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.

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