Thursday, June 30, 2011

Neurofeedback vs. Medication

I've only personally had one experience with medication. Years ago when Kyd was completely out of control and I was having a lot of anxiety and what felt like panic attacks and my GP prescribed Zoloft. I hated it. It helped with the anxiety but made me incredibly irritable and sleepy. I was either sleeping or having a fit. I went off it a couple months later, cold turkey. 

But I've known enough people who've gone through the medication process to compare neurofeedback with medication. I thought others might find this helpful if they want to consider neurofeedback as an alternative or supplement.

Neurofeedback, like medications, requires finding the right balance for each patient. This leads to a frustrating period of time in the beginning where various things are tried but don't help enough, or make things worse. The difference with neurofeedback is that results are instantaneous and can be reported to the clinician during treatment, immediately following treatment, and over the days between treatments. This allows for much faster adjustments. 

Neurofeedback has few side effects aside from whatever effects may result from a balance that isn't quite right -- for example a session might leave you feeling more depressed than when you went in, or more manic, or irritable, etc. Once balance is found, there are virtually no side effects aside from some people experiencing a headache right after. I've had this happen a couple of times and the headache was mild and lasted only an hour or two.

Medications change brain chemistry while neurofeedback works from the outside in by working with brainwaves, which are really the output of brain activity. In order for the brain to change brainwaves, it must change activity, and to do that the brain must change brain chemistry. Medications focus on one brain chemical at a time, one set of neurotransmitters, and this can result in throwing other chemicals and activity off balance resulting in new medications needed to correct the new imbalances. Neurofeedback allows the brain to make systemic corrections. 

Medication changes brain chemistry only when present, thereby making the patient "dependent" on medication in order to feel better. Neurofeedback trains the brain over time to function differently and better. Typical training lasts 30-40 sessions and most patients experience sustained and long lasting change that only requires "maintenance" sessions once or twice a year after.

P.S. As always, this is not meant to be a judgment of those who choose the medication route, or for whom medication is the only option.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The State of Wise Innocence

If you could lay your eyes upon the most fire-hardened, most cruel and unpitying person alive, during sleep and at the moment of waking, you would see in them for a moment the untainted child spirit, the pure innocent. In sleep we are once again brought back to a state of sweetness. In sleep we are remade. We are reassembled from the inside out, fresh and new as innocents. 
This state of wise innocence is entered by shedding cynicism and protectionism, and by re-entering the state of wonder one sees in most humans who are very young and many who are very old. It is a practice of looking through the eyes of a knowing and loving spirit, instead of through those of the whipped dog, the hounded creature, the mouth atop a stomach, the angry wounded human. Innocence is a state that is renewed as one sleeps. Unfortunately, many throw it aside with the coverlet as they arise each day. It would be better to take an alert innocence with us and draw it close for warmth. 
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 4

It's going by so fast already. Three more days and a whole week will have gone by. 

I had to communicate with Roi today by phone and email, but we kept it strictly business. Nonetheless, I felt myself getting edgy over his requests regarding work, checking the mail, etc. 

At the same time, I feel the stones that have been filling my body beginning to loosen and lighten. I've made an offer to volunteer at a therapeutic horse farm down the road, and it looks like they can use some help. And while I didn't get the job offer I was hoping for, I did land some new work for myself. 

I want so desperately every day to wake up and discover that I'm back to my old self, only even better. That I've healed all the hurt and I'm wiser and more resilient. Having to accept "progress" and not "perfection" is frustrating. If not for myself, but because they say, "the best revenge is a life well-lived" and I want to be able to walk out of this house sooner rather than later with my chin up, money in my pocket, and a spring in my step. To go on with life and forget that I ever loved a sex addict and all the things that loving wrecked. 

So tomorrow I will work on accepting where I am, the progress I'm making, and the wounds I'm nursing.

Exile and the Ugly Duckling Syndrome

When we feel exiled from the world, from our families -- just can't seem to find our "tribe", the people who accept us as we are, it leads to exile and what Estes calls The Ugly Duckling Syndrome. I have a feeling many of my readers will relate in some way to this excerpt. 
Bad Company 
The ugly duckling goes from pillar to post trying to find a place to be at rest. While the instinct about exactly where to go may not be fully developed, the instinct to rove until one finds what one needs is well intact. Yet there is a kind of pathology sometimes in the ugly duckling syndrome. One keeps knocking at the wrong doors even after one knows better. It is hard to imagine how a person is supposed to know which doors are right doors if one has never known a right door to begin with. However, the wrong doors are those that cause you to feel the outcast all over again. 
This is the "looking for love in all the wrong places" response to exile. When a woman turns to repetitive compulsive behavior--repeating over and over again a behavior that is not fulfilling, that causes decline instead of sustained vitality--in order to salve her exile, she is actually causing more damage because the original wounded state is not being attended to and she incurs new wounding with each foray. 
The solutions to these bad choices are severalfold. If the woman were able to sit herself down and peer into her own heart, she would see there a need to have her talents, her gifts, and her limitations respectfully acknowledged and accepted. So, to begin healing, stop kidding yourself that a little feel-good of the wrong sort will take care of a broken leg. Tell the truth about your wound, and then you will get a truthful picture of the remedy to apply to it. Don't pack whatever is easiest or most available into the emptiness. Hold out for the right medicine. You will recognize it because it makes your life stronger rather than weaker. ~Women Who Run With the Wolves 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ground Zero Minus Five

"The Red Shoes" shows us how a deterioration begins and what state we come to if we make no intervention in our own wildish behalf. Let there be no mistake, when a woman makes efforts to intervene and fight her demon, whatever that demon may be, it is one of the most worthy battles known, both archetypally and in consensual reality. Even though she might, as in the tale, hit ground-zero-minus-five bottom via famine, capture, injured instinct, destructive choices, and all the rest, remember, at bottom is where the living roots of psyche are. It is there that a woman's wild underpinnings are. At bottom is the best soil to sow and grow something new again. In that sense, hitting bottom, while extremely painful, is also the sowing ground. ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 2

I survived day 2. Saturdays are good for back to back movies. 

Roi has called three times since yesterday, none of which I picked up. I listen to the messages later, numbly. I can't figure out if this utter lack of feeling is my heart protecting itself, or if I really have stopped feeling anything for him. Whatever it is I wish it translated into being my old self again, but it doesn't. 

The last message said he hopes I'm feeling better every day and it doesn't seem like I'm going to call him back and that's probably wise while we're on this break and he loves me and will leave it up to me to call. 

I listen, my head like a stone. I notice my stomach clench. 

Three Weeks

An eternity, a flash in time. What to do with it? Not only is Roi gone, but both Lexie and Kyd are working 5 days a week from 2:00 to late evening. This means I have hours and hours of genuine time to myself for three solid weeks. I haven't had that much time to myself since I was a child. 

I can think of a bajillion things I could do with this time, but mostly I feel like doing nothing at all with it. Just resting and movie watching and lazing around. A vacation from life. 

It feels irresponsible. Like I should be focused on fixing my life, using every spare drop of time to job search and exercise and polish myself until I shine like a new penny. 

Thus I remain committed to letting these three weeks happen as they will. Maybe I will laze around. Maybe I'll grow bored of resting and take some definitive actions. I had this thought this morning of making one small change in my routine every few days. Most mornings I don't want to get out of bed because it means facing my own thoughts. I force myself to go back to sleep and to stay in slumber for as long as physically possible. But I could add something relaxing and healing to my morning wake up. Get up when I wake up, but add some beautiful, relaxing, self-care routine like rubbing scented oil into freshly washed feet, gentle yoga stretches, and meditation. 

