of our theories are not ours to bear.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Return to Sender

An old friend of mine notified me on Facebook yesterday that he would be in town today and would I like to go out on the town, and could he stay over? I answered back, "no, not a good time". 

He called today because he didn't get my reply. 

There's a history here. Many many years ago we had an intense, though non-sexual, relationship. It was romantic, it was sensual, it was much more than friendship. There was longing, and chemistry, and attraction. There was sweaty dancing with our foreheads touched together, there were nights spent holding one another, there were hours of lounging about and touching, there were shoulder massages and hair caressing and hand-holding. But there was never kissing or sex or anything else within the sex category. He never tried and I would never have agreed.

He was, and still is, a sublime specimen of a man. Darkly masculine and deliciously, achingly delicate.

During our time together he was unflinchingly focused on me all hours of the day. He wrote poetry and songs for me. He cooked special foods for me. If I was away he waited for me. If I was not away he was at my side most every minute of our shared free time. And I drank it all in, all the intense unrequited beauty of it -- all the while aware it was childlike, a fairy-tale dreamy rendition of love.

I let him love me in this way without letting him all the way in. I was soft and luminous under his gaze, but I was centered. 

Now that I have the label, I would define him as a Sex and Love Addict, no question. Back then, without having a name for it, I knew that he could and would fall as intensely in love with any other woman. It was his need. 

I saw him last Autumn twice when he was in the area. I found myself guarded, suspicious of his attention, and kept him at arm's length. Where I was once soft without being thrown off-center, I was now jagged. I could not forgive his need. 

And today when he called I just simply said no. And for all that may seem sane and intelligent, I miss the me that once knew how to hold that luscious energy in my hands without letting it burn me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Escape Artist

It occurred to me today as I was relaying my recent mind hijacking to therapist that Roi is an escape artist. He has made a life art out of escaping accountability and keeping responsibility to a bare minimum. Don't get me wrong, that took effort and intelligence and I sometimes envy him. 

But that's what it is. Roi's primary orientation is about escape. This should not come as a surprise to anyone in relationship with a sex addict, or in relationship with just about any type of addict. Except Roi isn't seeking to escape just bad feelings, he seeks to escape something much more fundamental. 

Liz had two things to say about my hijacking anxiety episode. One, she validated that my thinking is clear and my orientation and motivations are in the right directions, but my nervous system is responding outside of my control. Not like I needed to be told, but I won't lie, it's always a relief when Liz confirms what I feel like is happening. 

Then she proposed the idea that Roi probably takes his escapism too far, and at the expense of others around him, but I could myself go ahead and adopt (for now) a similar orientation. That I can allow myself as long as I need to not do much of anything. 

She didn't realize I am already doing that and when I allow myself to "drop in" to that feeling, that orientation, it feels right. But the hijacking, once triggered, throws me way the fuck off and because that state is a hell realm, I'm walking around in a constant state of low grade anxiety in anticipation of the next episode. 

She decided we need to add a neurofeedback protocol that works directly on calming the amygdala so that my nervous system can take a break long enough to drop this pattern. I only got a brief shot of it today so it's too early to feel a difference but I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Crazy Has Passed

It may not have been as linear, or intentional, or as graceful as WomanAnonymous's recent trigger handling, but the crazy has passed, and when I think about it, I did handle it in much the same manner as WA. I was just a lot more clumsy and messy about it. 

Progress, not perfection. 

I emailed Roi this morning that I was sensing a shift and would like to know if a shift has happened because I want to know where things stand. 

He called pretty promptly, and once I heard his voice I'm convinced that this time I got hijacked somewhat in error. I do think there is a shift in Roi, and though he didn't acknowledge any shift, he did say he's not really looking forward to coming home because he just really likes the small-town island and he wishes he could live there. 

Translation: Roi has had no real responsibilities while there, no one to be accountable to, no questions being asked of him, no expectations of him. He is cooked for every evening and other than helping with clean-up, no real chores. 

It makes sense I would feel a shift, and in the midst of my freaking out I considered this very real, viable possibility to explain it. But my brain is still vulnerable, and once hijacked everything careens out of control too bloody fast to get a hold on. The writing helps. You help. Recovery work has helped. Therapy is helping. But I am not yet able to catch the trigger before it kicks my feet out from under me. I am not yet able to trust that these extreme feelings will pass. I am not yet able to fully trust in the process of healing. I do not yet have faith that I will be returned to myself intact.

Now that the crazy has passed, and I'm reassured that Roi is not about to turn cold, I feel just a little guilty that I need Roi to hang in there so that I get to call the shots of our separation if that's what I decide I want. I just need to feel a little bit of control. 

