Cliff Diving

My psychologist, she extends her hand as if to shake someone else’s, but then stands her hand at the edge of the table and teeters it back and forth. The gesture is a visual aid, a representation of my plight with depression.

I, by virtue of biology and environment, exist precariously close to the ‘edge’ and with the use of my tools of awareness and self-management, though my path is rocky, I am able to stay atop and not fall over. However, it takes tremendous effort to do this and she readily acknowledges that it shouldn’t be this difficult. I would agree, though not through any direct evidence but through a deep knowledge, a knowing, that this is not my true nature. There is a part of me that knows I am a being of joy and love. It’s in me somewhere, I just don’t know how to access it.

My psychologist then draws her hand in towards the center of the table slightly, explaining how some people live further away from the edge but can, through situations and events combined with a prevalence towards depression, slide quickly to the edge. Her hand moves with her description and falls off the edge of the table.

She then places her hand right in the middle of the table. This is the person who, despite any circumstances experienced in life, will never be drawn towards that dangerous ‘edge’. I understand what she is telling me, it’s not news to me. But, I sit wishing to be the hand in the middle of the table yet not even being able to know what that would feel like.

I exist on a continuum of gray – fifty shades of gray.

Today is black. I lie in a fetal position on the floor, tears streaming down my face, and my head feeling like it’s going to explode. I feel trapped. I can’t explain it either. My husband asks what’s wrong and what he can do. The only answer to both questions is, “Nothing.”

It’s strange. How can someone feel so acutely awful and there not be anything ‘wrong’?

The more I fight the entrapment, the worse it gets and the pressure builds. I eventually surrender to it. I don’t know what else to do.

I lay on the floor, exhausted, staring at the ceiling. Tears still roll down my cheeks.

Ye, though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I find solace in these verses that come to my forethought. I reach for my bible and lay my head on it like a pillow and allow the words to permeate my mind.

Sleep finds me.

I awake in the morning, a lighter shade of black. I think back to last night. I do not understand.

The attack was torturous yet, the more I fought it, the worse it got. And when the realization dawned that there was actually nothing that could happen to me, that there was actually nothing happening to me, I was able to let go.

There is no epiphany here. The remembrance of the attack fills me with fear. I don’t want it to happen again. But I wonder, what am I really afraid of if nothing actually happened to me? What is the attack?

My mind goes back to the hand and the table; the hilltop, the edge, and the fall into oblivion.

It all started with a pull to the edge but what hurt the most was the incessant struggle to keep from falling. Yet, when I let myself fall, that’s when the voice of God spoke to me.

So, I’m curious now. What’s in this cavernous valley below? Is it the dark and menacing place I’ve believed it to be? Why is the hilltop the ‘place to be’?

Perhaps there’s another world worth exploring…perhaps the pull is a calling to find out…

Oh No You Didn’t!

Um, yeah I did!

See the picture on this post? Those are the hands of a 40 year old woman mechanic!

Okay, so it’s a picture of my hand. And I’m not a mechanic. But, I just changed one of the headlight bulb’s in my car. ON MY OWN!

In six months I’m amazed at what I’ve done on my own.

  • I separated from my husband of 20 years
  • I made the decision to take charge of the direction of my life instead of letting someone else/others/societal expectations decide it for me
  • I moved out on my own – for the first time EVER in all of my 40 years
  • I signed up for a hydro account
  • I arranged rental insurance for my new place
  • I negotiated cable terms for a new cable contract
  • I bought furniture
  • I took my car in to get serviced and fixed
  • I bought winter tires for my car to ensure my own safety
  • I went to a conference by myself
  • I sought legal advice for myself
  • I went tree-top trekking and zip lining
  • I renewed my passport
  • I changed a light bulb in my car

And those are only some of the tangible things I’ve done.

Some of the intangibles include:

  • Taking ownership of my life
  • Growing in understanding of myself and my place in this world
  • Seeking out the things that make me happy and learning to follow my spirit within/listening to my divine inspiration
  • Finding value and worth and love from within

I cannot ever underestimate the power I hold to direct my own life. My thoughts are the only barrier to evolution and transcendence of self.

The question was not, “WHY CAN’T I change the light bulb in my car?” The question was, “HOW can I change the light bulb in my car?”

Question not the ability to do. Instead, look only at how it can be done!

Hey? Becoming Me? Guess What?

I want a fucking cigarette!

Right now! I’m tempted to walk out the door and go bum a smoke off some stranger off the street. I can feel the release coursing through my veins. Fuck!

I just got off the phone with my husband. Every word he spoke was laced with evasion. He tried to turn every corner so that I couldn’t follow to find the truth. But I see it, clear as day.

He said he wants 2 more months to make a decision. Fuck that. That’s avoidance. I called bullshit.

I think he knows. He said it himself – he doesn’t want to decide. Hah! There it is!

The conversation wraps up with the woe-is-me, just-know-that-if-I-get-hit-by-a-truck-tomorrow, “I love you” story of crap.