So I think I'm going to try that, and then see what I feel like doing after a few days. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

When the Professionals are Duped

Just found this post on The Huffington Post: Behind Closed Doors by Amy Wallen. I think I want to print this out and send it to every couple's therapist this side of the Mississippi. Ok, to every couple's therapist on EVERY side of the Mississippi. 

So this woman's husband had an affair with the couple's therapist, but never mind the "sleeping with" part. He was a sex addict, probably narcissistic, and he was completely fooling a professional while the wife was twisting herself into a pretzel trying to do all the right things and being told he was being sincere while she wasn't trying hard enough. And it makes my blood boil. Obviously not all couple's therapists are so drastically unethical, but I've heard too many stories of therapists who continually tell the wives of sex addicts that they are not being open enough, sexy enough, or whatever enough -- that their husband's behavior is their fault.

Wallen opens the story with the couple's therapist asking her to look into her husband's eyes. When asked what she sees there, she replies, "nothing". The therapist admonishes her for not seeing the pain in her husband's eyes and that reminded me of something that happened during our couple's therapy.

During our second session our couple's therapist made Roi apologize to me for one thing. Just one. I think she was trying to soften us up a little. I'm sure it was a tried and true practice -- get them to let some guard down and then move in with some transformative moves. She made us face each other. I looked in his eyes while he apologized for not having been able to commit to the relationship fully and for all the pain that had caused through various actions. Or something like that. 

When he was finished she asked me if I could take that in. Could I accept his apology. 

"I can't", I said. "I just can't." 

She frowned ever so slightly. Her plan hadn't worked and I sensed her disapproval. Clearly I was of the kind who was unable to forgive.

I didn't care. I've been with this man for 5 years. I know his apologies are empty.

I hadn't thought about this before, but it was in that moment that I knew that this was not going to work.


Therapist listened to me tell her what happened in couple's therapy the day before. As the words rushed forth about how I had said I can't move forward in the relationship without full honesty and the couple's therapist told me I can't expect that, I saw Liz's (my therapist) brow crinkle, clearly perplexed. I went on about Roi's analogy of my "overreactions" as nuclear bombs, how the hum in my head became a roar and I sharply put a stop to it. How the couple's therapist told me I was not stable enough for couple's work. About how he was admitting lying to his sponsor, about all the "buts", about the truce. 

Liz was perplexed that the couple's therapist saw fit to invalidate what I was stating as my need. She sat thoughtfully for a moment and then said, "sometimes a therapist won't call something out as big as they see it, especially with couples, and especially if someone is not able to hear it. Maybe she sees you as the stronger one and she knows you'll be able to do what you need to do, what is asked." 

I smiled a little, "Yes", I said, "I thought maybe that was the case." 

Don't get smug, I told myself, but my god it's been so long since someone has thrown me a bone. Not a bone, a lifeline of sanity and truth. And it made sense. The couple's therapist had called him out on his endless excuse-making in previous sessions. She had pointed out to him that I had good reason to suspect him. She had told him he ought to make a list of all the ways he had wronged me and needed to make amends for. And there he was, still focusing on money, making excuses for why he had not had time to make the list of amends, and still acting as though I wasn't traumatized, still harping on my "reactions" instead of his actions.

Roi thinks the couple's therapist focuses on me more because I am clearly in more distress than him. Liz thinks she's focusing on me more because I am showing I have more strength and capacity to do the work. And that makes more sense.

Roi Leaves

So it begins. Roi rushed around the house this morning, packing the car for his three weeks away. I tried to sleep through it, and then couldn't stand to feel his frantic energy which I could only interpret as, "can't wait to get out of here", so I got up, dressed, and planned to go for a walk. He was ready to leave before I was, hugging me good-bye and then quickly fleeing.

He came home last night, flowers in hand, "flowers for my sweet". He feels bad that I can't get away too. It would be easy for me to cycle into that loop of anger where I have been wronged, wronged, wronged. How his platitudinous sympathies are hollow considering how often he "gets away" with no sincere effort to ensure I can join him or find time or money to do it on my own. The earnestness of his words so rarely ever match sincerity of action. How easy it would be for me to stew in this for the next three weeks, how easy he makes it for me to be justified in it, how easy to feel the victim again. 

But I won't because that cycle is worn out. The grooves in the record are so deep now they've run straight through to the other side. One step to the side and I'm out of it. Not out of the pain entirely, not out of the woods or even close to the edge, but stepping forward and forward on this different path even if it is dark, even if it is terrifying, even if I don't know where it ends up. I step and have faith the ground will rise up to meet me, every time.

In the past when Roi has fled home for one of his grand or small trips I have tried to overcompensate to cover up the pain of his continued abandonment. Thrown myself angrily and grandly into the world. Not this time. I have made no big plans by which I can vengefully cover the hurt. I will take this all one small moment at a time, gently. See my therapist, write when I need to, and let the rest happen as it happens.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Hum of the Trauma Field

Yesterday my therapist referred to my situation as a "trauma field".  In other words, I'm trying to heal and rest while the bombs are still going off, and the mines are still active.  

Today in couple's therapy I heard the hum of that trauma field grow louder. The last few days Roi spoke gently, tread softly, and was more or less caring and humane. I have not initiated conversations about "us" or bothered to think about what he's doing when he's not with me. We circled each other carefully. 

In therapy stuff started coming up, because that's what you do in therapy, but as I heard Roi's usual responses to my upsets I felt the pain, the rage, the panic, the physicalness of it clench down on my skull, my ribcage, my stomach. Roi was hammering away at how my responses to his "wrongs" were so overblown. As he expanded and expanded his analogy of just how enormous my reactions are, comparing them to nuclear bombs and wastelands and scorched earth -- I don't know exactly what he said because once I started hearing "nuclear" I couldn't hear anything anymore and I said sharply, "I can NOT listen to this. I cannot listen to this. For two reasons. 1) My reactions were not "overblown" for a long time, yet your actions and reactions have remained the same, and 2) we've already established I'm suffering from acute and complex PTSD and I've given you that." 

I'm not sure I would have ever done such a thing in therapy before, to interrupt the other person, but frankly I was astonished and angry that the therapist wasn't calling him out on this. After all, she had called me out on being "absolute" earlier. 

Her response was to say that she thinks couple's therapy is not good for me right now. That I am too early into my treatment and need to be "stabilized". Which? True. This isn't good for me because I can't HEAR him. All I hear when he starts going off about MY response is a loud hum in my head and I want to break something. And what I want in that moment is for someone to hold Roi accountable for his behavior. In couple's therapy it is still me that has to be accountable. "Yes, I'm doing this to take care of myself. Yes, I'm committed to my therapy. Yes, I'll do that. Yes, yes, yes." while Roi sits on the other side of the couch and for every request that is made on him he has a litany of excuses, "no I haven't been totally honest with my sponsor, but that isn't really the problem. I would think about going to therapy IF I could afford it. I would do this, if that." 

So the upshot is that I have to continue to do my hard work, Roi may or may not do anything different, but he IS going to go away for three weeks for some peace and quiet and we're calling an absolute truce in the meantime. No discussion of the relationship. No decisions. No sex. No RELATIONSHIP, just a putting down of the guns. 

I can do that. I've been doing that.

What's Normal?

The Epidemic of Mental Illness. Why? This is worth a read to a few of my readers who I know are struggling with medications, side effects, and continuing symptoms.

There are some interesting, disturbing, and maybe even enraging ideas proposed here. I chose neurofeedback as my primary treatment because if all of these treatments are nothing more than a placebo effect, I'm eliminating the risk of side effects (which range from the bothersome to dangerous) and the complications of dependency and withdrawal. This, by the way, is NO judgement on those who choose to go the medication route. When living inside one's own mind becomes unbearably torturous, something must be done, and medications are often the only option available. 

