Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bless the Defenses

We had therapy yesterday. Because of the weather, we opted to have our session by phone. I ended up downstairs while she was upstairs. I was doubtful as to how we could work effectively being in 3 different places. But, it seemed to work.

We always start with a grounding exercise and then an opportunity to say what we want to work on. I wanted to work on getting through the stuck places. My partner wanted to work on becoming closer.

We got to a stuck place pretty early in. I heard my partner filing her nails, which was really annoying in the middle of a therapy session we were paying for. The therapist suggested that I bless the defenses that she's built to keep herself safe. In a way, it made sense, because it was the defenses that kept her safe and brought her to me. But, those same defenses are used today to keep me out. I've shared before about how lonely it is to be the partner of someone who's busy building fortresses to keep me out. If I blessed her defenses, wasn't I saying that I wanted that behavior to continue? I wish I remembered the therapist's exact wording, but it was something about defenses won't relax until there's complete safety. So, we each did this ritual of blessing and thanking the defenses that kept her safe. It really was miraculous. She was able to open up and start letting me in in new ways.

It reminded me of something I hear from long-timers in 12 step programs. They suggest that to get rid of a resentment, you pray for the person you resent to get everything you want. I guess I have resented the part of her who keeps her from me. And blessing that part seemed to make a real difference, for both of us!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Banished from my own home

My partner is having a sponsorship family gathering at my house in early February. When she first told me about it, she said "we" were having a breakfast and that I was included. I have felt so isolated from her and she has so often opted out of any opportunity to socialize with me, so I was thrilled for an opportunity to be a part of- especially to be a part of her recovery family. Later, she realized that spouses were NOT included and told me that I would have to leave the house that morning.

As the time is nearing, I'm having trouble with this. For one thing, I guess I do have to acknowledge that I am having feelings about being included and then unincluded. I understand that this wasn't her doing, but it doesn't mean that I don't have feelings about it. It's also bringing up old stuff for me. When she first separated from her husband, she came to stay with me. Part of the separation agreement that THEY made was that I would leave my home for one weekend a month so that the girls could come to stay there with their mother. Now, at that point, it was not our home, it was MY home that she was staying in rent free. And they made this agreement in court that I was not a party to but had to comply with. It sucked in all kinds of ways. And yes, those feelings are getting triggered, so I get that my reaction is bigger than it would be because it's pushing old buttons.

But there's other stuff too. It's interesting, because she's been struggling with feeling like she's being controlled in the situation where our therapist told her she needed to go to 5 meetings a week if she wanted to continue to be in therapy with him. It's funny how she refused to hear the difference between setting a boundary and being controlling. In this situation, I get it. Setting a boundary is if you do or don't do this, I will or won't do this. Controlling is saying you have to or you can't. He set a boundary- if you don't go to meetings, I won't see you in therapy. She, on the other hand, was being controlling- you can't be in the house.

I tried talking to her about it. I asked if it would be ok if I stayed in the bedroom. Her first response was no, because I might hear something. I told her I could keep the door closed and the TV on. She went on and on about how uncomfortable it would be for me, because I'd be stuck in the bedroom for hours. I asked her what other spouses do, and she said they all vacate their houses. She finally acknowledged that that was my choice to make and said that she'd been caretaking by trying to decide what was best for me. I told her that I'd like a vote next time about whether the function is going to be in my home.

At one point, she got pissed and said that I'm a grownup, and I can do anything I want. I can even come sit in the middle of it if I want to. Then she barricaded herself in the bathroom. When she came out, I asked for an intentional dialogue, and she refused. But she wanted me to think about the fact that she didn't do this on purpose. I started to respond to that, and then said that if she wasn't ready to engage in an intentional dialogue, that's fine, but that I wasn't willing to listen to her when she was choosing NOT to listen to me. I said I'd be more than happy to listen to her IN an intentional dialogue. Her response: "Fine!" She told me she'd be ready in a couple hours, which was of course more than a couple of hours ago. I told her to let me know when she's ready.

The problem is getting bigger and bigger. I started out struggling with her trying to control me. Then, it got crazy making when she was doing her mind bending reality altering shit by saying that what she was doing was trying to take care of me because I might be uncomfortable staying cooped up in the room, when her argument started with "no, you might hear something." Then, when she walked out in the middle of the conversation it pushed my abandonment buttons. Next, when she refused to dialogue with me but wanted ME to think about whatever the hell she wanted me to think about, it pissed me off. Now, I'm struggling with her not doing what she said she was going to do, which was to come to me in a couple of hours when she was ready for a dialogue.

My new step group is working on Step 1, and here I am faced with yet another situation over which I'm powerless. I can't make her work through an issue with me start to finish. I can't MAKE her agree to an intentional dialogue and give me the validation and empathy I need. I can't make her honor her commitments and come to me in a couple of hours. What I CAN do is take care of me. So, I've processed with my sponsor, with a friend and my sister in recovery. I went out with one of my recovery friends and ate interesting things. Now, I think I'll call another friend and invite her to a meeting.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Word- 2009 Edition

It was interesting looking back to see my word of 2008. I didn't do such a great job of keeping it in my head as a focus, but I think I did do a good job of practicing self-care anyway. This was the year I bought myself my own fucking Hallmark Card. I got much better at using the phone tool. I participated in an Artist's Way book study, which included dating myself through Artist Dates, Morning Pages, and even a Reading Diet. I got better at using affirmations. I got a really cool self-nurturing tool in therapy last week that I haven't posted about yet, but it's turned into a cool way to end one year and start the next.

It's interesting to look back sometimes and see patterns AND growth. When I went back to see my word for 08, I got to look again at how it started for me. My partner and I went through a dance last night around new years that, in looking back, was very similar to last years. She wanted to isolate. I didn't. She was sick. But, instead of pouting, I chose to practice self-care. I went to figure out what I could do with my own self for new years. I decided that I'd take myself to see fireworks. My partner didn't like the idea of me spending the new year without her. The new behavior we both practiced was working through it together and coming up with something we could both live with. We decided to go to our local NA holiday meeting marathon together. Starting the new year with recovery felt like a good thing.

Hmmm. Recovery, maybe that can be my word. It kind of encompasses everything I've thought about and everything that's important to me today. God's already taken. I thought about gratitude, because I find that my life works better when I focus on the stuff I have to be grateful about. When I started this post, my word was gonna be Steps. I just finished step 12 with one online writing workshop this week. We finished with the 12 step exercise, which is always so powerful for me when I remember to use it.

I'm starting a new online Step Study focusing on my compulsive overeating. We're gonna do one step a month, so I'm excited that this one will take me right through this year.

So, I think I will choose Recovery as my word this year. That encompasses God, the Steps, and Gratitude. Happy New Year!