I’m not having any of it. I was thinking I needed to be patient but the more I listened to him, I realized it was all just an illusion, his denial.

I think he can decide by tomorrow. He wants until Sunday. Okay, fine. Sunday it is. What time? He says we’ll play it by ear. No. What time? Late afternoon, before dinner, I suggest? He doesn’t know. Maybe 3:00 p.m.? He won’t even commit to a time.

I push. I will see him at 4:00 p.m.

After seeing this, hearing this, I hang my head. I hope on Sunday he says he doesn’t want to get help. I’m not sure I can handle it – only because I don’t really think he does want to get help. If he says he’ll get help, I fear it’s just another way for him to prolong admitting a problem that he doesn’t really want to change.

I’m tired. I think it’s over. I’m sobbing. I’m weak. I’m human.

I want a cigarette.

What.

I’ve posted 2 blogs recently. One was called Why? and the other was called Why? Part 2. I contemplated making it a trilogy but I decided it was futile to keep trying to explain why. I think that was my attempt to justify, to no one other than myself, why I had suddenly decided to leave my husband.

I now know and fully appreciate and accept why I am doing this. I don’t need anyone else to understand my decision. It’s my decision and in my heart I know my decision is right – for no one else but me.

Tomorrow I will have a meeting with my husband. I will briefly explain why. I say briefly because that’s all that is needed. People hear what they are ready to hear. Sometimes saying one word is more poignant and provocative than saying one hundred words.

After this, I will explain the what. I will explain what it is that I need and what steps need to be taken if he wants this marriage to heal, progress and be well.

I have given this a great deal of thought; I have my script written. It’s a four-step, year-long plan with three possible outcomes:

  1. He needs to seek help and treatment for his drinking and resulting depression and anxiety. Quitting drinking is an excellent first step but I truly believe there is more that needs to be addressed. To me, drinking is only a symptom and I need him to address the deeper emotional issues. I need to see him seeking external and ongoing assistance for this. He cannot do this on his own.
  2. I think that separation for a duration of at least 6 months while he engages in treatment and recovery is essential. I truly believe that this time should be focused on himself and if I’m there in the home I think that it will be easy for both of us to slip into old habits and behaviours. It’s also been very difficult for me to get to this point and I need to see concrete effort and change before I can consider anything further. I have worked extremely hard to get to a place of better health and overall wellness and I risk losing myself again if I’m involved in his process of healing.
  3. If, at the end of the 6 months we mutually agree that there is progress, we would renew the separation for another 6 months and we would begin therapy as a couple to address the joint relational issues that have developed over the years. We could potentially meet occasionally in order to build the relationship again and to get to know each other on a more intimate level.
  4. At the end of the 12 months, we would re-assess our situation and decide on one of the following:
  • We reconcile and move back in together, with mutual agreement to continue building, replenishing and improving the relationship.

OR,

  • We continue with the separation and agree to continue working on our relationship, in a mutually agreeable way, with the understanding that reconciliation is still possible but that more time is needed.

OR,

  • We decide that improvement and reconciliation are not possible and we dissolve the marriage.

And there you have it. I’m committed to being on my own for one whole year. I am more empowered today than I have ever been in my 39 years of life. And it doesn’t feel wrong.

I’ve already explained why. Now I shall wait to see what happens!

Shot through the heart…

We had the post-week talk tonight.

He was calm and matter of fact through the whole thing. He told me he hadn’t had a drink in a week and that he was making changes.

I insist it’s not that easy. He insists it is.

I lay my cards out on the table and say that someone who has been an alcoholic for as long as he has doesn’t just stop being an alcoholic in one week.

He says this is a huge step for him and that he’s doing really well.

I know where this leads. I say that, sure, he’s fine now, and ask him what happens in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks when he’s still not had a drink. I know what happens – the deep issues re-surface, life goes back to the way it was, and eventually he will begin drinking again.

He insists he won’t. It’s different – this time.

He doesn’t need any sort of external therapy. He scoffs at it.

He’s done, no more drinking. Quitting drinking is easy.

Ouch! My jaw drops and I look at him with heartache and disgust. I call bullshit on that one.

You fuck!

I’ve been very verbal over the years about how I feel about his drinking. If it’s so easy to quit then you’ve just admitted that I wasn’t worth a fuck to you. You’ve blatantly ignored me and continued to do whatever it is you want.

He says I’m twisting his words. He’s not that bad of a person.

I’m done.

He agreed to meet with a therapist with me one time to at least see if we can find some mutual ground, a place to start. But I’m not so sure there is.

If I go back now, nothing will change.

He says his alcoholism is a demon. True, but moreover it’s a symptom. He doesn’t want to deal with the things that make it a demon.

I’m not going back anytime soon. This is going to take a while.

I book three more nights in room 225. Then, I’ve arranged to move in to a very small, short-term-lease apartment for a month. It’s in a beautiful, cozy home in the downtown core close to the lake shore. It’s small enough for just me. Me and my yoga mat. I don’t need anything else.