But this two part article does remind me that my general belief is that disorders are actually "normal" responses to crazy situations. And if there's too much crazy, the response has to kick into overdrive, and this overdrive is what we label "abnormal", or "disordered". 

I read somewhere once that animals have been observed to display depressive symptoms when not enough resources are being shared with them. The response of other animals in the pack is to then share more resources. Depression, then, by this model would seem to be a bargaining behavior. Behaviors are often unconscious, and if it is true that depression is a normalizing behavior that is meant to restore balance among the group, it becomes impossible to view depression as an individual disorder. 

Imagine if this hypothesis is true. It is likely then that we are wired for depression, all of us. And it will kick in when we are denied support, or trapped in a situation where there is little or no support. Only when the "pack" does not respond to the expressed need, the "body" simply ups the ante and kicks in more depression. And then we label and treat the individual. These days that treatment includes drugs which are inexact and troublesome. And, in many ways treatment has REDUCED the level of actual support. The problem is consistently put back with the individual. Depressed people are given a bottle of pills and sent off to "deal" with their problem alone. Even the support of talk-therapy is limited to sessions, and is purposefully kept "professional" and "detached".

And what about PTSD? When our environment is consistently erratic, unstable, and even dangerous, doesn't it make sense that the brain would kick into hyper-vigilance in order to protect survival? Yet again, we say the individual is disordered.

It is complex. It is not entirely either/or. If one IS trapped in depression or PTSD, both the environment and the individual must be "treated". 

All of this then makes me wonder if the true magic of 12-steps is in the support system that is more personal, empathic, and sustained? Or, as I've posited before, learning new and somewhat abnormal coping mechanisms to deal with crazy, such as "letting go", "detachment" and "giving it away". Perhaps the combination?

I'm just wondering a lot of things out loud. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hope and Defeat

Today my therapist used the words "acute" and "complex" and "PTSD" together, and if it makes any sense my heart sank and soared simultaneously. In fact, my therapist is the first "professional" to use such serious words in reference to me or my experience, even though a few years ago my hair was falling out in large clumps, and I was two degrees above a corpse on the couch. Even though I was telling everyone in my life I WAS NOT OK. Repeatedly. 

Her speaking the words terrified me, and made me want to kiss her sweet pink cheeks. She IS sweet looking, cherubish, creamy and pink with soft dark curls.

But when I left her office today I was internally battling between hope and doom. I felt a little better and that gave me hope, but then I began to worry about my ex and how he's exhibiting all the signs of someone about to crash. And that led to panic and terror that my kids can't take it, especially Kyd, and I envisioned a future full of jails and violent deaths. 

That's the "acute and complex PTSD" talking, I told myself. Then I thought, "but it's true, it's TRUE!". I know where severe drug addiction leads. I know the wasteland it leaves behind for children. 

Then I thought how loving and resilient I would be for my children because I'm getting better. 

And then I cried inside that it's "not enough, NOT ENOUGH" for Kyd who will turn his rage and grief on himself and travel the same path as his father and WE'LL NEVER BE OK, and it's all too much, too much and I will never be able to stand alone against the huge tides of addiction and loss and anger and grief and hold the flood walls from drowning my son, and then my daughter, and then me. 

So it went all the rest of the day. I was somehow ok. I went swimming with Roi and he was kind and told me he knows that him going to the beach is triggering so we would go to a little private town pond where there would probably be no one but us. And that was true. I put on a one-piece so I could feel safe in my own skin. I waded into the water, walked up to the edge of the underwater mosses, and lapped peacefully across the pond sweeping my arms and kick-frogging. I wondered at a small army of bugs on the dock who had somehow died mid-stride and were now frozen pale shells. I drew a picture in the sand with my fingers of myself as a little girl, gave her a pink stone heart and then swept my four fingers through the sand in a circle around her to create a force-field. 

I talk to Roi at dinner and later in the evening in ways I haven't talked and he hasn't listened before. I don't do this to repair anything. I am only being where I am and unafraid, or perhaps unwilling, or perhaps unable to be anywhere or anything else. He grows concerned or tired and begins to tell me what I am doing wrong but we are interrupted by my children who want to show us the fireflies in the back field and they are spectacular. The whole deep dark sparkling.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Abject Terror Manifests in Funny Ways

Today is one of those days when all I want to do is think and write. I think, have a realization, and then I want to write about it. I worry that I'm tilting into self-absorption. 

I was thinking about my ex, and then I thought about how when my children argue it creates such a feeling of hopelessness and worry in me and I'm realizing how utterly intertwined these two things are. I am terrified, terrified that my children are going to end up just like us. Kyd an addict, if not now, in the future when the pressure of life is just too much, when he falls and doesn't know how to pick himself back up. Lexie an enabler, a codependent (that word still makes me want to vomit), an anger-train willing to mow down anything in her path that doesn't work right, and not seeing the damage she does to herself. 

So when they exhibit even the smallest sign of this, I panic. I need to talk about it, DO something about it, sweep it up, put the pieces back together, and beg and plead and DEMAND that they change. 

As usual, I'm both right and wrong. Kyd and Lexie ARE showing signs of following the same paths, and I do need to point it out. But I have to stop feeling so terrified of it because that terror leads to panic which leads to overreacting both externally and internally. I make it bigger than it is, and I fall apart. I feel that we're all doomed and damned. That Karma is a bitch and she's coming for me, for all of us, and she has no plans to leave any of us alone, ever. 

Again, I can only turn to meetings, and therapy, and neurofeedback. Hold my tongue and my seat and my ground in the moment.

When it Rains it Pours, then Floods

Got a phone call from my ex mother-in-law this morning. Indeed she still calls often, often to tell me a package is on the way. She's a shop-aholic, that's her drug. It would be cool if she shopped at boutiques, but her budget doesn't match her appetites so it's dollar stores and tag sales. We get boxes every few weeks with about 2 out of 20 items being actually useful or of our taste. The rest goes right back into the thrift shop cycle. 

This morning was not about a package. It was about her trying to get money out of her son, my ex, to send to Kyd to help him get his license. She couldn't bring herself to say the words out loud, the reason why my ex isn't sending money. "He's spending it on, you know", she whispered. 

"Drugs", I said out loud. I heard her sharp intake of breath on the other end. 

My ex is doing drugs, hard drugs, probably crack cocaine since that is the drug-demon of choice in the rural area they live in. Also, I happen to know he was doing crack four years ago, and I never expected he was going to stop. He had a "heart attack" this past spring, only when I got that call I knew it was drugs then too. 

I decided to call him just now, knowing full well he probably wouldn't be able to hear what I was going to say, and that it probably won't make a change. But he needs to know I know, he needs to hear that I'm not ok with it, and I need to know that I told him he is hurting others and in future will probably hurt them even more. People who do crack and don't get into recovery have only two other options. Jail, or death. 

When my ex and I split he was drinking heavily after years of sobriety. Not healthy sobriety, just not drinking. He didn't need to. He was a binge drinker, and drank to stave off feelings of absolute self-hatred. He had been physically and sexually abused as a child. I got him to go to therapy when I found out, and he earnestly tried, right up until his family refused to hear about it. But still, he had his children, a good job, a nice house, and a wife he loved. He didn't need the drink. And I...I was clueless about alcoholism. If he wasn't drinking, he wasn't an addict. 

Then he lost a business, and we lost everything, and he collapsed straight-away into full-blown alcoholism. DUIs, fights, black-outs, violence, and suicidal ideation. I left, we reconciled when he sobered up, we started over, but he was different, I was different, and the drink was seeping in. We split again permanently two years later and before I was even gone he found himself a girlfriend who liked to drink. The relationship was pure chaos from day one, and the drugs started. I don't know all the details, and I don't even know how I knew, but I knew there were drugs involved. That was 11 years ago. 

