It’s been a tough week. Emotions are running high due to my impending trip out of town. I had a bout with low blood pressure while on a five mile walk with my husband earlier this week. I got through the difficult part of the walk, the first half is up hill. We walk through neighborhoods and then pass through a little area filled with businesses, a community library, a fire station, a high school, restaurants, etc… then back through neighborhoods, down hill, to get back home. Towards the end of the uphill section, I started to sweat, became lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseous. I wasn’t really short of breath and no chest pain, so I wasn’t worried about my heart, and I had just eaten a healthy snack before we left home so pretty sure it wasn’t blood sugar. I may have been a little dehydrated, but most likely it was low blood pressure. My reading that morning had been 114/60 with a resting heart rate of 48. I take medication both morning and evening. Diet and exercise seem to be contributing positively to my blood pressure issues. I had considered calling the doc and seeing if I could eliminate the morning dose, but I had not done it yet.
As we approached the library, I knew the rest of the walk was all down hill, but I still felt very anxious. I sat down outside the library and my husband suggested he walk the rest of the way home with the dogs and come back and pick me up with the car. It was a good idea. I sat in the sun and watched people coming and going from the library, people walking their dogs, runners, joggers, bikers, walkers. It was a beautiful day. I was still pretty tired after returning back home and then was tired for a couple days. I did call the doctor, but it took two days for us to actually connect, and by then I had stopped the morning medication, which she confirmed was a good idea. I feel better, but for a couple days there, I felt really out of balance. I have now been instructed to carry a snack and my blood glucose monitoring machine with me. Pretty sure it was the blood pressure, but okay.
Tuesday morning I was running behind and needed to take a shower before the therapy appointment I had set up to discuss my stalker fears. Blue Eyes offered to make me breakfast while I took a shower. I thanked him and went about getting ready. By the time I completed my morning routine, taking blood pressure, blood glucose readings, showering, I didn’t even have time to dry my hair. My own fault, in order to get my eight hours sleep, I left myself too little time to get everything done. Breakfast is too important for me, a diabetic who only has high fasting numbers and needs to eat within 30 minutes of getting up. I raced downstairs to devour whatever Blue Eyes had prepared for me as I only had about five minutes, and, well, he hadn’t prepared anything. He was just starting to prepare breakfast. It had been 45 minutes since he offered to make me breakfast. He knew when my appointment was. He had taken two business phone calls instead. The second one had gone longer than he expected. He was sorry. This was so deja vu. Business always comes first. I so thought we were past this. He suggested I sit down while he prepared something healthy for me. I was shocked that he was so clueless and disappointed that he had pushed me and my needs off, once again. My disappointment quickly turned to anger. I told him I did not have time to sit down and have him prepare me breakfast at that point. I am a punctual person. I had an appointment in 28 minutes at a location that was at least 25 minutes from our home. He was standing by the sink. I stormed past him and grabbed a banana off the kitchen table. I marched out of the kitchen and as I approached him I said, in a very mean tone, “I wish you would stop making promises you cannot keep.” And I left with my measly banana. If I had been thinking more clearly, I probably could have grabbed something a little more well rounded, but the reason I need breakfast is because my brain does not function well when my body is under nourished. I do have a temper. Everything was out of whack. I felt bad about speaking in a mean tone, but I was angry. The most disturbing part of this entire three minute altercation, however, is the fact that when I turned around with my banana to leave the kitchen, Blue Eyes backed away from me in obvious FEAR!?! His behavior was so disconcerting to me and actually made me even more angry.
I made it to my therapy appointment with two minutes to spare because there was absolutely no traffic. I got lucky. I had eaten my banana on the way, but had forgotten to grab water. I took a deep breath and entered the therapist’s office fully intending to focus the session solely on my fear of the stalker. Ms. Second Chance could tell that I was out of balance. I explained to her about how difficult it is to get my “numbers” under control. She calmed me a little. I gave her a history of the stalker and her behavior. Since we cannot control what the stalker is going to do, we worked on what I would do if confronted by the stalker, again. She helped me with some calming exercises. We did not talk about Blue Eyes at all. After the appointment, I went home and made myself a healthy lunch. Then, after Blue Eyes’ own individual therapy appointment (where he talked about his fear of women, by the way), he brought us home a sandwich to share, which turned out to be a good afternoon snack.
