“I love myself!”
It was a downright hellish battle for my trauma therapist to get me to say those words last year. In one of our earlier sessions, she said, “Kat, do you love yourself?” And I sat there, for a long time, thinking. And then tears started rolling down my cheeks. At that point, I was blubbering half my days away and nearly everything the trauma therapist said had me in tears. I told her I definitely liked myself. I love how I treat other people. I love my children. I love my family. I used to love my life. She didn’t speak. She just let me go on and on talking about all the things in my life that I love. She was SO patient. When I stopped talking, she said, yes, I realize you are a loving person, but do you love YOURSELF?” I said I definitely liked myself. That there were things I wished I could change about myself, like I wished I loved exercise and I wished I was at a healthier weight, and I wished this and that. Thinking back on this now, I cannot believe how patient this woman was. I was completely deflecting away from her question. She had obviously been here before. Finally, I knew what she wanted me to say, but I wasn’t going to lie and I knew she wouldn’t believe me anyway. I said, “no, I don’t think I love myself. Right here, right now. I like myself.” I said I believed that I had always loved myself in the past (although I had never really thought about it), but now I know there must be something horribly wrong with me for my husband to have done this to me. For strangers to have taken something that belonged to me and then tried to break apart my marriage. For my husband to have told another woman that I wasn’t loving and nurturing. For my husband to have told another woman that he loved her. He wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t true, right? At that point she said, “hmmm, we’ll get back to that later.” Even though I knew deep down that I was an incredibly strong, confident, and loving person, a nurturer to my children and my husband, somehow the trauma wouldn’t allow me to believe in who I was. It wouldn’t allow me to claim my own story. My new reality was a broken woman in trauma trying to understand why people would hurt me so badly if I really was such a good person.
It took quite a few hours of trauma counseling for me to be able to honestly and truly say, “I love myself.” I love who I am and I believe in who I am, and where I am in my life. I love how I have treated other people and how many of them have treated me back. I love my swarm of siblings and all their little ones. I adore my parents with all their kinks and quirks and it makes me sad to realize we are nearing the end of our time with some of them. I love my husband, even the husband I now know to be a fearful, broken, 51 year old sex addict, and I know he truly does love me too. But none of that really allowed me to re-claim my life.
Even with all the love going on, however, even a year post intensive trauma therapy, I still have moments where I feel like I am living in someone else’s reality. I sit and think about how much was going on around me while I obliviously lived my happy life. There is an empty spot where part of me used to reside. I want to fill that spot. I feel like Truman in ‘The Truman Show.’ I just cannot figure out if I am Truman before, or after he realizes his whole life is a television show. I feel like I am caught in this awkward Truman place, after he finds out his life isn’t real, but before he sails across the fake ocean and finds the door to… the streets of Los Angeles? Is it still fear that is holding me back from living a life that feels more real, and more true to me now?
We had couple’s therapy yesterday afternoon. I never can remember everything that goes on in those couple’s sessions after we leave. We actually talked about that in the session as well. It is dissociation? Who knows. I know I feel somehow disconnected from the couple’s therapy that I wanted so badly. I feel like no one really understands me, Blue Eyes, or our relationship. How can someone give us advice when they don’t really have all the facts and I don’t know if I have the energy and patience to go back over everything that we say and do in a week, so the therapist has better insight. It is overwhelming. Towards the end of the session yesterday, we talked about me needing more autonomy. I need some of my old life back. I need my time. I need Blue Eyes to be away from home and at work for portions of the day. I need him to go to his meetings, and do his recovery, and go to physical therapy, and go to his Buddhist meditation. And I need him to do this without being resentful and angry and I need him to do this without pretending and without going back to his addiction. But I can’t do it for him and I will never really know what goes on in his head. I need him to do all those things so I can move on with my life. Again, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I fell in love with a sex addict. I lived with a sex addict for 30 years. I was married to an unrecovered sex addict for nearly 25 years. I was happy. Like Truman, until it was obvious that my world was fake, I loved it!
Now, I am living with a recovering addict. His juggling act is over. He can no longer keep everything going by feeding his addiction. I know he is growing and learning how to be less fearful, how to be kinder and gentler to himself, how to love himself and how to properly communicate, and in turn we will all reap the benefits of a healthier Blue Eyes. In the meantime, this sucks. I am wanting my old life back and then I run smack into the back wall, it wasn’t real. Yes, I can create a new life. Yes, I can still do the things that I used to do that made me happy and productive. Yes, I also can be a better person by paying more attention to my own health. Yes, it can all be great and anything worth while takes hard work, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and all that, yada yada… but building a new life, after having a previous life destroyed by lies, and betrayal, and infidelity, is not as easy as it looks. No matter how much support I have, or how, intellectually I know what I need to do for myself, or how sunny the day is, I still stop, every day, stop and stare into the distance. The “Mind Movies” (as Paula over at Tearing at the Fabric calls them… also weird, Jim Carrey reference here too, I didn’t realize it until now) aren’t playing anymore. The reel has stopped and I am just standing there, listening to the flapping of the loose film, with a feeling of emptiness and that is when I realize… I don’t actually know what is real.