I opened the conversation by telling him I was concerned about him. He chuckled dark and low, and told me he works 12 hour days and what he does on his own time is his business. No, it is your children's business too, this hurts them. It makes you unavailable financially, physically, and emotionally. And if something happens to you they will be devastated. He began to rant about how they don't care about him, what happens to him doesn't matter and I cut him off. First because I wasn't going to listen to crazy, and second because I wasn't going to have him yelling in my ear with crazy. 

I am probably the only person in the world that can raise my voice to my ex without him hanging up on me or exploding into a tirade. I remain, to him, a symbol of the one brief period in his life where things were good and he was a grown-up man. He calmed down immediately and I took the opportunity to re-stress that I called because I am concerned for him and everyone involved, not to lecture him. 

"I'm too busy to talk right now", he said quietly, and I let him go.

Lack of Fleeing

Lack of fleeing when it is absolutely warranted causes depression. Another trap. ~Women Who Run with the Wolves
That is all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Upstairs, in a box on a shelf, hidden under two layers of clothes is a pair of binoculars. I took them out of Roi's suitcase before he left for his NYC, then upstate New York trip, and hid them in the box. 

There was no planning before, no thought after. I walked into the bedroom to get something, saw his open suitcase, moved a few things aside, saw the binoculars, felt a surge of rage and panic, took them out and put them in the box and then went about my business, the rush of adrenaline slowly subsiding. 

If any thoughts of the hidden binoculars entered my mind after they were mere sparks between broken wires. Am I dissociating? What is that?

Where am I?

Roi called. He's on a little family getaway for his father's 80th birthday. I didn't pick up but in the message he said he hoped I was enjoying the beautiful weekend, that I was serene, etc, and that it was certainly beautiful and serene where he was. 

I started talking back to the message. 

"No, I'm not fucking serene, I'm depressed." 

"No, I'm not enjoying the beautiful weekend, I'm curled in the fetal position on the couch watching movie after movie because it's the only thing I can do that doesn't make me feel crazy, lost, scared, and alone." 

I went out to get some groceries earlier. I moved through the store like a robot, trying to remember what this used to feel like. That's how life is now. Everything numb and mechanical and the remembering that somehow it used to be different. That I used to laugh. That I used to enjoy sights and sounds and scents. That I had ambition. That imperfect though things were I always had hope for tomorrow and that meant I could do what needed to get done today. 

I go to therapy, I'm getting the neurofeedback, I am even talking to someone on Monday about a new job (possibly, maybe, please say a little prayer), and I've looked at apartments. I do all this because it makes sense that these are the only things I can do to help myself. Yet I am unmoved, unchanged. Still floating in that black void within myself, so far from anything to grab hold to. There is no texture, no sound. 

"Hope" is transformed into duty to self. The actions that make sense even if I don't feel anything from them. 

I think back again to our therapist suggesting that, who knows, maybe Roi and I will find a way to one day be friends. How? How could I befriend someone who watched as I slid away into darkness, who heard my cries and reached his hand to me only to pull it away again and again?

It was never up to Roi to save me, I know that now. But to consider the possibility of being his friend? 

Last night I watched House of Spirits, a movie based on the novel by Isabelle Allende. I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that the husband and father of the house becomes increasingly controlling and sets into motion events that will deeply wound every member of his family. His wife refuses to speak to him ever again after he does something she will not forgive, and yet she continues to love him and be kind to him. Because of this, her daughter learns to forgive and to love and to live in light. 

Maybe somehow this is what the therapist means and hopes for us. 

A Line

Just had a dream about getting a beauty tip from someone to use chapstick between my eyebrows to fill in the worry line.

That was weird, and I'm too generally fried to bother with meaning.

Lexie and Kyd got into a spat two nights ago. Kyd was acting childish over not having done a chore he's been asked to do while staying here and in his irritation started verbally attacking me and Lexie by saying we were both lazy. Lexie is anything but lazy, and she's been walking away from his comments for weeks and she snapped. 

When these two start going at it, there's no telling them to "cool it" and walk away. One or the other always has to say one more thing, which leads to them coming right back. 

I've been dealing, or trying to deal, with the fall-out since. I've decided to take a harder line than usual and I have no idea if it's working but they're both mad as hell at me. Both of them are right about some things, and both are wrong about some things. Lexie is blaming Kyd for her life going "back to the way it was" but this isn't really true. She's reacting with old patterns, but Kyd is significantly different. He still throws little tantrums over small things, but he reigns himself in now when he's told to. It may take a few times telling him, but he does. And as far as I can tell, he's sober. 

Sober doesn't mean he's stopped black and white thinking processes, but I've realized how much Lexie is stuck in that too when she's angry. So the hard line I've set is that everyone (including me) has to show a change in our thinking, a shift from blame to solution-focused. Until such time that everyone is willing to  make the shift long enough for us to sit down together and come up with some solutions that work for everyone, they are not allowed to have guests and I will not give rides or gas money for pleasure. 

They've each come at me separately to kvetch and moan about how unfair I'm being, that if SHE or HE would just stop XYZ, everything in their life would be dandy. 

Sounds like me. 

Holding this line is excruciatingly difficult. No matter how many times I say I'm doing this for the benefit of everyone, they each feel like I'm not listening and not caring. Lexie especially is being terrifically dramatic. She cries, and then she attacks viciously. I ask her what she needs and she tells me and I let her know I'm willing to give her that, but it doesn't make her happy. Her face tightens up and she shoots another cruel barb in my direction. 

I've prayed for the answer and hear nothing. I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. Knowing my own thinking is faulty and has probably led to this dynamic, I'm clinging to this line desperately hoping I'm at least on the right track. All the while, yes, still depressed and feeling weak and how can I keep standing strong in the face of repeated attack. I feel so unwell, but life isn't stopping, and it's not getting easier.

Fantasies of driving myself to the ER and checking myself in, handing it all over to someone else -- it's strong. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Edited from an email I sent earlier to a fellow traveler in recovery: 

The depression seems only to deepen and it's too early to tell if the neurofeedback is working (only one session) and I'm terrified that I'll end up in that fun-house of brain meds. I get it that they work, and that it's a possibility that must be not just entertained but embraced should it come to that, but I also get it that medicines for the brain are an inexact and tricky science. They too often don't work quite right, or deliver as many side effects as relief, or that many struggle for months and months with their doctor trying to land on something that actually feels right and good, and while they wait for the balance to be found, they struggle because whatever state your brain is in? THAT'S your goddamned reality for the moment. 

And yet, while I wait for whatever it is that's going to work, my family is falling apart around me and I don't trust myself to do or say the right thing, ever, because I don't trust that I could even know what that right thing is given my state of mind. That I'm dysfunctional is an understatement, and while I appreciate that my therapist, or my readers, or my sister, or whoever thinks I'm swell and intelligent and therefore I'll get through this, damage is being done RIGHT NOW. What the hell have I allowed to grow and fester in my family, in my children because of the damage that was done to me? Damage that I didn't, for so long, even recognize as damage. Just something I overcame and patted myself on the back for, only to collapse over and over into piles of rubble under the weight of various new abuses and traumas. Every time, I picked it up, patched things together, and marched on. Marched straight into the same old battle telling myself I would be stronger than the enemy and only just now realizing I can never be stronger than the enemy of myself. 

This depression really started three years ago with a double trauma that I've not been able to recover from despite applying all that had worked before. I have grown weary and tired of myself this way. I am disgusted with myself this way. I am angry at Roi, at my ex-husband, at people whose care I was entrusted to when I was too young to know how to defend myself, at the sensitive constitution I was given, at life circumstances, and yes, even my children. But I'm angry at myself too. It doesn't work to tell myself this isn't helpful because there it is. There it bloody is. And it's all arising from a cesspool of sickness and not knowing the right ways of being. 