Later that day, I had a betrayed spouse support group meeting to attend. It is quite far from our house and with commuting each way at rush hour plus the two hour meeting, the whole thing takes about four to five hours. I usually get home around 9:00pm, which is late for dinner as we have committed to not eating past 8:00pm, but I make an exception for this meeting because 5:00pm is and certainly was too early to eat. I had purchased some raw almonds to eat on the way home from the meeting, but I could not get the package open. In order to make up for breakfast, Blue Eyes offered to have dinner waiting for me when I got home. I got home as quickly as I could and walked in the door a little after 9. Blue Eyes was in the process of making dinner, but he was nowhere near complete. I was flabbergasted and frustrated. I contemplated quickly making myself a snack or heating up leftovers so that I could eat quickly, but I didn’t want him to feel bad and I didn’t want him to feel like I didn’t want to eat the dinner he was diligently preparing. I am a list maker, a rule keeper, and when we set up eating guidelines for ourselves, I like to keep them. For Blue Eyes, rules and guidelines are just a suggestion. He rarely abides by rules or guidelines. I did sit there and wonder how in the world dinner wasn’t ready, however, as he had had more than four hours to prepare it since I walked out the door at 5pm. I honestly do not hold grudges, so by the time we finished dinner at close to 10pm, things were on more of an even keel. We decided to take a walk with the dogs after dinner even though it was so late.
Fast forward to the next day, Wednesday afternoon. We are sitting in Ms. Second Chance’s office at our couple’s therapy session and she asks us both a question. She states, once again, how loving and kind and nurturing we are towards each other while in her office. We speak respectfully to each other. We don’t generally interrupt each other. We hold hands. She asked us what percentage of our daily life is in such a loving, kind and nurturing environment and what percentage is not. And when it is not, what is it like. Blue Eyes went first. He said he feels like about 75-80% of our time together is spent in a nurturing environment and 20% or so isn’t. He said the “isn’t” part is when I (Kat) am upset or angry. Ms. Second Chance asked what it feels like when I get angry. Blue Eyes went through the story of breakfast the day before. She asked how he felt when I became angry and how did I exhibit my anger (asking this still all to Blue Eyes). He said he feels scared when I am angry. He said he feels small and insignificant. He feels like he can never do anything right. She asked, “how does Kat exhibit her anger? Does she yell, does she slam her fists down, does she slam things, does she throw things, does she speak in a mean tone… ?” And he said, “YES, all of those things.” Almost before she had finished asking, he blurted out yes, yes she does. I kept my eyes focused on a book on the bookshelf across the room. The book is a book I own, it is called Toxic In-Laws. I have never finished reading the book because it causes me anxiety. She asked if I have ever thrown anything at him, or hit him? He sat back and quietly said, “no.” She said well if she has never physically hurt you in all the years you have known her, why are you afraid of her? He said he didn’t know but that it reminds him of when he was little. His mother was always angry. He could never do anything right. She asked if I was always angry, he said no. She talked with him about living in the present, about being present and living with who he is and what he is facing now, not reverting to childhood. He said he feels bad and unworthy for a long time after my anger has long faded. He said he didn’t feel like I held a grudge, but he still feels bad. He said I usually get mad and walk away, that he wished I would stay and we could talk it out so he wouldn’t have to feel bad for a long period of time afterward. That is where I had to draw the line. This had gone on long enough… a long time actually, without me saying anything. I wanted to let him get out what he wanted to say, but I felt like I was in a courtroom and someone was making me look really, really bad and I wasn’t given a chance to defend myself. I let out a short sarcastic laugh, which was not a great move, but stopped everyone in their tracks. Ms. Second Chance decided that was a good time to wrap up Blue Eyes’ time on that subject, or she just remembered I was actually right in the room with them. She said to Blue Eyes, “Kat is not a scary person. She is not violent and she has never hurt you. Do you agree?” He said, “yes.” She asked him to adopt the same skill she has been working with him on regarding other difficult topics, he needs to call a time out and ask to revisit whatever has made me angry once he has had a chance to realize he is an adult and he needs to handle my anger in an adult way. He agreed that he liked this approach.
