Silent treatment 

My marriage continues to be rocky. The emotional distance is growing.

Recently I asked my husband if we could talk about why we’re not getting along. His reply, “I thought we were.” He has shut me out because he claims my behavior is doing the same, with the meetings and friendships I’ve developed in sobriety.

I feel the silence is one more attempt at control by leaving me with this feeling I’m doing something wrong and if only I did X, Y and Z things would be better.

My guilt and shame is not deserving but I see a pattern of dependency and control that has been deeply ingrained after 25 years of marriage. There are no easy answers.

I’m grateful for those that asked about me. Thanks.☺️

Peace & love. 🌈

🌿Fern

It’s all good

“You sound sad.”

I had to think about that because I thought I was just sick with a cold and exhausted from work. But, why would my son lie?

I suppose the stress of my marriage is showing.  I’m not hiding it like I used to.  Husband and I are just not communicating and it’s uncomfortable for everyone.  The kids talk to me or their dad but not both of us together.  I made dinner last night and Husband was napping and no one wanted to go get him.  Finally the oldest told him dinner was ready and Husband responded, “I’m sleeping.” So, my two boys and I ate dinner at the kitchen table without their dad.

This Sunday my fourteen year old abandoned his friends, sports and gaming for some Mom Time.  I got a lot of hugs and smiles from him. He seemed intent on showing me I was important. We bought him basketball sneakers, did the food shopping, poked around a store with everything (TJMaxx for those in my part of the world), tried working together on an on-line practice test for school tomorrow (which back-fired because he wouldn’t put in real effort so I gave up on that); we did his laundry and changed his bed sheets.  When leaving TJMaxx he said, “You bought something for everyone but yourself. Find something for you.”  I felt guilty looking through racks and displays for me.  I gave up and told him, “Mommy doesn’t need anything.” We walked to the check out and while waiting I found a coffee mug with a drawing of a simple flower that read, “it’s all good.”

The day culminated with my son taking a shower and, wearing only his boxers, he climbed under his clean sheets and said, “Clean boy, clean sheets.” I smiled because for many years I said that to him. He snuggled under his down blanket and smiled contently. I kissed this boy of mine that has grown into a young man with facial hair and size 12 shoes. We both said goodnight.

My day ended with me not feeling quite as sad. I think my son was telling me that I’m special, a reminder that was much appreciated.

♥Fern

Miscommunication

The hot topic in my life continues to be the relationship with my husband. It’s been challenging in marriage counseling for the last few weeks. H seems very frustrated since I began going to support meetings and getting help from others. I’m learning to like myself.  In my opinion, this change is hard on my husband because he’s used to being in control and fixing everything, including me. I’m not allowing that dynamic to occur in sobriety which means I speak up when I don’t feel I’m being treated fairly.  I think H hasn’t a clue how to deal with this.

We weren’t talking for the last three weeks (except in counseling) – until the other night. The night before,  I made a gesture of reconciliation with a hug. My husband didn’t reciprocate and, although unlike him, I gave him the space he seemed to want.

His cold reaction made me realize he’s in pain and I wanted to offer an opportunity to express himself. I suggested we spend the evening talking and he agreed. I also suggested rules, “no blaming, finding fault,  or crosstalk.”  So, we talked about how we felt in the first person.  I thought it went well.

My guess is I’m wrong. H has been angry and uncommunicative. When I questioned him he said he wasn’t going to talk because he feels like if he says something wrong  it’s like having a mini-therapy session after every exchange. Admittedly, this is due to my new found self that wants to talk if my feelings get hurt.

I see our talk the other night didn’t bring us closer, it simply allowed us to say how we feel. We both continue to feel misunderstood and hurt. I could say more but things are painful right now. My husband falls asleep in his chair in front of the tv and doesn’t come to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning.  He said he’s not going to talk to me and he is shut down again.

