Grieving

I was quick to defend my husband to our sister in law, and I realized I’m not done ranting yet.

She is so unhappy because she doesn’t get to talk about how she feels about her husband passing while she gets to completely ignore how other people feel about it. She ignores it because my husband’s feelings, his daughter’s feelings about their brother and father passing are not as important as my sister in law’s feelings.

That’s what aggravates me so about this situation – her sense of entitlement about how her grief is somehow bigger, and more important than the other people who also loved my brother in law. She does not have the monopoly on sadness and anger over his passing. It irritates me how she casually invalidates how my husband feels, and makes it feel somehow ‘wrong’ with how he is grieving because he doesn’t want to talk about it with her, or just in general.

It upsets me also because I cared about him too, even though I had only met him a handful of times over the 5 years my husband and I have been together. I cared about him and love my husband enough that I also put my life on hold when he was hospitalized because I wanted to support them and ensure that he was receiving proper care. My specialty came to the forefront because I have a lot of experience with that particular disease process and patient population. I used my knowledge and expertise to try to support and help the flow of information back and forth because I care.

However even my feelings mean nothing in the face of his widow’s grief. And I’ve tried to be understanding, I’ve made excuses for her to my husband. I’ve stated before, I understand and empathize with losing a loved one. I guess because I handle grief differently and am rather stoic about it makes my feelings somehow lesser than other’s. For as many patients as I help make it through another day, or another year, I’ve lost just as many. As it gets closer to the anniversary that my brother in law passed, I start to think more about those I lost. I will be overwhelmed if I allow it. So I don’t. I still have a husband, puppies, cats and family who all depend on me.

I’m strong because I allow myself moments to crumble and fall apart. I am strong because I continue to put myself back together afterwards. I am trying to be strong enough to ask for help when I need it. (Still working on that one).

Being strong doesn’t mean that I don’t need help. But it does mean that people don’t check on you and ask if you are okay.

You still need to ask.

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Almost one year later…

It’s been almost a year since we lost my brother in law. My sister in law and my husband are still grieving in their own ways.

It’s becoming more apparent to me that I’m still trying to manage their emotions and I just can’t anymore. I don’t want either of them to be sad, or hurt or whatever but it is what it is. My sister in law likes to put that shit out there on FB and here I am on my blog >:P

She’s taking it personally that my husband doesn’t want to talk to her. It’s not personal – he just doesn’t want to talk about something that hurt him deeply. It’s just not how he handles his grief. She wants to talk to someone who loved him as much as she did, and reminisce but that’s not how my husband is. It’s not how he handles his grief. There’s a fundamental difference and neither of them are able to see the other’s side or meet half way, so here we are. I can’t make them be adults and maturely handle the situation or their own emotions.

What’s sad is I realized I am still trying. I’m still acting like a go between/mediator and I’m just done.

I see how painful it still is for both of them. I know that grief and mourning is a process. I work in healthcare, I know the pain of losing a patient, of losing a loved one. It’s so hard. Some days it’s more difficult not to burst into tears at work than other days. It still doesn’t give anyone the right to wield their grief like a weapon at other people. Guilt tripping or trying to crowd source others to guilt the other person into doing what you want is NOT OK. I don’t talk about stuff like losing a patient I’ve taken care of for months/years because it brings up a lot of sadness and grief for me, and it has it’s time and place, but it’s not at work because I have other patients and coworkers depending on me. You learn to compartmentalize so that you can still function, but it does not mean that I am uncaring. I do care, probably more than you realize – otherwise I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up and keep caring for others.

Losing my brother in law was difficult for me because I saw how painful it was and still is for my husband and sister in law. I realized too late that I was giving too much and not allowing myself to ask for any help myself because of my fears of being called selfish. Now I am understanding sooner that this isn’t my job, no one asked me to do this and I’m washing my hands of the situation.

It would be great if people behaved in a mature and responsible way with their emotions. I’m not holding my breath that will happen though.

Wonder Woman and it’s impact

Wonder Woman is phenomenal – a film that is touching, funny, and dark all at once.

I’ve made it obvious on social media and to my husband how much I love the movie. My issue isn’t the film at all, but I suppose my husband’s response to my love of the movie. It isn’t about loving Wonder Woman and being a lesbian (and if that’s your thing that’s great), it’s where I can’t love what she stands for, her strength of will without it being made into something titillating for some man’s sexual fantasy. Seriously it feels like every thing that I enjoy that is feminine is just made into fodder for his own enjoyment, and he teases me constantly about it. I only now realize that I don’t like sharing certain things I enjoy (like the WW film) because I just don’t want to hear it anymore. This has been bothering me for years – and I guess I felt like I was being overly sensitive. As in, oh he’s just joking but he continues. I think I’ve brought up that it bothers me before, but I honestly think he enjoys irritating/getting a reaction.

