When Everything Fractures

Fracture. Rupture. Shatter. Puncture. Breach. Rift. Tear. There’s so many words to describe having the ground break open beneath you, to paint a picture of having everything you have built split in two in a single instant. Those words never quite manage to really describe the pain of that moment, or the agony of the aftermath, though, do they?

Things are not okay with Hubby. Truthfully, from where he sits everything is fine and as it always is because I’ve given up talking to him about the turmoil and questions and doubts swirling around in my brain like a tropical storm. There’s too many threads all tangled together for me to even begin to really sort it all out. I can’t tell what is the past being triggered and what is present day adult me.

Therapy lately has been about that, and nothing else. It’s been about trying to sort out what is past feelings being triggered, what stuff belongs to the parts, what stuff belongs to Adult Alice, and about anger. Anger has been a major theme, starting with trying to figure out if I am angry. I think some parts of me are very angry.

I don’t have a great track record with anger. I don’t like anger, and no one really ever modeled anger for me. The times I remember my mom showing anger were not examples of healthy anger. I remember her giving the silent treatment a lot, and I remember once she threw a glass punch bowl at my Dad (it hit the wall and shattered). Throwing the punch bowl was extremely out of character for her. She didn’t do feelings, even happy wasn’t really acceptable, unless it was a little happy with calm on top. There was no jumping around screaming for joy in my childhood home. There was also no yelling, or crying, or moping about. My relationship with anger was simply to push it down, bury it, pretend it away. The flip side to that, of course, are the moments where I get triggered and scared (usually in regards to not being seen or heard, or feeling like I am being abandoned) and anger pours out of me like fire. Rage, Bea calls it. I hate that word, but she’s not wrong. So, we have been talking a lot about anger, and what does healthy adult anger look like when it is expressed? What does it look and feel like to stay within the window of tolerance and be angry? Spoiler alert, I still don’t have an answer to that.

In our last session we touched on something else. If Hubby can’t -or won’t- own his stuff, then how do we even begin to repair this rupture? Bea’s answer was something about how all I could do at that point was to own my stuff, and control what I could control. She went on to say something about how what I could control was knowing where I stand, what I believe, and being firm in that and not allowing hubby to change it.

“How does that help anything?” I asked her.

“Well, it’s a boundary,” she said.

“But how does that change anything, or make anything better? How does that help? It doesn’t fix anything,” I argued. I didn’t want to just set a boundary of what I believe and move on. That doesn’t feel right to me. Setting a boundary like that doesn’t solve any of the hurt or betrayal that hubby’s words have caused. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like he’s not the person I thought he was. It doesn’t stop any of the triggers that come with that.

“Well….” She said it slowly, like she was thinking, and then she finally told me she wanted to give an answer, but she needed to think it through more.

I suggested she email it to me because at that point we had run over a few minutes so time was up anyway.

Bea emailed me her answer, and as I read it, my heart sank into my stomach. That’s all it took, a few minutes to read an email and the ground caved in, yet again.

What punctured my trust and safety with Bea was this: I guess the “how will that help” boils down to the sad fact that we can ultimately never depend or rely on another person, even our spouse, to make us feel okay. We ultimately have to be okay standing alone. We do expect our spouse to share our values and basic beliefs, so that is hard to compensate for.  I don’t really have answers for any of it—it seems like you have to land in a place with it that lets you find some peace.  It still seems right, though, that the ultimate goal is to be okay within you—that you can’t control anyone other than you and your parts, which can be frustrating and disheartening, but unfortunately real.

Why then, has she spent years telling me it is okay to need people? Bea is the one that taught me I didn’t have to be alone in Miss Perfect’s world or in the dark and twisty place. She showed me I could trust people, and let them in; that people could provide support and help create a sense of safety. She is the one that pushed me to tell hubby about my past, for the sole reason that he could support me, that I deserved to be seen and loved and supported by him. She taught me about healthy boundaries, but also that letting safe people in was a good thing. I was great, I was amazing at being alone, at needing no one. My entire life was structured around keeping others at a distance, at never letting anyone in. Bea changed that, she showed me there was another way to live. So what the hell is this? Because it sounds like, to me, that she is saying Miss Perfect had it right all along. If that’s true, then what was the point of all these years of therapy? If that’s true, then what was the rest of it?

