Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Two souls, one heart." *

I wish Pat were writing this post, and maybe he will write a rejoinder, because he knows how he meant for the story to go, and all I can tell you is how it went.

Back story:

Pat came up behind me on Monday evening and told me to be thinking of some place to go for dinner on Friday night. "Pick some place we haven't been before, or some place that you particularly like, and we'll go out. My treat." When he treats, it's guaranteed that it won't be Burger King which may be what you end up with me treating, depending on what bills I've got to pay in a given week. So, off and on throughout the week, I thought about where we might go.

It was a rough week for me with pulling some extra hours, still being behind in my work, and dealing with a lot of the bipolar symptoms which had been decreasing but acted up again. Wednesday, Pat was going to take me out to dinner when we went for a ride, but I had so been looking forward to Friday that I asked him not to. I made dinner at home and we had a nice long, lovely ride.

Thursday started out with a moderate depression and some intrusive thoughts, and I considered going in to see my counselor as a walk-in that afternoon. As it worked out, however, the mood started improving around lunch time, and by the time I got home I was back to normal.

All that to say that it had been a bumpy week for me emotionally, but throughout it all, I was just very much looking forward to going out on Friday because Pat had been so sweet about it.

Thursday evening, I still didn't have a place in mind, so I went to a website that offered the top 30 restaurants in nearby Roswell. There were a large number that we hadn't ever been to, nor had I ever heard of, so I decided to make a game of it. I picked four that sounded intriguing and asked Pat to check the page and do the same.

It was funny to me how we picked the restaurants. I picked some edgy ones that were only moderately priced. Pat was picking some really pricy places. One we've been to before and it's excellent, really, but I laughed and reminded him that we have a wedding to budget for and turned him down.

We both did pick a crazily named place, The Swallow at the Hollow, an upscale barbecue joint. So we opted for that. After all the overtime I'd put in the last three weeks, I was really looking forward to going somewhere nice but not too dressy and just enjoying some good food and conversation with Pat.

Friday turned out to be a good day for me. I started off with some hypomania, so work went well, my mood was up, and I was looking forward to going out with Pat even more than I had earlier in the week. Things were looking up and I figured dinner would just be a nice way to end the week.

The restaurant was crowded when we got there that night, but the patio was open, so we opted to eat outside. The weather was warm, but not overly so. There was a large bunch of reed grass surrounding the corner of the porch we were on, so there was the lovely sound of a breeze through the tall reeds. Nearby trees hosted a small symphony of cicadas and crickets. There were a few other patrons outside with us and the whole atmosphere was total relaxation.

We each ordered ribs, macaroni and cheese, and another side. It's the best barbecue I've had in Georgia so far! We both enjoyed our meal heartily, and even ordered dessert. Pat had the chocolate chip banana pudding and I had cherry pie. Yum!

Finally, we were waiting for the check which was a little slow in coming.

Pat looked at me and smiled.

"It's been a really great day," he said.

"Yes, it has," I agreed.

"Work was good; you're in a good mood; we've had a great dinner; it's a beautiful evening. Only one thing would make tonight perfect," he continued.

"If we were on the bike?" I asked (I'd turned down a chance to ride it earlier in the evening).

"Well, that would make it better," he said. "But no."

Then he repeated, "Only one thing would make the evening perfect."

"If we had music?" I asked.

He stopped, looked at me, and made a kissing motion toward me.

"Oh!" I thought. "He wants some cuddling later tonight."

But before I could say anything, he said it again: "Only one thing would make tonight perfect." And he reached into his pocket, pulled out a small jewelry box, and slid it across the table to me.

It was the engagement/wedding set he bought for me that wasn't supposed to get here until late August!

I quietly squealed -- like the girl I am -- and just said, "Oh, Pat! Now?"

And he asked me quietly, "Will you marry me?"

And I, of course, said yes. Because it would be silly to say "no" when we were already planning a wedding on November 21st.

Pat teases me that I kept interrupting him, but to be honest, I misunderstood him. When he would say, "Only one thing would make this night perfect," I thought he was asking for input.

I've got to learn to listen better.

Anyway, folks, that's the story of our engagement. And yes, two souls are sharing one euphemistic heart.

* French proverb

Sunday, July 5, 2015

“You can't patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.” *

I've been through some pretty awful things in my life. Some due to other people. Some due to my own choices. A lot due to undiagnosed mental illness in both my spouse at the time and myself. Some of it is worse than what others have gone through in their marriages; a lot of it is far better than some people have gone through. We all have our own private hells, I think.

My personal hellish relationships were over five and fifteen years ago in a matter of two divorces. Though the longer one continued past the divorce because we share a child in common and therefore had interactions with each other for a much longer time.

The shorter marriage - the one over for only five years - still involved a four year period of separation, so we were technically only together for four years. It was loud and obnoxious and fraught with arguments, but the hell more due to my as yet undiagnosed bipolar disorder and severe anxiety than anything he was putting me through.

My first husband, though. Wow. I was very young when I married him, and did so against everybody's better judgment, including mine. I had been asked if I loved him after he proposed and I honestly said, "Not yet, but I will." Because I thought the flutterings I had were love in the making and would be the stuff of which great marriages were made.

They weren't.

There was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse in that marriage. And because it wasn't physical, I didn't think of it as abuse. But the constant put downs and neglect took a heavy toll on me and there are still things that I'm working through even now.

"You can't put a bandaid on it" is true.

I came through the relationship and left it in the past, I thought. But I never dealt with the abuse. Never grieved the person I'd been at the beginning that got lost in 16 years. I took my wounds and scars and heavy scabs out of the relationship and into another marriage, then carried them out past that marriage and into a single life that was insulated within my family and a few close friends. There was no need of tending to wounds that weren't constantly being inflicted anymore...or so I thought.

Long story short, I've been working with a counselor that is alternately good for me and not worth much, but he is what my insurance affords me and he is available and means well, so we are working together. He's wanted me to write about the abuse and the relationship. I've resisted because I saw no need to revisit anything.

But I finally put pen to paper...all of twice...and the results have been scary.

The first entry in my journal left me angry and agitated. I cried some, and shared the entry with Pat so he would know what was going on, but it was the residual anger that developed into barely contained rage the next day that surprised me. It was as if I'd opened the lid to a cauldron and now it was boiling over. I was mad at me. I was mad at my ex. I was mad at the situations he put me in. I was mad over the loss of trust I'd experienced. And I was trying to work, too. I ended up angry with Pat over something relatively minor, though I didn't take it out on him, and we talked for a long time about where the anger was coming from. It helped to diffuse it. He's better than a journal for diffusion.

The second entry was in response to a video I watched. It was an apology to women who have been married to sex/porn addicts from a man who is a recovering addict. Everything he said rang true with me. I tried to write that day and got only a paragraph in before I through the journal and pen away from me and went to the security of my bathtub where I ran hot water and sobbed deep and long for all the anger, rejection, hurt, and shame I'd felt when with my ex-husband.

Apparently, all those wounds had been covered with mere bandaids. Because I wasn't being hurt any more, I thought they'd gone away. I'd known that some of the pain had been coming to me in flashbacks since I started dating Pat, which made no sense to me as Pat treats me the polar opposite of either of my exes. But he would do something wonderful, tender, and sweet, and I would flash back to something awful, cruel, and mean that my first husband had done or said.

The counselor recognized that I needed to pull off the bandaids and let the purulence out. It's a slow process, because I can't handle more than a bit at a time, and I don't know that I'd survive ripping all the bandages off all at once. I'd be a raw mess, I know.

But I'm working on it.

* Michael Connelly