The Truth is Sometimes Funny

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." ~William Gibson


I have been seized with anxiety since yesterday afternoon's email from Roi, and the more I try to calm it, ignore it, distract myself from it, move away from it, the tighter it's grip on my intestines. Once in this mode everything begins to get attached to it. If I email someone and they don't email back I start spinning into anxious explanations for why they aren't emailing me back. If I do manage to talk to anyone, I berate myself after for not asking about their day or otherwise acknowledging that they have a life of their own. Or I pace (if standing) or toss (if prone) for hours going over what I said. Was it crazy? Too much? The more I feel anxious, the more I feel desperate, and the more I feel desperate, the more I feel anxious. 

This mode is probably what led Barbara Steffens to consider PTSD as a more viable explanation for the behavior and response of partners of sex addicts. It is what I call, "having my brain hijacked" and I cannot begin to help anyone understand how torturous it is. 

Before sex addiction, I had anxiety over things, but it was manageable. Big events like my divorce, or the first time Kyd ran away from home so he could be free to party, certainly would send me into a tail-spin but it seemed normal. Normal as in these are the types of major events that are understood to throw a person way off their center. And I bounced back on a predictable and normative timeline. Especially considering the utter lack of outside support. 

So when I can't get a grip on myself, can't steady myself, can't stop the waves of anxiety and panic that come up when my partner says something so seemingly innocent, I know there is something very different about what being in relationship with a sex addict has done to my well-being. Yes, trauma and various abuses stretch back from the present in a nearly uninterrupted line to my childhood, and clearly that primed me for the current state. But nothing unravels me so quickly as the complex set of behaviors of sex addiction. 

Let me just pause and say, "Motherfucker". 

I've sleuthed for the source of my most recent anxiety and realize that it isn't being triggered by the library. It's being triggered by a shift I'm sensing from Roi. A shift I predicted and told therapist I was anxious about right when we started. 

Roi's core issue is not really sex addiction. It is a steady state of flux that he doesn't know how to manage. He has no inner compass, no set of values, he changes his mind easily and given whatever the context of the moment. He doesn't know how to be, he doesn't know what to be, so he follows an arbitrary code based mostly on attraction and repulsion. His sense of a person's value is determined by hard, material measures that he can understand like wealth or education level or physical attractiveness or what club someone belongs to.  He cannot understand values he cannot see such as integrity or love.

This means he is easily swayed. The addictions only add to his floating morality.

So when he left for these three weeks and I began treatment, I said to the therapist that I was a little terrified that I would find myself in the vulnerable place between broken and whole when Roi had a change of heart for the umpteenth time, that he would turn cold and try to force me out.

And that's what's triggering me. Not the library so much as feeling a shift in his attention. I have no idea what is prompting it, I just know I feel it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Well Hello Uncomfortable Feelings

Awesome therapy today calmed me down considerably, gave me a bubble of peace from which to draw air. Yay for therapy. 

Then I got an email from Roi. 

Mundane niceties ended with "I'm attending an archeology lecture at the local library at 7:00". 

And then I remembered why depression can be considered a coping mechanism. I'm not comfortable with the feelings this innocent statement brings up and I'd prefer not to be having them. I'd prefer not to be scrambling for healthier coping like taking a bubble bath or doing the dishes and just doing the dishes, no thought. 

I got through the, "don't worry, there's no real beach where I'm going", followed a few days into his trip by, "I went to the beach today. Oh yeah, I forgot there was a beach here." I shrugged it off and went about my day. 

I got through seeing the stunningly beautiful black woman at the local Trader Joe's and the thoughts that she was exactly Roi's type and everything I'm not. I leaned over the freezer and grabbed three packages of my favorite green chili chicken burritos, took a deep breath and kept on shopping. 

I got through my trip to the local swimming hole the other day with Lexie and seeing the guy who had positioned himself behind a group of college girls, who was clearly alone, who was not sunning or napping or swimming or reading or doing anything really except staring at the girls. I got through wanting to ask him what he was doing. I got through convincing myself he was a creep, and projecting Roi's behavior onto him. I got through wanting to confront him or to tell the girls there were being subjected to his leering gaze and didn't they want to kick sand in his eyes? I got through seeing Roi in his place, and it didn't help that the man was about the same age, height, build, and coloring of Roi. I took Lexie to the other side of the beach and we played fetch with the adorably muscled pup that frequents that side of the swimming hole. 

So perhaps it's because I solved one problem, at least in my own mind, and that simply made room for other unresolved stuff to make an appearance. Or perhaps I'm addicted to pain and seized on the first opportunity to wallow in it. Or perhaps I don't have the black void to float in to avoid the sharp edges. Or perhaps my instincts are dead on. 

