Today’s flashback is a hindsight, a picture drawn with words if you will, rather than a real photo…sorry for the downer.
My Papa died in March 2000, my sister died April 5, 2000, I graduated from high school in May 2000, we moved to a different state in August 2000, 2 weeks after that I started college, a few months after that I broke up with my high school boyfriend and started “dating” someone else that was serving in the Air Force (he was an ex-boyfriend that I reconnected with). He came home from deployment shortly after we reconnected and I promptly fell in love with him and he promptly dumped me. I was so hurt, so pissed off, so utterly broken from all the change and stress that defined my life in that year.
I didn’t realize it at the time but looking back, that is when I started building walls. My childhood was relatively carefree and happy. I never dealt with any major issues (beyond which activity to play with my friends that day) so I didn’t know how to deal with all the stress and pain I found myself in. I’m a happy-go-lucky type of person, and I bet if you ask anyone who knew me then, they’d be shocked to hear I was having such a hard time. I smiled and sucked it up and went about my business. I even fooled myself. It’s only looking back now that I realize how traumatic that time really was. To make it through the day I ignored my problems. I didn’t analyze anything or give much attention to my feelings. And I started building walls. These walls kept me safe. How can anyone hurt you if you don’t let them close? I learned to keep them just far enough away that they think I’m letting them in but really there is a big, strong wall right in the middle. I was safe behind my walls. The best part, no one knew they were there…and I ignored the fact that they were. They just became part of me.
This really worked great for me. That is until I met my husband. We fell in love very quickly (we were engaged after 6 months and got married about 9 months after that). Yet, I still had my walls. I knew I wasn’t giving my husband the love he needed or deserved. I knew it but I had forgotten about my walls (they were so deeply ingrained that I didn’t see them as separate from me) so neither of us could see what the problem was. I don’t want to say I regret marrying him, because I don’t. He really is a wonderful person and a great father to our children. But my walls were causing hell. And then he got stuck in a job that sucked the rest of the life out of him and he changed. He became miserable and all the little negative parts of his personality became amplified. I’ll sum it up by saying our marriage sucked.
We almost divorced a couple of times but neither of us really wanted to. I knew it was mostly his job that was making him miserable but all that misery just reinforced my walls. I would not let him hurt me. I would not let him bring me down. He needed love and affection and would push hard for that, all the while being miserable in every other way. I worked under the premise that he can go on and be miserable but I am going to keep smiling and I’ll just do whatever I want to do with little regard to him. That worked splendidly for about zero seconds. Yet, we continued on like that for that entire time. It was a vicious cycle of him pushing for what he needed and me running as fast as I could in the other direction with my walls safely between us.
In October of last year he FINALLY got a new job. The hours weren’t great and the pay sucked but he was out of that hell hole that was his previous job! Things started to look up. Especially when he was offered an even better job a few months later, with better pay and MUCH better hours. Things were good.
And then they were not good. I will not go into detail here but I’ll just say that even my walls weren’t protecting me anymore. It was all just too much. I became miserable. I found myself driving home slowly because I didn’t want to be there. I stopped smiling. I started being mean because I didn’t care to make an effort not to be. I fell out of love.
With my walls no longer being effective and my realization that they really weren’t helping me anyway I decided I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t go on as we were, just pretending everything was ok. Everything was not ok. But now what? How do I cope when every coping mechanism I’ve ever used has failed me? I didn’t know what to do, what to think, how to act. Then the anxiety attacks started. I didn’t know what it was at first but after a couple of times I realized that’s what was happening. At that point I knew we hit bottom.
During my…breakdown (I guess you would call it that, although that sounds awfully dramatic) my husband had his own transformation. From what he’s tells me, he realized how good he has really had it, realized how miserable and horrible he was to us all and he is now looking at things in a whole new way. He’s happy. Don’t get me wrong, he is under no illusion that everything is ok, but he’s going forward with a positive attitude.
That brings me to my next problem. I don’t know how to handle this new, excited, optimistic person. At first I figured it was his way of trying to cheer me up and get me out of my funk. I appreciated his efforts but I just kept waiting for the old husband to come back so it wasn’t having too much effect on me. Then yesterday he responded to a chain of emails between me and my cousins (planning our upcoming trip to their house) and his response was cheery, upbeat, and completely frightening for me. That’s when I realized, not only do I have to get over the hurt and all of our past issues, but I also have to figure out who this new guy is. I feel myself trying to build more walls to guard myself against this unknown man trying to get me to love him. While part of me is enjoying this new guy, with his upbeat attitude, great suggestions for fun things to do on the weekends, helping around the house, the other part is reeling from the absolute change of direction. Who is this man and what has he done with my husband?? I have the urge to poke him with a stick (think the large poking device that the “Friends” gang fashioned so that they could see if Ugly Naked Guy was really dead or not) to see if he’s real or not. I just do not know how to cope.
The good thing is I’m facing the issues now. Really facing them. I don’t know where it will lead or how bumpy the road will be but that is where I am coming from and this is where I am now. Part of me can’t wait to see how it turns out, the other part…scared to death!