I know I play a part in this. The therapist said we have very different communication styles. My efforts have been toward exposing my vulnerability and wanting to find safety and love in that space of empathy and love.  It’s not happening and I’m feeling completely misunderstood. :(

♥Fern

tunnel vision thoughts

My thoughts have been stuck in tunnel vision.  I became obsessed with what my husband is not able to do or see.  My focus was on what I didn’t have and how miserable it’s made my life. I was determined to get my husband to understand his fault in all my pain. If he couldn’t admit it then I felt there’s no point in going on. We just stopped talking because I wanted something from him that he wasn’t able to give.

My sponsor, J, pointed out that I don’t need to move mountains or change the world.  No one likes everything about their job but they go and work around those things that rub them wrong.  Basically, I don’t have to engage in the negative stuff.  All I have to do is follow what is right for me.  If it feels right then I’m staying true to myself.

I am so thankful that J can talk me down from my major thinking problems and pull me out of my tunnel thoughts.  Today feels more manageable because I can do the next right thing without feeling like I have to change everything. Practically speaking, I can love my husband and work together on solutions to our communication issues.  It’s not all or nothing.

Simple advice that lightens my load.

♥ Fern

The silence is deafening…

You would not want to visit my house. There are a lot of unspoken words in the air. Tensions are high. My husband and I are not talking to one another.

Last Thursday at our marriage counseling session we dug into a specific situation that triggered strong feelings of inadequacy for me. I expressed as much to my husband in therapy and his reaction was defensive. “I was just stating a fact and if she wants to think I was saying she was doing something wrong, that’s her problem.”

I sat quietly and allowed the therapist to tell my husband how the interaction made me feel. The therapist pointed out that I’m sensitive and it’s neither right nor wrong, it just is. Conversely, the therapist said my husband is fact-based and that’s not wrong either. But when two people interact the most important thing to remember is how we make each other feel.

The therapist continued to talk directly to my husband about the specific situation and how his initial tone was strong and opinionated followed by a defensiveness to avoid being blamed.

I observed our communication problems from the viewpoint of the therapist. And I realize that I have a basis for not feeling understood. My husband did not acknowledge his part because he didn’t see that he had done anything hurtful. It’s as if he just sees his side and it’s perfectly fine to state his opinion regardless of how others will feel.

I became sad and frustrated during therapy and hid my face in my hands, crying softly, and saying, “Never-mind, he just doesn’t get it. What’s the point?”

The therapist persisted in trying to break down the problem in a way my husband would understand. I could tell my husband felt in the hot seat because he became flushed and looked intense.

Eventually my husband agreed he could have used a softer tone with the initial interaction; but he still held on to the belief that he hadn’t intentionally done anything wrong. I took that to mean, I’m too sensitive and it’s my fault which is quite common for me to feel. My husband sees the issue as I blame him for things that he didn’t do.

We’ve been tiptoeing around each other for 10 days now. After therapy I tried numerous times to talk about the session because I felt we had touched on the real issue between us, which is a misunderstanding with our communication. My husband didn’t want to go back to the discussion in therapy. At one point he said, “We are not going to be in therapy forever so let’s focus on today not therapy.” That comment hurt because what he didn’t want to discuss is the exact thing I crave.

The issue is about believing that I’m significant enough for another person to think about how their words affect me. Right now I’m feeling disregarded, unimportant, unworthy, and viewed as too emotionally sensitive. It’s not a good spot to be in when the person triggering these feelings is someone I’ve been married to for 25 years.

The length of our relationship certainly adds a deep layer of difficulty to solving our communication issues. Recovery has given me the strength to speak up and not hide behind the secret life I created while drinking. I’m learning to be honest with myself and express what I need.

I’m finding a lot of support from open-minded people in AA meetings. This has been a real gift for me. We don’t crosstalk during meetings; instead we listen and have an opportunity to share. I’m learning to know myself through listening to others and having them listen to me without judgment. It’s so refreshing!

Unfortunately, my husband continues to hold resentment that I’m choosing AA over him. But, I’m not. I’m just finding a broader support system. He frequently doesn’t want me to go to meetings. This morning I went to my Saturday meeting and when I said goodbye he didn’t answer.

