Tag Archives: change

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

I have the right

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This is a personal bill of rights from my most recent therapy group.  I believe it is from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, but I’m not positive.  In any case, I am not trying to claim it as my own or not cite the correct source.  I got it as part of a packet of information.  And I really like it, so I wanted to share it.

Personal Bill of Rights

  1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
  3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
  4. I have the right to change my mind.
  5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
  13. I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid.”
  14. I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

At the bottom of this, it suggests hanging this in your home and reading it daily so that you learn to accept that you are entitled to each one of these rights.  I believe that each person reading the list will have different ones they either find very obvious or that they haven’t given themselves permission to have before reading this list.  I put the ones I read and remind myself of most often in bold.

One of the things we focused on recently in group therapy is that the result or outcome of a person being assertive does not measure the success of the person being assertive.  If I am assertive on something that is important to me, THAT is the success.  Think about that for a moment.  It goes well with #9 on the list because being assertive does not mean that I then become responsible for the other person’s feelings or actions.  And I think that is really important for people to learn and remember, especially when feeling hurt, angry, disrespected, or sad.  You have the right to your feelings and your values and your standards.  And it is OK to make decisions based on your feelings.  I’m not saying make instant decisions without any thought.  But I am saying that for me it was difficult to remember that I DO have the right to make decisions based on my feelings AND I do not have to give reasons for my decisions or behavior.  I have the right to expect that my needs and wants will be respected by those I choose to spend time with in my life.  And I absolutely have the right to change and grow.

How many times have you heard people say “he/she changed” as a reason they broke up or stopped being friends?  I’ve certainly said it and heard it.  But change is always happening.  As people, we age and we learn and we discover and we CHANGE.  Change is good.  Change is ok and all people have the right to change.  People also say “he/she wouldn’t change” and give that as a reason for a break up.  But to be in a relationship, some things will change while both people still have their own values and standards.  And to me, that is how a relationship grows and strengthens.

I don’t give many specific details about my divorce because I don’t feel the need to disrespect my ex or our time together that way.  I think he’s a great person in many ways and I want him to be happy in life.  But what I will say is that (mostly) he did not believe that things should change without a specific and scientifically proven reason to have to change.  He didn’t want me to make changes without giving reasons and that violates one of the rights above for me.  I have the right to change and grow.  And healing and asking for things to change in our relationship was not wrong.  He has the right not to change, and often stated that he shouldn’t have to change.  And that is fine, he certainly has the right to his own feelings.  But I believe change is necessary.  Particularly when someone is healing.

One of the books I read when working hard to figure out if I could remain married or not is Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum.  I really liked the book and reading it was an important step for me in my journey to deciding what I could and could not accept in my relationship.  I still read my bookmarks often because I think that there are MANY good points about relationships in the book.  I think it is a good resource for any relationship, even one that is not running a risk of ending.  It has good relationship information and presents it in a way that gives the reader an opportunity to think about their own relationship skills as much as the skills and traits of others.  No book can decide for you whether or not to end your marriage, but for me books are always tools to help me understand life.  One of my very favorite things the author says is this:

“If I wanted to write a prescription for how to have a doomed relationship that was overwhelmingly too bad to stay in, I’d have both people say I can’t change, I won’t change, I don’t want to change, and I don’t see a reason to change, but if we find each other, it’s beautiful.  The point is that you’re entitled to feel you want your partner to change things about himself.” (page 140 of 279 on the kindle version of the book)

Relationships can be challenging, but understanding that each person is entitled to their personal bill of rights is a great start.  Honoring yourself and what you really value and believe is a great first step to finding happiness.  I have the right to be happy.  And gaining a better understanding of who I really am has helped me to find a lot of happiness.  And I’m excited for the future.

I have the right to be uniquely myself.  And rediscovering who that really is has been fabulous.

I’m having fun being me.  Be you!

KK