Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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This is us

Feeling the pull to write a little about how things are in my life right now. Nothing groundbreaking, just a brief update, to spill it outside of the containment that is me these days.

As you all know, Roger and I are on track to physically split after I hand in my thesis in late July. This does not mean that we hate each other, or that life is unpleasant. We love each other, and work our hardest to be kind to and caring of each other. But I am aware that this is a very difficult time for Rog. He struggles. And I ain’t finding it a bunch of fluffies either.

The thing is, I don’t know how to trust anymore. Anyone. I haven’t been able to convince my brain to allow vulnerability. So, of course, after about five years of thinking I could trick me into trust and vulnerability with a very remorseful man who did a lot of things that ‘should’ have made it okay for me to trust again, I had to pull away. But he also, admitted later when he could see with clearer hindsight, did a couple of things that maybe made things a lot harder than they needed to be. I am speaking of his refusal to change his phone number (their affair was entirely enabled by text and phone calls alone, he was not on social media, and he never gave her his or our email address(es).) So, he was still getting texts, and occasionally replying, for two years after D-day. He admits that was stupid, and that I was right in pretty much begging him to change his number, as that would starve the maggot of oxygen. Huge regret of his. He also, as many of you know, fucked her again at the two year mark. We were separated, but yeah, if you read waay back, you know my feelings about that. He was single, and could. And whilst I understand that he was trying to figure out why he had thrown away his good life for a person he was pretty sure he didn’t even really like, it probably wasn’t helpful. To anyone. Even her. Yep. I loathe that woman, but even I don’t think fucking her again was a nice thing for him to do to her. But I do, nevertheless, understand his thought process. I know he went to her to ‘discuss’ the whys and wherefores, the sex, to me, was just his … patheticness … I guess. I now know how ruled he is by sex. I never really got it before all of this. We had a busy and fulfilling sex life together, so I never got the message that he feels incomplete without sex in his life. I think that is just sad. That you would prostrate yourself for bad sex – his words. He now understands this about himself, too. That he is needy, and it doesn’t make him feel very good about himself. But, in all of this, I have become sexless. And he says it’s better that being sexually needy. I beg to differ. I don’t think there is a winner here. I don’t think, in this sexualised world, that ANYONE ever feels good about themselves if they have become sexless. I wouldn’t admit this in real life, I would be judged, and made to feel a prude/boring/stuffy. I am none of those things, and I miss sex like crazy. But I just don’t feel sexy. In any way. Even self love, and I used to be good at that shit, lol! Bah, enough about my embarrassing ‘problem’ with sex.

Well, the latest thing that created some more distance between us is this. Roger used to like to come and sleep in my bed. I said this was fine, but that I am not a sexual being anymore, so that wasn’t to be the reason. He seemed to be coping with that. We would cuddle and talk, and that was that. One of the things we have discussed ad nauseum, is that I know he ‘needs’ emotional and sexual closeness, and that I can’t really provide that anymore. I hate it. It isn’t who I think I am at my core. But, I have worked damn hard to survive this, to be as intact as I can be after he blew the old me up, used and abused.  I had to build some walls, as the old me had none, and it nearly fucking killed me that he treated me the way he did, and made me physically and mentally ill. I don’t know how to dismantle these walls. I am torn. To let them down might mean I can feel something good again, but I was 100% vulnerable and loving and where did it get me? I don’t think I can survive this again. So, yeah, it sounds stupid, but I can’t let them down, or not for long.

I thought we had communication nailed now. That we are open and honest. We talk. Still a lot. About life, about the future, about us, about not us. And I made it clear that I understand he has needs, and that living in the same house makes that a difficult thing, in many ways, but that if he wants to date, or get laid, that he just has to be honest, and let me know. I don’t think that is abnormal, and I also don’t think it is a lot to ask, to discuss these things. It’s not like I am asking him to ask my permission. I just want to know if we need to change the living arrangements earlier that we plan to (and have worked out is the most financially viable for both of us.) So, I was doing a tax return the other day, and noted that he had a couple of credit card charges to a dating site. He had told me about a year ago that he had joined this site, and chatted with a couple of women. But that he decided it wasn’t for him (he had never done this kind of thing before) and so he had resigned from the site. Okay, I got that. We had another conversation about this, if he was feeling this lonely, that we needed to find another way of being. He said it was fine, that he was coping again, but that sometimes the sadness of losing me was just overwhelming. Promises were made to ensure communication was maintained. I don’t wanna know any details, unlike when I found out about his affair, and I thought we had a relationship to save. I just don’t wanna be piggy in the middle. I also don’t think it is fair to another woman, if she finds she likes him, to see me still living in this house! Back to the new credit card charges. I was angry. Not furious and filled with fire. Just sadly angry. He hadn’t talked to me, he had just paid twice, this dating site. Of course I approached him and said we needed to talk. The charges were from three and two months ago, and he said he had forgotten about them, and I could see he was a bit embarrassed. He hates being this pathetic, he sees the dating apps as a bit sad, too. I just calmly said that I thought it was really disrespectful, mostly of me, that he would sleep in my bed, and in all honesty, he still tries sometimes to see if I would be responsive to sex, when he was talking to any other women. I felt revolted and used, and I calmly expressed this. He seemed very sad and to understand.

