Hope is the thing with feathers

I had to play all kinds of mind games with myself, but I made it to the therapy appointment.  When I told my husband that I’d made an appointment, his very first response was to tell me that he might need the car for a meeting that day.  I felt my heart start to skip, took a breath, stepped back on the inside, and told him that was fine, and I’d work something out.  A few minutes later, I asked one of my sons if he’d be willing and able to take me to an appointment on that date (if I didn’t have a car available), and he immediately said he would.

My son (Son#3) did end up driving, and considering how much anxiety I was battling, it was a good thing.  The really great thing about it was that he not only met the therapist and her horses, but told me later that he liked her so well that he thought he might try to see her for himself.  On the way home, we stopped and bought fish tacos and coffee, and ate next to a little park in town.  My son asked if he could drive me again next week, because he’d enjoyed it so much.  Wow!

My first session with the equine therapist went well.  As we drove in, I saw a petite woman out doing chores, with long auburn hair.  She has a doctorate in psychology, and specializes in equine therapy.  It’s her eyes that I remember most clearly, full of compassion and intelligence.  I liked her, and I felt reasonably safe.

I met her horses, and was asked to choose one of them to groom.  Naturally, I was having difficulty making even that choice.  One of the horses was just relaxing and resting, and hadn’t bothered to come to the ‘meet and greet’, but as I stood there vacillating and feeling unable to choose, this horse got up, came over to the edge of the pen, and very pointedly stared at me.  I walked up to her quietly, and she made it quite clear that she was choosing me that day.

No wonder that I’ve always loved horses.  Horses are intuitive and empathic.  A horse will know the truth of you, no matter what you say or outwardly present.

When I was young, I rode every chance I could get, which was never often enough.  I felt so sure that it would be a part of my adult life, and yet I’ve only ridden a handful of times since marrying long ago.  My husband was afraid of horses, which surprised me since he loves animals.  Years ago, I convinced him to try a few riding lessons, in the hopes that he’d catch the passion for these amazing creatures.  I think he did lose some of the fear, but still hasn’t seemed that interested.

I actually went to the appointment in my pajamas, or what passes for them.  I decided to go just as I am, just as I live.  If she noticed, she didn’t seem to mind.

We’ve already set our next appointment, and I’m actually looking forward to it with no feelings of dread that would normally accompany plans to go somewhere.  I only mentioned anything about my husband in the last few minutes. I said, “I’ve been married a long time.  I know that it isn’t in the DSM, but I believe that my husband is passive aggressive.”

Her head went back a bit, and she said, “Oh… that’s so hard.”

She gets it?  It felt almost too good to be true.  Yet I felt hope.

As we pulled up the driveway home, I saw my oldest son (my Marine Sgt.) manning the old rototiller in my flower patch.  My throat choked with that feeling of tears rising.  I hadn’t said one word to him about it, but he knew how much I wanted to plant flowers again.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, equine therapy, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Once more to the fray?

The dictionary says that a frayed rope has been rubbed so much that its fibers are wearing away.  I feel a bit like that, but I’m going to try one more time to see a good counselor (at least I hope she’s good).

I have an appointment set, and so the anxiety begins over leaving the small safe space of this house.  Maybe it’s not as safe as it is familiar, but that translates into navigable when your energy feels reduced and your equilibrium feels fragile.

The fray I return to isn’t a battle with my husband, but the battle for my own well being.  I should write about second guessing, since it’s the forward and back and forward and back dance that I seem to do on an almost daily basis.

Step one:  gather the courage and determination to actually go to the first appointment.

I realize that may sound frightfully simple to most people.  It’s not just the concept of trying again with a therapist, but the feelings of almost panic over leaving the house.

The younger me would look at the present me with great disbelief, skepticism, and not a little judgment.  I could use some of her wild optimistic courage.

Posted in anxiety, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Blog-aversary to me!

Wow!  I just realized that today marks one year since I began this blog!

I’m so grateful to the readers who share their hearts and stories here.  You are what makes this place so special to me!  Thank you!

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

CMI (chronic multisymptom illness) and military veterans

Burn pits 360

The article/site linked is older, but still informative.

As some of you may remember, my oldest son was deployed to Afghanistan while he was active duty as a Marine.  I have to word this accurately, because once a Marine, always a Marine.  Semper Fidelis

I’m currently searching for a good functional medicine physician, and then I’ll try to persuade my son to once again be examined.  The VA was no help at all.

After much numbingly grim research, I’ve written to some functional medicine physicians that may hold out some hope to treat the impact of the toxins.  If you’re a praying person, please say a prayer that we’re guided to a good doctor.

If you know any helpful information, please consider sharing it here.

