So, I wrote a letter to hubby. It’s so vulnerable making and I’m really scared to give it to him. I keep chickening out. I’m going to post it here, and maybe you all could give me your opinions on it. Bea says it is wonderful and just perfect the way it is. It’s very much a reaching-out-in-a-loving-way gesture. I’m sure his own issues might impact in some ways how he reacts to it, and how he reads it, but I think overall he should respond positively. I don’t think it’s too much–just right.
I don’t know how to write this letter, but I really want to, so I’m going to try. I’m afraid I’m losing you, that we are losing us. Maybe before I started therapy, I was fine with relationships staying on the surface, and I was fine with us feeling distant from each other at times; I was fine with us not talking or connecting and I was fine with the big chunks of times I was really not feeling touchy feely. I want more for us, now. We deserve more, we deserve better.
We need to talk about communicating– really talking– and about physical touch, and sex. I think that when we can’t even really cuddle and be together in any touchy feely way, you maybe feel really shut out. I don’t like that, I don’t want you to feel shut out. I want us to be able to talk and be deeper with our feelings and thoughts, and share more than just talking about Kat or the weather or whatever. I still don’t know how to have a relationship where we stay really connected. I think some of it is communicating more, talking more about what we are really thinking and feeling, and what is going on in our lives. I don’t think I knew what it meant to be connected to someone else until therapy. It’s hard to feel connected when you are so far away. I think we have trouble keeping the connection. It makes me so sad when I feel connected to you and then that connection is lost. I think we need to figure out how to talk and share with each other better. But I also think that staying connected with your spouse includes physical touch and sex.
I hate how I have been reacting, the freak outs I have had. In the moment, it’s awful, because I’m triggered and scared, but it’s awful after the fact, too. I’m embarrassed and feel guilty for what I put you through. And I’m afraid to bring it up, and I don’t know what to say, anyways. So, I am going to try to write to you about this.
I spent a long time living life in this sort of numb and not really there headspace. It wasn’t until therapy that I learned that isn’t exactly normal, that to be that far away from everything is a trauma response. Being farther away, though, offered some safety. I was able to tolerate cuddling, and touching, making out, even having sex because I was so far away. I’ve really been doing a lot of work this last year or so. I have a pretty long list of things that have changed for me. One of those things is the ability to be more present in my life, and to even be able to tolerate being fully present for short amounts of time. This is a good thing, but it does make things harder, too. I’m in this really tricky in between place where I’m much more aware of how I’m feeling, what I’m feeling, and what is going on around me, but not always able to tolerate it that well. It’s almost like peeling back layers of an onion, and while I dealt with some things in one layer, now I’m dealing with those things in a different layer. And that layer is being more aware of what is happening, being more here, but because of that, many of the things I used to block out, or dissociate away from, are now triggers.
I think the next layer is being able to tolerate the things that are suddenly becoming triggers, but I can’t do that all on my own. I can do a lot of it with Bea, but the touching stuff, I need you to be my partner in that. I believe Bea talked to you about how everyone has parts, and with trauma there are parts that stay stuck in the trauma? For me, I think of that part as the little girl part, because the thoughts and feelings that take over when I’m triggered feel young to me. This new, tricky layer I’m currently in seems to bring out the little girl part of me. And that makes things so difficult between us, because when that part is running things, I truly believe that all touch leads to sex. And that makes me so very scared, to the point where I will instigate things just because I can’t take sitting in that scary place anymore. Or, on the other hand, I will do my best to avoid all touch, and anyone being in my personal space. Unfortunately, most of the little girl’s feelings and beliefs are in relation to you, because you are the romantic interest in my life, you are a guy and you are my husband. It’s not fair to you, and I can only imagine how confusing it has to feel to be in your place. I want us to try to work on this, slowly, so that I can learn to sit next to you and not have the little girl part freak out. I want to be able to cuddle with you, or kiss you goodbye without that part going on hyper alert for something bad to happen.
I know this isn’t what you signed up for when we got married. This isn’t what you were supposed to be dealing with. And I’m sorry. You can let me feel badly about that, it’s okay. I can be sorry, and also realize that it’s not anything I planned or wanted to be dealing with either. But this is where we are at, and I think that we can work through this, and teach the scared parts of me that it is safe, that now I am safe, and you are a safe person.
I really need you to be able to help me with this. I think I need this to go very slow. I’m thinking we could start by sitting side by side, so you would be in my fairly large personal space bubble, and I would focus on staying present, and not letting the little girl part take over, and feeling whatever I’m feeling. The thing is, I can’t do the being present thing, and feelings thing, without support. I need to be able to talk through it with you in the moment, and have you share what you are feeling, too. I need you to be present and grounded and here. And if the little girl part takes over and instigates things, I need you to (gently, and making clear you still love me, but that this isn’t safe right now because I’m not running things) tell me no. I need you to be able to help me calm down if I freak out– so asking me what is around me, what colors I see, reminding me I am an adult, that it is 2016, and that I am with you.
I really want to be able to tell you things like, “hey, in therapy Bea and I are working on me being able to be tolerate being completely present and focused on what I am doing in the moment. We are doing this by coloring right now.” But I feel like you would laugh at me, and find me to be crazy. Right now, with being in this tricky place, it’s not just touch that triggers me. It’s all kinds of little things, like feeling blame for everything– it’s like when you were mad about the shower head breaking this morning, I felt like you were angry with me and blaming me, like I had done something wrong. It feels like this a lot. Rationally, I know that isn’t true. But the little girl part of me still is in this place of magical type thinking, and is very ego centric, so just like a little kid, I end up feeling it’s my fault. I read into all kinds of things, and often end up feeling like you just think I’m being dramatic or needy or over the top crazy.
So, anyways, I guess what I’m saying is I feel like if we can work on this touching thing like I described, we will also be working on communicating and connecting emotionally, and that could be so good for us. I’m also really worried you are going to read this as hurtful, or feel angry, or not want to try anything. Giving you this is really vulnerable making, which is really uncomfortable. I didn’t write this to be hurtful, on the contrary, I wrote it to help us get to a place of real connection because I love you and want that with you.