Category Archives: Divorce

EMDR: round 2

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I’ve committed to doing some EMDR again.  And the first session is Wednesday.  I’m nervous.  Because I can’t stop myself from feeling like I do it wrong.  

That’s ridiculous, of course, you can’t really do it wrong, but that is how I feel. 

I told this therapist up front that I need to be pushed so I don’t avoid things.  Why did I say that??  It’s true, and I’m mostly glad I told her so that I don’t avoid things and not face the things I most need to work through this time.

It’s mucking up my whole week though because I’m nervous and so my body is responding poorly to everything I do that is not laying in bed.  I know I’ll get through it, and I’m hoping it will go really well. 

Therapy this time is really different.  I was better prepared up front to say why I am there and what I like and don’t like.  Being able to voice what my biggest challenges are as a person feels really good.  It marks growth and I’m loving that.  I think this time I’m better equipped to work on what is still stuck.  Especially because I can tell in my daily life what is certainly not stuck anymore.  

I had zero physical reaction to talking about some things in our introductory 2 weeks.  I was thankful for that, if a bit surprised.  Zero shaking, zero temperature change, zero inappropriate laughter!  A miracle.  Hahaha, not really, just a fabulous confirmation of how far I have come.  

The Girl in the Corner.  She’s still suffering some.  Not just from my past with the abuse, but also from my marriage and divorce.  I am sick of thinking of past abuse from high school and I am sick of thinking about that guy who walked out on me.  He’s so not worth the head space.  So I was absolutely thrilled that when I did discuss that, I had none of the physical reactions I use to have and I was able to put the blame for what he did squarely where it belongs…on him.

What bothers me now is that the abandonment seems to have transferred to my ex and in talking about him and how checked out he is from me and our child, the physical symptoms were all there.  One of the hardest parts of that is just the shock.  I didn’t expect it.  Not at all.  We were very amicably separated and even amicably divorced for quite a while.  We remained as a parenting team well into my new relationship.  I could still confide in him about parenting issues and get his input on stuff and that is just gone.  And I don’t get it.  Our state forces a parenting class on people getting divorced.  It’s good.  They make it quite clear that “divorce ends a marriage, not a family.”  But not for us.  He’s just done. 

And that makes me angry.  Bitter, as I said recently. 

Why in the hell does he not recognize what his absence is doing to our child?  

The anger makes me want to forget all the good years we had, but I won’t.  I will continue to tell my kids the good memories and the fun we had as a family.  If he wants to live like none of that ever happened, like we never should have been together, well that’s his right.  But it’s a disgusting disservice to our children.  And I guess it means it shouldn’t be any surprise to me then how they feel. 

I am really nervous about how therapy will go and how the EMDR can help me work through all that, but I know if I trust the process, it’ll happen.  And I’m so happy to be pushing myself into this round of hard work because I am ready to put my ex in the same area that the other stuff went as I worked through it all.  I’m looking forward to not being so angry about him because he doesn’t even deserve the angry energy I’m giving him. 

He won’t ever get it.  He doesn’t even want to try and understand. 

And my kids will still be ok.  I have had some of the greatest conversations with my kids in the last few years.  Ones where we can be completely honest and sad or angry and still end up being so glad to have a hug and say I love you.  Conversations where we really hear each other, everyone’s opinions and feelings are respected, and we grow together to have a stronger bond. 

EMDR is so different between therapists.  And even though I’m really nervous, I’m excited to see how this therapist will work with me through the process. 

KK 

Bitter or Better

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There’s a saying I see often that says “you either get bitter or you get better.”  It refers to anything that goes wrong really in your life.  But I think it mostly refers to relationships.  At least, that’s how I relate to it because I have really had to work hard at not being bitter and angry quite a few times in my life.  Two major relationships have challenged this for me.  And I struggled with it for many years with the sexual assault as well, but more internally.

With the first relationship, I really struggled with that feeling of bitterness.  And anger too.  A complete lack of forgiveness because I was young and I thought of forgiveness as excusing his behavior.  Behavior that made it ok for him to abuse me and then walk away from me and a child. I held onto the bitterness for a LONG time. I’ll come back to that.  Maybe.

