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.