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Location: Wisconsin, United States

"There is a secret set within each of our hearts...It is simply the desire for life as it was meant to be... Seasons may pass until it surfaces again. And though it seems to taunt us, and may at times cause us great pain, we know when it returns that it is priceless. For if we could recover this desire, unearth it from beneath all other distractions, and embrace it as our deepest treasure, we would discover the secret of our existance." -John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Leap

Mr. Boyfriend and I had a long conversation about things. Anger was a topic, as were our personal histories. He acknowledges his own garbage. Says he will work for change – a choice unrelated to me being in or out of his life. And I know that he will, as he has done it before. It is bizarre to know someone who will actually do this. Just because he sees a problem, the negative affect it has on his life, and that it keeps him from getting what he wants.

We talked about our relationship, friendship verses dating. We have been friends for nearly a decade. We did not do so well at dating. Answering other phone calls from female friends it is natural for me to say, “Honey, I’m on the other line, can I call you back?” I never did this with him. There were no words of endearment, no touchy feely stuff. No “I love you”. Not from his end, either.

Assuming the dating part of our relationship had ended in failure, we commenced discussion of things we should have talked about it the midst of it all. We both come from relationships where the other half was extremely unfaithful. This is his primary Achilles heel. Mine, is anger. Neither one of us trusts and both are chicken. We watched the other and waited for them to fail us. Neither one of us really went out on a limb and risked.

I have never really understood him until last weekend, when things started to click for me. I watched and waited and listened and asked questions. Finally, I came to some conclusions, none of which I will write here, as they are of little interest to others.

At the end of this conversation the man told me that he’s in love with me. My knees went weak. I turned to mush.

I did not say it back. I felt like a schmuck. I certainly feel it.

Anger is such a trigger for me – and his anger is a volatile thing. Not a dangerous thing, per se. I am not comfortable with anything louder than a pin drop. I startle. I freeze. My brain goes into survival mode and I watch body language like a hawk. I cease to pay attention to the conversation and focus on my fear. I go still inside and I wait. With him, of course, the inevitable never comes. But I don’t know that. Not really.

Facing this is a big deal. I will never know what man might hit a point where he becomes violent. I feel vulnerable. Being in a relationship requires vulnerability. Physically and emotionally. I am not ready for this. I will never be ready for this. All I can do is take it at a slow crawl.

I feel very, very angry at my ex-husband. There is ice-cold fury inside of me. I hate that I let someone do this to me. There are no quick fixes. The only antidote is time and baby steps. I simply do not want these emotions any more. I want to feel normal. I want to have a normal relationship. I want to call someone “honey” or “sweetie” or say, “I love you”. I want to be comfortable with these things. I want to feel comfortable hugging someone or kissing someone or reaching out for someone. But I feel awkward. It’s the worry about the sting of rejection, fear of exposing myself.

And he has these same fears. He took the leap. And I was mute. Lovely.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sanity Over a 20 Year Period

This morning while I was writing, my foot, unknown to me, fell asleep. The phone rang and I stood quickly to grab it. My foot, of course, could not hold my weight, and crumpled underneath me. There was a loud "crack" and I hit the carpet, landing squarely in the hallway, wondering if I had broken my first bone.

Of course, I hadn't. It only hurts enough to make me whine now and again.

I'm under strict instructions via several friends not to analyze a thing for the next month. One went so far as to say six months. Nothing in my personal life is to be pulled apart and looked at. I have simply been told to LIVE. Apparently I'm addicted to analyzing things and it gets in my way. This is probably true. I was told to stop journaling. No books or counselors or looking at the past. For at least a month.

Isn't it enough for these people that I quit smoking a week ago?

An Introduction

For purposes of introductions I will describe myself. Not physically, as that is irrelevant. But where I have been up until this moment. There are things I must discuss, questions I must ask, which will make no sense without this information.

I spent the last 16 years with an abusive man. I've had stitches, been punched in the stomach while pregnant and had my head put through a window. This man (now my ex-husband), was unfaithful repeatedly (although I only knew about the first and the last). My marriage was a complete and utter failure. As women who have been in abusive marriages know, I tried very hard to project an image of it NOT being a failure. I worked hard at controlling things. I'll leave this there, as it is ground I have been over and over with myself and there are other things to confront.

