Sunday, August 29, 2010

Visiting the past

I am not sure if it's due to my age, maybe I am entering another stage of my life.  Possibly I have evolved enough to see things as they were, but differently.  Maybe I am just taking inventory of my gratitude for how things have turned out.  Whatever the reason, I keep being turned around to look back on the past and reflect on what was.

Things I read, things people say to me, dreams that I have, almost daily prompt me to take a look back.  A few years ago, I would have resisted that backward glance.  My life was good, but there were things in the past too painful to recall and better left alone.  I would have claimed that I was over all of that, things had been laid to rest, resolved, so I did not need to remember them or think about it.  J changed all that, He wanted to know about me, He asked me questions.  He didn't press me to tell Him things that were painful for me, but He would tell me, "one day you'll want to tell me about it."  And, since He is always right, much sooner than later, I would.  He did not see my aversion to crying as a good thing.  He told me, "when you are ready, you will give your tears to me," and of course, He was right.  Although, now He might regret that, because I cry for Him all the time.  He has deconstructed the walls I had built.  He taught me how to trust and be vulnerable.  He has opened my boundaries and expanded my limits.  For the first time in my life, because of Him, I have experienced intimacy and love.  He has changed me and He has left His mark on my soul and heart.  The truth as I knew it then and the truth as I know it now, exists only in my mind.  That truth is constantly evolving, therefore, I am constantly evolving. 

As I evolve, I keep revisiting the past and redefining it.  Some parts of my past are simply memories that I reflect on and am grateful for the outcome.  Other parts are more traumatic and I assess their impact at the time and the healing that has occurred.  Then there are the stories from my life that are ongoing, where the end is yet unknown.  The story of J and I fall into this last category, I will have to wait and see what He has in store for me and what the Universe has in store for us.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The past year has led me to reconnect with several people from my past. Old friends from high school, more than a couple old boyfriends. (Love it or hate it, Facebook is certainly far-reaching.) I was thrilled to find many of these "friends". Some of them I hesitated about, not knowing if (or what) they remembered of me. I let friend requests sit while I mulled over what had been. I thought less about who they had been than who I had been. I remembered my high school self as: rather naive (though far from chaste), pretty self-centered, searching for something I wouldn't find until years later, not feeling like I really fit in, having lots of friends, uncertain of who I really was. (In other words, a typical teenager.) I hung out with the "good kids", I was a good kid. I was also pretty sexually active. I had some degree of sex with most of my boyfriends, as well as some "friends with benefits". I was naive enough to think that no one knew and that most of my friends were virgins. I guess I didn't want to be remembered as "that girl". I think that being faced with those past connections I identified with that teen-age girl, who worried about what people thought of her. Now I am not sure what I was worried about.

What has astounded me is the perceptions those old boyfriends have had of me for all of these years. As I have chatted, e-mailed and spoken to them in the course of catching up, I have found the person they remembered is not the person I remembered. Their memories of me are not of the promiscuous, shallow, awkward girl I remember. They remember me fondly, glowingly. Some of the adjectives they have used are: caring, compassionate, pretty, soft-hearted and sensual. One of them told me that he compared every sexual partner he has had to me. Another said he thought of me often and has very fond memories. My first love (and the boy I lost my virginity to), said I will always be a significant person in his life and he will always love me. All of their remarks have floored me. I was never drop dead gorgeous, I never had a perfect body, I never considered myself sexy or even memorable. None of these guys told me this as a come on, none of them were trying to "hook-up" again. I thought a couple of them might harbor some resentment, since I had broken up with them for no other reason than teenage fickleness.

It made me think about our perceptions and memories. My own guilt and insecurities influenced my recollections of 35+ years ago. They also didn't allow me to understand who I was or the depth of my relationships at the time. I tend to judge myself harshly (part of that perfectionist thing). There are things I am very confident about, my intellect, my job performance, my cooking skills. I don't think I am insecure about things, I just don't think about them. Things like my attractiveness and desirability. I don't view myself that way, I wouldn't describe myself that way. I see lots of women that are prettier and sexier than I am. In terms of looks and abilities I think I am average, certainly better at some things and lacking in others. I do take pride in my job. It is challenging, it doesn't make me special, but a lot of people would not do it.

