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.