I've been thinking about the ways in which Roi conned me, then slowly eroded my control through manipulation and deceit, and of course I'm angry. I can't convince myself it isn't justified. But I can't ignore either that my thinking was so distorted. That when the first real betrayal was revealed, I let him excuse it. I excused it. And I wondered why he didn't love me more instead of wondering why I would want the love of someone who betrayed in such a way. I punished myself and I punished him, but it never crossed my mind to care about myself. To take care of myself. 

And that, THAT is the fundamental problem. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why Does Getting Better Feel so Bad?

Had my first therapy session this morning. I'm going to call her Liz. 

I saw Liz before just for neurofeedback. I didn't have insurance and she was taking a few patients for free so she could practice. It saved my life at that time which was immediately after a double-trauma, but we didn't have official talk time so I didn't tell her about the extent of what was going on. I knew opening the can of worms without the official support wasn't something that would help. 

So even though she's seen me before, we did a 90 minute intake session. I talked mostly about Roi and some about sustained emotional abuse in my childhood (from caregivers, not my parents). She softly validated my pain with words like "abuse", and "torture", and "parasitic". She also stated that Roi's actions were intentional to keep me off-balance.

I talked about things I hadn't ever talked about, and I cried and felt like I was going to throw up or pass out or maybe just die, right there in front of her, just die from all the pain. 

I meet with her again Thursday and she also wants me to see my general practitioner to have blood work done as she wants to make sure I'm not also battling any health problems or vitamin deficiencies. She firmly suggested this stating that I was going to have to take all this seriously and address all fronts. 

Immediately after I drove to our couple's therapist for a session with Roi. He's angry about how much he's financially supporting me, and that despite all that I blame him for everything. He just can't wrap his head around that I'm suffering trauma or that he has enough to do with that to be "blamed". His belief is that I'm just sick in my own right. 

This is both true and not true. He conned me in the beginning, presenting himself as someone who was capable of commitment, loyalty, and emotional support. There's a tape in my head that sometimes plays over and over of a conversation early in our relationship. We were talking about past relationships, and I was describing how some men I had dated bailed when they started to feel strong feelings. I can hear his voice on the other end of the phone, "I'm not like that. I'm a good guy." I can see myself standing in the living room. I can feel my exhaling breath. I can remember feeling that I had met a good guy, not just because of what he was saying but because of how he had been acting. How sweet he had been. How romantic. How caring. How he listened. How he was interested. 

By the time I started realizing the true depth of his manipulations, deceit, and sickness I was entrenched. I worked for him and my financial well-being was wrapped into the whole thing. I tried breaking it off a few times, and the nice guy would appear in full force again, and I couldn't avoid it because we maintained contact for work. He hoovered me. 

My past trauma, and the context started wrapping tighter and tighter and he continued to manipulate and deceive. And then came the big trauma, and I've not been the same since. He's had a hand in all of it.

So when he believes that I had a "latent predisposition to depression" and tries to escape his responsibility, it would be like me having a latent predisposition to diabetes and he's slipping sugar into my food without my knowing and when I end up with full blown diabetes and having to struggle under the disease, him saying, "well, you had a predisposition to diabetes". 

Our therapist is operating under the assumption that we are only going to have 6 sessions and so she's trying to drive toward immediate solutions. Today she suggested that we have three choices. Use our time with her to work on how to separate in the future, separate now short-term and reconvene to see how we feel a few months down the road, or separate now forever. 

I'm angry and annoyed. Though I want to leave, I don't want to discuss it with him. I don't want to give him reason and opportunity to abuse me more, and I've no doubt that he will. From cruel indifference, to dating without discretion, to pressuring me, to financial control. And who knows what else.

At all costs he doesn't want to see how sick he is, so he uses me as the scapegoat. I have no reason to believe this will end just because we officially say we're separating.

The therapist also suggested that we might find the space over time to be allies, to be friends. Which is a little like suggesting that I might become friends with someone who has held me captive and tortured me, and I don't know if she just doesn't see what is really happening here, or if she does but can't say so and this is her way of protecting me, but it doesn't feel like protection. Again though, if she believes we're only going for 6 sessions, what else can she do? 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Palm Reader

For years I've driven by The Palm Reader's house. After all, it's on the way to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and Target and every other business located in this town. I've always wanted to stop in and get the special $5 reading, just for a lark.

I find Tarot readings, palm readings, and generally all things psychic both fascinating and annoying. Fascinating might actually be too strong a word. It would be more accurate to say my curiosity gets peaked once in a while. Especially when I happen upon scientific studies supporting the possibility. 

My mother did say I had always wished for a crystal ball that to see what the right thing to do was. Mothers have that irksome habit of always being right. 

I got in the car today, no destination in mind except "away", and soon found myself in the driveway of The Palm Reader. I parked next to the two sleek white cars I assumed belonged to the owners. I was met on the porch by a blinking black cat and a woman who eyed me suspiciously. Behind me the traffic continued to rush by and it was all so comical and strange. From inside I heard a child laughing at a television program, and the woman at the door impatiently waved her hand toward the sign listing the services offered and their prices. $35 for a tarot reading, and it went up progressively from there. I told her I was interested in the advertised $5 palm reading.

She told me to have a seat on the porch and she would get her daughter. By now I was confident this whole set up was a scam, but I had nothing better to do than to satisfy my curiosity about what it would all look like. Some part of me was hoping I might for once meet the real deal, but not today. 

The daughter came out. She was unremarkable except for her wide green eyes. My impression was that of a bored high-schooler working an after school job at a box store, though if I had to guess I would peg her at around 30 years old. She sat me down behind a screen and asked to see my palm. She pointed out the lines without touching me and then proceeded to tell me about my life. It sounded like she was reciting from a script. She peppered the "revealing" with "and forgive me, I don't mean to offend", and "does this seem true to you?" and "why I was given this gift". 

She did startle me at one point by saying that she sensed I had two negative people in my immediate life right now, and they were blocking off a lot of routes for me, forcing me in one direction that wasn't my true path. She elaborated on what this was doing to me, how it was being done, and so on, and considering that Kyd is temporarily back home, it was kind of dead on. I had to wonder, if this was a script, was it that common that someone would have two negative people in their inner circle causing that much distress? 

There was nothing she said that was off, and I admit it, as she rattled off what sounded like a script, I was amazed at how accurately it applied to me. Again and again I wondered about the statistics behind this. Sure, some of it is easily explained by the horoscope phenomenon where the information is so vague and universal. But some was more specific. It was a fascinating experiment. 

She advised me that it was important for me to stay energetically closed off to the two negative forces in my life to prevent further damage. Then she offered to work on my situation by meditating and praying over candles lit for me in "her church" for six days and six nights. All she asked was a contribution for the nine candles. $10 each or $90. I politely declined and said good-bye. She called me sweetie, and I was on my way.

Will the Real Crazy Please Stand Up?

I haven't been able to hold onto much in the way of thought process today, though I wish I could somehow summarize all that has happened in that internal landscape in the last 24 hours. 

Forgive me if this is less poetic than mechanical. I'm feeling fragmented and feel the need to be linear to find my bearings. We'll see how this goes. 

I've read a lot in the last few years to try to understand what is going on in my relationship, to make sense of what is happening to me, what is happening for him. I've read about sex addiction, sociopathy, narcissistic personality disorder, depression, trauma, PTSD, and C-PTSD. Of course I diagnosed each of us with all of the above with the first half of the list going to him, and the second half to me. 

The need to understand has been fierce. All driven by the deep yearning for definitive answers about what to do. And all this knowledge has made me an armchair expert, able to explain in small bits rather eloquently the complexity of the sex addict-partner relationship, but it has not really ever given me the magic answer(s) I longed for. All the while I was sliding further and further into the black hole. 