But that one little statement set my mind to spinning cogitation. Round and round. All the memories of innocent statements that were carefully crafted fronts to seedier motives. He's been frequenting this library for two and a half weeks now, and for a sex addict who can get a phone number at a local dive pizza parlor in less than 20 minutes, twice, and who has a history of acting out in libraries and bookstores and at beaches, "I'm going to an archeology lecture at the library at 7:00" holds too many other possible meanings. 

Additionally, he's been talking a lot about how much he loves the library, and how he's starting to get a glimpse of the "that small town community peace you so often speak of". It so happens that this library was transitioning while Roi was there. The original library had burned to the ground 20 years ago and the new building was just unveiled last week. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Roi attended. He also helped drive boxes of books from the temporary library to the new building. 

None of this sounds remotely like anything Roi has ever done or would ever do. 

He loathes helping to move things. He has never expressed an interest in our local happenings. He has never expressed an interest in archeology. In fact, I imagine it to be just the type of topic that would bore him to death. 

And the really, awful, shitty truth of all of this is that it could be exactly what he is saying it is. Or it could be just like so many other seemingly innocent cover stories that mask an opportunity to act out in some way. A myriad of ways. An emotional affair. A seduction. A fantasy. Other forms of acting out I'd prefer not to say out loud.

Either way, I'm pissed to be in this place again. I do. not. want. to. be. in. this. place. I am angry that his actions in the last 5 years have stripped so much innocence and groundedness from my experience with him, or in the world generally. I am livid that I can't shop or swim or hear about his attending a lecture without having to employ deep breathing to keep my head from exploding.

You Feel Better Now, Ya Hear?

I walked into therapy, flopped on the couch and announced I had a big problem I needed to solve. Liz has the background on Kyd already so I didn't need to go into much. After I told her about events of the last few months she said, "he's really making all of this your problem, isn't he?". 

"YES!", I cried. 

Then we did the exploration thing. How does this or that make me feel, what do I get out of it - and as happens in the company of a good therapist, details came into focus. I won't bore you with every piece of it. The upshot is that I can't handle the anxiety and guilt over Kyd's situation so I pull out the "helping" toolkit and even when it looks like I'm not getting in his business, I'm getting in his business.

Not because I WANT to be in his business. In fact I feel resentful about it all. the. time. As I do with Roi, or with Lexie at times. They all expect that I'll fix the problems, even when they don't think they are. And I don't get a rush out of helping, I feel angry about it, but I do it anyway. I'm not a helper, I'm a martyr. Forever sacrificing myself expecting this will lead to love and respect. It almost never does.

Liz gave me a line to chew on, practice, and apply as needed. "That's not my problem to solve, but I'll help if you'll allow me to." The line between enabling and supporting stays elusive, but this approach helps keep it exposed to the light. I will help (support) if he allows me to -- meaning he becomes amenable to help, has the right attitude for help, and so on. 

Of course there were other tools given. Visualizations, thoughts to contemplate, other lines to use. 

At the end of the hour my anger and frustration had dissipated. I felt softer but firmer, like I could stay connected to Kyd while still keeping distance.

Again I am struck by how lucky I am to have Liz. Finding the right therapist is such a crapshoot and I just got damn lucky for once. She is always gentle, but not so sympathetic and washed out that I want to spit in her eye. She offers clear guidance without making me feel like I'm being given unsolicited orders. She is a master at balancing sympathy with stepping in before I can get fused to a particular emotion or past event.  She helps me see the good in myself without insulting my intelligence and making me forever after distrust her. She is human with me, allowing appropriate glimpses now and again into her life but without drawing me into it.

It makes me want to be her best patient ever. To come home with straight A's in therapy. I imagine my magical future filled with good fortune and rainbows and glitter, all because I was the best patient ever of the best therapist ever, and together we polish my life until it shines, never a blemish again. 

It's a childish wish, but I don't scold myself too harshly. I simply observe that childish hope as it arises and then let it float out the window.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Officially Suck, At Least for Today

Whatever my anxiety over Kyd living here, I really needed to put it aside for the day, for his BIRTHDAY. I tried to salvage things, but every attempt just made things worse. He feels shitty, I feel shitty. I should've just gone ahead and ordered balloons that say, "Happy Birthday, it's Going to Suck". 

Seriously, I screwed up.

Internets, I Need Advice

All swirling feelings aside, I pretty much just ruined Kyd's birthday and I clearly need advice. Just know that I may take it or leave it. After all, we must always consider that advice is often given by people who don't have to deal with the consequences of their advice. 