I feel like I am on the edge of a crisis. No one is who I thought they were. First Hubby. Now Bea.

Crack. Fissure. Burst. Separate. Divide. Schism. Split. Rupture. Not one, but two relationships I so carefully built have shattered.

20 thoughts on “When Everything Fractures

  1. LovingSummer says:

    Okay, I’m still learning this too, because like you I’ve always been fiercely independent and like it that way! But more recently I’m aware it pushes people away so I want to let them in (a fraction!).
    So what I’m wondering is, is it that we are meant to learn to lean on people when they CAN be leaned on, and stand firm alone when they can’t? So we’ve experienced living with a bit of both worlds; we can practice both standing alone (in the times we have to because they’re on a different path) but we can also lean into them—and them into us—all the rest of the time?

    I’m not saying that’s the right answer, but if you do lean into people when they’re able to be leaned into, then you can’t be accused of being an island by yourself anymore. Or at least, that’s my first take on it, could be I learn more and have more to add or change my mind, but… I just wonder. Could that be what Bea means?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. LovingSummer says:

    P.S: I think it’s like a balanced diet. Some of us try to live eating no fruit and vegetables at all, thank you very much. We can cope just fine without fruit and vegetables. PAH! Fruit and vegetables are for suckers!
    But then we see there might be some benefit in eating fruit and vegetables after all, and for a while we begin to try some. We actually get a bit of a taste for it, and then we fall into the trap of thinking EVERY meal should consist of mostly fruit and vegetables, yet we forget sometimes it’s okay to fall back on some food-on-the-run without fruit or vegetables, we just wouldn’t want to go back to living completely without fruit and vegetables like we used to before we began eating a more balanced, healthy diet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you probably are right. It’s probably a combination of being able to lean into others and being able to be okay within ourselves. The adult Alice can see the wisdom in your words, and can see that Bea was pointing out one side of it. The rest of me just feels like her words negate everything she ever said about it being okay to need people. It feels like she is saying “stop needing me. You can’t rely on me, or depend on me to be there.” It just feels like all of my safe people are disappearing.
      ps— I like this analogy. It is very smart. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. JH says:

    I think what she might have meant is what LS has said. That we need to lean on trustworthy and safe people but also know who isn’t safe to lean on. It’s so difficult when your spouse suddenly springs a surprise on you that he has values and beliefs you didn’t expect him to have, and that trigger you, and he can’t see why that would trigger you. No wonder you are triggered within yourself. You feel you can’t communicate with him because you are frozen.
    I think that with all situations, neither Bea or yourself knew he was going to do what he did. Neither of you had a crystal ball. At the time when she was encouraging you to open up to him, she thought he was safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, there is no way she could have known. It was six years ago, so there wasn’t even an inkling of this. The adult me knows this, and can see that what Bea is saying might not be the whole picture— she could be focusing on one part of a whole. But it feels like hubby is gone because he’s not who I thought, who he’s (pretended?!?) been in our life together. I never ever would have thought he would believe that it’s okay for our leader to rape and abuse women because those actions don’t effect one’s ability to lead. I never thought he would look at me and insist that women lie about being raped all the time. And then Bea…her words are just painful. I realize I could be misunderstanding her words but it feels like she is telling me to stop needing her— really to stop needing anyone. I feel confused and overwhelmed by this feeling that neither of them are who they said they were.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It would be so much easier if people would be how I need to them to be. Accepting they are not causes me to feel I mightt bust. Black and while, one or the other, but there is so much grey even inside me.
    That is a difficult concept for me to tolerate, yet that is where the good stuff lies… in all the nuances and differences even with one’s partner and close relationships. I mean really, just tell hubster, you’re a big dummy, how could I ever marry you?
    Sometimes laughter over differences with loved ones is the best cure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grey. The grey space is hard for me, but it is where we live, isn’t it? I know there are so many nuances to what makes a person, that none of us is all black or white, good or bad. I’ve spent years in therapy learning this, and yet I’m still grappling with it. I do wish people would be how I need them to be. But more than that, I wish the ones I’ve trusted would just be who they’ve said— in actions and words— they are. I just feel heart broken to find I was wrong about not one, but two of them.