One thing I wanted to know, for sure, was Roi inherently good at the core who had just caught a nasty disease, or was he inherently evil using a "good guy" facade in order to keep everyone off balance just enough to allow him to continually escape consequences? 

I also wanted to know, for sure, just who was the crazy one in this relationship.  In the beginning it was really disorienting the way he handled things. He once told me about an incest incident in his family of origin, and it was just tossed into the conversation with no set-up, no pause for reaction, no follow-up. My brain was all, "wait, what? Rewind, rewind, what the hell was that?". When I interrupted Roi to go back to that topic he seemed perplexed that it even warranted attention.

I need some good analogy for this odd behavior. All that comes to mind is the cartoon image in my head of one person sitting back in a chair, completely at ease, chattering endlessly. Speech bubbles surround the speaker's head and they are filled with shocking thoughts and actions like, "One time, my brother slept with my step-mother. He was like, 16 I think." or "My mother often left me at the movies while she went shopping for men. I was, I don't know, 4 I think?" or "I used to think I was addicted to porn".  The listener sits with a look of puzzlement and concern, and that person's head is transparent and you can see that several wrenches have been thrown into the inner gears and things are starting to smoke in there.

And there's just one source of "the crazy" that has been relentlessly building in me.

I've read in many many places stories of partners wondering if they really are the one that has been crazy all along. Sometimes these questions are still being asked by people who've been separated from their partner for a significant amount of time. They wonder if the addict, or the NPD, or the sociopath, or the [insert your favorite personality disorder here] was right, because it sure can look that way. When your partner can continue to function -- because some can stay mostly calm, functioning, and even look HAPPY through all that's going on -- and you're just losing your shit, and your hair, and your weight (or gaining it), and apparently your marbles, it doesn't make sense. If they're the crazy one, why are you the one that looks like you were released from the psychiatric ward three months too soon due to health insurance cut-backs? You've stepped through the looking-glass, and everything on this side is an endless puzzle you can never solve. It all begins to get real wobbly under the feet of your sanity.

I had one of those nights last night, and if I don't start to put every step toward the direction of the door, I'm going to lose my sanity completely.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I've made the decision to leave. Tuesday I have my first neurofeedback and therapy session and I'm going to tell her my plans and use this time to get advice on how best to move forward. 

I'm too tired to explain the latest, but I am clear. I'm not sure how much I'll write over the next weeks. It might be non-stop or I might seem to retreat into total silence, but if the latter, I'll be back. 

Wish me luck, it has become clear how much I'm going to need prayers, serendipity, and my HP.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Big Sad

So, I'm depressed. Semi-officially since a therapist said the me...about me. I'm not surprised. I've been taking steps to help myself because I know things are not well in my head. Yet I'm having all kinds of wonky feelings come up around this. 

There's relief of course. Relief that someone else gave it a name, that Roi was present to hear it even if he still thinks the cause has little to do with him, or my present circumstances which mostly involve him. 

There's an acceptance of it that wasn't there before. A removal of all the walls between me and 'the big sad'. Now I'm just here, in it. It is at once all-encompassing and suddenly less oppressive than it was before.  

There is grief over how much has atrophied, how much time has been wasted, how much life I've lost to this. 

There is possibility. A bigger assurance that I will emerge back into the light of life, again experience all of the textures of it all. 

There is a release from the anger, which I see I was hanging onto in order to function at all. Anger was the last switch I could turn on to get my body to act. 

There is the nothingness of 'the big sad'. 

There is the wanting to sleep all the time. 

There is the putting one foot in front of the other, going through certain motions in order to stay alive. 

There is the void. The sensation of floating inside oneself in an impossibly large space with no boundaries, no light, no sound. The purgatory between death and life. The womb from which I may be reborn.


I am in a strange house, perhaps a vacation house. Roi has just come back from being away and he's in another room talking to his friend C. C is trying to convince Roi that he has better options out there, and to leave me. They either don't know I'm home or that I can hear them, so I walk into the room. 

C leaves without acknowledging me, and Roi is in his trance-happy mode, where he's got everything figured out. 

"I've got to go back to the train station", he says. 

"Why?", I ask. 

"Because I met her, I met the one, and I've got to give her an engagement ring before I lose her." 

He also tells me there is a second woman. He is almost entirely disengaged from reality. He talks about both women as though they are the loves of his life, but he has only actually spoken to one of them. His plan is to propose to both of them to ensure that he gets at least one of them. 

I am stunned, in shock. He is telling me he plans to propose to two different women but he's talking about it like he's telling me that he just decided to take up singing, or buy a tennis racket. He is excited, matter-of-fact, and entirely oblivious to the shock of it for me. 

"What about me?" I ask. 

He doesn't give me a straight answer but what I get from it is that he has no plans to dump me. He acts as though the answers to my questions should be obvious. He is not looking at me or listening to me. He's moving around "getting ready". I'm nothing more than an insect buzzing in his ear, an annoyance, something to be waved away.

When I follow him upstairs (now we are suddenly in our real life home) he starts to get abrupt and more annoyed. I open my mouth to speak and he starts nodding vigorously and repeating, "Yes! Yes! Whatever you're going to say, the answer is YES!". 

"Roi, we've been together for nearly five years and we're not engaged! Now you're telling me you're going to propose to two other women just like that?"

I don't remember the specifics of the rest of the dream except that it was similar to incidents that have happened with Roi in the past. Like the time I had asked to take a break from him to think, and in a phone conversation towards the end of the break he told me he couldn't even think about dating anyone else, and then mere sentences later he dropped completely nonchalantly that he had checked out and had also met a woman at Whole Foods who was from Columbia, and how interesting she was and he was considering dating her. 

The contradictions themselves are mind-boggling, but his lack of recognition of the contradictions is mind-blowing

I'm not sure what prompted this dream exactly. I think I know but I'm not sure I could articulate it. It's a deeper instinctual thing. It's a matter of knowing Roi's patterns on a gut level. Roi acts out when things are good between us, but when things are bad between us, when he senses he's losing his grip on me, he has a pattern of starting to scan for other opportunities. Since our last therapy session he has tried to connect with me and I simply don't want to spend time with him. So it seems my unconscious is either picking up on something that's already happening, or is predicting it will happen. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Is

Roi and I had therapy yesterday. Our therapist is not a CSAT, and actually knows little about sex addiction, but I like her anyway. So far. It only took her about 20 minutes to determine I'm suffering from depression severe enough to consider medication and that Roi is suffering from a divided mind and that he is NOT sober. 

At one point she said to Roi, "Do you understand how Briar never knows when she's the friend or the enemy?"  

Our final assignments until next week were for me to view Roi as someone who is incapable of more than what he is right now, and for Roi to make a list of all the things "you need to make amends to this woman for". To drive her point about Roi's capabilities, she used the analogy of someone in a wheelchair. "You wouldn't expect someone in a wheelchair to reach the top-shelf, or to be able to suddenly get up and go running", she said. 

Roi seemed relieved at this, but he doesn't understand the implications for me. With that shift in my thinking, it means that I have to view Roi as someone I cannot trust, rely on, talk to, or ask help from. He is incapable of those things. Without those things, what is left? It means I don't want to talk to him, listen to him, or generally be around him at all. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Too Shall Mother-Effing Pass

It's good to be gentle with oneself, but sometimes when you're being tossed around by life all you can do is white-knuckle the sides of your seat, clench your eyes shut, and scream, "THIS TOO SHALL MOTHERFUCKING PASS!". 

And it does. 

My neurofeedback therapist called back today and, praise the baby jeezus, she has an opening AND she takes my insurance for the talk-time (not the NF) AND she's now located literally around the corner from me so I could even ride my bike there. I'm scheduled for my first session next Tuesday. 

