Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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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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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.


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People, pressure cookers and purging

pressure cooker

It is interesting to me, the cyclical nature of this life. I never really struggled with cycles too much in my life, previous to the cheating, not really. I have PCOS and as such, have never menstruated much at all, six times in my whole almost-48 years on the planet. So, even that very organic and taken-for-granted cycle of life that most women (and probably most of their partners) experience was never a part of my life. Since D-day, which will be SEVEN years ago next month, I cycle. I cycle through periods of strength and despair, and back to periods of strength and coping. I know that even in the very depths of despair, I am strong, even if I don’t actually FEEL strong in that moment. I have always taken my strength as a given, not really for granted, but recognised that I possessed it, and that there are many positives, but also a few weird negatives (eg; not very forgiving…..) in its possession.

This long after the initial devastation of discovery, I honestly thought I would have metabolised everything, and had it reasonably neatly packaged away “somewhere” in my past. I guess I knew I would never forget, but I sure did think that it would be like every other thing that has happened to me in the past, “dealt with.” Whatever that is ;-). It isn’t. I still cycle through these stages, as I was told by the first psychologist I saw for about a year or so, about seven or eight months post D-day, “you are suffering from complicated grief, Paula. And it isn’t an easy thing to resolve. It means you will continue to cycle through those recognised ‘stages’ of grief, until they are resolved, and sometimes they never are sufficiently to move past them.” I accept this. But it doesn’t make life a heck of a lot easier knowing this, and dealing with it. The second psychologist I saw (about a year after finishing with the first) gave me my first tool that made any real impact on how I was trying to deal with my pain, in ACT. I finally had something that seemed to give me agency about the pain I was experiencing. It hasn’t stopped it, or made a huge dent in how I feel, but I do understand things better than ever, and it helped that he admitted that he was dealing with something that he regularly pulled the ACT toolbox out to help him work through, and that he hadn’t found a ‘cure’ or way out entirely either, and didn’t expect that he could now, rather just a way of learning to live with and cope with the emotional detritus when it got too much (he was a youth and violence specialist, and I found him very relatable.)

So, lately I have been cycling through the difficult periods again, I am not surprised. I am trying to play catch up after taking two and a half weeks off to holiday in South America (which BTW was fabulous, and Roger and I went together and had a great time – we always do. He has been my best friend for almost 28 years, we ‘enjoy’ each other and laugh at the same things, wanted to see the same things, do the same things, experience the lived culture as much as you are able on a fleeting visit and are actually a tourist, etc – oh, except for the fifteen months when he was fucking “our friend” – that wasn’t so damn friendly!) We stayed with the exchange student daughter we hosted last year’s family for a part of the trip, and that was so wonderful, so we did get off the tourist path somewhat. Yay!

Oh – I forgot a shout out to tempted – YES – we did go to Salta. Was different to my expectations, real contrasts in economic outcomes, etc…

 

So, of course I am a little stressed, but I am managing that stress, ticking items off the To Do List methodically. It is just the frustration at this knowledge that it will never really be any better. The decision to live without him isn’t a panacea to the pain I will forever feel about his choices, and the messages I am constantly trying to defend my psyche from. Two weeks after we returned, he asked me if I had enjoyed the trip! I was a little nonplussed. “Um, yeah, of course I did, it was a privilege and a pleasure to be able to do that, and it was nice to do it with you.” He paused for a minute, “it didn’t really seem like you enjoyed it much.” WTF? I sat with that for a moment, and then replied, “well, I have tried to explain this many times to you, gently and as kindly as I can manage. I don’t ENJOY anything the way I once did. All of the glitter and gloss that edged my previous life has gone. I like stuff, I enjoy doing things, but I NEVER LOVE any of it. There is no unadulterated pleasure, joy,  anymore. Life is bland and not full of colour and wonderment for me. It isn’t a direct criticism of anything about you, merely a fact of the impact of the aftermath of being betrayed for me. I wish I could change it, I HATE that I don’t feel any great heights anymore, I know it is the reason I have lost my ability to orgasm and enjoy anything sexual. It permeates and steals all the flavour from life. I seem to be no longer able to live the FUCK out of life!”

