Monday, September 30, 2013

#intimacy

I feel like we're always trying to run away from our pasts.  Close the chapter, tie up loose ends, heal the wound...or whatever metaphor you want to adopt for the process.  But you can't run, you can't hide, you'll never be able to leave it behind, and I'm not sure we ever really forget.  Over the past years, I've spent a lot of time talking about walls and scars.  There've been so many people, haven't there?  All of these men. Boys.  I remind myself over and over that my past has led me up to my present.  It's all necessary, right?  I had to go through all of it to get to where I am today.  My defense mechanism was sex for a long time.  When that is disabled, humor prevails.  You should hear me joke about sex and men with my fiance or my girlfriends.  Maybe I'm ok with it because it's on my terms.  I control what comes out of my mouth and when.  Tonight I watched Don Jon and I felt like I was punched in the gut. Joseph how could you do this to me when all I did was love you? There I go with the humor again...
The story is told from the male perspective.  The young man trying to figure out his life and relationships and who he is.  He finds an emotionally damaged older woman who through friendship forms a bond with him.  The sex is meaningless, but it's not meaningless at all.  He talks about how much he loves her, but he's not thinking about marriage and babies and all that crap and neither is she.  She can't.  The words echoed in my head after I heard them: she can't.  I felt like he was talking about me, back in someone's bedroom.  Someone I cared about and who I knew very well.  Do you ever feel the walls closing in on you?  Do you want to know how that story ends?  She gets better.  They stop being friends.  She looks back on him and smiles at the boy trying to be a man and hopes he's doing well, but doesn't take the time to really find out because it's just not proper anymore.  Nobody is confused here and there are no bad guys.  Just a memory of someone you once felt love for, even if it wasn't the romantic kind.  At least I'm not asking my girlfriend to take my phone from me because I might text him to check on him.  I'm past all of that.  Too old.  Not naive enough.  Too unwilling to backslide into my old dark corners.
But even in my darkest memories, hope will always surface.  Becoming emotionally distraught caused my heart to pound.  Seems like a logical thing to happen to someone when they're upset, but I am not your usual person.  I started seeing a doctor who has degrees in internal medicine, holistic sciences, and chiropractic care.  I came to her after three years of frustration with the medical system I was currently part of, which was unable to help me with my medical issues.  You see, I want to have another baby and that means I need to be healthy enough to try and get pregnant.  My new doctor earned her non-insurance payment by telling me that she suspects my adrenal glands are damaged.  Apparently my abusive childhood may have caused them to not function properly, and while my married life provided me with a happy sanctuary, the moment my then husband left me, it turned my house into a warzone once again.  However now as an adult, my adrenal glands were not able to function in the emotional turmoil and two weeks later I was checked into the hospital.  They told me it was unrelated.  How could it be such a coincidence?  Today I've been taking adrenal supplements for one week.  Prior to tonight, I couldn't remember the last time my heart raced from emotion.  It would just beat irregularly and then I'd faint.  Saying something is starting to happen would be an understatement.
When I went in for my appointment, I'd originally asked my ex husband to come with me.  The only reason I could really pinpoint is that he's got 10 years of medical history and experience with me.  Aside from that, he's been with me 10 years through good, bad, and ugly.  We share a daughter together and we've seen each other in pretty much every state and mood that two people who were married as long as we were should see each other.  I think the easiest way to describe that is intimacy.  Divorce is so strange when you have children.  You trust someone with your secrets and the very nature of who you are.  You give them your soul.  What happens when that is betrayed?  I don't know what's supposed to happen, but I'd be lying if I said that all of a sudden I wasn't comfortable around him.  Yes, we have different lines in the sand now and it's certainly not like when we were married, but he still knows me.  Well my ex couldn't make it.  Instead, my fiance came with me to the appointment.  
I sat in the office while my doctor asked me personal questions.  Questions about my childhood, family, and health.  She covered bowel movements to emotional abuse and I answered them.  Most of this information was new to my fiance's ears.  He didn't make a sound.  I had figured this type of questioning was coming and I had tried three times prior to the appointment to discourage him from coming, but he wanted to be there for me.  Of course he did.  That's what good partners do.  I got through the appointment, paid for my supplements, and we drove home.  I then sat on the couch with him and tried to explain why I didn't want him there.  I felt like it was too much too soon.  When is the right time to discuss how I was emotionally abused by my mother?  3 months? 3 years?  I don't know.  When are you comfortable talking about your miscarriage or the relationship with your babydaddy and how that impacts your health?  I think the answer is I don't know.  I think these things come out naturally as relationships move on when they're ready to be expressed.  It's intimacy.  Instead of carefully peeling back the petals of an artichoke until you reach the heart, it was smashed with a sledgehammer.  That's not how intimacy works.  In fact, that exactly how you build animosity and resentment.