I also found a therapist for Kyd, though I don't know yet if Kyd will be amenable. I think if I can get his body in front of this guy for even one session, good things will happen. I can't control it, but I can encourage it can't I? Said therapist does NOT take our insurance, but he's the first person I've spoken to in a decade that seemed to immediately understand the problems and didn't talk over me. Terms like "personality disorders" and "depression" and "bipolar" were bandied about, so he gets the severity after only 20 minutes of talk, but at the same time he's not interested in diagnoses unless it's absolutely evident, nor in excavating the past. He meets the patient where they are now, where they want to go, and helps them get there through traditional and alternative therapies including outdoor work. I hope I judged him accurately because he seems to be the right blend of experience, traditional, and alternative without any of that sickly saccharine after-taste that too many people in the helping professions leave me with.

Kyd was given 30 days before a hearing, and if he can pull it together and get a job before then I think he'll be ok with the court.

So Universe, Higher Power, Luck, whoever you are (and do I need to name you yet?), we made it through the recent storm together and no casualties have been reported.

So Much

So much has happened in the last couple of days and I'm reeling, needing space and time and quiet to let it all settle in and do its work, but alas, life moves on despite my most fervent wishes that it would give me a break already.

Kyd is at court this morning for an old case, and he's facing possible consequences for not having secured a job yet. I wanted to go with him, but he went with his girlfriend. I wrote a letter to the court confirming and backing up Kyd's job search efforts and I have no idea if it will help or not. Last night Kyd was in a very dark place emotionally, and as he slipped into black and white thinking I couldn't help wondering, once again, what diagnosis he might get if he would only step into a psychiatrist's office.

Which reminds me of the statistics that more women are diagnosed with disorders such as depression or borderline personality disorder, but more men than women are in jail, and it seems kind of obvious what's wrong with that picture. Each group stigmatized in their own way, and what the hell are we doing people?

I did my best to stay with him last night as he ranted. I made mistakes a few times, trying to make him see reason. What worked was to just tell him I loved him, he didn't deserve to feel this way, and I loved him. 

Lexie thought she smelled alcohol on him, and if he was drinking, that would explain things too. We've never been able to sort out how much of his problems are from drinking, and how much of his drinking might be self-medicating an underlying disorder. I can't force him to see someone unless he threatens himself or someone else, so I sit on my hands, try to drop suggestive seeds into his psyche in between angry outbursts, try to walk that ever so narrow line between enabling and supporting. Try not to be consumed with worry because I'm fragile too, barely able myself to ride the waves of emotions with some faith that "this too shall pass". Try not to beat myself up for being fragile. Wonder if that damn therapist is going to call me back today because my wellness can't come fast enough when I have two people who very badly need me to be grown-up and healthy.

Before all that, a moment of peace with Roi, and it was a relief. This morning, back to the anger. As I was wrestling with a printer that wasn't working, trying to get this letter for Kyd and feeling the weight of worry pressing down, I asked Roi for help and that was a mistake. For Roi, "help" means to control with a demanding, heavy hand. For Roi, asking help with something simple in that moment means extending the opportunity into as many other areas as he can reach before the door is slammed in his face, and when it is he walks away muttering about the problems other people have.

It's not just that he tries to control, it's that he's insulting about it. When I suggested that one of his suggestions for Kyd seemed heavy-handed and probably not realistic he sarcastically shot at me that "if something that easy is ridiculously hard than there's no hope". 

Funny, because I don't think it's ridiculously hard to tell the truth, to tell members of the opposite sex that I'm in a relationship if they're making moves, to not be a sex addict, to not hide alcohol in 10 different places throughout the house, etc. My bad.

He couldn't see the maddening hypocrisy of his statement, and I couldn't let it go. Nothing like starting the day with your son in court and a fight with the boyfriend. Next stop, Jerry Springer. I have GOT to get the three C's tattooed on my forearm. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Have You Ever

had one of those days where your skin just doesn't fit right? One of those days when being inside your own head is the worst torture you could wish on your most heinous enemy?

I'm having that day. I'm counting down the minutes until Monday night's meeting.


So I feel stuck at the moment. It's not just Roi though. Kyd is back home, supposedly temporarily but all his plans for a job and apartment seem to be shaky or falling through. He's tense, and I'm tense. I can't afford to support him right now, but I want to support him while he transitions. It's paralyzing me and I know I need to set some boundaries, but I don't know yet what they should be. 

And Lexie is suddenly continually arguing with her boyfriend and I don't know how to help or if I should help. Lexie is so much like me and I know that her anxiety and temper are hard to control. 

I'm waiting painfully for a neurofeedback therapist to get back to me and I can barely stand it. I have to put on the oxygen mask for myself, but my kids need me and this treatment can't come fast enough. It will help soothe my brain a little so I can get perspective. It will help me to stop ruminating so much. It's like meditation on steroids. I called the therapist today and left another message. She is the only one who's affordable, and I already have a relationship with her.  


Whenever I don't write for a few days I notice I'm feeling stuck. As in I can't think about anything and I can't DO anything. Roi and I either argue or tolerate the intolerable tension between us. It's not fun, and where I used to get upset when he was away during the day (because I was anxious that he was acting out), now I welcome any errands that take him away from the house. Being nice to him is exhausting, but so is being hurt or angry. When I tire of leaning up against the doors of defense I find myself sharing a laugh with him. When I tire of pretending to be nice, pretending that I'm not screaming on the inside, I find myself throwing sharp comments in his general direction. 

When he's gone, even for an hour or two, I find I'm restored to a bit of equilibrium. The hurt is still there but since I don't need to hide it, and I can just be with the wounds, I feel some healing going on. The poisons draining, the flesh of the soul stitching. I can rest. 

The other night our neighbor had a party in the backyard. Roi thought we should "check it out" and be social. I caved even though I was feeling highly triggered. I can't afford to say no to everything or to stay so angry at Roi all the time. I can't keep poking at the fire. I have other more important things I should be saving my energy for. 

We walked into the backyard, and not 2 minutes in I see the most attractive woman at the party lock eyes with him and then smile. He glances back in her direction a couple of times, and she does the same until she catches my eye. I'm standing right next to him, it would seem obvious we are together. And this is part of the ugly history. Roi has a remarkable magnetic quality with women. He's very attractive, for sure, but it's much more than that. It is this near perfect combination of attractiveness with his social awkwardness that creates a powerful magnetic force. I've said it before, he has a way of looking at a woman, or any stranger with a look of complete delighted surprise that immediately makes a person feel "special" and that Roi is completely safe to approach. More than once this has meant I get to witness women throwing themselves at Roi despite my holding his hand, or standing next to him. Of course I can't help but to imagine what it's like when I'm not there.

This was precisely why I didn't want to go to the party. I didn't want my insides scooped out over something that "seems" so innocent, and in its way, IS innocent. I've seen no evidence that Roi is aware that he's doing this. It's not just women, it's all strangers. People talk to him easily everywhere he goes. So to get mad about it is pointless, yet it is a reminder of how he can so easily fool people with little effort. 

Friday, June 3, 2011


I escape to my favorite used bookstore/cafe before Roi comes home, literally shoving things into a bag, throwing on something easy, raking a brush through my hair. The need to be somewhere else, anywhere else, is overwhelming. The why is unclear. Is it that I won't be able to meet his smile? Or is it that I can't say anything without the hurt coming through, can't stop the way it mutates into anger somewhere between my heart and my teeth?

Traffic is slowed by the farmers driving their tractors between fields and I wonder if that life is a happy one for them. Imagine the annual cycles of growth, harvest, decay and daydream about the lessons the earth and sky must teach them. The world is blooming and I roll down the window to let in the sun-warmed breeze. 