This marriage is over. This man is gone. I have three children. I have not been a career woman. I worked part time - dabbled, in this and that- and now find myself torn between earning money and raising my children. This is really who I am right now, at my core. A mother. I was a wife - that role is gone. So now I am simply a mother. I hear my ex-husbands voice in my head; valuing me based on how much money I earn and feel like a failure. I see my son's eyes when I say I can't volunteer at his school because I must work and I feel like a failure. I am trying to find a way to balance this. I WILL find a way to balance this. I must be true to what I am at heart, or all else will fail miserably. This is what I believe. I want to chuck my job and work from home, doing a number of part time jobs while I complete the training I have worked at. I don't want to punch a clock or apologize for my children being sick. I want to be there when my kids get home from school. I want to feel in control of my life. I want my kids to have the sense that their mother is at the helm and competent. I want to eliminate my ex's voice in my head.

That is one struggle.

The next is closely tied to the fact that I was married at 20 and had children at 20, 22 and 25. And then, of course, remained in a relationship where conflict was never a good thing.

I don't know who I am (entirely). Or rather, I am not cognizant of who I am.

Am I pro-choice or pro-life? A liberal or a conservative? A feminist? These are all questions that I have asked myself - and found answers - as a result of a recent relationship. Why did I not know these things? Is it important that I have a stand on major issues? If I don't, what does that say about me? That I've been living with my head in the sand? I think so. But how else does one survive what I have? Taking life by the reins is a scary thing. Wonderful, but scary. As I move along I will develop answers to questions most people my age answered years ago. I have epiphanies on a regular basis. It's exhausting at times.

And I realize things at the most awkward of moments. In the midst of an argument, I realized, finally, at 35, that arguing really flips my trigger. Turns me on. With my significant other, anyway. I could, literally, pause in the middle of an argument and make mad, passionate love and think it was fantastic. Is this dysfunctional? One might think so.

Having been where I've been, I say no. That was never part of my previous relationship. In fact, I was more likely to flinch if approached physically during an argument than anything else. It's a matter of trust. But I discovered, and I'll leave this man anonymous, that in the midst of a rip-roaring argument, that I want to jump him. He, of course, does not feel this way. I am turning this around in my head. Who am I as a woman, sexually? I'm not promiscuous. I can't run out and have a one-night stand. Can't sleep with someone without emotions and commitment. I am shocked, given my history, to find that I respond this way to fighting. I had buried this part of myself. Worse yet, I think it's funny - and ironic - considering how I lived for so many years. I have accepted this about myself, without finding fault or need to change. Instantly. I need a man that can respond this way, too. Perhaps in this situation it's because I know that I love this person, regardless of differences. I know that when the argument is over, my feelings will still be there; probably stronger for having struggled through whatever the issue is on our plate. Maybe it's because emotions are so heightened during an argument. Maybe it's because I love it when he gets all passionate about a subject. All of those things.

Whatever the reason, I think it's an oddity I will have to take into consideration from here on out.

Deciding what is an acceptable way of handling conflict is partly what I am doing. Not intentionally, of course. I'm a baby learning to crawl. Entire areas of my life, my personality, have been at a standstill and are now swiftly moving. I am determined to get what I need and accept nothing less. Negotiate, yes. But not settle. So I respond to arguing by getting turned on? A lot of people must; you see it on TV, in movies. I must not be that big of an anomaly. Having been seriously shamed in the past, I find it liberating to shrug and say to myself, "So what?" Finding some one that can match that side of me without crossing boundaries will be difficult. I know this. But it is nice, in the midst of my life, to know that I can be passionate. I have not felt that for many years. The man that can accept this (and I know this sounds like a romance novel, but again, baby learning to crawl, here) and love me not despite it, but partly because of it, will learn things about me that no one else will. It's nice to know part of the key to my personality. I am relieved to know I'm not completely passive. I'm delighted to know I can respond to a charged situation with passion and the ability to "let go". Many, many moons ago I was the same way.

I have recovered a piece of myself. Again. What a beautiful thing.