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.
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