I think there are many things which still color my perception of how others view me. I think I need to be kinder in opinion of myself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Accepting imperfection

I have always been a perfectionist. Not that you can tell by looking at me, or my house, or my life. That is the problem with perfection, it is impossible to achieve. I never believed I was a perfectionist, because I was so terribly imperfect. I had ideas of how I wanted things to be, those things being me, or at least things that I thought were in my control. Perfectionism results in two things, being constantly disappointed and finding out that there is very little you control. When something in my life went wrong, I always blamed myself. I always felt I had failed miserably. I think that was a contributing factor in my abuse. I ended up in a relationship, and then marriage, to a man that I should have run from. I met him just months after my first divorce. I felt like a failure, I was frightened to be on my own. I did not know how I was going to support and provide for my young son as a single parent. I felt unwanted and undesirable. R preyed upon those feelings, he flattered me and lavished attention on my son. When I noticed danger signs and would pull away, he manipulated my insecurities and doubts. Once we were married, he had no problem placing the blame for things on me and I had no problem accepting it. We did not have a consensual DD or D/s relationship (I did not even know what those were), but he justified the abuse as punishment. It was one more thing for him to blame on me, he told me that I "made" him do those things to me.

Even after I left him, I was a perfectionist, and as a result a failure. It didn't seem that way from the outside. I was a single mother (now to two sons), I was advancing in my job, I had a house. I also completely eschewed any kind of relationships. I had friends (but I kept them at arms length). I did not date (at all, I knew my bad track record was all my fault). I was extremely independent and relied on no one but myself (other people always let me down). I had convinced myself that I just had terrible judgment about trusting others, so I refused to trust myself. I was very careful to do, and to attempt, only those things that I was sure I could be successful at. I didn't risk any more failure.

That fear of failure is paralyzing. Rather than risk failure, you simply don't risk at all. I was reliable, I always helped others (sometimes at my own expense). I could not or would not ask anyone else for help, I would decline help if it was offered. It was more than fearing rejection, I didn't think I was worth it. Deep down, I believed...that maybe I had deserved the abuse inflicted on me. I didn't deserve help and support from friends. I was not sexy or pretty or good. People told me they admired me, they told me how strong I was. Their statements always made me feel like a fraud. I never told anyone of my past, I was afraid if I did they would see me as I was. Weak, tainted and stupid. I never understood how I had ended up in that marriage. I had thought I was fairly intuitive and a good judge of character, that whole bad experience proved me wrong. The only solution I had, was to never have another relationship, for fear of repeating my mistake.

This past week was my third anniversary with J. He is everything I thought I would never find and didn't deserve anyway. He understands everything I am and He accepts everything I am not. He tells me I am beautiful and sexy and a good girl. He tells me I am strong, smart and caring. He tells me that my past is not my fault and no one should have ever hurt me that way. He tells me that He would never subject me anything like that. He tells me He loves me. I believe Him. He has freed me from so much, He has brought me to this point. This point of truth and of accepting myself.

I am not sure how I ended up here. I don't really know why, after over a decade of celibacy and shunning relationships and intimacy, I began browsing "dating" sites. I am not sure what prompted me to send that first message to J. I do believe that I was destined to be with Him. I believe that as soon as I was at the right place in my life, He was placed in my path. I believe that we were somehow connected before meeting. In all of the ripples we send out into the Universe by our thoughts and actions, ours had somehow crossed and intertwined. My whole life has been a journey, I am now on that journey with J. But, even before we were traveling together, I think we were on parallel paths. I am so happy and grateful our paths merged. I am no longer afraid of failure, there is only failure in giving up.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the only way out is through

