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. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hello Freak-Out

This is a venty post. I'm freaking out about some things. A lot of things. But this morning Kyd informed me that all his plans to move out had fallen through. The roommates he thought he had have made other arrangements. His girlfriend can't move in with him either so he's now in the position of having to look for an apartment on his own. He also has to pay $100/week toward restitution for a DUI that got him in trouble three years ago. 

On one hand, there's no way to make the math work, I get that. His current job doesn't pay near enough for him to have an apartment, pay utilities, buy groceries, and have some sort of transportation to and from work, never mind also paying the restitution. 

On the other hand he's living in our living room, he's not picking up after himself, he pulls attitude on me when I point out the mess, and when he's not working or hanging out with his girlfriend (in our living room) he's sleeping. He sleeps 12 hours a night on most nights. And that math doesn't add up either. There are 4 more hours in there that could be used for a second job, to look for a better paying job, to help out around the house (and make extra money). 

So when he throws his hands up at me and says, "what do you want me to do?!" I feel just a little bit like strangling his absurd self.

It was a hard enough sell with Roi and Lexie to let Kyd stay here temporarily, and we were all clear that Kyd needed very firm boundaries. He stayed mostly within bounds, but he's made no attempts to go above and I can't see Roi or Lexie being keen on the idea of Kyd hanging around much longer. 

All of this on top of trying to make myself well again so I can make a "stay or go" decision and it's making me a little bonkers to think about that decision having "extras" added onto it. 

I know the solution. Kyd is going to have to talk to Roi and Lexie himself. He's going to have to step up, a lot, in order for them to even consider it. He's going to have to lose the attitude and learn how to be humble and gracious. He doesn't have a choice. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Embodying the Goddess of Never Not Broken

I came across this article today about the Hindu Goddess Akhilandeshvari (I know, I can't pronounce it either). 

There's this: 
But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?
And this: 
So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism. 
And more. Go read it. If you're here at this blog it's probably because you are lying on the floor broken into pieces (literally or figuratively) because of sex addiction, or drug addiction, or alcohol addiction, or maybe something else but you're searching for a little light, a little hope, some answers, some understanding -- probably mostly not to feel so alone as you pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams, your shattered self. 

So you could probably use a little Akhilandeshvari, the Goddess of "Never Not Broken" in your life. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"I'm Sorry"

Roi called the other day about money matters so I had to take the call. It's the first time we've spoken since he left other than one call about work (I had to take his place at a sales meeting). 

He said he's been taking the time away to reflect on everything and it all boiled down to that he's sorry and he wants to step up, "man" up. I listened to his long dialogue mostly in silence. I searched all the corners of my body to find what was coming up and came up empty-handed. 

It's not that I don't believe him. I think in this moment, at this time, he is truthfully sorry and I've wanted to hear that for a very long time. Too long a time. My ex-husband was very sorry after too long a time too. I was already gone from him when he finally lifted the veil from his eyes and saw the wreckage his drinking and control had caused in our marriage. 

I can't say I'm already gone from Roi. I honestly don't know where my next steps will take me. My conscious thoughts on the matter are that I don't want to make nice with someone who I told every step of the way that I was faltering under the weight of his continued addiction and all the flavors of betrayal it brought, and the deep wounds in my family centered around Kyd's alcohol use and bold self-destruction. I don't want to make nice with someone who, for whatever reason, was so callous to my descent. 

But where I am with Roi is something much different from those conscious thoughts, because it has to do with where I am with myself. I am in the underground of self, excavating old bones, meditating in the charnel grounds, and patiently gathering up. 

I won't know where I am with Roi, or the world, until I've come back from my work.


When I started this blog I was deeply wounded; a victim. 

At first I felt a victim of my son's undoing, and then I felt a victim of my partner's betrayals. When I hit ground-zero-minus-five I began to peel back the layers and self-witness an entire life of victimization. Abuses, bullying, betrayals. 