I just don’t get it. Why would he even put me in that position when he knows the damage he has done? I know it is desperation. He does get very desperate about our situation, it isn’t a healthy one, I get it. But why, after all he has learned these past few years, would he not talk to me? Tell me we needed to find alternative accommodation? Sigh, it just felt like I was on a treadmill, and that we were back to teaching him about boundaries and other people’s feelings being just as important as his. Affair Lessons 101 stuff. Do some people, even those who seem to get it, seem to understand the damage, seem to want to change, never fully get it? All this stuff that is so innate to me? I mean, we have a quote pinned up in his maimai, one that he chose, about twenty-something years ago. One of the things in it is to be careful with other people’s hearts.

And yeah, the sleeping in my bed has been stopped. It isn’t fair to either of us. And yeah, we both miss it like hell. But you’ve gotta be realistic. He just can’t cope with the contact that is never enough. And I miss the old him, the one I adored, that lovely guy I had created in my head for those first decades, the one who obviously never existed.

FML.

I’m okay, much better than if I had let him back into my heart fully, but I just feel stupid again. That I somehow almost believed that he had learnt all he needed to about how to treat other people. This is not an inherently stupid, or callous man. I honestly felt he was the most emotionally intelligent man I had ever met, once upon a time. And in many ways he is. But there seems to be an override button, and he STILL has trouble not pressing it when under pressure.


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An ode to crap dads

I know, I know. I think I might actually be moving forward, nearly eight years after D-day. No posts for well over a month.

Jesus. Is that some kind of record? The eight year thing.

But anyhoo. I’m back. Just popped in to say hey, and spread my joy ;-).

Update: I have had a pretty intense month, I guess. Firstly, my blogging friend, and maybe yours, CrazyKat, came Down Under with her husband, BE. They’re still here actually, but cruising around our isles at the moment. I had the pleasure of their company for four whole days. How lucky am I? Just before they arrived, my sister-in-law (ex) was driving my nieces to school one morning, and tragically had a head-on with a truck, and sadly she did not survive, but was taken to the nearest large city and kept on life support for 36 hours, as she was an organ donor. My two little nieces are relatively unscathed, but their father, my brother (the one I don’t get on with) flew from the other side of the world, where he lives with his new wife, immediately. He has promised the girls’ grandparents that he will not take the girls out of the country. This means he has effectively ended his marriage, as his wife refuses to move here. (We’ll see. Her bottom line constantly shifts!) So, he is at my father’s house, on the job hunt at present.

The week after that sadness, another niece was getting married, in a neighbouring country. My eldest, S, and I flew over, and stayed at my lovely sister, E’s house. So did my Dad.

Now. About my Dad. He’s is a bit special. To say the least. He is depressing and depressed, revels in playing the pathetic old man lately (even though he is a perfectly healthy and capable 73 year old) and loves to speak without engaging his brain. Ugh. Mostly it was okay, but S and I escaped a few times without him, as sometimes I just wanna punch him!

I will illustrate with a couple of gems from the four days we had together – three of which we mostly escaped his special kind of … stupid.

We were at the wedding, and in Australia, gay marriage is still not legal. So, they went through the traditional vows, about the legal status of marriage as between a man and a woman, and then my niece and her new husband added that they couldn’t wait until marriage was a right for all. Love is love. So, at the reception, the table seating goes – sister, me, daughter, two friends of E’s, uncle (my mother’s brother), and his lovely wife, then Dad. My GAY Dad pipes up with, “I don’t agree with gay marriage anyway.” FML. I just stared at him, full in the eye, mine about rolling back in my damn head, and said, “well, don’t worry, no one anywhere in the world has made it compulsory, yet, Dad.” My aunt about pissed her pants, and said, “what about people who have been committed to each other for maybe 30 or 40 years, and their significant other is not allowed in a hospital room, to make health/funeral decisions/say goodbye, etc, and their parents, who may have not spoken to their son or daughter all those years can do that, and cut the most important person in that person’s life off? What about those cases, for a start?” Dad: “Oh, I hadn’t really thought about that.”

SHIIIIIIIIT!!! Special.