Meanwhile. once I had brought my focus back to the issue at hand, I had been watching Blue Eyes converse with Ms. Second Chance and I got to thinking about my anger. I thought about all the people I had been angry with, pretty much throughout my entire life. I thought about how I handled those moments of anger. They are few and far between and I am being completely honest. I rarely ever got mad at my parents. I was a good kid. I believed in what they taught me and I followed the rules. Every once in a while I felt like they were being unfair and I remember telling my mother I was going to my room and I wasn’t speaking to her. Then I would come back out about 15 minutes later and I could not for the life of me remember what I was mad about. I don’t remember ever getting mad at my siblings. Frustrated, yes, but angry? I am older than all of them and a lot older than most of them. Sometimes I would get frustrated with my children’s behavior, but I rarely ever exhibited anger towards them. At the most I exhibited a terse tone of voice so they knew what they were doing was not acceptable to me. Even now they will say, “oh remember when Mommy got that tone of voice, we knew it was time to stop.” And they did, stop. The only person in my life that I get really angry at is Blue Eyes, well, and his parents, but getting angry at them is futile as they don’t care and probably actually enjoy it and it is a waste of my time and energy. The only person who I exhibit truly angry emotional responses to, slamming doors, yelling, throwing things… is Blue Eyes. He is the person who has consistently let me down over the past 30 years. I can remember now numerous occasions, before dday even, when I got really angry with him. Usually it was because he was choosing his parent’s wishes or his workaholism (now we know it was workaholism & sexaholism and that makes a whole lot more sense) over me and our family. Being angry was the only way I knew to get through to him. It was usually anger and tears, or tears and anger, but they both went hand in hand because the anger is driven by frustration and the tears are my way of showing I have been pushed too far.
When it came time for me to answer the question of how much of our marital life is spent in harmony, I answered 70-75% of the time. I told her, in my opinion, the rest of the time is spent in complete and utter frustration on my part. And the reason I had chuckled earlier was because Blue Eyes NEVER, and I mean NEVER wants to stay and talk like an adult about difficult things. He avoids and runs. For him to say now, here in her office, that that is what he has always longed for, is ludicrous. Maybe he wishes he was that way, that he was mature enough to do that, but he has never done it, NEVER. Sometimes this is what prompts my anger in the first place. I beg him to talk with me, to speak, to address the issues at hand, but he cannot get out of the victim, childlike mode he is mired in. The “somebody is mad at me, I am an innocent victim” mode that prompts all his acting out behaviors. Blue Eyes exhibits passive anger, which in my mind is the scariest kind. His passive anger has been exhibited as evasiveness, manipulation, and secretive behavior. He goes from fear and anxiety to anger and resentment and addiction in a split second. He was abused as a child. He is an addict. I am a frustrated wife who raised our children virtually by myself, ran a household by myself, ran the business while he was away and sometimes when he was home, who was left for long periods of time with no communication. I wanted a 50/50 partner and I never got him. Until dday, I didn’t really realize how much not having a present, loving, committed partner was hurting me. I kept thinking… when he gets back from that business trip, I will have my husband back, when the business is successful, I will have my husband back, when he retires, I will have the husband I need, but with his addiction, that never did happen and it was never going to happen. The thing that keeps me here, with my husband, is the fact that I have faith that now that he is in recovery, I will someday have that husband.
For the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday, I continued to ruminate on our therapy session and how quick he was to throw me under the bus. How quick he was to exploit my brief moments of anger in the pursuit of sympathy for himself. I had actually thought about it quite a bit and thought if I truly was an angry person, I would have blurted out something like this during our session, “okay, so you are afraid of me because you made me a promise that you didn’t keep and I got a little pissy and stormed out with a banana… do you happen to remember that I am now the wife who is dealing with the fact that not only have you been lying to me for 30 years, but you have broken every promise you made on our wedding day. You have lied and cheated and betrayed and turned a half crazed stalker onto me and I am not allowed to have a short diabetic temper burst because I haven’t had my breakfast and you broke a promise, again.” How unfair is this shit?
As we sat at the kitchen table last night, I told him how sad I was by what happened in our therapy session yesterday. I asked him if he ever saw me get mad and yell at anyone other than him. Have I ever lost my temper and yelled at our children, or my parents, or my siblings? Anyone? He said no. I said why do you think that is? I am not a bad or mean person. I told him he hurt me very badly and that I feel like he is still making excuses for bad behavior. At first he was a little defensive. I could not believe it. I could not believe that he was going to try and defend his actions, any of them. The sadness overwhelmed me. I burst into tears, the kind of tears I have become so good at controlling. The tears that spill out in large droplets and are accompanied by sobs of despair. He immediately held me tight and apologized over and over. He said he was wrong. He held me tighter. I cried for five minutes, and then I stopped.
I feel like I am a pitcher of water. Each time I am tossed into that pit of despair, and the tears flow, some of the water in my pitcher spills out. Each time he exhibits the addictive behavior, each time he blames someone for his own bad acts, each time he neglects to keep a promise, each time he deflects, the pitcher is slowly depleted. When he does something truly inspirational, something really sweet and heartfelt, something honest and good, when he keeps his promises, or surprises me with kindness and integrity, a little water goes back into that pitcher. Some days I feel like the pitcher is getting dangerously low on water. If the day arrives when my pitcher is empty… it will be time to go.