After I wrote my last post, I had a really good day. My mind was clear, I felt like my old self again. Today, however has been a different story. It started out good, I was tired, but fine. As I began to do things around the house and plan my day, it hit me. I felt it slowly creeping in, waves of anxiety and fear. Thoughts and memories of the past crowded my mind. I tried to push the feelings down, I took deep breaths and reasoned with myself. I knew the fear wasn't real or at least wasn't justified. I knew I was safe. I felt like I was losing my mind, my body reacted physically to my emotions. My pulse raced, my chest tightened up, I became nauseous. I wanted to hide or run away. Even the dogs reacted to me. I was still trying to go through the motions and do things around the house, but I must have been sending out the same energy I was feeling. They became anxious, they crowded around me, they tried to comfort me. Their actions made me worse, I was trying to hide the way I was feeling. I did not want to be touched, not even by them. I began to shake, I started sobbing, eventually I threw up. I absolutely recognized this feeling, it was how I felt for the greater part of a year, right before I managed to break away from him. The more I tried to fight it, the worse it got. I finally sat down and remembered, I remembered the feelings, I remembered the abuse, I remembered the isolation and being discounted by anyone I had the courage to try and tell. Since the abuse was mostly sexual, I never told anyone the details. (I did tell some people that I was afraid of him and I wanted to leave.) As I sat there and remembered, I trembled and cried and pulled myself into a tight ball. I made myself feel it, I made myself think about it, and then gradually the anxiety lessened, the fear dissipated and finally it all was over. I felt better, I felt stronger, I was me again. I am sure that it is not all over, but I understand now that I will have to go through it. I will have to go back and resolve it. I stuffed all of it deep inside for a long time. I have faced it and let some of it out over the past few years with J. He has helped me with that process. But now it is all surfacing, I will need to do this and do this alone. The only way out is through.

I debated about sharing all of it here. I wasn't sure I could put it out there and actually write it all down, but I think that I need to. If you do not want to know any details (though it is not graphic and I have not included many details) or if you disagree with my decision to write this, stop reading now. I do not want sympathy, nor do I want judgment, this all happened a long time ago. This is my story and I have held it inside me for too long. I may write more about it later, I have written some about it in the past, but as I write it here it is no longer living inside of me. I am not ashamed any more, it wasn't my fault. The shame is his, though he will never accept it. He has never acknowledged any wrong doing or showed remorse in any way. I haven't had contact with him in a while, but he still calls my son whenever he needs money. I am letting this go a little at a time. Each time it spills out from me, there is more room inside me. Each time I heal more. Maybe someday, I will be whole.

I had felt completely isolated and alone, I was terrified. I was isolated from my friends and family, he had convinced me that no one cared about me. I journaled at the time, then as now it helped me cope and work through things. It was my only confessional, it was how I held onto my reality, rather than his lies. He found my journal and read it, he twisted my words around and accused me of cheating on him, sabotaging him and lying to him. After this happened, I threw out all of my journals, I only started writing again a few years ago. Even during the years after the divorce, when I was single and alone, I was always afraid to keep a journal. I was afraid someone would find it and use it against me. He lied about everything, even things that didn't matter. If I confronted him about any of the lies he blew up and berated me and by the end he had me apologizing for doubting him. He was using a lot of drugs at the time, he was stealing from employers, friends, family and me. He was abusing me and threatening my son. We went to counseling twice during that time. He would only go to "Christian" counseling and he always did most of the talking. The first time, the woman was a licensed counselor, but she didn't talk to either of us separately. After listening to us (mostly him), she advised that the main problem was my unruly son and that I needed to be more supportive of R (my ex) and his attempts to parent my son and make the relationship work. (My son was about 7 at the time, and my ex was very jealous of my relationship with him). The second attempt at counseling was with a "pastor" of a very large evangelical church. He was also supposedly licensed as a counselor. My ex was much more honest that time, if you can call his act honest (think Jimmy Swaggart...I have sinned). By then he had been in trouble with the law and been fired from several jobs for stealing. He still did most of the talking, he confessed to all the things he had done (those things that he had been caught doing), he cried, he said he was sorry. That counselor did speak with us separately. When alone, I told him that I wanted out, I wanted to get away. I told him I didn't have any resources to do it and I felt I had no support system. The counselor told me that I needed to stay, that R was sorry for what he had done and needed me to stand by him and support him. He told me that R's salvation and redemption depended on me. Basically, I was told to be the "godly" wife and stand by my man. The church offered financial help to us, not me. No mention or acknowledgment was made my wish to leave and get away, no offer was made to help me do so.