So, here's the background (this will be long). Kyd started being "in trouble" in middle school. What I didn't know then was that he had already started using drugs. As he got older, the trouble kept getting bigger and nothing I said, or anyone else (professional and non-professional) said made a difference. Somewhere in there Kyd also started drinking and did a stint in rehab and AA, but soon dropped sobriety not believing he was an alcoholic. A year and a half ago we were at the tail-end of a series of drunken, late night episodes, each episode more dramatic and terrifying than the last. Lexie and I were honestly beginning to fear for our safety. 

I suggested a return to AA which he refused and in light of that, and his refusal generally to stop drinking, I set a firm boundary that if he came home drunk again he would have to move out. Just a few weeks later, he came home falling-down drunk and after he slept it off and sobered up I sat him down to enforce the boundary. 

He spent the next several weeks couch-hopping and seething with resentment towards me. Finally he landed a living situation with a new best friend who took him in rent-free until he got a job. Kyd spent the next several months (8-10?) without much effort to actually get a job (as far as I can tell) and continued to live rent-free with a small group of roommates, all of whom worked. Meanwhile, he returned home every couple of months for a few days so I could drive him to court so his probation for a DUI could be reviewed. The court was becoming increasingly impatient with Kyd's lack of employment, and therefore inability to pay court fees or restitution. 

A couple of months ago Kyd was here for a court appointment and when it was time for him to go home he informed me that they were all being evicted because his roommates hadn't paid the rent. He was more or less informing me that he was staying with us until his girlfriend graduated (June) at which time the two of them had a roommate situation lined up that they could afford. I was able to convince Lexie and Roi to let Kyd stay and that it would be temporary.

It is now July and that living situation has fallen through and Kyd is expecting to continue to live with us. Meanwhile he has not consistently done the one chore he was assigned (the dishes), did land a job but it doesn't pay enough to live independently, and has stopped looking for another job. He sleeps all day until it's time for work, uses my laptop without asking, uses and takes whatever he likes, and gets a ride to work every day but never offers to chip in for gas. He also makes a mess and when asked to pick up after himself cops an attitude and picks up only a few things. He flat out refuses to pick anything up if it isn't his. 

In other words, he's acting kind of like an entitled brat. 

Roi is growing impatient with the situation and we don't have a room for Kyd so he sleeps on the couch and generally occupies the living room. 

As I said in an earlier post, I get that the math doesn't add up and it's really quite impossible for Kyd to live on his own with his current income. So I talked with Roi and he agreed that if Kyd contributes a fair amount to rent he can stay. 

So, when I proposed this idea to Kyd, who was feeling cranky and pressured about having to move out, he said to me, "I'm not going to pay fucking rent to sleep on the couch". He wants us to convert one of the offices (Roi's business is here) into a room, AND he will do only HIS dishes. OR, if he has to pay rent, Lexie must pay equal rent too. 

I explained that Lexie has one more year before she transfers to a 4 year college, but if she were to drop out of school she would have to pay rent. Also that she does chores, has to contribute to the cost of the car she drives, and pay for gas that is not school-related. And finally, that she understands she must continue to progress forward and contribute to the household without attitude. 

He feels he is being treated unfairly. I feel he is acting like an insufferable brat, and I am FRUSTRATED that every attempt to make this a workable situation is met by contempt from him. I don't want to have to force him to leave, but things cannot continue like this. Every time I think I've come up with a workable solution, or at least a jumping-off point, we just end up in an argument.


Will it Change

Just watched Another Year which I found to be utterly depressing. A few critics found it simply boring, but I thought it was brilliantly written and acted. And it was the brilliance with which the message was delivered that made it so damn depressing. 

The message being, more or less, that happy people stay happy, and the rest of us stay miserable. 

My biggest fear in all of this recovery business is that I'll find at the end of it that what was set in motion in my life will simply continue to play out. And that thought is just depressing, isn't it? That whatever neurotic tendencies I have now, I've had in the past (which led me to the decisions I made), and I will have in the future.  For many years I had this believe that striving and trying and working would get me over some hill, and once crested I'd get to coast for a while. 

After I graduated from college (as a returning student) and met Roi, I really really thought, here it is, here is the crest of the hill. Foot of the pedal now, I can coast. The downward slope turned out to have an entirely different meaning. It meant momentum without brakes and crashing into a broken pile at the bottom. And somewhere on that ride my thinking shifted to this idea that no matter how hard I tried, it would always keep coming to this. 

And I suppose that's when I got depressed. First there was frantic back-pedaling, but then it just seemed like too much effort. So when a film-maker creates such a disturbingly accurate portrayal of "the more things change, the more they stay the same", it's hard to not resign to it. 