I do feel like a human pressure cooker at times, I temper my temper. I have strategies in place and practice mindfulness in order to function, but there is also a need to not punish Roger forever for making shit choices. I don’t talk a lot about my feelings to him anymore, that just isn’t fair when you make the choice to live separately. It is interesting when we do, though, because you know what? There are no answers. There is no end to the journey of healing from infidelity, like many other things. However, many of the “other things” I have needed to deal with in my life have been able to be catalogued and shelved for long periods of time, and I felt I was pretty healthy in my processing of them. This is like no other, it refuses to be shelved, no matter how many ways I have catalogued, re-catalogued, examined, re-examined. Pressure cookers do need to let off steam, and for this blog, and the mostly anonymous spaces of the online world, I will be forever grateful. It is where the shit goes, and you will have noticed that it is used as the rubbish receptacle for my pain less and less. I think it is a measure of progress. But progress it not victory, not absolute, it never will be. I did realise about two years into this journey, that healing will never be complete, it will never all be bundled away into a neat little package of “this is what happened to me, but my life is better now.” That will not be a path that is available to me. I have another path to travel.

For the friends I have made through this world, one especially, who helps ground me almost daily, listens, shares her own steaming moments, and her triumphs, and never judges, but always provides comfort in her wisdom, I am eternally grateful.

That purged, I am back to my essay! Have a great day all.


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Choices. A meandering rant.

As I sit here, taking a break from yet another “This is the Worst Essay I Have Had to Write!” I read a couple of blogs and reflect on my choices.

I have always been a bit of a ditherer. Not very decisive. It drives me nuts. I think I might have suffered from FOMO before it was even a “thing.” I guess I always framed it as worrying I was making the WRONG choice, rather than that I would miss out on anything if I chose differently.

That said, once I do make a choice, there’s no backing out. Which is also quite frustrating at times! God, I make life so much harder than it needs to be!

I guess my point here is that I always wish I could choose happiness. You know, the kind that everyone always spouts on about, “Happiness is a choice, choose it everyday,” blah-dee, blah-dee, blah. I would desperately like to choose to continue on with Roger. He’s a hell of a guy. Yeah, he fucked up and in a gigantically fucked up way. He came to me this morning and we chatted for a while over cups of tea, me in bed, him lying beside me on the duvet. We have these little tete-a-tetes when we don’t have to be anywhere, and there are no kids about. It’s nice. We are on the same page about so much in life. And he gets it. As he articulated this morning when we strayed onto this topic just slightly (we don’t actually always talk about how fucked up we are!) “you were betrayed in the worst possible way, by people who you trusted, who you laughed with, who you helped, who you supported, and we did it in your houses, in your living spaces and on your time.We made you sick. You have continuing gynae treatment because of my choices, I don’t have any ill health effects. It’s not fair. You should stop feeling so bad about not being able to be with me. I know I haven’t helped, as in my selfishness, I wanted to stay in your bed to touch you, to get comfort from you, and I desperately didn’t want us to end, I love you so damn much, and I fucked the whole world up for you. You have tried so hard, and worked so long to find your feet after we took them out from underneath you.” We back and forthed a little. I am angry that I haven’t healed like so many I read have. We had twenty-one damn fantastic years, and I don’t know why I can’t see that the twenty-seven years I have lived with him are still “mostly good?” Well, obviously I can SEE that, but it doesn’t seem to hold any water…. Bah. I mentioned to him that I don’t really like to talk about any of this anymore, because the waterworks seem to be inevitable. I fucking hate the leaky taps! Then I mentioned to him that I have never seen him cry. Not full on. Never. He had wet cheeks when our eldest daughter was born, and I think one other time, about what his affair has done to me, but really only swimmy eyes, not any weeping or sobbing. Hell, I am not one to try to drag an emotional response out of someone who doesn’t FEEL it, but I asked. His answer was that he has fought the tears desperately, as he is terrified that if he lets the ones fall that he is holding back, that he’ll never be able to stop, the dam is holding back such a great deal of deep pain. I get that, but I told him my dam broke, and I can’t seem to patch it up, the damage is bloody well done. He then said, “you know what, you have healed. This is healed. For you.” And I angrily agreed. I told him I had accepted that about a year ago.