Then  another day, we are discussing whether the little girls who just lost their mother had gone back to school yet? It was two weeks since their Mum had died. Um, Dad: ” Oh, I has, but H, not yet, she has a large gash on her forehead which is quite deep and unsightly, and you know, she’s a girl.” SMH! S and I looked at each other, and I said, “um, what? WTF does that matter? The kid is 11 years old, and who cares if she’s girl, boy, trans, horned, or whatever-the-fuck-else?” He replied with, “oh you know, girls, they care what they look like.” I looked directly at him and said, “hmmm, so no one else does? And that is what being a girl means? Looks? Get in the real world, Dad. It only matters to the people who think that way, and those like you that perpetuate her value as being equated with her looks, FFS.” He looked mildly offended and I don’t think he got it. See, special!

Exhibit number three: Dad is discussing (inappropriately) the state of my brother’s marriage, when he casually mentions that my (newer) sister-in-law currently weighs over 100kgs. (She was a gorgeous, slightly curvaceous, but I would estimate no more than 60-65ish kg girl when I last saw her a couple of years ago.) I turned to him and said, “ah, what? How do you know that? And, more importantly, why are you mentioning it? That is not something that your son should be discussing with you, and it is certainly not something you should be sharing with me. Besides which, why are you sharing that? Why is it important to you both?” Fucking special. Especially since my sister’s younger daughter is anorexic, and has been dangerously ill for the past few years, was refused treatment from every centre in her state as she was “too thin” – it is a scary condition, really scary. (She is a slightly healthier weight, and I mean only slightly, at the moment, she has done a lot of work, knows she is very ill, but was still talking about how she needed to lose weight for the wedding, as she was a bridesmaid – you would lose her if she turned sideways. Seriously, and dangerously thin.) What. The. Actual. FUUUUUUUUUUCK?!

Just like the kind of crap that is normalised, like the lyrics to so many songs, I refuse to post the song itself, but how internalised are lyrics like these?  John Mayer’s Daughters:

I know a girl
She puts the colour inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too [3x]

There were also discussions about racism, my brothers had recently pulled Dad up about some language he was using. So, the whole visit with my Aussie family (who were not involved in these exchanges) – with my bigoted gay Dad, lol –  was full of these clangers, I mostly bit my tongue, for the sake of calm, but I was bloody glad to be heading home. My take home message was this. I had a fucking fantastic Mum. I never saw how fucked up and gendered my upbringing was. I mostly felt I was treated on an equal basis to my two younger brothers, and I didn’t even know that Dad was quite such a fucktard really!

Good job, Mum xxx

It still leaves me completely gobsmacked that these attitudes are so prevalent, but yeah, what do we see, hear, experience? Lily said it well a few years back with these observations:

The Fear

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find themAnd I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
‘Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.

[Pre-chorus:]
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track, yeah I’m on to a winner.

[Chorus:]
I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
And when do you think it will all become clear?
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers
It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other
But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic
And that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic

And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And it’s not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function

[Pre-chorus]

[Chorus]

Forget about guns and forget ammunition
‘Cause I’m killing them all on my own little mission
Now I’m not a saint but I’m not a sinner
Now everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner

[Chorus]


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Our words still swirl around

CAUTION: SWEARY, RANTY, VENTY POST AHEAD!

At this time of the year, it is inevitable that those of us who are still pretty unsettled about their lives battle those swirling thoughts. I am (dripping with sarcasm) SO surprised that I fit into this demographic.

So, in order to try to put them down for a bit, and get on with my transcription work for both my own thesis, and my supervisor’s research, I thought I might try to dump some stuff here, this darling little receptacle for such annoyances.

I am constantly told that I am doing everything wrong. Constantly. And the thing that really pisses me off about it is that although I am a pretty strong person, a lifetime-feminist, latterly-scholar, and know my own mind, it gets to me. Being told you are doing life wrong is shit. The worst offender is Roger. He always tells me, not in an overtly unkind way, that I am continuing to make poor choices. Yep. He actually says that. Because he’s such a great decision maker, right?

You see, that’s the fucking point. He has been, historically. He makes good decisions, a lot. And me, not so much, quite often. So, yeah, self doubt occurs. And it pisses me off, because I am so aware of the power shit going on here. I know that unconsciously, he is using all he has always known, all our past, to try to convince me that I am wrong. That my brain is wrong. To listen to my heart. We had words the other night. Over our eldest daughter and something she was messaging me about. It was a mechanical issue with her car, and she was about to drive up here for the Christmas/New Year break. She did not message her father, who admittedly has more mechanical knowledge than I do. However, I did my best (I am a farmer, and a practical kind of person) to guide her, to advise her, and he let loose on me afterwards, telling me how wrong I was/am. I tried to point out to him that there was a parenting style difference here, I was trying to guide her, and provide her with information to make her own decisions, and he was trying to dictate what she should do. Maybe, in this case, he might have been right, it was an urgent problem. But hey, at least try to see what I was doing, and note that although we may be ‘mere females,’ we can problem solve, and at least let us try! He thinks I am ‘using’ gender as a trope. But he has never lived a female life. He doesn’t understand that we need to show our independence, that our learned shit from societal attitudes needs to be mindfully overcome. And yeah, in doing so, sometimes, horror of horrors, we make mistakes! He. Just. Shut. Me Down.