I can’t talk about what the film means to me without this coming up. Which means I can’t talk to him because it’s not serious to him, it’s just a big joke. That makes me sad, because I enjoy the film immensely. It’s a coming of age story, where the main character leaves childhood ideals behind, and recognizing that just because you can’t save everyone, you can still make a difference. It’s learning the world and the people within it aren’t who you want them to be, and striving to make it better anyway. It’s about that innocence and naïveté of childhood being tempered, growing into the practicality of being an adult.

It makes me so happy to see a female protagonist, a heroine doing everything that men can do, and doing it better. It’s apparently impossible for me to express this. I love the strength, compassion and the desire to help make things better in the character. I want to be like that.

But it’s not just my husband. There are other men who are the same way – making light of how much this film means to the women in their lives. Women like myself, who are always aware of their surroundings, learning how to diffuse an angry coworker/partner, used to being talked over, voices and opinions disregarded because we aren’t men. How do you explain to someone who will never understand the fear it is to be female? Who still doesn’t seem to understand how hurtful it is to have every single god damn thing comes back to women being sexual with one another purely for some man’s fantasy.

While I am an open minded straight female, I can very much empthasize with lesbians not wanting to be meat/fodder for straight guys’ fantasies. It feels demeaning and honestly dehumanizing.

It makes me feel disregarded. It feels like I’m only worth what value I can bring as a tool of sexual arousal. It’s a really shitty feeling.

It really takes away a lot of the enjoyment I get from a film that depicts a strong and capable woman, who doesn’t take shit from anyone and gets shit done herself.

I want to be like that.

Getting down to brass tacks

What brings up all this anger and rage?

Let me give you some personal examples, based on the letter I found. What letter you may ask? A letter I kept because I thought (foolishly) at the time because I felt bad when I read it and thought I would keep it to help me “improve”. Now after re-reading it, I’m just filled with rage. I can’t believe the entitlement in this letter – that he actually put down exactly how he guilt tripped me and made me feel responsible for his happiness. How the guilt allowed him to keep me unbalanced and constantly seeking his approval – approval he refused to give. It’s like he kept moving the tape so that I would never reach the finish line.

The utter gall of some people… the main point of the first part of his letter said that he couldn’t believe I would go out and have fun with my friends while he was stuck at home, working. Because I made him feel bad and depressed for not wanting to spend time with him, while he was telecommuting from home. Because you know you can spend quality time with a person while they are on a conference call. Because basically I should not want to spend time outside of the house without him. He went on and on how he didn’t feel wanted – because basically I’m a bad person for not wanting sex. Because it’s really sexy when you feel constant pressure for not performing – especially when you feel guilty about being a bad wife for wanting to go out to lunch with friends, or in this instance go skiing with friends from work. Because we can just ignore all the times I made suggestions for movies, museums, exploring the new place we moved to and they all got shot down. Every time I suggested something he didn’t “feel” like it. So I got invited out by work friends – and this makes me a terrible person.

You know what the kicker is? I never went out with friends. It was more rare than a blue moon I went out to lunch or shopping with friends. The only people I went out with were always mutual friends, never friends of mine from school or work. What makes this even more amazing is he really felt that entitled to all of my time – even while I was being yelled at for not keeping the house clean. Remember, if I couldn’t go out with friends while he was working from home, what do you think happens when I stay home? I get stuck in the office with him all day, which means I don’t actually do any housework. But it’s my fault for not wanting to be bitched at so I put off laundry/vacuuming/dishes/sweeping.

The second example is actually a combination of 2 separate events, sharing one thing in common: picking me up from someplace…in one instant work, the other from the hospital. The common theme for both is I got screamed at because he got lost. I didn’t give him good enough directions, so it was my fault he got lost. Picking me up from the hospital I wasn’t allowed more than a few phone calls so I never actually gave him directions but it was still my fault he got lost. He screamed at me until I got upset and gave the phone to a nurse and he yelled at her too. During the blizzard in the winter of 2010 he screamed at me until I was crying, waiting with my friend to be picked up. I remember her trying to comfort me, and me feeling mortified that she had to witness that. She could actually hear him scream at me through the phone.

Instead of just acknowledging he got lost and just asking for directions he decided to guilt trip me once again for getting him lost. It was my fault for making him angry because he got lost, and he needed to scream at me for it so I wouldn’t get him lost.

Why did I stay so long? Why not? I was pretty well isolated by those examples. I was embarrassed by his treatment of me, I didn’t want other people to be subject to his outbursts that were never actually over anything that serious. Except putting me in my place, erroding my self esteem and having me not spend time with friends or family – and putting me on an allowance. Yeah… financial abuse right at the tail end of the marriage. I think this whole shit show of a relationship hit all the emotional abuse highlights over the course of 9 years. Nine very long years.

I never had the words to describe what I was feeling. It took therapy and a lot of soul searching, and writing for me to have gotten to this point. I wanted to help ensure I wouldn’t pick another asshole in the future.

I have trouble forgiving myself for staying. For allowing myself to be subjected to this for too long… why? I didn’t want to throw away a relationship with all that history. At the time I still believed the best of him, even with the constant examples that he was NEVER going to change or change how he treated me.