It’s pricey but I have some savings. I need to surround myself with beauty and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

In all my 40 years, I’ve never lived on my own.

Tonight shot me through the heart but I continue to shoot for the stars.

Why? Part 2

Why?

The end of the first week of separation is fast approaching and I’m not ready to go back. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready.

We’ll have to talk at the end of the week. We agreed to.

Why, why, why? I’m searching for the reason, the right words that will accurately explain why I’m doing this. I can’t find them.

I can blame the alcoholism but that’s not pinpointing what the real issues are.

It’s me – I think I’m the real issue. It’s me stepping up to the forefront of my life and feeling exactly what it is that I want rather than agreeing to someone else’s expectations and feeling like a victim to what everyone else is feeling and thinking and saying.

I’m an open, carefree, caring spirit. I’ve always felt that. I love beautiful conversation, intimate encounters, new ideas, connection with like-minded souls.

In recent weeks I have been allowing myself to open and heal and connect to the world and I feel it coursing through my veins. I feel alive, truly alive and filled with lightness and breath. I’m ignited by conversation. I yearn to hear more from these lovely beings. Humanity is breathtaking. And I’m excited. I am bursting forth with energy.

I cannot explain this to someone who doesn’t feel this, who doesn’t understand this. The way I want to live and share myself with others is so counter to what he wants and how he is. I feel like my precious flame had been so neglected and suffocated that I was close to burning out. No more life. No more fire.

Yet here I am, more alive in many ways than I have ever been. And sadly, in light of the expectations of the world, it feels wrong.

I’m afraid I have to walk the limb alone on this one. No one will understand – not my husband, not my family, not his family, not my friends, not our friends.

Sure, I can say it’s because he is an alcoholic – that will explain everything. It’s funny how that works. All I have to do is explain that one bit of information and all of a sudden everyone nods understandingly.

And it’s not a completely false explanation. But it’s not the alcohol – it’s the ‘ism’ that’s the problem. And it’s the ‘ism’ that is the most difficult to explain. But I’m going to try. I need to try so that I can understand what it is I’m doing and why I’m making these choices. If I can’t explain it, it feels like an arbitrary decision to leave my husband. But it’s anything but.

I married an alcoholic. He was an alcoholic when we first started dating, I just didn’t see it at the time. We were both in our very early 20’s and the bar/drinking/partying weekends were still very much alive for us. And, at the time, I loved the drinking just as much as he did. As a shy introvert, alcohol was a wonder drug. Any inhibitions or social anxiety I had went right out the window.

A couple of years after we started dating, we moved in together and, over time, his drinking got in the way. There were countless times that weekend plans were made but got cancelled because he was sick and couldn’t make it. Sick means hungover. I’d be disappointed with either having to cancel plans or go by myself. But he insisted – he was sick, he wasn’t feeling well.

I didn’t see it happening but, over time, it spread through and into everything. This insidious, sneaky, sinister thing began to shadow out the light.

With the drinking, over time, my husband has become more negative and hostile and expresses more anger and irritability. He has become unable to participate in everyday activities and certainly not for very long if the attempt to surfaces. His patience is nearly non-existence. His ability to handle emotions or difficult situations is failing miserably. His memory, or lack thereof, is frightening, yet he has no conceivable notion that there’s anything wrong with his memory. He’d fight me tooth and nail to say that it’s fine. But, have you ever heard of Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)? It’s a serious brain disorder that is caused by alcoholism. I wonder sometimes if it’s heading in that direction.

Let me share part of a description of WKS that I found (here):

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of alcoholics with Wernicke’s encephalopathy also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic and debilitating syndrome characterized by persistent learning and memory problems. Patients with Korsakoff’s psychosis are forgetful and quickly frustrated and have difficulty with walking and coordination (17). Although these patients have problems remembering old information (i.e., retrograde amnesia), it is their difficulty in “laying down” new information (i.e., anterograde amnesia) that is the most striking. For example, these patients can discuss in detail an event in their lives, but an hour later might not remember ever having the conversation.

See the parts in bold? I can’t tell you how much this sounds like my husband.

I’d be told I was crazy if I mentioned anything like this. And therein lies another problem – with every thought or suggestion I make, I’m told I’m crazy. Hear that enough times and, well, you know what happens…you start to believe it.

Excuses, lies, escapism, neglect. It’s all there. I know it to be true – yet I still hear the criticisms of overreaction in the back of my mind.

I know when I explain this all it won’t be understood. I will be the one to blame for not putting the effort in to save a marriage.

Fuck you.

It’s serious. I try to justify what I’m doing by telling myself that this is like an intervention and that this will really be the best thing for him.

If nothing else though, it’s the best thing for me.

I don’t want him to depend on me for his happiness. It’s an impossible endeavour. He thinks I make him happy, but I only soothe his loneliness. Twenty years in and he’s still unhappy as ever, more so even.

So, that is why I do this. That is why I must stay away. This has to change both for his future and well-being, and for mine.

I am deserving of happiness. I am.