S and I cancelled our date on Tuesday. It’s a combination of her house having the vomits yesterday and things going on with her boyfriend, who, at least I think, needs her to be there for him 100% this week. I’ve been riding the high of realizing how much I’ve grown and healed and changed in the last year. Last weekend, I had a good talk with my boss who failed me last weekend, we hashed it out, and then I sent an email to the entire management team. It’s a well-written narrative that asks them to be better at responding to the needs of their staff. I’ve had a few responses and they are positive. My real responsibilities with my full-time job finished apart from a few details and summer is looming large. I’m dealing with the heaviness of the responsibility of everything being on my shoulders in my home and with my kids. I’m raw as fuck. I’m happy with my new-found ability to share my hurt when it’s going on, or at least doing it that one time. The fact is, it just sort of happened. I realized I had two people in my life who needed to know what was going on in my world at that moment. I needed to tell them, because I want to share my life, the good and the bad, with them. There’s a level of trust, respect, and acceptance in what I have with A and S that I’ve never had in my life. It didn’t happen by accident, we built it together, but it didn’t happen purposefully either.
Over the last couple years, I’ve unpacked so much that was unhealthy in my life. I unpacked years of passive aggressive communication and blame and manipulation. That was how my childhood was with my dad, so I grew up thinking it was normal. I dated a series of men and even attracted friends who communicated in the same manner, not to mention my sister. Despite how amazing my mom is, I was completely broken in the way I responded to others and communicated myself. Changing myself began when I went on depression meds. I asked for help, because in that moment, I was desperate for anything to help me cope, because the alternative was unthinkable to me. It let me cope, antidepressants made me…well…me…again. I think it was hard on F that I was OK again. For at least six years, I had been depressed. High functioning, low level depression, that turned into acute depression of the emergent sort after #4 was born. My low-level depression was gradual and was accompanied by the arrival of baby #1, #2, and #3, plus my pregnancy with #4. It was wrapped up in an acute period of depression between baby #1 and #2 when I had two miscarriages and secondary infertility caused by an ovarian cyst. What this meant is that my early years of motherhood were coloured by the constant anger and defeatism that overcame me in ways I didn’t understand at the time. It was made worse by a very manipulative husband who didn’t take an active role in our life without me asking or demanding that he did. I became the caretaker of our life together. Organizing the kids, the house, the meals, the activities, the childcare, the yard maintenance, all the logistics of life. There is a post on Facebook that goes around about the emotional workload of being the wife and mother that seems to drive it home every time I see it. The workload that we take on as the managers of our lives, on top of our full-time jobs (or full-time and casual job), is enormous. All of this put together meant I didn’t communicate well. I just did. I did all the things and didn’t ask for help and when things were hard, I just got angry and huffed and continued to do all the things. I did the things because I had to, because I didn’t have a partner to do it with me. I had a partner who attacked me for my feelings and didn’t engage in our life without pressure from me. I was easy to manipulate and control because I wasn’t capable of communicating effectively and I was depressed and just trying to keep afloat. Add to that pregnancies and newborns and toddlers and moving internationally and new jobs and more new jobs and the fact that we both worked in emergency services and new houses and more newborns and more toddlers and three kids under three and I finally couldn’t handle it and I had to ask for help because for so long no one had been giving it to me and I needed a way to keep being strong.
Then I was strong again. I was me again. I started making good decisions for myself. I went through the six weeks it took to adjust to meds and went through the crazy time that was having a newborn, a one year old, a three year old, and a five year old and a husband who turned my illness into a reason to be a victim. Slowly, inch-by-inch, I began to establish boundaries. I became strong, advocated for what I needed, stood up for my children, and then, a huge coincidence happened. I ran into an old friend from my grad school days who told me a job in my field was being posted. One that I would be perfect for. I applied for it, I got it. I took it. I took it despite F not wanting me to. He wanted me to stay home with the kids. Even though he knew that wasn’t something that made me happy. Even though he knew my career was important to me. Basically, my happiness wasn’t important to him. Then I excelled at my job, but even more, I love it. It’s my dream job, with amazing coworkers, a fabulous work-life balance and so much support. Then polyamory came into my life. I was forced to communicate with my partners and learn about the things I needed and the things they needed and everything in between. Something even more amazing happened at the same time. I had A and D and they cared so much about how I felt and what I wanted and needed in our relationships and I learned how much was missing in my marriage. F was dating W and that just caused a world of hurt in our world and as I established boundaries, he would go to greater lengths to violate them and get his way, and since I didn’t back down, it got worse and worse. Then I asked for a divorce.
That’s when the healing began. When you remove the poison that is slowly leeching the life out of you, one drop at a time, the titration stops, but the damage is still there. It’s not an immediate fix. It takes time, medicine, patience, and rehabilitation to to recover from a lifetime of hurts. I have no doubt that I’m not done healing. I don’t think we really ever are. I remember talking to my parents about how conditioning from F dictates my response to situations, and my step-dad saying my mom still is triggered sometimes, 31 years later, by things because of the dysfunction that my dad brought to her life. I expect the healing to continue and the hurt to probably hit unexpectedly as life goes on. Time has worked in my favour to heal my wounds. My medicine has come in the form of the amazing partners who love me and accept me for who I am despite my flaws. For me the patience is always a huge struggle and the rehabilitation is ongoing. Part of the rehabilitation is opening the wounds, exposing them for what they are, treating the infection inside, and then sewing up those wounds to heal properly. The problem is it takes time to find, open, and expose those wounds.
Right now, I’m somewhere in the middle of this whole process. I have open wounds, partially healed wounds, festering wounds, and wounds I haven’t identified. I have wounds that have healed and helped me form a protective barrier and be strong after being vulnerable. This here is the whole thing that is getting me right now. For the last year(s), I’ve had so many people comment on how strong I am. These last few days I realized that strong was not what I was. I was broken and in need of rebuilding. Strong for me has come out this last week as I’ve been vulnerable and shared so much more about who I really am with A and S. I’ve stood up for myself and asked for what I need and got it. I’ve recognized how positive this was and have been riding the high of it. But I’m not healed, I’m raw. I’m so, so, so, very raw. Like any exposed wound, I am cognizant of the fact that I could re-injure myself at any time, far easier than if I didn’t have those pre-existing wounds. That’s what makes it really scary.