I wasn't about to let that happen after my appointment.  I was grateful we'd taken separate cars so I could cry in peace my hour drive home.  When we got home I tried to explain and he quietly listened.  It's not a "keep out" or "not welcome" sign.  It's a "please wait" sign.  He told me that these things take time to build and he didn't mean to make me feel violated and he was sorry.  So I dropped it.  I don't drop anything, ever.  I tend to harp on things until they drive everyone insane, but I'm working on stopping that toxic behavior.  It doesn't help anything.  I see it as evidence of the damage that's been done to me.  What happened to the girl who knew, and I mean KNEW, that her man would never do anything to intentionally hurt her?  What happened to the wife who didn't punish you for your sins, but forgave you immediately and loved you for being brave enough to share those secrets?  Some of it I think is just innocence and immaturity that falls away with age.  Some of it is a natural distrust that follows me around when it comes to all people.
I can tell you one thing I've learned 100% and that's to ask for help. When I feel myself slipping into bad habits or states of mind, I text a girlfriend.  Even when I think there is no way I'm wrong or I'm going to stop the way I'm thinking, I do it anyway.  The funny thing is that I usually get talked out of my destructive behavior and back into my normal self.  I'm fairly positive that my friends have saved me from as much heartache as men have inflicted upon me.  The best way I know how to say thank you is be there for them in the same way, if I can.  I think the one thing I try to do more than anything else is express my appreciation to those I love.  I feel like we don't say it enough.  We don't tell the people in our lives how important they are, how much we love them, or how amazing we really do think they are.  Maybe we write it in a birthday card.  Maybe we wait until they are struggling to tell them we care and remind them how strong they are.  I would rather just tell them the moment it pops into my mind.  And yes, this sounds like a fabulous excuse for me forgetting all holidays and birthday for everyone I love, because I do, but it's not.  If it's important to you, I will write you a birthday message so you can read it when you want and know I love you, but I'm more likely to forget your birthday, buy you a random present, and tell you how amazing you at a random moment.  Because you're amazing at all moments, really, even when you feel weakest.
When I sit and think about me and what I've been through and how I feel about it, I think the biggest change I can see is my perception of strength and weakness.  I feel like I am stronger now that I can admit to having feelings.  That sounds insane, but it's true.  I can say that I had a mirror help up to me tonight and it scared me.  I saw back down a path where I had been and I didn't like what I saw.  There was a time that I was proud of all the relationships I had with different men and how they all loved me.  I can see how broken I was back then.  I don't want that sadness washing over me, not now.  Not ever again.  That well of sorrow had dried up and I no longer soak in it and look up through the black night at the stars above me.  Today I walk in the sun with my daughter where I belong.  If my skin does get wet, it's from the cool waves at my feet as we walk along the sand, her laughter in my ears and the hot sun on my back.  I can tell you that I'm never going back and there's no determination in that statement.  It's just a fact.  I feel like I've grown out of a phase in my life.  I'm not fighting the demons I hid within myself any longer.  Maybe they left when the well was filled and sealed.  There is still a twinge in my heart when I walk by that place, but I don't live there anymore. 
And now what? I'm going to go and find my fiance who is waiting for me in the bedroom.  We're going to fill out our marriage license online for our wedding that is less than two weeks away and I will undoubtedly talk to him about this night and the movie and what I am feeling.  The function of his kindness is apparent.  Kindness is a trait I used to mistake for weakness in my youth. I thought it meant that you could be easily taken advantage of.  Today, it is the greatest strength for my freshly healed heart and it tries to find it's way to a safe place where it will one day beat strong with love and determination again for a family to thrive once again in a place where I call home.  If I close my eyes and sit very still I can almost hear it--the clanking of dinner dishes, the baby cooing, and lots of laughter in a place where I belong, am loved, wanted, and feel safe.  Please wait for me.  I'm coming, I'm coming.