Then, he made me feel terrible for not agreeing to go to his sister’s for Christmas. One of his sisters who has never given a crap about me, with his parents, who have also never given a crap about me, and play nice, for the kids. I talked to the kids, didn’t make any big deal about it, just said that I was pleased they were being able to reconnect with their cousins and family – we used to be very close – or so I thought! But, that I wasn’t a part of that family anymore. I did not go into the facts, for example, that they tried to sue us, engaging one of the top barristers in our country. Or that they tried to get us to pay for their children’s private educations (whilst we could only afford to send our own kids to the local, very average state school, when their state options were of a very high standard, ugh.) Or any of the other degrading and vindictive things that they did out of spite and jealousy, back when we were really happy. I am no longer prepared to push my own feelings down to make other people comfortable. But I was ‘wrong’ there, too. I was being petty. And not helping myself heal, and … well, you get the picture. Besides, WE ARE NOT A COUPLE ANYMORE!!! I don’t have to compromise my life for his feelings anymore.

But the problem is, I don’t feel any better living this way. I feel sad, and quite bloody lost. Quite a fucking lot. So, his words – and those of so many others around me -telling me I am doing everything wrong do sting. I see images of happy people and wonder why I can’t get there? Should I have just sucked it all up and carried on with the remorseful man? I feel I tried that, but felt resentful and weak, at the end of the day. I could manage for periods, but then would drop into the depths of despair, that I had let this arsehole treat me like shit, infect me with lifelong diseases, and he was getting a ‘better’ version of me than ever, in some respects. It pissed me off.

Maybe I should just re-title this post, Life Pisses Me Off!

And all this thinking just ties me in knots. I can’t seem to put it all down and get on with life. It sends me down rabbit holes like this one:

wedding

Was I wrong, all along? Should I have agreed to marry him, to show public love? I thought it was a private thing, something special, and sacred for us to cherish and protect. But was I wrong? Did he need to put it in writing, to have a big party, to see people see us being quite intimate? I didn’t need that, and he SAID he didn’t either. But Leanne bought a fucking wedding dress for God’s sake! I mean, WTF??? He says that shocked him, that he told her he didn’t love her, and that even if he did, he wasn’t going to marry her. But what the fuck do I know? Nothing. I only hear what he tells me, so who knows what the truth in life really is?

And yeah, maybe I need to get off Facebook, too. I thought I was able to dismiss the bullshit, etc. However, this one got to me this week. There is a couple we know, the wife of whom had a long and deep affair with a client of her own business mentoring company a few years ago now. She left her husband and two young sons, and he left his wife and four young children (including a baby) and they galloped off, so-in-love, into the sunset. Only to have his parents reject her entirely when he tried to introduce her to them. She ran back to hubby and two very confused and hurt little boys that she had said she didn’t want anything to do with. Yeah, he took her back. They then built a huge new house, he bought her a flash new car, they have overseas holidays constantly. They are “super happy and in love.” And my former BFF tells me that she tried to talk to the wife – a good friend of hers – and suggested some counselling to help them both (but mostly the husband, who BFF and her husband were supporting for the two months she was gone) to come to terms with WTF had happened, and to learn to grow their love and be kind to each other. Wife answered, “we don’t need that, we are really in love.” Oh God. Face palm. They are currently holidaying in the States (again, they were also there earlier in the year) for three months, and posting “loved up” photos. With their friends commenting about ‘young love at its best’ – they’re late 40s and early 50s now – and how loved up they are, and how proud everyone is of them. Instead of feeling pleased for them, I just feel absolutely sick. I mean, how high does this guy have to jump now??? This marriage itself came out of a cheating episode (which EVERYONE has conveniently forgotten, as marriage somehow legitimises their selfish crap!) He had a long-term (seven years living together) partner, and she ‘stole’ him off her – yeah, some prize, I know. And she is a selfish bitch (was going to use the word I prefer, which starts with ‘c’ – but know my American friends would be super offended! I have developed an even filthier mouth since cheating marred my life!) Always has been, a real gold digger/social climber, with no real empathy – hell, she was happy to walk away from her two little boys, because they were an inconvenience to her happiness!

And, if I can’t be happy (at least sometimes) in this ‘new life,’ the one I am trying, labouring, to build, then WTF is all this struggle for? Maybe I should just try to ‘settle’ with a remorseful cheater, who promises it was a breakdown, and he has learned so much, feels so awful, and would never make me feel less again. Yeah, right. Because I feel less every fucking day, either way.