He did not beat me, I never had any visible bruises or injuries. His abuse was threats, intimidation and sexual. He hurt me many times during sex, that was the only way he could get off. He often could not maintain an erection unless he was hurting me and when he still couldn't he blamed me. That was when he told me I was a whore, that I was disgusting. That was when he would hold me down, or hold a knife at my throat, and urinate on me. Sometimes he would choke me, though he often did that when he was raping me anyway. He would spit on me and tell me I was a worthless slut, that I would give it up to anyone. Then he would tell me how I had ruined sex for him by wanting all kinds of perversions (nothing I had ever wanted, but all the things he did to me).

My last attempt to rid myself of him (before I actually was successful) was after he had been charged with forging prescriptions and extortion (he was blackmailing a pharmacist to obtain drugs). After his preliminary court hearing, he was released. I would not let him back in the house. I reasoned that he would not force his way in or retaliate against me, because he was already in trouble and it was all pending. He was staying at a seedy hotel near my home. He called me constantly, begging and threatening, trying to get me to take him back. One day he called and told me that he was going to kill himself if I didn't come talk to him. He told me that our son would never forgive me and it would all be my fault. I did not go, I called the police and reported the suicide threat. Officers went and talked to him and then came to see me. They told me that he just wanted to speak with me and why wouldn't I go? I told them I was afraid of him. They asked if he had ever hit me or if I had ever filed charges on him. I told them no, I did not want to tell them what the abuse consisted of, it was shameful for me. They talked me into going to see him, he ended up coming home with me. I am really not sure why I let him come back, other than I just wasn't strong enough at the time to stand up to him face to face.

Obviously, I did get away, I did get divorced. I was able to do that when he was sentenced to a year in prison. I still only could do it with my father's help. My family still does not know of the abuse, they only know about his criminal activity and that he went to jail.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Working through it

I had planned for my next post to be something that J requested me to write. Truthfully, I have tried to put that post together, but I am very distracted by what is going on with me and I haven't been able to concentrate enough to comply with His request. I truly appreciated the responses to my last post and those comments (along with Gillette's post) have given me some sense of my current feelings. I am still struggling with putting my thoughts into words, but I am just going to forge ahead and ramble through this. I hope the following makes sense.

I realize the emotional nature of my being lately has a lot to do with the hormonal fluctuations going on inside of me. I also know that this is not abnormal, but it is quite disconcerting. In Gillette's post, she says...

The most exciting piece I discovered is how hormones affect the brain. All the hormones that are dominant in the reproductive period of life are geared toward creating a chemical proclivity for balance and peace. Opioids are released, literally covering up the paths to our memories. These affect the "primitive" brain- the temporal lobe, the amygdyla, the hippocampus...all places of our deep unconscious stuff. We literally put not only our lives, but also our feelings, on hold to create a safe and secure hearth and home for our progeny....even if we don't have any.

When we start our hormonal shifts (whether during PMS, postpartum depression or perimenopause), those hormones are no longer dominant.. Others that trigger the unconscious areas of the brain increase. Fewer opioids mean memories and the subconscious stuff not dealt with in the past are no longer buried. When we are stressed in life, whether from outer shaiza in our lives or simply because we respond intensely to life, a feedback loop ensues: We get stressed...which affects our hormones...which brings us more stress...which affects us even more.

This describes exactly what I am experiencing. I am feeling and having to work through all the trauma from my past that I had buried in my subconscious for so long. For the past three years, J has helped me face unresolved issues from my past. He slowly dismantled the walls I had put in place to protect me. Their protective value had been questionable, but they had allowed me to avoid any intimacy and pain for a long time. I suppose the only thing they had protected me from was myself. Even as my walls came down, the memories of those experiences were pretty muted. I acknowledged what had happened in the past, but specific memories and the emotions surrounding them were fuzzy. More and more memories have surfaced, especially over this past year. Those memories were painful, but it still was as if they had happened to someone else. I could usually think about them objectively and I spent little time reflecting on the actual experience or exploring how I had felt at the time.