With my marriage and divorce, I’m still struggling.  Mostly because I have kids with a man who chose to mostly check out.  He won’t help me coparent because it’s too difficult for him.  He won’t really talk to me at all.  He will allow email.  Wow, thanks.  That’s super helpful when one of the kids is going through something and I’d like his support and opinion on how to handle it.

I do not get that at all.  I won’t apologize that my kids are closer to me than to him and so they come to me with things.  That’s because throughout their lives I was there for them and tried to help them learn how to solve problems knowing that mistakes are ok.  I let them know their feelings are never wrong, they have the right to their feelings.  And so they came to me and then I shared with their father how they were feeling.  But now that we aren’t together, I’m not allowed to share their feelings and discuss things with their dad.  I’m suddenly a liar who obviously changes what my kids tell me to make their dad feel badly.  Um, hello?  The people who would be hurt if I did that are my kids, and I would never do that to my children.  Never.  I would never decide for them how they feel.  I could not hurt them by making up things and passing them off as their feelings.

Deep breath.

The first four months after moving away from their dad, I felt like that almost every day.  Just angry and bitter.  And I really had to work on it.  I had to decide it doesn’t matter.  I can be a great parent to them without him.  And I can support them through hurt, and choices, and happiness.  And they will absolutely be ok.  I still have plenty of time to show them how to take care of themselves and be proud of who they are and the feelings they have in going about their lives.  And the best way I can do that is by showing them how I will live a life being true to myself and how I really feel.  I will not be with someone who tells me I shouldn’t or can’t feel what I feel.  I will never, not ever, accept someone telling me my feelings are wrong.

Listen, I AM wrong many times. If I present something as a fact and I can be shown the correct information, I accept that. If I go East from Wisconsin to find Wyoming, I’m not going to try and say I’m correct. I fully accept responsibility at work when I do something wrong, or say something I shouldn’t, or forget to complete something due.  But when I feel something, I own that feeling, and that is never wrong.

I knew when I thought about dating that I would never date someone who doesn’t have what I consider successful, honest family relationships and at least one friend who knows everything about them. I would say now that the lack of that is a giant red flag for relationship success.  You can disagree if you want to, but I can tell you that based on these two challenging relationships in my life–if someone doesn’t have a close friend(s) and doesn’t seem that honest with their family about who they are, it is likely because they aren’t capable of the empathy and emotional openness that is required in a forever relationship.  And that is just not ok.  At least, not for me.

The last hurdle for me in releasing the bitter from my divorce and being truly and completely better, is accepting that his truth is fine because it is his to live with as he chooses and I don’t have to worry about if he never accepts his part of the responsibility for why we are divorced.  This is very difficult for me.  Because I believe that he is of the opinion that I just gave up and walked out on him without trying.  He has actually said that I am the reason he doesn’t see our child.  AND THE WORST is that he truly believes and said to me several times that the problems, the reasons it ended, were ALL ME.  And that is so hurtful it makes me furious.  I own my problems.  I have said them to him and I have worked my ass off to change in the ways necessary to be a better partner.

Here’s the deal with change:  everyone does it, and if you get pissed off and say things like why should I have to change anything, you should just accept exactly who I am…that’s because you are unwilling to see that something can be improved and should be improved so that you are capable of relationship compromise.  Just like you learned as you grew up from being a child, and then a teen, and then a young adult.  If you act like all change is bad, and you function at 40 just as you did at 20, then you are probably a ridiculous person I don’t even want to be around so, whatever, stay exactly the same then.  I never asked him to change what makes him who he is for real, way down deep where his morals, values, and desires are found.  I merely asked for us to consider, together, how we can both have our needs met for love and safety, and how we can do better to respect and love each other.  To change…together.  To grow…together, instead of apart.

Deep breath.  Clearly this is my work.  Accepting that he wasn’t willing to do the work and that even if it appears that he is trying harder in his new relationship than he did with me, it is not the truth.  At first we did really well, with the help of a counselor.  But he just decided it was too hard to remember that “stuff.”  Which to me said, accept when I don’t care about you or your feelings of safety, or don’t.

I don’t.  Deeper breath.

That’s ok.  But really sad, because it meant we had to never be together again.  And that is not what I wanted.  You see?  I’m still bitter.