Just because you have history with someone doesn’t mean you are obligated to stay. Hopefully you will realize that your partner doesn’t have your best interests at heart and realize that you need to protect yourself; they won’t. The likelihood of the changing is pretty slim… the only person you can change is you – and how you respond/react to that person.

I cut him out. We do not talk. Except for a birthday wish he sent in 2014 which I refused to respond to. I knew he did it to try to get back into my life to control and manipulate me again. That’s his m.o – he finds women who he believes he can control and conform into what he wants: a maid/mom who will put out and be okay with being disrespected.

Writing this all out is cathartic. I also hope that this helps anyone else men and women who may find themselves in a similarly abusive relationship, to see the person they are attached to and hopefully leave. There is definitely someone better out there for you.

loveisrespect.org

This is a great resource if you think you are in an abusive relationship or suspect a friend or loved one is. The site is geared towards teens in abusive relationships, however the information is universal across all abusive relationships at any age.

I would also like to remind everyone that abuse is not just when someone hits you.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been wrestling with a lot of anger I have, right now. This is the anger I didn’t have when I was getting divorced, because at the time I still felt incredibly guilty over the ending of the marriage.

Why guilty you may wonder? Because that’s how my ex operates. When you make someone feel guilty and at fault, it makes it that much easier to control them. I’m taking this directly from the site, because this is exactly how I felt during the whole shitty relationship.

  • You constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
  • You often feel confused and even crazy.
  • You’re always apologizing to your partner.
  • You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  • You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  • You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  • You have trouble making simple decisions.
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed. [I actually told my therapist this in the beginning of treatment – how I could be confident and assertive at work, but it was like flipping a switch when I got home]
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  • You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

Part of it also includes your significant other claiming to have had conversations that never happened, or telling you that you aren’t remembering things properly, as in things did not happen/did happen the way you remember but your S.O. tells you they did.

This is called gaslighting and it’s used to manipulate and control you. I always felt like something was off – but I could never articulate what that was. For me that was very strange, because as anyone who knows me at all will tell you I can literally talk your ears off. But for this, I had no words – I remember only being able to say I felt bad and couldn’t pinpoint why.

This is a 2 part-er and the second part will be posted later today, with direct examples of my own experience with my (newly realized) abusive ex.

Puzzle pieces

It’s almost like the fairy tale with Hansel and Gretel, leaving crumbs to find their way home. Or one of those thousand piece jigsaw puzzles that I would watch my dad work on when I was a little girl. (That’s where I get my love for puzzles).

I’m going round and round finding the pieces to myself again.

I’m having more good days and less bad days… but the bad days are still there.

I called my husband yesterday to come home early. I just couldn’t handle it. The harder I tried to keep it together, the less it was happening.

I’m trying to step back and be less obsessive and controlling. It’s difficult because it’s an ingrained habit – I’m so used to having things done the way I want them and when I want it done.

I’m trying to let myself be taken care of by my husband. This goes hand in hand with me wanting to be in control – and being able to let go. I’m trying! Writing helps a lot.

I like feeling needed, but so does he, and I’m bad about letting him feel it. I don’t tell him as often as I ought to.

Today was a lot better than yesterday. Any day I get to spend with my husband (even when we’re both exhausted) is a really good day.

Finding myself again

I’ve been working hard to feel better – writing in my journal again, taking time out just for me, scheduling a long overdue massage, and actually picking up my knitting again.

I missed the clarity that writing gives me. But I felt like it was this enormous weight that I had to overcome in order to do anything that I enjoyed doing. I kept putting it off until tomorrow… until I was so deep back into a black hole and I couldn’t find my way back out.

I wrote before that September was an awful month, and it was. My brother in law, an incredibly kind and loving man was unexpectedly gone far too soon.

I felt so incredibly alone during this time. I didn’t want to be doom and gloom, but I felt like I was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation. While I remained optimistic about his prognosis, I think I started to grieve, even as we remained in the hospital with him. There wasn’t anyone I could talk to about my fears, mainly because I didn’t want to dishearten his wife, my husband or his daughter. So I carried the weight alone – knowing what I do, and what I’ve done for years. Yes, I felt on the one hand incredibly fortunate to have the medical knowledge to help explain the process, but I felt burdened by it as well.

Have you ever felt burdened by knowledge you have, but others don’t?

I felt isolated, trying so hard to bolster my families spirits, and bottling up my own fear and sadness. I knew no one wanted to hear my fears. They would only serve to weigh down my family, and I didn’t want that. I also (perhaps foolishly) didn’t think they would be able to handle it. I wanted them to have hope, and realistic expectations of his illness and recovery.

So I continued on, alone.

And quietly, oh so quietly, continued breaking further and further into pieces.

Now, I’m slowly finding those pieces, and putting them back together again. I finally told my husband that I couldn’t handle ‘it’ anymore – taking care of everyone else and not myself.

It’s hard – some of those pieces are hidden in dark places; but this time there’s a candle to help light the way.