Vulnerable

Today Jay was complaining about going to therapy and having to talk about our issues at home. He didn’t want to do it and was dreading it.

“Why?” I asked.
“Because I’ll feel vulnerable and I don’t like feeling vulnerable.”

All of a sudden a light clicked on in my head. Of course! How did I not see it before? He’s so afraid of being vulnerable that he doesn’t let anyone ever really get to know him. Who is closest to making him feel vulnerable? Me. He has always kept me at arms length even at his most affectionate (and he can be extremely affectionate). All of his acting out has been to keep from feeling vulnerable. He’s always said that he’s lied to me because he’s afraid of me, but really it’s because he’s afraid of feeling vulnerable. He acts out to push me away and avoid feeling vulnerable at all costs.

What a realization. It really blew my mind. He talked to his therapist about it at his appointment and the guy basically confirmed it. He came back and apologized for lying and treating me the way he has and said that even though he didn’t like it he supported my decision to have him sleep in the other room and thought it was a good idea. He supports me establishing my boundaries and realized how wrong he’s been about so many things. He said he wants to show me that he can be vulnerable with me.

Breakthrough? I don’t know, but it feels good.

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Drawing the Line

So back in November Jay and I drafted up and signed an abstinence agreement. We were both going to be completely sober and refrain from any sexual activity for 120 days. Last week Jay came to me asking me to supply the password for the filter he’d loaded onto his phone because he’d been tempted to look at porn during our abstinence period. This got me to thinking so on Tuesday night I asked him if he had masturbated or looked at porn. He said he had. I was stunned.

“How many times?” I asked.
“A few.” Sigh. Anyone who lives with an addict knows that answers like these mean quite a bit more than a few.
“I told my therapy group and SAA meetings.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m still trying to learn how to tell the truth.”

Really?? How old are you?? 36? Or 5?

At first I decided that we would have to extend our abstinence period but I didn’t want to say that we’d have to sleep in separate beds. We’ve never slept in separate beds except when living in different cities so it seemed a little extreme. I told him he needed to tell me about any breaks in sobriety within 24 hours or we would definitely be sleeping separately.

The next day I spoke to the ladies in my therapy group. Thank god for B and Jo. They advised me that I needed to keep the attention on his breaking our agreement and lying to me about it rather than letting him divert the conversation to how I reacted. They also talked to me about boundaries and how to define and defend them.

In the end I told him that I needed him to be completely sober for 90 days or I was filing for divorce. I said that I deserved a sober and honest husband. I would like for it to be him but if he can’t give me that, I’m done.

He understood, agreed, and offered to stay in the other room. I took him up on it. I think that surprised him. I don’t think he expected me to actually ask for us to sleep separately. Then I went climbing with some friends, came home, and took a nice relaxing bath.

He’s been sad and depressed about it and I have too, but I also feel liberated. I have always perceived my bedroom as my safe place and I didn’t realize before how unsafe I’ve been feeling there with him in it. Now it’s my safe place again.

I had a dream last night that someone was setting fires to intimidate me. I knew and told them though that I was descended from a fire elemental. Then I ran through the fires to show them and they were amazed. Aw yeah.

The push-me-pull-me game

So the holidays were kind of rough. First there was the drama with my former friend, then my mother-in-law came to town briefly, our program and therapy schedules were disrupted, and then came the final kicker, we were purposefully excluded from a NYE party that many of our friends were going to because the one acquaintance who was inviting everyone knew that Jay’s last AP was going to be there and this guy is still friends with her. It triggered me something fierce, and Jay, who was unable at that point to face the shame he felt at the pain his choices have caused, just kept saying, “Don’t you think you’re being negative? Try to see the positive!”

“Positive????” I wanted to scream. “What in hell is positive about this?” I just felt like he was criticizing me and I was ashamed of being triggered so I just got worse and started hitting myself. I hate it when I get like that but rather than turn all that emotion on other people it’s easier to just abuse myself in an effort to get my mind off the torturous pain I’m feeling. At least I don’t cut myself anymore. I have all sorts of scars from doing that in my teens and early twenties.

After group therapy yesterday I realized that I stayed with Jay for so long through all kinds of horrible things, because it was a better deal than what I got with my mom. My mom was blatantly abusive. Her bipolar disorder causing her to write me songs of how I was “the best song her heart ever wrote” one minute and then spit in my face and tell me I was worthless the next.

Jay’s push-me-pull-me game was far more subtle and there was a lot more love there than with my mom, so I settled. “At least,” I thought in my abuse-addled brain, “he doesn’t hit me or call me names.” He just turned his back on me repeatedly and when I needed him most. He just betrayed me and my trust in him in some of the most violating ways, endangering my health, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

When my mother was in jail when I was 22, my half-brother came to live with us for a couple of months. Our grandmother had rejected him and the son of the people from her church that first took him in bullied him so he came to live with me. I was a 22 year old trying to take care of a 13 year old. I had no friends of my own where I lived. I was overwhelmed and so lonely and instead of supporting me, Jay turned his back on me and increased his acting out with his AP at the time.

It made me so sad for myself to think that I was so ill treated as a child that I settled for a slightly less blatantly abusive relationship as an adult. I usually shrug off people’s pity and compassion for what I grew up with but I also never offered myself that compassion.

I talked to Jay about this last night and you know what he said? He said, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me. It’s no excuse but I was a little boy and didn’t know how to handle things. I hope to become more of a man and to be there for you the way you need me to be in the future.”

Wow. That seems like a really mature response. And it meant a lot to me so I thanked him for it and told him how much it meant to me. Maybe there’s some hope for us after all.