At the cafe I'm settled into a corner with my tangerine-ginger iced tea and work, for once, is flowing. It has been weeks since I could focus. I ignore the aging man with a wedding band who doesn't bother with discretion as he hungrily takes me in once, twice, trying to get me to meet his eyes so he can flash his rehearsed smile. I give him nothing. I've heard men say "older" women are too jaded to date. One man's jadedness is another woman's wisdom, I say. 

"Love!", the familiar exclamation sends my stomach into my knees. It would be wrong not to raise my eyes, an act of war I'm sure of it. My smile is anemic, I know, but it's the best I can do. 

"I thought I might see you here", he says cheerfully. It's a lie.

"How?", I ask. 

"Because we know each other", he replies. 

"Well...I didn't know you would be here", I retort, retaliating against his play. 

He continues the game of make-believe, the good-guy, the pulling the blanket over his head I-can't-see-you-you-can't-see-me trick. 

It's a cruel turn the Universe gives me, Roi stopping here on his way home. It is also a loud declaration that even after a week away he is stalling getting home, getting back to me. We are both avoiding, unmistakably, the other, so why must he pretend that it is serendipitous and lovely?

"I have a gift for you", he says. 

I walk with him to his motorcycle, him chattering on. He prefaces the gift with, "you probably won't like it" as he always does and is always right about. Two Christmases ago he handed me a box in front of family, assuring me that I probably wouldn't like it but he liked it so he got it anyway. It was a vintage rabbit fur coat, a horrendous patchwork thing that dropped a shocked and awkward silence over the room. A gift not chosen out of carelessness or even ignorance -- to say, "I know you probably won't like it" contradicts ignorance. 

I can't look at him. I try to find what I once felt, try to remember when seeing him was a light in my bones instead of lead, dig deep for some reserve of love to tap into, just enough to at least pretend because I'm so practically not ready to leave and the minute the reality hits him that his hold has slipped, he will punish me. I fail and fail and fail. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Public Dissection

The other day someone talked about complaining versus being part of the solution. I'm not going to link to the post because this isn't meant to be argumentative. Just that it made me stop and think. I had just posted a very raw post and was still reeling from the emotional events that prompted it. 

Being who I am (that part of me that makes me so vulnerable to an addict in fact), I immediately started questioning my own behavior. Have I been complaining more than looking for solutions? Was he talking about me? (of course not) Was I looking for attention like a big-adult-baby? Was the attention more important to me than solutions? 

Then I said to myself, rather firmly, "STOP!" 

On one hand, connecting to others in recovery is extremely important to me. I've wrapped myself in secrets, withdrawn because I might not speak those secrets but I couldn't stop people from seeing the effects of their poison. Also, I'm not very good at pretending shit is good when it stinks. 

On the other hand, one of the most dangerous things to my recovery is the voice and opinion and advice of "other". Somewhere early on I learned that I wasn't supposed to listen to myself, but to others. That what I wanted, thought, felt didn't count as much as what others wanted, thought, felt. I was less important, less knowledgeable, less worthy. 

This, to those who know me in person in certain capacities, would seem confusing, impossible even. There are areas in my life where I am strong-willed and strong-opinioned. Those areas would be those where I am helping others (starting an organization or leading people) or those where it's not about me, it's about facts (brain science, analytics, data, science generally).   

So when I ask myself if all this writing is just complaining, venting, attention seeking, the answer is no, it's not. I write, whether I write here or in journals or elsewhere. It's what I do. It's how, to quote a friend, I solve the problem of myself. I do it here, publicly, because it is the very beginning of purging the poison of secrets I've held onto for too long. I do it here, publicly, for a certain kind of attention -- that which offers me a mirror in which to view these things that I can't see clearly when they are jockying around only in my head. I do this here, publicly, so that as I peel off another layer it's laid out sequentially for me to look at. It is a public dissection of self, and it's both painful and necessary.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Foot In

Once again I am reminded of how much in recovery is about the addict learning to do what is human, and the partner learning to do what is against human. In it all is an ironic twist since the addict must descend back to earth, get grounded, and pull his/her head out of the pink haze, while the partner must learn to transcend the phenomenal world and rise above earthly, biological leanings. When looked at this way, the partner should come out better in the end after all. 

And yet, so much of what I learned about "enlightenment" is that you don't escape the mundane. You walk with one foot in enlightenment and one foot on the earth. And all I can ever conclude (so far in my shaky recovery that is) is it feels impossible that I should ever be expected to lean into love and trust with someone when I am asked to behave against what love and trust looks like naturally between humans. Let go? Keep our noses out of each other's most delicate and personal growth? Don't ask, don't tell? 

It seems to be the only thing that works in recovery from everything I've seen (though there are intelligent critics with other plans), and it at least serves to sever the trauma bond, but it is not what I know in my ancient DNA that love should look like.
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Dorian Grey was an Addict

On one hand I can see how easy it is to minimize what is, to try to paint over the ugly, but on the other hand it blows my fucking mind that he can't see how utterly fucked up and damaging all this had to be, how inevitable. I waffle between blaming myself, blaming him, blaming the circumstances, and when I’m in-between who’s to blame the arguments battle each other. Confusion reigns and it is my enemy.  

Something crazy-making definitely happened here. I don’t know yet if I was complicit in my own destruction, or if I was simply wounded enough, distracted enough, worried enough about other things that I followed his lead. I know I was baffled by how easily he could live with his own behaviors and actions. There were few, if any, signs that he was secretly wracked with guilt. He slept like a baby, never once lost his appetite, he never stopped laughing, enjoyed himself at parties, seduced over and over again, happily spent time with his father without betraying any hint of guilt over having used his aged father’s apartment to act out. He took naps, went swimming, sponsored people in AA and SLAA and it all looked like a breeze. A fucking breeze. 

How could I be upset over things that he was clearly not troubled by? As more and more disturbing behaviors were revealed I upped the intensity of my questioning, trying to break through what had to be a facade. It was the only way I could explain it to myself.

He didn’t talk about struggle or growth. He didn’t talk about much of anything except grand philosophical ideas, berating himself for not being able to stick to schedules, and a host of little shit problems where he didn’t get his way. If he talked about anything he talked about not wanting to talk.

Only two things seemed to cause him any sustaining stress. Money and my upset.

If you ask him, he will tell you it’s not about money, it’s about the things money can give you like freedom and travel. I’ve never known anyone who isn’t concerned about money itself to talk about it, think about it, or research it so much. This obsession, in fact, is the only thing that has probably surpassed his addictions on more than a few occasions.

And then there was messy me. Always intruding with demands, accusations, anger, sadness, and questions. It annoyed him that I wanted him to feel things he didn’t feel. He was forever calm against my fits.

And so it went. Him breezing on through, sleeping like a baby every night as I descended deeper and deeper into chaos. It was like a twisted version of Dorian Gray. Me the portrait hidden away in the attic, he the man who stayed forever untouched. I took on the decay, the disease, the pain, the age, the black marks -- the more I shriveled and mutated and shrank and twisted, the more he carried on. The only sign of the ravage of his disease was on my face. 

I shouldn’t be surprised at how easy it was for him to believe I’ve been the crazy one. How easy to tell friends and strangers that I was making much ado over nothing much at all, and he, the poor generous schlub, was probably being taken advantage of, but he loved me, so he endured. To outsiders -- to look at us, the two of us, how could this not be the truth of it?

Were these strange manifestations of an inner guilt and shame? Signs of a conscience forced to communicate sideways? Sure, I suppose one could interpret it that way, but I can’t really buy it. His division, his compartmentalization was/is perfect and complete. It made me crazy. I can’t explain exactly how, but that it did is one of the few things I’m certain of right now.