Posted in burning pits, chronic multisymptom illness, covert abuse, gulf war syndrome, military veterans | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Just a busy guy

Writing the previous post, I started thinking about how my husband likes to stay busy.  All the time.  I wrote:

In this case, he wanted to take off for hours of running errands and shopping (places that are located an hour’s drive away), and leave the weekly cleaning and maintenance to ‘others’.  I wanted us to tackle it together, and then I’d have the peace of mind to do the shopping and errands with him tomorrow.  He says he doesn’t understand why I would expect him to help, when ‘others’ here could do that.

Reality check:  the collective ‘others’ will never do enough to please him.  I have never seemed to do enough to please him. He likes to decide what is worth his time, and then everything else belongs to ‘others’.  He’s had this same issue from the time we were newlyweds with no kids.  He resented sharing chores then too.  It was a control issue for him right from the start.

The irony is that he’s a busyaholic and a workaholic.  Not a work-to-succeed kind of thing, just stay busy.  He goes, goes, goes, and stays busy busy busy, in a way that you can see he’s driven somehow.
But there’s one huge unspoken rule:  IT MUST BE ONLY WHAT HE DECIDES TO DO, NOT WHAT MIGHT BE ASKED OF HIM.

To an outsider, this busyaholic would appear only to be a hard worker.  An outsider won’t know that it’s a way for him to feel good about himself, and to build resentments towards ‘others’.  An outsider won’t typically see the neglect of critical things that would mean so much to his family’s welfare, or his relationship with his wife or with his kids.

A couple of my kids joked once that if they saw their dad doing some kind of outside chore, then mom must have asked him to help with something inside. Yep yep.  I’d ask if he’d help me with a couple things, he’d seem to agree, then disappear.  Before long, I’d look out a window and see him coming in and out of the shed, or clipping branches, or just about anything as long as it was outside.

Oh, If he’s behaved badly, he’ll typically jump in and do dishes, or run a load of laundry, or sweep the floor etc.  During those times, I know that it’s going to get added to his silent running lists of why he’s a great husband and all around good guy, and I know that part of him usually also is resenting ‘others’ for not doing what he’s doing, but I just let him do it.  Why?  After all these years, I’ll take the practical benefits of his need to stay busy.

Projects that he can do more easily, or that he’s just better at than I am, will sit untouched.  Did I tell him that what I’d like most is to have a night off from cooking?  He won’t come to ‘help’ until it means that dinner will be late.

When he’s most helpful?  If I get to the ground down to practically drooling stage, if I’m so emotionally exhausted and depressed that I only want to do something mindless at my computer, then it’s like he jumps into a phone booth and emerges as Super Nice Helpful Pick Up the Slack from Pathetic Wife/Mom Guy.

It’s as though when the energy drains from me, it goes into him.  Energy vampire?

Posted in covert abuse, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Just one of those days

This is one of those days that started with a long and draining conversation aka an argument.  As it was progressing, I wanted to hit myself on the head, and try to knock some sense into my frazzled mind.

I could hear Sense quietly saying,  What are you doing?  You know this has all been said before.  This is a time and energy sink.

The dynamics are all too familiar.  He says something, and I hear that the words are loaded beyond the surface sound.  In this case, he wanted to take off for hours of running errands and shopping (places that are located an hour’s drive away), and leave the weekly cleaning and maintenance to ‘others’.  I wanted us to tackle it together, and then I’d have the peace of mind to do the shopping and errands with him tomorrow.  He says he doesn’t understand why I would expect him to help, when ‘others’ here could do that.

He starts the accusations and undermining, constantly trying to divert and deflect.  My fight becomes about staying on topic.

At one point, the diversion tactic of tossing in a passive aggressive dig almost worked.  He was trying to tell me that he has changed, and then reminded me that he ‘could’ complain about the condition of the house and how it’s being run, but he doesn’t.  (This was not at all the topic of our conversation.)  He insists that he didn’t make a dig, but I don’t believe him, and I don’t care.

It eventually ended when he realized that I was much more in the give-a-damn-busted camp than the hurt-upset camp.  The compromise is that he’s running some errands in the town we live near, then supposedly will come back to help with some weekly chores.
I guess we’ll see how that plays out.

Posted in passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Thoughts on being stuck

One of the best bloggers on passive aggressive abuse recently wrote about feeling stuck.  I gave a brief response there that I’m adding to here:

I wrestle almost daily with thoughts that sound very much like yours, only I vacillate back and forth being wanting to just g.o. and wanting to believe we can make it work here.

It’s a gray fatigue that I don’t want to last forever. I set some goals a handful of years ago (so that others were least harmed by my choices), and I’m crawling nearer to that crossroad.

So even though I’m not at the point of ‘this is the time to go’, I swerve from feeling I have to leave or it will kill me, to maybe enough change will happen for me to manage a decent life for what’s left.

It makes me feel crazy if I think about it too much, so I just keep trying to become healthier, and will cross the bridge when I come to it.

Even having said all that, I wonder if I’m so conditioned that I can’t think straight to know the right thing at the right time.

Posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , , | 14 Comments