I have a confession to make. Hubby doesn’t know my past. He doesn’t know my history, my traumas. He doesn’t know what I am doing in therapy. You, dear reader, don’t really know much at this point, either. But that is as it should be. We need to get to know each other. Hubby and I have been together for 10 years now, and he still doesn’t know about my childhood, or the truth of the relationship I was in.
When we met, I was in my extreme denial phase. My eating disorder was active, but controlled enough that it wasn’t obvious. Any cutting I was doing was very well hidden. My perfect persona was very well established and secured in place. This is who hubby met. This is who he fell in love with.
Now, that other girl, the broken girl, she has slipped through the cracks a few times. Like the night I got drunk and told him I had been raped. That was the extent of our conversation– he is such a good guy, he sensed my discomfort and didn’t push the subject. Or the time he caught me purging and I had to pretend to have the flu for 3 days. Or the times I have woke him from my nightmares. For the most part, I have been able to hide her away, even from myself, until recently.
And that has created this internal struggle. Hubby should know what is going on, yet I am afraid to tell him. I’m afraid he will be hurt, and I’m afraid he won’t understand why it’s only now coming out. I’m afraid he won’t believe me. I’m afraid he will be angry. So, I keep it inside for now, waiting for some silent signal that he is ready to hear what I have to say, and I am ready to tell it. In the mean time, I have written and given him this letter as an explanation. (This was written after a letter he wrote to me in response to very big big fight we had one night that ended in us threatening divorce)
I’m writing this letter because it’s easier to write than to try to say all of this. I’m hoping that after you read this, we can talk.
I don’t know where to start. I hate that we had a fight last night. I hate that I am always mean, and always hurting you. I guess I think we need to start by being honest about our relationship. Things haven’t been right between us, and we haven’t been close for some time. It’s not your fault. It’s not mine, either. We did this together. I don’t know what started us being distanced, and I’m not even really sure that it matters at this point.
I know that I love you, and that I believe being married to you and creating a life with you is the greatest blessing in my life. I also believe that we can get through this and be okay–better than okay–in the long run. I believe that we are great together, that we are a good team, that we love eachother, and that we want to be together. I don’t believe that either one of us wants a divorce.
I know that I am mean to you. I’m sorry for it. Being mean hurts you, is harming our marriage, and it makes me feel terrible. I am so sorry, and I want you to know that if I could just stop it, I would.
I am not trying to excuse my behavior, but I think that if I can explain my behavior it might help you understand me and to not feel like my meaness is a personal attack. You wrote to me that you always feel “checked out”. This can be a form of coping or even protecting yourself. I have several mehtods of coping and protecting myself. One of them is being mean. If I am mean enough, hurt you enough, you won’t care to be around me, you will leave me alone and I won’t have to admit to the hurt, or sadness, or whatever that I am feeling. Unfortunatly, the people I have to push away the most are those closest to me, so they get the most hurt by me.
I have a lot of hurt inside me. I know that I have told you some things about my past and the old hurts. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I don’t remember what I have shared with you. Partly it’s becasue I was fairly drunk when I shared with you, but it’s also becasue I tend to dissociate when I am feeling uncomfortable, frightened, or vulnerable. This is a way of closing off a part of myself so I don’t have to fully feel those scary feelings. It can make my memories hazy, and create gaps in my memory.
I’m hoping that we can talk, and that you will tell me what you do know. I honestly believed that my old hurts were over and done with, dead and burried. I was wrong. People can only keep things bottled up– even from themselves– for so long before somehting triggers them and it all starts to comes out. It’s exaugsting and unhealthy to lock things up like this, like having a splinter that it is festering and has to work it’s way out. The more the hurt festers and tries to come out, the more I lash out to keep you from seeing and asking me what is going on.
I’m working so hard in therapy to get out all the ugly stuff. But it is going to take a long time. I’m barely ready to “tell” myself these things, let alone another person. If life were a movie, I would be able to share it all with you and then we would have a nice little crying and bonding moment and all would be fixed and healed, and we would sail off into the sunset. That’s not the world we live in, and it is not the way I can do this. I will get to a point where I can share things with you, if you want to know. I’m not there yet. It may be a long time before I get there. I need to know that you can follow my timeline on this. I am not trying to hurt you, and I am not trying to hide or keep things from you. I just need the space to confront these things for myself, in therapy, first– before I share them with you.
I’m also working on what Bea calls “symptom management”. This is actually our first order of business. It will make it easier to face the hard stuff when these things are under control. Probably, hopefully, it will make it easier to live with me. This means learning to see how keeping these hurts bottled up has effected me– symptoms– and then learning better ways to cope. Being mean to you, being a control freak, my “OCD” behavior, my anxiety; these are all symptoms that are on the list. This is a long process, and it is going to take time. Things aren’t going to change in a few weeks, or even a few months. Please be patient with me. I’m trying to heal, to be whole. It’s a really hard thing to do, and confronting and admitting to old hurts and feelings is one of the scariest and most difucult things I have ever done in my life. Becasue I have never really dealt with any of these things, facing them now makes them feel much more recent and “newer” than they actually are.
Please be patient. Please know that I am trying. Please know I love you and that I don’t want to hurt you. If I am being mean, you can help me by asking me what is really going on. I wish I could just decide to change and start saying, “I’m really hurting right now and I want to be left alone”, but being able to do that is going to take time. If you can ask me that one question, though, it might make it possible for me to stop yelling, stop being mean and to communicate honestly. Please be prepared that I will proabably tell you that I don’t want to talk, and that I just want to be left alone. I’m learning to be braver and to admit to what I want or need. I need you to respect what I say, even if it seems silly to you. If I say that knowing you and Kat are waiting in the car and I’m still getting stuff together stresses me out, I don’t want a list of reasons to why I am being silly. I just want you to listen and respect what I have said, and then follow through by not sticking Kat in the car to wait. Everytime I tell you something what I need, I am opening myself up. When you give me arguements and reasons why I am silly, say that it doesn’t matter, act like I am stupid or crazy, it hurts me, and it makes me feel like there is no reason to open up my needs and feelings to you. It makes it that much harder the next time. I have tried so many times since my first tharpay appointment to start this conversation. But I have been afraid that you won’t respond, or that you will accuse me of just talking “at you”, that you will ignore or belittle me when I try to set boundaries for this conversation based on what I need right now.
Bea has said that she is willing to meet with you alone, or with us together to explain better about why things come out of me the way they do. She calls my hurts and ugly stuff “trauma”, and says that trauma effects people in long lasting ways when they haven’t dealt with it. She could answer any questions you have that I can’t answer and give you like a mini “dummies guide to trauma”.
The bottom line is that we love each other. We have things we each need to work on, and we need to learn to communicate more openly and honestly with eachother, but we are each trying to heal. We can support each other in this, and really be there for the other person, regardless of what that means. I’m not perfect, and I’m never going to be perfect. But one day I will be better. I don’t have a nice, neat, tidy way to wrap this up. So just know that I love you, and that I am willing to be patient while you work on your stuff. I hope you will do that same for me.