This is as good as it gets.

That sucks arse.

Then I read blogs and see that some people are living the reality that I was afraid of. The life where you love each other, but there is fear, and you can never throw yourself fully back into it. You have to hold a piece back, some insurance, a last vestige of self. I have never held anything back. Maybe that’s a bad thing? But I just live and breathe everything I attempt. Farming. I bred up a top pedigree herd. Parenting. I served on every bloody committee and board for my kids’ kindy, schools, sports, activities. Studying. I NEED A+s, any less seems a little….less. Travel. Go as far away as you can, and throw yourself into a new life. Work. Chuck everything you have at it. Time, emotion, skill. Where has this got me? Heartbroken. But I don’t seem to be able to do anything any other way. So, I feel like the proverbial idiot, doing the same old thing, expecting a different result.

I want to be able to come back to Roger, and do it three quarters. But that feels revolting! It’s not how I love. I love with every atom of my being. I love to the point of fucking self destruction. We fucked like newlyweds our entire twenty-five years we fucked. I don’t seem to own a dimmer switch. On. Or off. No bloody in-between. And it is a sure recipe for making yourself utterly miserable.

This is the stuff I asked of all of the therapists I saw. How do I develop a dimmer switch? How do I learn to do things half-arsed? How do I learn to protect myself, to keep something back for me, and not feel like a fraud?

No one seemed to have the answer. Damn it.


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Mind movies

movies-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind

Anyone else have mind movies every day, and then the overactive dreaming every night? For six years? Constantly?

I have been counselled about this countless times. The standard advice (once people finally get that I can’t stop them by “just letting it go”, or trying not to think about it….) is to let them run their course and eventually you will be desensitised. But that hasn’t happened for me. I have tried mindfully pushing them away, then sitting with them, letting them play out hopefully to peter out. I have tried hypnotherapy to devalue them. But I had a teary moment again today as I drove home. I saw (and when I say saw, I mean I literally SEE these scenes, very vivid and 3D) how delirously happy I was, back as a young 20-something, talking with him about cheating, how I understood that temptation comes to many of us, throughout life, but that how connected people communicate and work on their connection to bond them to their partner. My movie today wasn’t originally about Leanne – they most often are. This one was about the stag party prostitute he lied to me for over twenty years about. The one I knew he visited, the one I was told (and believed) that he had been pressured into a drunken hand-job with by “the boys” and had felt disgusted about later. The one I never knew he didn’t have the cash to pay, and a friend pressured him into the room and paid (more married men at a brothel doing things that I thought they were better than) and he had to surreptitiously find to pay back at the wedding the week later. I talked to him about it at the time. I was actually okay with it. We were young, he was curious, VERY drunk, and I asked him to tell me the whole truth. He told me when he returned home from that night how awful he felt about what he’d done – the hand job – and until after his affair, I totally believed that story.

So, today’s movie production was of him sweating, drunk, and pumping away on a prostitute in a brothel, with a bunch of young guys, the majority of who should have “known better,” “got that out of their systems before now,” etc…. One in particular disappoints me more than the rest (other than Roger) as I adore him and his family. Dumbass. Him, not me. But I feel like one too. As I told Roger when he finally told me the truth about two years ago (that I genuinely believe he kind of almost forgot about as it was so long ago – in the first year of us living together) I don’t care if he came in her hand, her mouth, or her vagina, or her….. It is all sex. I care that he lied to me about it, and created an atmosphere that seems to have allowed omissions and lies. He swears he never used a prostitute before or after that time, and that it really did disgust him.

But he doesn’t understand fully the repercussions of that lie AFTER he cheated twenty something years later! The first crime was forgivable (to me at least) especially if he told me the truth, but it is material to the second one. He does NOT seem to get that, in fact, it is the one time he has ever got angry with me during our post-affair years, when I have tried to get him to understand that it affects me monstrously because the two events are linked. The first lie set up the rest decades later.

But, I digress. My question is this. Has anyone else struggled with this debilitating problem? If so, what worked to soothe the pain, and reduce the occurrences? Even after separation? After letting the perpetrator go from your life? How do I get some sleep without this? How do I ever re-paper my mind with more pleasant images? Your thoughts, please.