But I marched myself right back into a therapist office last week to get it all the way right.  To get all the way better and lose the bitter for good.  Because ultimately, I love the memories I have of my family with him and our kids, but I am much happier now.  I am with a man who I have always dreamed about because not only does he completely “get” me, he is very tuned into communication and love instead of just having a giant ego that only wants to be right.  We aren’t perfect, but we are absolutely perfect for each other.  And when there is conflict, we work it out and respect each other without trying to prove each other wrong and hurting each other with words that can never be taken back after being said.  And I will love him forever.

Loving him makes me want to be the best me.  The best me, and even better.

KK

starting over…again

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I moved.  So I had to schedule my final appointment with my therapist.  She said she had an opening on a Tuesday and an opening on Wednesday, so I emailed back right away to say I’d take them both!  And I did. 

Leaving friends when you move is hard.  But even after a move you can stay in contact with friends.  Not so with a therapist, once you move, it’s over.  And that’s scary.  Especially after several years together. 

I’m lucky to have one or two connections where I’ve been able to get some names for possible therapists in my new area.  I like to at least get a name from someone instead of just searching and not knowing anyone who has even a small connection.  I ended up with my current therapist on a referral from a friend to that office.  I like that. 

So…fast forward to the first of the last two appointments and boy am I glad I took two!  What a mess I had been that week in some ways and I was glad to have lots of time to get input on how to move forward.  

In many areas, I’ve come really, really far.  And that feels just awesome.  And I’ve had plenty of opportunity lately to fully understand how terrific it is to know that as long as I am genuinely sharing only my own feelings, I am not responsible for a person’s negative reaction to those feelings.  My ex would argue that my feelings are an automatic attack on him as a person, but that’s because he hasn’t taken any responsibility for our divorce and sees no reason to work on himself or heal from the loss of our lives as we knew them.  And that’s his decision.  But I gotta be honest, I don’t get it.  At all.  He has changed so much and in many ways that is good.  I don’t think he should be the same guy I met in our early 20s.  Change is a very normal part of life.  I never asked him to change who he is at his core, because I loved that guy.  I didn’t need him to change that person at all.  But in the ways we needed to change together to be a healthy couple, he came right out and said it was only me who needed “fixed” and he wasn’t planning on changing anything.  Cuz he didn’t have any problems.  Once I “fixed” myself we’d be fine, he said that many times.  I said I was frustrated at marriage counseling because I felt he was just sitting there waiting for her to say it’s all just me, to which he quickly yelled, “What if it IS all you???”  And that’s just ridiculously sad.  

In any case, his lack of ability to grow and to support me where I most needed support was the deciding factor.  I remember the day clearly…after months of therapy, I finally knew some exact, actual things I needed in order to cope with my being a sexual assault survivor in our relationship.  And I’ll tell you two things.  

The first was that I wanted him to set an alarm on March 25, the date of the college assault.  A reminder alarm so that he could remember right away that morning each year that maybe I could use an extra hug and just a short “do you need anything from me today?”  This request was absolutely crazy to him.  He told me the same thing that day as he had told me before…he wouldn’t do it.  He would not set an alarm for a “bad” thing because nobody wants to remember bad things.  And besides, I could remind him.  After all, it didn’t happen to him, it happened to me, so why should he have to remember it?  Wow. 

Just let that sink in for a minute.  The person I chose to be with in marriage, through good and bad, said he was unwilling to remember something on his own, even if remembering that would help me feel supported and comforted.  Even if I asked him to remember it, for me. Wow…that’s all I could think while I sat there on the arm of his blue couch staring at him.  Wow. 

The second thing I said is that I need my husband to be one of my biggest supporters. To be able to stand next to me at survivor gatherings or events to support sexual assault.  To be proud of my progress.  To not laugh at rape jokes or tell me I have no sense of humor because I don’t find rape funny.  To understand why rape scenes in shows sometimes bother me and sometimes don’t and why some movies will never be on the list of movies I can watch.  I didn’t need him to march down the street yelling anti-rape statements.  I didn’t need him to stop watching shows he likes.  But understand–this is a guy who will argue with you ALL day about gay rights and has worked phones for Planned Parenthood.  He’s not gay.  I’m not gay.  He’s never used services at PP and I only did once, a million years ago when I needed birth control and wouldn’t ask my mom.  Please believe me when I state that I am not saying those things don’t matter, and we absolutely have reasons to support those things too.   