At my last therapy session my therapist brought up something she had no idea was attached to deep wounds. We were into the neurofeedback by that time so I didn't get a chance to respond. All weekend I've been skirting around what this brings up for me but haven't been able to really touch it. 

So I found myself back in the void, floating without feeling. 

It seemed impossible that I could be processing, yet somehow I find myself feeling ready to shed the victim role. I read somewhere in Women Who Run With the Wolves a practice of creating a cape with all of the labels and injuries that create the "story" of our lives, and somehow creating the garment releases one from all that others have tried to make us. My theory is that creating a visually representative garment that one can choose "not to wear" puts it all in perspective. 

I don't know if I'll do that, but I feel ready to connect with a different storyline, ready to plant different seeds down here on the ground, the fertile soil of ground-zero-minus-five.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dream: The White Cop

I read somewhere once that it's kind of taboo to write about your dreams on your blog. Doesn't make any sense to me given all the other personal details of life we share on blogs. But my dreams over the last several years have been offering all kinds of clues and I want to listen. 

I had this dream this morning (anything in parentheses is commentary to clarify or distinguish relations to waking life) : 

A friend of mine comes to visit (this friend is an actress, bubbly, exotically beautiful, grounded and spiritual). I have a guest or roommate living with me and Lexie is also home. My friend E is flitting about talking and moving from room to room. Lexie is smitten with her, and I follow the two of them around hoping for an opportunity to get E alone and tell her what's going on in my life, particularly how I've been diagnosed with complex-PTSD. I desperately want her to understand why I haven't been myself these past several years.

E goes outside and lights a cigarette. I am taken aback since she's always been a clean living kind of gal, but I notice that they are ultra-ultra-light cigarettes and I pull out one of my own. Lexie takes everything in about E with great interest. 

The scene shifts to an art studio with a crowd of people moving about in smocks and black turtlenecks and beanies working on various projects or standing around talking. An old acquaintance from my high school shows up and she has been completely transformed. In high school she was considered masculine and ugly, but now she has beautiful luscious auburn curls framing a delicate face and her movements are worldly. I express my astonishment and gush over her transformation. She takes it all in silently and then moves on. 

I find E near a barrel and she is smoking pot from a ladybug shaped bowl (to my knowledge E is not a pot smoker in waking life) and I join her but just as I am filling my ladybug bowl she is emptying hers. There is a very specific mechanism to empty the bowl and I am watching her do this when the "police" break down the door. It is one cop, dressed all in white, and he immediately rushes me and pins me to the ground confiscating the ladybug bowl I had been trying to empty. He has his foot on my neck as he is shouting accusations and measuring the bowl with a measuring tape. 

In the dream smoking pot was not illegal (I don't smoke in waking life) but selling was and he was accusing me of selling. Every time I tried to explain he would cut me off or mishear me, so when I said I was just trying to find the s...he shouted, "Trying to get to the STORES!" 

It became obvious he was not listening so I yelled loudly and clearly, "I have complex-PTSD and you are needlessly pinning me to the ground triggering my symptoms. Let me up now. Let me up NOW. LET me UP NOW!". I keep repeating and I see him falter, especially as the crowd is beginning to gather and look at him. He lets me up but I am now angry and panicked and full of adrenaline. I pace while yelling, "I'll SUE your ASS!", and then I flee out the back. 

On the road it is dark. I run barefoot along the edge of the road, sure that the white cop is close on my heels. Further from the studio house the road gets progressively darker and then I see eyes in a tree. Fright gets the better of me so I turn back. There are footsteps behind me now and when I turn it is him, he is upon me and grabs me tightly by the elbow and starts walking me, saying nothing. A group of kids happen along and I start screaming and break free from the white cop, running to them and begging them to protect me. He is smiling and calm and I am clearly out of my mind. I see their eyes move back and forth between him and me, hesitating. 

I wake up.