“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” —Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Journal Entry: January 21, 2015
We returned to the US from Japan two days ago and I have to say, jet lag is a real bitch. The time difference between the US and Japan is substantial, and our flight landed early in the morning. I am never able to sleep on planes, so by the time we arrived home it was the middle of the night for us. It is easy to say don’t think about what time it was, just think about what time it is. Unfortunately, when your body is missing a night’s sleep, and you have spent hours on a plane, the body does not really listen to what the mind is telling it. We struggled through the first day and required a nap in the afternoon. We were walking around like zombies. Then, it took forever to get to sleep that night. Ugh. It did not help my recovering trauma state or my husband’s melancholy mood.
Yesterday was no better as we both woke incredibly early and could not get back to sleep. Blue Eyes had a therapy appointment in the morning and I attempted to work, but the headache and fatigue were nearly unbearable. I was anxious, irritable, and groggy. Somehow Blue Eyes managed to actually get into the office after his therapy appointment and conduct a few meetings. I couldn’t believe he was able to pull it off. By the time he returned home late in the afternoon I was nearly delirious. He sat down on the bed next to me and took my hand. He said he wanted to apologize to me. I asked him what he was talking about (now), and of course, in my jet lagged condition, fear and paranoia took over. I started to get anxious and images flooded my brain, maybe he had remembered another acting out partner, or he had had a slip, or, I don’t even know what all I was thinking.
He said that he had had a really great appointment with The Shrink and he needed to tell me something. He was supposed to be working on talking about his feelings towards his mother. He had been preparing for it and had told me that was what they would talk about in this morning’s appointment. Now it looked like he had something else to say. I hardly ever ask him about his therapy appointments anymore. His therapy is his and we have couple’s therapy and I am trying to move away from thinking and worrying about his sex addiction every day. Things need to get back to some semblance of normal soon, for my sanity. I looked into those Blue Eyes and he said he needed to apologize. That instead of talking with The Shrink about his mom, he talked about our trip and my self-harm. He talked about how could he have taken that horrible woman to a place that meant so much to us as a couple, as a family. How could he betray me so carelessly, when he loves me so deeply? I could feel any little bit of strength that I might have been holding onto disintegrating in that moment. He told the Shrink about our last dinner in Tokyo and how he had said that he had invited his acting out partner on trips in the past to hug and hold him. The Shrink had said the same thing I had said… no, no, no. Stop. He couldn’t believe that Blue Eyes had done the unthinkable. He had not only rationalized his addictive pattern as a literal manifestation of his early childhood trauma and abandonment, but he had said it out loud, to ME. The Shrink immediately became concerned for how I took it, how I handled it. Blue Eyes timidly told him what had happened next. That I had dissociated there in that restaurant. That he had had to guide me to our hotel and get me up to the room safely. That he had continued trying to pursue the conversation, to try and make it better, but he had made it worse. The Shrink said he wanted to get up right then and there and shake some sense into Blue Eyes. Blue Eyes felt worse than ever. Even with my self-harm, he had not realized what he had done, or the damage he had done with his words. He sent me backwards. He was so sorry.
As I sat there and watched him struggle through telling me about his therapy appointment and apologizing to me, I started to drift away. I felt myself needing to be held by someone who had never hurt me. Images of my parents immediately flooded my brain. I felt small and childlike. I hugged my pillow and the tears started to flow. Oh how I wanted to feel safe again. A part of me knew he was making progress, but a part of me wants a partner who instinctively knows what will hurt me, and then never ever does it. Never rationalizes hurting me and certainly never lies and covers up his behavior. I know I can never have this purity in my marriage to Blue Eyes, because he has already betrayed me repeatedly and lied pathologically. The only thing I can pray for is that I have the strength to stick around long enough to see if we can build a new relationship out of the ashes of the old desecrated one.
This afternoon we had a couple’s therapy appointment with Ms. Second Chance. The Shrink had already called her and prepped her with information about Blue Eyes and our troubled night in Tokyo, but she clearly wanted to hear from us what had transpired. I let Blue Eyes tell the story, for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to hear what he would say, and second, I didn’t think I had the strength to tell the story myself. Blue Eyes actually did a pretty good job of revisiting the conversation and subsequent trauma, but he still struggles with why he is unable to filter what he says or understand how I will react the way I do. Ms. Second Chance then turned her attention to me. She, of course, was very sympathetic as I cried in pain when I described how I felt. To me, Blue Eyes insinuated that he had been replacing me, his loving, caring, loyal and nurturing wife, with a horrible woman, not to feed his addiction with the drug of sleazy secret sex, but to provide those crucial needs that he desperately seeks when he is lonely and afraid, and my heart broke. I sobbed.
I told her that there is a practical and mature Kat that sees things from a bystander’s viewpoint. I could clearly see that Blue Eyes does not completely understand his addiction, how it was perpetrated, how he dealt with it, how it grew, and how he medicated it. But there is a part of me that is so broken that all it feels like to me is that he was replacing me. When I look at the other woman, I know deep in my heart that it is not true. There is just no possible way that could be true. We have 30 years of loving each other, of growing up with each other, of building a family together. We get along, we enjoy a lot of the same things and when one of us wants something different, we compromise. We have a real working marriage. But when my heart is broken, doubt seeps deeply into the cracks and the trauma breaks my spirit and I want to go away. She asked me where I want to go and I said somewhere where he can’t hurt me. Sometimes I think that is just to a dissociative state, and sometimes I think it is physically much farther away, as in a separation.
Ms. Second Chance thinks I need to go back to individual therapy, but I do not want to. I want to get stronger on my own. I am a healthy self-sufficient adult. I do not have deep childhood wounds. I spent months delving into my childhood with two therapists. Been there, done that. I know what kind of personality I have. I know my strengths and weaknesses. What I do not know is what my husband is going to do, how he is going to behave, and if he is going to recover. Since I cannot change what he is going to do, I stay as long as I can manage it. As long as I am happier than I am sad. The rest is up to him.