But I was his wife.  I felt many times that his feelings of obligation to others came before his comittment to me and the fact that he could so clearly and regularly support those things, but not be willing to stand by my side to support something that actually happened to me and absolutely affected me, and, therefore, our marriage…dang…I will NEVER understand that.  Never. 

My point here, and I’ve taken long to get here, is that I have come really far in many areas with therapy.  And one of those big areas is that I truly forgave my ex for the fact that he is not the kind of person who is willing and/or able to support me as a survivor of sexual assault.  He’s not the guy he was and now that I have started over in completely healing from my past traumas, I can’t accept not having exactly what I need from a person I’m going to spend my life with from now forward.  I simply won’t accept the lack of support.  Ever again. 

Starting over again with a therapist means returning to the beginning of most of my story.  That’s difficult to face, but I’m hoping that this time it won’t be as challenging because of the success I found in attending the groups I completed. 

Starting over means facing things again, like all those feelings I just touched on that brought me to divorce.  I guess it will be a test of how far I really have come, because in talking about the past I will find out if the triggers still start up a bunch of physical yuck.  I sure hope not. 

Starting over isn’t always difficult.  Starting over in a new place has been awesome.  I get to see my family often, and being able to spend so much more time with my boyfriend and my bonus boys is unbelievably perfect.  Plus, my daughter said to me just last night, “this feels like home more than any place we have lived.”  I felt really proud hearing that.  Proud of myself for making tough decisions and honoring my gut.  Proud that I haven’t let fear get in the way of getting back to who I really am inside and out. 

I’m proud of me.  I have learned to like me in ways I haven’t for so long.  

And starting over this time, I’ve decided, is going to be great.  Because now I can talk about my history as not just awful experiences, but experiences that I fought hard to get through and to move forward from to become who I am today. 

I’m proud of who I am today.  I am me. 

KK

Ex rant

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As exes go, mine is pretty good. We can cooperate on many things without yelling or putting each other down.

Things could be better, in my opinion. Things could also be a lot worse. I’m saying this because many people will be reading this thinking “get over it” or “I would do the same as the ex here” or “you have it pretty good” and I completely get that. I really, really do. I have been extremely lucky, so I think it’s even more difficult now to be losing the comfort and respect for each other we had as exes for the last few years.

The heartbreak of realizing we could no longer be together is long past, but sometimes his lack of general empathy as a person and father astounds me and I have to remember that it’s not about me to avoid hurting all over again.

It isn’t fun to watch my children struggle with the way he communicates and the things he feels the need to say about me. And I know with some things, he just doesn’t get it, but I can’t accept that someone wouldn’t want to do better. Make changes. Work to not hurt the people they are supposed to love the most. Make changes in your own self to support and help them learn about how to be good, loving people in the world. It isn’t unacceptable or unnecessary to make changes to who you are, it’s called personal growth.

As only coparents now, I don’t need any warm fuzzies from him, like birthday greetings or general emotional support, I really don’t. I have wonderful, supportive people all around me now. We are divorced, so he doesn’t have to care at all about me if that’s where he is at. But when our daughter calls to say she’d like a ride to pick something up to surprise me for my bday after a rough night at group therapy and he says he won’t take her for a simple, quick trip to the store, that boggles my mind. Because it hurt HER, not me. Because to her it meant “I don’t care at all about your mother as a person and I won’t help you do something important to YOU for her.”

I know, I know, MANY divorced people would do the same as he did, but that is just not what we have been up until…

I set a boundary he didn’t like. I stopped watching his dog. Not kidding. He firmly believes that decision was out of spite or something and he cannot treat me the same as before now. I like his dog, but I didn’t want to keep watching her and interacting with him so much. It wasn’t emotionally right for me. I miss his dog.

The kids don’t need the details and they sure don’t need to keep hearing him say I won’t watch his dog. If there is something to get over, it might be that he should get over that I will not watch the dog.

End rant.

KK