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      • Yeah, that’s be reliable, but won’t happen. Learning to tolerate the quirks and disagreements of others is easier once relying on the depths within my own being. I am learning to count on me… and learning that inside myself lies many of the most needed answers.
        You too have infinite resources. You did not pick your husband and therapist from a void. You chose from deep wisdom. Believe in that. They are human, hence flawed, but are still the people you believed them to be. Kind? Caring? Gentle? Make a list and see how many yes checks you get compared to no’s.

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      • This was a good idea. I made the list, and I just don’t know. 🤦🏼‍♀️I think there are more yeses than noes but what if I’m wrong about this, too? I’m trying to trust myself, trust that I couldn’t have been wrong about everything I believed.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ouch that hurts.
    I don’t have a good answer I guess.
    If you don’t hold on firm to the boundary you’ll probably be swallowed by your hubby just the way you were swallowed by your family, and forget about yourself.
    Holding the boundary means you choose yourself first and foremost. And say this is who I am. It might hurt now as it feels like it will keep hubby away, but in the long term you will know you are loved for who you are and your sense of self will not have been swallowed. I hope this makes sense ❤️

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    • Maybe there just are no good answers to this situation. Maybe it’s just something I have to live through, to find the answer for myself. And that feels so lonely and painful. This is a really good explanation of why holding the boundary of what I believe is important. I don’t wish to be swallowed up like that again. I never want to live my life as a ghost pretending to be who others want and need me to be. I don’t want Miss Perfect to be in charge ever again. This does makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ya, trying to please those like us works in the short term. It helps feel loved and liked. But over the long term you just lose yourself. I am sorry it feels lonely and sad right now. It hurts, but here’s to doing things a bit differently that what we were groomed to as children.

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  6. I also wanted to add based on the other replies, that I think maybe what Bea meant as we only have ourselves, is about the sense of ourselves, the worth and sense of ourselves has to come within us. When we ask for help is because we think we deserve it, and when people don’t feel safe and we disagree with them we still hold on to our feelings and sense of self. In a way being Miss Perfect was the opposite of that. Miss perfect derived her sense of self from the outside from other people, by being what people wanted her to be. That’s not independence, that’s actually very dependent, being dependent on what other people think and want you to be. Being fully independent, in a way, is acknowledging when you need help and need to lean on other people, that is in a way depending only on yourself and your wants and needs. Maybe try to think of your daughter. If she were married who would you want her to be? What would an independent strong person look like? What would be your hopes and wishes for her?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like what you wrote here. I’ve read it through many times the last few days. I’ve been thinking what I want for Kat, and that has been helpful. I never want her to be like Ms. Perfect. Thank you for pointing out the difference you see in Ms. Perfect and being truly independent. I’m still struggling to understand the difference of being independent and locking others out.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. betweenseconds says:

    I understood Bea to mean that you changing his mind is not helpful. That you can disagree with someone on a topic and that doesn’t negate all of the things that you like/love about them. Both can be true at the same time.

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  8. Hugs. It’s been a big week, and probably one that is hopefully a bit of a relief for you on one hand, but probably very triggering for you on the other, having just read these past few postd. How are things a few months on? Please take care of yourself this week.

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    • That was a big week. Watching Kamala be sworn in was especially bittersweet because my grandma would have loved to see a woman in that position, and getting to watch with my daughter was amazing. Things are better between Hubby and I. The fact that he started to see Trump as “not good” after the whole capital thing helped. And when my best friend told him that acting as if the president of our country’s behavior toward women didn’t effect things was really hurtful to all women but especially those who have been hurt by men, that seemed to sort of knock some sense into him. We’ll never agree on politics but I’m okay with that— I knew I was marrying a republican, I just never expected someone I chose to share my life with to vote for Trump.

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