I look at that image above, and it looks like us. It looks like how I danced with him under the fairy-lit trees in our garden, hand-made fire blazing, barefoot and blissed out, in a summery dress, to the band who stayed all night, until milking time the next morning – when I went and milked alone for him, so he could get some sleep – on the night of his 40th birthday. It looks like how I always felt when I looked at him, when he would look across a crowded room, and everyone would just blur into the background, it was just me and him, and he might wink, or not. But, we would be instantly melded together, and he would later tell me I was beautiful and that I made him so happy. What a total crock of shit! Why did I believe his lying, whore-flavoured lips?! Argh!

There, there is some of it. The honest thoughts. The thoughts I struggle to push away every minute of every day, in order to try to live authentically with myself. And, honestly? The way that Roger is so adept at twisting the story to suit his purposes, to make me feel like an uncompromising bitch! I know he doesn’t mean to, that he is trying to get the best outcome for all of us, but he is good at this, he has been doing it to/for/with me for 29 years.

And yeah, there are huge doubts. All. The. Time. I just don’t think I can be truly at peace, or joyful-even-a-little, since he cheated and made me sick. The struggle is exhausting, and disabling. I just want a whole new fucking brain!

 

 


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Time, the great leveller?

Although I didn’t experience trickle truth to the same degree that many other betrayeds did, there is certainly a parallel with how time uncovers or changes perspectives. Roger was very aware that any further lies would mean I would lace up my marching boots and get the fuck outta there. I also think the relief he felt at discovery was palpable. He no longer had to lie and be deceitful. He could once again be who he used to be, and tell me the truth, tell me everything about his world, his day, his feelings.

That said, I didn’t/couldn’t know the whole truth on D-night. There are nuanced things that pop up from time to time, yes, even now! I told him about my recent bout of recurring dreams – I still have them most nights – about the first night he fucked her, and my mind movie of how it panned out. He was horrified, and said, “it wasn’t anything like as sexy, or romantic, or hot, as that. No way, this is what I remember happening, and my memory of it is not great, I thought I had told you this,” as he then described what he could remember of him entering the dangerous and slippery slope to where we are today.

I was very conscious my ignorance of the truth, and that I would never really know it, even as my head swam and I felt the earth shift on its axis on the night I was told of their affair, by the OW. I didn’t have a clue about the length, or the scope of the affair that night, but I did know that it (as I later discovered, 15 months of sexual affair, the period leading into that and the two months since he had ended it) meant I had (over 18 months of) a completely different reality to his. I knew it would take quite some time to align the two to any real degree. How could I know the nuances of their conversations, the looks they exchanged post-coitally, the way his skin reacted as she stroked him, whether she liked it when he revelled in the scent(s) of her body, like he did mine …? And so, over the next few months, he started to tell their story. To me. It began to deconstruct the pretty little picture they had painted for themselves. The rot started to invade their castle.

crumbling-castle

And he knew it. He was helpful, disclosing things as I asked. Uncomfortable, of course, but also told me ‘private’ things about her/them when he recalled them, without prompting. It was an act of goodwill. To try to let me know that he wanted me to stay, that he loved me. That he wanted to try to right his agonising wrongs. That he hated how he had behaved. That he was embarrassed and humiliated. That he was grateful that I even considered staying with such a hurtful scumbag. He hated telling me, but instinctively knew he had to. He even understood that every ‘secret’ he shared with me, handed me more power, and eroded hers. It was – and still can be – utterly and agonisingly beautiful.

I have noted a real shift in the last year or so. Yes, once I decided it needed to end, things changed a little again. Not a large earthquake shift like D-day, more aftershocks, tremors as things settled down to a large degree. Albeit that I would never trust the earth to be still ever again.

We still have a fair bit of contact. And he is still my best friend and greatest advocate. He is softer still. Occasionally, we talk. About IT. But not really about IT. We talk about our feelings, and our journey to here. To today. I note a real recognition of his ‘shit’ – more than ever. And I also note that he is even more open to the reality that this really was one of the most damaging things a person can experience. That I will not ‘just get over it’ eventually with time, love, work and mindfulness. This is a scar he carved in and on me. And himself. He, like me, thought we would do the work, and with the passage of time, we would be completely healed. He admits he thought a year or two would have us sorted – hey, me too! Over seven and a half years later, he sits with the permanence of the wound, and I think he is far more accepting of it, not fighting it, not wishing/hoping/willing that I would just get better. I always felt he thought I was wallowing in it, because it felt good. He denies this, saying, “why would anyone do that? Make themselves sick, sad and tortured? That makes no sense whatsoever. I know you want to get better. I know you want a better life. I know how hard you have worked to overcome this agony I wrought on you.”

We have connected nicely over the last week. Probably catalysed by a visit to ‘our’ lawyer. Who explained how we could conceivably unpack the intricate legal wrapping we had constructed around our joint assets, rendering us unable to split them, as they were no longer under our own ‘control’ which had made me (and him) feel like I would never be able to properly break free. It was liberating, but of course, not an immediate cure.