Therapy tomorrow. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It Goes On

Not writing because I'm not sure what I'm feeling. 

There is Roi not calling for two whole days, and while I don't miss him I find I tell myself he may have met someone, or changed his mind. Well, really, the two go together. My mind doesn't get hooked on this the way it once did. Only a lazy circling over practical details I don't feel ready for. 

I am watching Planet Earth again. At present a morbid section of the various fatal fates of insects. Killer fungi whose spores infect the brain of an ant and then grow a stalk out of the ant's skull. The beautiful Pitcher Plant that traps and then digests insects. In such a world is it simply naive to expect a sustained happiness?

There is Kyd who is home from a 3 day music festival to celebrate his birthday. I listen to him tell the stories one tells after re-emerging from such an event and I find I haven't the patience or energy to feel, never mind pretend to feel, excited. I swallow down the questions about tomorrow and next week and the week after that because not having these answers starts to awaken anxiety. 

There were the two days of beautiful sun and the hours spent with Lexie. We sunned ourselves on a grassy knoll at the local swimming hole, ate sandwiches at a bright and friendly cafe, and then watched The Birdcage and giggled ourselves into fits over Agador and Albert. 

There were the triggers. They still come even in the absence of any feelings for Roi. They are softer now, but troubling to me in that they happen at all. 

There is the wondering if some things I've said here have caused distress and defiant anger for one or two of my readers, and the following familiar feelings that my story will never belong to me. 

There is the realization that today I no longer believe in basic goodness or love. 

There are the feelings returning to my body. Enough so that I exercise just a little. Not enough to sweat, but enough to feel muscles clench and release and stretch, and the next day feeling the skin a little tighter. 

There is the satisfaction from completing chores that have gone undone for too long. 

There are the sharp edges of anxiety over all that still isn't done that has gone undone for too long. Things that have much larger consequences than not cleaning the refrigerator or matching all the socks. The not feeling ready to tackle these things because I can't get close to those edges.

There is life, and it goes on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Unglamorous Life

Roi calls but no longer leaves messages. It helps me pretend he's never coming home, though I do wish he would answer my email about when I can expect his return with our two week house guests: a man, a cat, and a 2 month old puppy. I know it's coming soon, but suddenly need to know the exact date, the exact hour so I can prepare myself for the coming intrusion. Laughter and meals and chores and stories and petting and admiration of another's animals will be expected. Instead I will probably lock myself in my upstairs office. I'm not sure if I'll be protecting myself, or our guests. Already I've imagined dozens of scenarios over which I snap -- or rather, show that I'm in the exact place that I'm in and the laundry list of reasons for it.

The therapies, the conventional and the not-accepted-by-science/pharmaceuticals, have lifted me up out of the black void, but I am still far from being stitched together. This is partly because one doesn't recover from being splintered over-night, and partly fierce refusal to carry on as I have picking up pieces and patching them together like a teacup dropped to the floor and crazy-glued back together so that life can go on and tea can be served.

The refusal part, it would be bold and glamorous of me if it were of my will, but it's not. It just simply is. There are not enough pieces left to glue together. There is not enough glue that can patch up the holes or make anything that resembles a me. It just can't be done. There is nothing to do with these shards but to throw them into a melting pot, let them churn and boil and surface and soften and dissolve.

I am breaking and becoming at once. 

Last night as I drifted off after hours of restless tossing I heard a man's whisper in my ear. I was not yet dreaming, or rather I was beginning to, but the whisper was outside the dream. "When are you going to go?" I jolted awake and wildly wondered if this was some new form of dreaming I had not ever experienced, if something in neurofeedback had somehow caused it. Exhausted, I drifted again and this time heard a woman, "it was meant to be a surprise". Heart beating violently now, frozen in the bed, in my dark room I began to fear I was at last going mad. I had been dreaming of a giant reptilian tail scraping around a corner behind a doorway, but the whispers were not in the dream, not part of it. The sound was outside the dream, outside my head.

Which wild phenomenon should I label this? A simple trick of the mind because I've been letting someone play around with my brainwaves? Submerged memories coming to surface? Echoes of the subconscious? Spirits? "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato"? Or old-fashioned madness? 

I am breaking and becoming at once. 

I don't know how long I lay there searching the dark, searching my mind, with the little table fan whirring cheerily next to my head, the cat curled peacefully in the corner. I don't know the exact moment I fell into dreamless sleep. I only know that I did sleep, and in the morning there was sun. 

P.S. It might seem that first whisper, "when are you going to go" is an obvious call from the subconscious, yet the feeling I got from the words was in the present tense. As in, what minute or hour was I going to leave that night.