This morning as I pulled the pillow over my eyes, I sat warmed by the breath of my little boy dog leaning his nose in to check to see if I was awake. He knows that I was, but it was a ploy for either a belly rub, to go out a pee, and or breakfast. It was for all three. But in the moments of silent greyness I began to think about what I wanted to write today. I have been building this post for a long time and it comes from very deep within. So deep, I was not able to articulate it. But the words were pulled out after reading Cissy White’s post last week. http://healwritenow.com/weathering-extremes-mindful-ptsd-3/
I met my first husband when I was 19. I loved the man with all my heart. The night we met, he made me safe. I had been drinking and was pretty tanked. Instead of taking advantage of the situation, he suggested we go walk and we did. We walked for a while until I was less out of it and then we came back to the bar where our friends were. I did not drink any more. Instead, I sat on his lap with his arms around me. SAFE. I remember to this day the feeling. Later, as I left with my two girlfriends, I sat in the back of the convertible and said I was going to marry him. I did less than two years later.
Somewhere in that time frame, he did not make me feel safe anymore. But I kept hoping. He was clever enough to know that was the trigger for forgiveness and so he would often pull out the hero and dance it around for me. I fell for it every time. But it was not about his needs; it was mine needing to feel safe. He provided that once in a while; enough to keep me there and enough to keep the marriage going. But the truth really was that any alternative was more frightening to me and he knew it. On leaving the disaster of our wedding, my mother told me very clearly that I was not ever going to be welcomed back to her home. Those words have rung in my head ever since. Early in the marriage, that reality hit and he knew I was trapped. The hero for me disappeared completely, even though he was a cop. Later in the marriage when all sense of safety or love was gone, he would parade being the hero for other women and then rub my face in it. It was the ultimate destroyer of my self-esteem. I was not worthy and he made sure I knew it.
I have a few heroes in my life. One is my oldest brother. He was there for me in my early years but then when I was 9 he moved on to go to college. It did not last and he came back home until the family split and I moved up here with my parents. He and my brother lived in an apartment in the old town so my younger brother could finish his high school senior year. My oldest brother never came back home and he never knew all that went on, or at least he never said. But in his couple of visits, his compassion for my plight was evident, so I think he had an idea. To this day, when I am in a situation, it is he that I call. Being a hero comes naturally for him. He is the president of the ambulance corps, and volunteer firefighter for over fifty years and a retired Captain of the Syracuse City Fire department.
I have a few other heroes. One is my therapist John, who I saw for over two years. He was there through some of the roughest times of my healing. He was always honest and compassionate and loving. Another hero is a man I have never met, but his writing and book helped guide me to the next level at a difficult time. All I have to do is look to the sky when Hawk flies over to be reminded that he is always close.
This is where I begin to struggle to open up and share what I feel about my current situation and marriage. I have been beating myself up for a long time about what I feel. I do not love my current husband. There are times when I loathe him actually. We were hastily married eight years ago when I thought I was in deep trouble with ovarian cancer. In truth, I also just wanted to be married again. I was married 27 years previously; most of my life by then. It was very uncomfortable for me not to be Mrs. ….even though I never use MRS. I am MS. I also want to be really rid of my ex-husband’s name. So we married in a small wedding in front of a judge. I remember sitting on our coach the night before crying my eyes out in anger because I knew it was a bad choice. But I did it anyways because….if I died, the man would have nothing. He was penniless, actually in a great deal of debt, had no friends and had alienated his family. He was married three times before, had a live-in girlfriend for many years that ended abruptly and a so forth. What was I thinking?
I know now I was his hero. I saved his ass many times over. He went back to school, racked up a ton of loan debt that was going to get paid off when he began teaching, which never happened. He went to work for a company for a while and then that fell apart. In hindsight, there is something terribly flawed with him. But he has the life he wants and he knows he is safe. I am the one trapped. I will not throw him out but I got damn close last year. But the reality was he would have ended up in a terrible situation because there was no way he could pay for himself. And, he is as manipulative as they come and would have gone after everything I own and take down every ounce of credit that I am attached to him with because we are married.
Now as bleak as that sounds, there are times when it is good. He is a calm being which is good because if he wasn’t we probably would have killed each other. He puts up with me. He has no idea of my past and I will never share it with him either. We do things together and he is a good companion. I often say he “plays well.” He does little around the house, and would do less if I let him. I could fill up pages of my complaints, but then I am reminded I made this bed, so to speak.
But he is definitely not my hero. And I resent that more than anything. This is what I want in my life. I wanted someone to keep me safe. Instead, I have someone attached to me who is more afraid than I am and unable to function. Again, this is another reason why I cannot just dump him. His course of depression would be a threat to his life. How can I call myself a compassionate person and do that to him?
But my anger often simmers ready for an eruption. My continued disappointment with the situation often overwhelms me and I lash out. He cannot comprehend the level of anger because he does not understand the past. Why do I not tell him? Because, in truth, he does not care. The man does not CARE for anyone, including his own daughter. I have never met an entire family who is as self-centered as his. I am not going into a long history of this, but let it suffice to say that his major lack of effort is a family trait. I think his survival has been basing his entire life on someone else taking care of him. At 65, he is not going to change.
“But last night while the wind howled I thought, “No one will rescue you. If it gets bad you will be on your own.” I’m in survival mode. It’s automatic. My hyper vigilance is on high. Always.” (Cissy White)
So no one is going to rescue me either. That is such a deep wound that continues to bubble from within. I wonder if I am going to die not knowing what it would be like to be able to trust people. I don’t and history has taught me not to. I am always on a varying degree of being on guard. The few times I have let down my protection and made myself vulnerable has ended up disastrous. There is not much left.
When I die, they will look at the body and say, “Oh she was so fat all her life, no wonder she had a heart attack.” What they will not know is I died from the deep wound of a broken heart that was multiply stabbed and never healed.