I like him. I like being his friend. I like listening to him talk. I like sitting quietly in silence with him. I like being near him. I like his calm. I  like the way he smells. Despite what others tell me is ‘healthy’ – we have a real and deep friendship and bond that I doubt will ever be fully severed.

And I am so very thankful for that.


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Recovery 101 … from what again?

In recent weeks, I had a person come onto this blog, with the very best of intentions, I feel, but who reiterated to me the discourse of “just get over it.”

big-girl-panties

 

For the first time ever, I deleted comments. I have always approved everything anyone has written here, believing that all views are worthy of sharing, even if you, or I, disagree. My reasons for deleting the conversation in its entirety are to do with my tendency to let things get under my skin, and the obsession that it invites. I got rid of the comments in order not to keep going over and over them. I know the person involved stated that they would not return, and I believe that my replies to them may have been read as negative and unwelcoming. I still feel I would like to say something about this experience to the rest of you. I know I am not really all that well, mentally. I also know that I have experienced an extreme, in my reaction and subsequent life, to Roger’s affair. My difficulties in moving forward in my life, attempting to work on me, to become a better person, and rediscover joy and peace have been incredibly frustrating. It has uncovered something in me that I didn’t fully recognise prior to this life event. I am a deeply flawed person, who is negatively affected by other people’s actions. I hate that this is who I am, and have fought being this person pretty vigorously for the past seven plus years. I like to think I am independent, caring, understanding, and open minded. However, I have not been able to implement lasting change. Despite receiving some very good, and some not so good, counselling, hypnotherapy, etc, and working away at ‘programs’ and the like, I haven’t found a way to make the happy stick, or to cope well with the constant mind movies, grief, and feelings of low self worth.

The person who commented here offered to help me with advice about how she (I am only assuming gender because of the user name and content of our discussion) had healed. I was cautiously optimistic that we could open an interesting dialogue, and that maybe she could offer something that I had missed these past few years. I waited to hear more about a) what it was that she had healed from, and b) what the techniques or methods were, or involved. For two weeks, we danced around the concept. I emailed her, after asking if email would work, and her saying, “yes, could do.” She never replied. Then she came back on after I posted a few days later that I was feeling a bit let down about her timeliness – or lack of. I had an awful experience during my suicidal times in this journey, whereby Roger and I had conveyed to a therapist that I had attempted suicide, and was therefore in crisis, and the therapist DID NOT SHOW UP. For TWO appointments. It was utterly devastating, that someone who I was relying on to help me get through the most difficult period in my life, just didn’t care enough to ensure he had the appointment times right. So, I thought it best to say to this person, “thanks, but no thanks.”

After I did, she came back on and basically tore me a new one. The way that my ‘real life’ friends have. It was another way of saying, ‘you loser, you just let this happen, and you are basking in the pain. Get. The. Fuck. Over. It.’ Like I haven’t thought those same thoughts, and tried like hell to do so??? She told me I wasn’t trying, and that I wasn’t open to change. She told me I had fallen in a pit, and instead of fighting to get out of it, that I had set up camp there. The thing for me is this. I know. I know that parts of what she said have some truth. But to be fair to this little hurting girl, I did fight. I fought like fucking crazy! For more than five years, I was pretty sure I would be okay, that I would fight and fight and fight, and I climbed, I scrambled, I scratched at that earth, and I would progress, but always fell back in the pit. After more than five years of this epic battle, I sat one day and thought. If I have fought this damn hard and have made so little real progress, maybe I am just doing the same thing over and over and over, and learning nothing. Maybe – just maybe? HA! – I need to try something new? Maybe if I instead try to beautify this space, that might work, change the place I am trying to escape from into one that I can live in, and accept as different, maybe a little less beautiful, but still a place I can survive in, hopefully one day to thrive?

So, I know this post sounds defensive, and I accept that maybe it is somewhat. I also accept that I have some deep flaws and nicks in my character that have made this journey a far more difficult one than another person may have found it. I don’t deny that this person had some things ‘right’ about me, I told her that. But, to some degree I am now standing and making a stand. My journey, my way, in the sense that I am not new to this game – and I have tried the traditional forms of therapy, and mind techniques, etc. And, they haven’t worked for me, thus far. So, I have and am trying alternative ways to cope with the thing that has affected me far more deeply than it ‘should have’ really. My point here is that surely it is okay to disagree, or to say so without being told off like you are a very naughty 5 year old? At the end of the day, who even is that stranger to try to apply a one-size-fits-all philosophy, without knowing me, or my journey? She is no doubt a kind and caring person, offering to help someone who is not doing so well, but, for me, in this situation, I always have to remember …

morticia


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Shit. Just. Got. Real.