Little by little those experiences and those feelings are seeping back into my consciousness. Snippets of recall pop into my mind, flashbacks of moments, specific minutia, mere minutes of a memory. Sometimes there is a trigger, other times a snapshot just appears like a flash from a camera. I have witnessed the progression of my emotions from that time long ago. The hurt, the fear, the betrayal, the anger, the confusion that all culminated in nothingness. I became nothing, I felt nothing. I retreated within myself, if I just condescended it would be over soon. I was numb and compliant. Lay there and let it happen, don't fight, be quiet and he'll be done with you and leave you alone for now. That disassociation outlived the walls I had built. I remembered, but I was still numb. That novocaine is wearing off and I am left feeling prickly and stingy as the pain seeps back in slowly...

I will write more as I am able. This is all I can express for now, it is a difficult process. I am working through it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Losing my mind

I have not written here in a very long time, even before that my posts were pretty sporadic. I keep trying to write and deleting my posts. I cannot seem to follow any thought to the end. I start to write and before I can finish, I have completely forgotten what I am trying to say. My entire life has become this way. My mind is racing most of the time, and yet the thoughts race out of my head before I can act on them. I have been fighting a general feeling of restlessness and discontent. That is very unlike me. I am not sure why I have been feeling this way. Possibly the stress I am under, maybe hormones, maybe I am slowly slipping into insanity, at least that is what it feels like much of the time. My doctor attributes it to the first two reasons, but it seems that everything that has been wrong with me for the past ten years was (at least originally) blamed on hormones. If this is the onset of menopause, I wish it would just hurry up and be over with. I could save a ton of money on feminine hygiene products as well as regain my sanity. The fact that I have not experienced any other symptoms (physical) doesn't seem to matter to anyone but me.

I am struggling to keep up with things at work. My work is not suffering, but I have had to resort to all kinds of lists and reminders to myself that are not usually needed. My housework has fallen behind, I get sidetracked so easily I just sort of wander around and find it difficult to finish anything. I write when bills are due on my calender and then check it 10 times a day, because I cannot remember what I just looked at. I check my bank account several times a day, because, I either forgot I payed something or question if my balance in the checkbook is correct. Last weekend I turned the iron on to heat up and my son found it three days later still on (and no, I never did my ironing). It has only gotten worse as I no longer trust myself to know or remember anything. When I do remember, I doubt my own memory.

I have started meditating, which seems to be helping minimally. It is teaching me to slow down and practice mindfulness. I used to be able to multi-task very well. I sort of went on auto-pilot and got everything done. Now I must concentrate and think things through slowly. I try to be aware of what I am doing and not be thinking ahead to the next thing. I have been trying to get more sleep, but sleep is very elusive lately. As soon as I lay down, my mind races even more. I have begun exercising, that is helping very much for the few hours after a really good work-out. I am calm, my mind is sharp and I feel good. However, even if I work-out everyday, the results (for my mind) only last a short time. (Yes, I know, the results on my waistline and hips take longer to show up and last longer.) I have been eating better and eating small amounts several times through-out the day. (I thought some of this might be due to drops in my blood sugar, that is why I changed my eating patterns.) Occasionally, getting some protein in my system helps with concentration and restlessness, but not enough to think that is the reason.

The best thing I have found that helps me focus and slows my mind, is J. Just talking to Him helps some, but when He asserts Himself and gives me directives and plants thoughts in my head, I immediately respond. The chattering stops, I slow down, all else is off my radar, only J remains in my head. It has been a month since He was last here. He was out of the country and since He has been back, He is busy and tired. We talk write and chat frequently, but I miss Him very much. I think about Him all the time, but when I get very restless I try and fantasize about being with Him. I think about Him spank me or play intensely with me. I think that He needs to get my attention, to drive all the other thoughts and worries out of my head. I think I need the release of those endorphins, I need to surrender, I need to find that place inside of myself, and be engulfed in His presence. J grounds me, He focuses me. He always has done that. I dealt with things and managed things on my own for years, I still do really, as He is not here all the time. I do rely on Him though, for even when He is not here, I know I am not alone.

That is all I can manage to write before my train of thought derails again. J gave me a writing assignment close to a week ago, so I will post that next, just as soon as I can concentrate enough to finish it. The longer I go without writing, the harder it is to write something. I got out of the habit and now I must become more disciplined and keep writing again. I decided to think aloud on the blog today to sort of break the ice and get some of this out. I haven't disappeared completely, I've just been lurking about.