I feel like I can’t please him while pleasing myself because becoming more independent is what I desire and it is counter to what he wants. This makes my life very uncomfortable.

My husband has spent the last few months trying to fix his resentment. He has gone to great lengths to make me happy so I don’t need AA. Flowers, cards, lingerie, massages, dinners out, movies, just about everything, including long lovemaking sessions where he can feel victorious if I finish satisfied. All his efforts have confused the hell out of me and caused a sense of guilt and shame. Each time I fall into the traps of seduction I lose the person I’m finding in recovery.

I want to be supported in my quest for emotional health. I need my husband to love the person I’m becoming. I’ve not been good at sticking to my guns about what that is because I’m not completely sure.  I have played the victim and damsel in distress far too long and I unknowingly fall back into that role. But I see more clearly that each time I do so, I distance myself from the supportive people in AA who are supporting me in my desire to uncover my true self.

I don’t want to be disregarded or blamed or made to feel unworthy. I won’t accept gifts that come with a price because I want to be free from external enticements. Those gifts are a means of luring me into submission or at least a state of dependence. I want my husband to encourage the progress I’m making with building my self-worth. I think a loving partner should want that for me.

I love my husband and I’ve got to ask him to support me in healthier ways.  I cannot allow his needs stop me from evolving. This will not be easy.  He will be hurt and elicit guilt in order to break me of AA and cease enlarging my circle of friends. I must be prepared to not cave in because I have a strong desire to please him. I’ve focused my life on being the person to make him happy but I cannot do that when it comes to my emotional and spiritually progress. Only I know what is best for me and I will stay the course to discover what my inner wisdom reveals.

Grant me courage.

♥ Fern

A prayer for my suffering self

Take away my obsessive negative thinking and replace it with a sense of worthiness and inner peace.  Allow me to feel the strength of the tallest tree, the beauty of a vibrant sunset, the lightness of a billowing cloud, and the love and safety of a baby snuggled against its mother.  Remind me that I need not do or be anything to feel worthy of your love and grace.

♥ Fern

Not feeling like I matter…

I feel unworthy and no matter how much I do the next right thing a sense of inadequacy prevails. It’s that alcoholic thinking banging inside my head. 

Last night I thought of taking every anxiety med I have in my bathroom and hoping that would be enough to kill me.  Ironically, I do not abuse my medications and I’ve never taken more than the prescribed dose. (I take one pill at bed to sleep). The fantasy came from an internal sense of suffering, which I do not know how to deal with rationally.  Alcohol was my solution and now I deal with emotional pain by imagining the ultimate escape route.

I awoke this morning and looked into whether that idea from the previous night could work.  I have 90 clonazepam pills for 90 days and according to answers.com a lethal amount of benzodiazepines at .5 mg for my weight would be about 5,000 pills. I’m prescribed the lowest dose available for insomnia so obviously my idea is only a pipe dream. 

I didn’t pursue other fantasies because I realize it’s alcoholic thinking. Even though I’m not drinking the thinking still wants me dead.  I dream of finding an easier path than facing my fears but there isn’t one. 

I’m forced to face an intense feeling of low self-worth.  I don’t know how to express my feelings because I never allowed myself the opportunity.  I did what other’s expected and tried to always please the people around me. I latched on to what others felt in order to be liked. This wrecked havoc on my developing sense of self.  I’m now in a situation where most of the time I don’t know how I feel.

I still have my intellect and it has served me well.  I can act appropriately and perform as expected.  But my life is full of challenges and the negative thoughts are piling up and burying me in a blanket of imperfection. It’s my new job, my marriage, my aging mother, my messed up brother and most importantly how I think I should be. The expectations I have for myself don’t allow space for fears or failure.  Hence, a feeling of self-loathing.

It’s cool, no worries.  I’m expressing my shitty thoughts but I’ll carry on and be okay.  Working my way through this difficult time is all part of recovery.  I’ve got to look at my thinking and acknowledge it.  Eventually something has got to give and I’ll let go of the twisted sense of comfort I somehow feel when I’m inside my head, isolating from others.

♥Fern