So, as you can see from my recent self-absorbed posts, I am starting on my Masters research. Friday was the last date for submission for research applications to my uni’s human research ethics committee. I got there.

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

I really am writing an academic thesis linked closely with this awful journey I have been on the past few years.

And my thesis was again somewhat changed along this journey. My supervisors and myself discussed what we called the “vanilla-isation” of the project (on the surface.) I was concentrating on the effects of infidelity on home spaces, but they gently started to prod me to look at ‘break ups’ and their effect on same. I was happy to take this on board, as it is only a year, and I need to be able to gain enough local participants. But I really wanted to include those who had relationships that ‘survived’ infidelity – as from personal experience, my home spaces have been changed irrecoverably by this, even though we did not break up – for years. So, the new working title, the one I submitted to the committee is this: “‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home.”

broken-home

At first, I was worried that it wasn’t going to be easy to get people to think their relationship ‘challenge’ was ‘enough’ to feel they could be involved. I was worried that cheating was the major way that people got challenged in their feelings about their home spaces, I know because the affair happened in and on my properties, that I have very intense feelings about space(s). My more senior supervisor said to consider that I will still get a lot of respondents who have been challenged by infidelity, but that this casts the net a little wider, and offers a perspective that suggests that infidelity isn’t the only stressor to the construct of home. I agree. I invite all genders, all sexualities, ethnicities, etc, to be involved in this. So, the longer I sat with this idea, the more focused I became about what I am interested in. I want to know what happens to people’s thoughts and feelings about the material and spatial aspects of their ‘homes’ – and what home/homelessness even means/meant to people with regards to fucked up/broken/healing/better/different-to-they-were-before/etc, relationships. There is a bit of literature about love and homes, and home-making, but not a lot on what happens to place when things fall (apart) outside of dominant discourses about monogamous relationships in a Western context. I especially want to explore the fluidity of feelings about home – I know I can love it one minute, and loathe it the next. And this has spilled over into all spaces – I can be very uncomfortable, very quickly (anxiety) in some really weird and totally unrelated spaces (on the surface) to the affair – and that never happened to me prior to my world being torn asunder. My experience with betrayal has made for permanently shifting sands.

So, I now have to wait to hear what the committee says, whether I have covered enough bases (sensitive research is always doubly scrutinised) and I certainly do not expect approval on the first submission – this is quite rare. I submitted three times for my last project, and you really think you have it sorted by the time you have agonised over it for a month or two. In the meantime, I can make some progress by assembling more literature, and organising some themes and possible theoretical frameworks.

Best of all, I am assisting one of my supervisors with her post-doctoral research on a rural group of people, and I am really enjoying it. (Well, the transcription, not so much!) But we had a really good chat about it on Friday, and she noted that we have been very careful with this as it is a sensitive area – animal welfare and human stress are two of the things we are very aware of, especially when conducting on-farm interviews – and she mentioned that when she applied to the ethics committee that no one mentioned anything about any of the things we have both identified (separately) as touchy. We are both rural people, with rural upbringings, and we were quite surprised at the lack of any thoughts about this by an academically trained, normally sharp critical thinking, probably mostly urban, committee. And we talked about how she will address this in her findings. The research is funded to the end of this calendar year, and she has a journal article about to go to print on methodological challenges and workings. I am really enjoying working with her, and she gives me very encouraging feedback. She said the other day that she would have struggled with this with a younger, non-rural grad student as she trusts me to understand the nuances and sensitivity of going on farm walks with our participants – not to mention that I have drummed up about half of the research participants through my rural contacts! She was struggling with support, as people are wary of talking to academics – especially social scientists – about their farming businesses and practices – let alone their FEELINGS! We have found our participants to be mostly a little wary, but once we have gained their trust (we are not on a crusade to bring down farming) they have been warm and shared valuable insights and perspectives.

Add to all of that the fact that one of my dearest friends in the world messaged me from our biggest city yesterday, in an absolute panic because she had just walked into the same shop as Leanne was in! And, I laughed. Yep, I am this far out, I laughed. This friend used to share a house with Leanne thirty years ago. They were once very close. I said to sidle up to her and say, “hey! Long time, no see. Fuck the love of anyone else’s life lately?” She laughed and ran out of the shop without Leanne seeing her. And said that if she had to ever speak to her, that it would NOT be even that ‘friendly! She then said that “I simply can’t abide women who go after other women’s men – period! And ones that do so under their roofs are even more despicable!”  Not gonna lie, I cried. I have not had one ‘friend’ be that loyal to me in this whole mess. Most still speak to Leanne, they play nice. One of my oldest and I thought dearest, friends, sits and drinks wine with her at their ski club lodge. Because not to do so would be rude, right? So, this friend saying these things to me, telling me that her heart was pounding and the blood was boiling as she spied her in the homewares store made me love her even more than ever.

Let the eight hours of interviews transcription, this time around, begin! (SHIT!!!)


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Metamorphmagus

… or something like that.

My thesis topic is melding into something a bit different. I chose the original topic, because I was a little afraid. Afraid of carving too deep, too close to my own bone. I thought if I could keep it about a ‘different’ set of circumstances to my own – albeit that I did experience cheating by a gay dad (now identifying as bi – not quite sure of the reasons for the change in his own labelling system 30 years on, but not my place to police another’s sexuality) on my straight mum – so had a degree of separation. Now the title is this:

‘Home is where the heart is broken’: examining the impact of infidelity-prompted relationship disruption on home and sexual subjectivities.

Hmmm. Now, the main reason I was afraid wasn’t really too much about exposure. I have been exposed, and I am over it. There was nowhere to hide when the affair was announced from the town square to all and sundry! I did try to keep my personal situation away from my academic life, but that didn’t work either. So, here I am. Embarking on an academic examination of home, and challenging dominant discourses (yet again) about ‘home’ as a safe, loving, nurturing environment. Nothing is new here. We have known forever that the pretty picture is often a facade, and not something that occurs in reality for a lot of people. Homes are also where abuse happens, where mistrust, anger, hidden sexual desires and sexualities, etc, etc, etc, lurk. Where the very image of home is turned on its head.

home-upside-down

 

When I briefly mentioned that I was a bit concerned at this being “too” personal, my supervisors were quick to reassure me that they want to keep me safe. Both emotionally, and of course, physically. And they have been very sure to keep me focused on the GEOGRAPHIES of this topic. This is a GEOGRAPHY thesis. NOT a psych one. It is my experience that my homes and my whole sense of place – including every part of my environment, indoors and outdoors – has been severely disrupted. Home has fluid and contrasting meanings to me now. Where it was once a place of sanctuary, a bit of pride, and definitely of love, nurturing and warmth, it teeters away from that towards an abject place of loathing, and place that was desecrated, etc, to back again. My sense of all spaces is now exceptionally fluid. I don’t have a love for or loathing of certain places, they all swing wildly about on the scale, and I can never predict what my reaction will be at any given time. I still have (far less, thankfully) moments in the car when I weep, torn by the betrayal, still. This is the same in my holiday home, local town, in our nation’s largest city, at racecourses around the country, on my farm – you starting to get the picture? To explore and give voice to a group who are so often ignored, or are made to feel that their perceptions of space and place are wrong. To get over it and ‘be normal’. Okay?

It helps. Oh lord, does it help!

So, I am still in the ethics phase of this, and doing well, justification, objectives, research methods, potential risk to participants, conflicts of interest, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, check. Until I got to the design of a semi-structured interview schedule. When I realised I was asking ‘the wrong’ questions, in ‘the wrong’ context and with ‘the wrong’ perspective. NOT PSYCHOLOGY, PAULA!!! I am re-working this, and sweet baby cheeses, it is HARD. Predominantly open questions, with the right focus, and avoiding ridiculous ‘how does it feel’ as a leading and psych kind of leaning. Also, the recruitment of local participants <shiver>! Designing a poster to whip up interest, without pushing any ‘agenda’ aaaaargh.

Along with all of this going on, I am also an assistant to one of my supervisors with her current research. I am really enjoying it. It is an interesting topic, but one we are really struggling to recruit participants for, having spoken to about half the number she originally hoped for. I am at the leading edge of this, as the target group is one I am close to, and feeling a little pressure to produce these people. My supervisor is not putting this pressure on me, it is all myself. Dumbass that I am! Work has also ramped up, with the breeding season upon us. I interviewed seven people yesterday from a shortlist I compiled to share my job – from an inundation of applicants that we did not anticipate – while my boss was overseas last month. The worst part about that was that she came in early in the day, and let me know that a former colleague of hers, a terribly capable person, has let her know that she is interested in the job, that part time works for her. So, the time I spent with these candidates (and there were some great ones) was wasted. My time, and theirs. And I still haven’t got the August accounts out to clients. Luckily, the job applicants do not know this. But, yeah, I hope my boss’s old colleague works out!

Not quite sure why I shared that last paragraph. Maybe I am just doing my usual drainage of the brain. And the tears that still fall at times are related to protecting my heart, letting off that pressure valve. I never used to cry much. I was a tough farm girl. Yeah, I felt stuff, and there were times when the tears fell, but not like this. I think of this blog more and more as that space – the pressure valve. And I know that I have made progress in recent times, because I use it far less than I once did. Or I manage the pain levels far better than I once did. I think it is a little of both.

pressure-valve

 

Whatever the reason, I am glad I made this space, even if it was probably far too late to save what was once a beautiful life, with a beautiful man, that I was beautifully happy with.

And that pretty inane wisdom folks, is all for now.