Man....what a week! I feel stronger, my head is clearer and I get more fleeting moments where things make sense and I'm ok with that. I feel exhausted, washed out but surprisingly ok. I want to just sit in the sun and enjoy my family this weekend. I'm not counting my chickens just yet, but I can finally see some light and it's really fucking welcome!
The light started to appear when another PTSD episode came on. Sounds a bit of an oxymoron, but I'll see if I can explain why. It all started last weekend when I saw the affair partner again. Just in passing. Nothing major. I was out running, she was talking to some people I knew as I turned a corner. It's been a while since I last saw her. My friends waved and commented on my running, I waved and commented back, we laughed as I kept running past. She stood, lips pierced, refusing to acknowledge my existence. It made me laugh. It always does. She's so terse, it's genuinely amusing. Anyway, I still had 5km to go, so didn't think much of it. As the day went on though I could feel the cloud descending. I began to withdraw, go quiet, keep myself to myself. I felt despondent and distant. The realities creep back in and so do the feelings that accompany them. I try not to react and just let them do their thing, but I could feel it slowly infiltrating my being. From the outside it probably just looks "moody", from the inside it's turning dark. All the colour's slowly going black and white and there's very little I can do to stop it. I spent the day umming and ahhing about whether to tell my husband. It's such a conundrum because I find it difficult struggling with it alone, but can't face his silent reaction. I eventually told him when we went to bed, but by then the PTSD was fully saturated and I very calmly descended into all the reasons why I was upset. Reasons he's heard 7649 times before. It was mainly about how completely unassuming and blah she is and how my brain finds it so difficult to comprehend how I suddenly became the enemy over that.
Next day I saw her again when I was dropping the kids off. I drove past and that urge was back. To wave and sarcastically say "Morning!" and immediately afterwards mutter "fucking bitch" under my breath. That dark side was resurfacing. That feeling of compulsion followed by intense anger, the shakes and shortness of breath. Fuck no! Not again. I don't want it. I want to move on. I want to feel normal again. I went to work and cried in between customers about just how nasty it was. All of it. I then got angry and defensive. Started mentally ranting and raving about all the people who'd talked about me, judged me, betrayed me.
God! It was happening again. This internal dialogue battle over and over again.
Eventually after two days of trying to ride it out I got quite annoyed with myself. I was withdrawn, moody, irritable, wanted to keep bringing it up again. Constantly battling with my brain. I realised I had to master this to get out of it or it was never going to go away. So I tried to switch tack. Usually when I get concentrated appearances of this woman it's lead to some sort of lesson. There's a reason why. A purpose for it revealed afterwards. Something I need to take from it. So I started to look for it. I remembered what Richi had told me about your brain looking for the solution where it perceives the problem to be. In this case I was fooling myself that something from these people would give me peace. That I needed my retribution, my apology, my justice and I would feel better. I could see this and I knew it wouldn't. The solution lies with me, so instead I started to observe my thoughts, my descent into anxious anger and defensive rants. I started to say to myself "This is you, not all these other people being nasty to you. Yes, they were nasty, but not right now. This, right now, is your doing. You are doing this to yourself and you are the only one suffering, but soon your husband is too, so this will affect your relationship. Why are you doing this?"
So, I sat with the why and I sat with the why. Why am I doing this?
And slowly, a little bit of light started to show. I started to join the dots a bit. I could see the trail of fallen dominoes of the last few days. PTSD is all about fear. That paralysing shock of terror that freezes in your chest, stopping time and blowing your mind so much that it breaks your brain. Disjoints your thinking processes so they simply can't function properly, like a glitching, short circuiting computer. When that fear gets triggered by a reminder, could be anything, no matter how slight, it starts a chain reaction. A protection mechanism. That's where the anger comes from, to prepare me for battle. A rush of adrenaline so I have the strength and aggression to fight because I need to defend myself. I need to be on guard. It then gives me all the proof I need to back up why this is necessary. That's where the details come back. God, the fucking details. My brain haunts me with them.
"He told her he loved her and look at her! If he said that to her, then he can say that to anyone. He did this, he did that. He shut you out, turned on you. She sent you those pictures, the spiteful bitch. She thinks she did nothing wrong. She's playing the victim, look at her. You need to get your own back. They treated you like a piece of shit. They had no respect for you. They didn't care about you. You were worthless to them. You are worthless. Let's show them, you'll show them......."
.....and on and on and on. It's fucking exhausting, but I could actually see it this time and as soon as I had this realisation, the urge to withdraw lifted and I wanted to hug my husband. I wanted to feel him and snuggle up and get back into that safe feeling. As soon as he came home from work, I was there. A bit later on I tried to explain what had been going on the last few days. I wanted to explain, I wanted him to understand to see it wasn't just me being moody. It didn't quite go to plan. No row, but as I got upset there was the return of his usual withdrawal, far worse than mine has ever been. I was so disappointed. I wanted the connection from him. I wanted the understanding to lead to a moment of togetherness. There is so much more to this encounter, which I may add at some point, but for now it's too much to write and I don't have the energy.
The next day I was angry, but this time it was genuine anger, not PTSD anger. It was from me. The rational me. That evening I confronted him about his reaction the night before. I was calm, but firm and fair. I used everything I had learnt with Richi about communicating without blame but expressing how I felt. To cut a very long story short, eventually he said this:
"I'm so sorry I treated you that way. It was really bad, really bad and you didn't deserve it."
Now, he's said that to me before in various ways. But this was different. He had cracked his exterior ever so slightly and the meaning seeped through just enough to touch me. Four little words turned the light on at the end of the tunnel.
YOU DIDN'T DESERVE IT.
I didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve it.
I. Didn't. Deserve. It.
Everything slowed down as that phrase soaked into my soul on a cellular level and, I think for the first time in my whole life, I actually believed it. There's a difference between knowing something cognitively and actually feeling it to the point where it shifts something in your psyche. I didn't deserve it. No, I didn't. Not that, not my dad doing what he did, not the bullies or the bitchiness or the judgement or the gossip or the antics or the spitefulness or the pain. I didn't deserve it. As that realisation seeped into my soul, I could feel the fear. The shock of my husband turning on me in the way he did. The paralysation it created and the resulting defence mechanisms. It was like it was all in slow motion. I told him it felt like being teleported, in a nano second, into a war zone. One minute you're in your life and the next surrounded by explosions and people shooting at you and you have no idea why or where you are. Then you realise your husband hit the button to send you there. What? What do you mean.....what? WTAF???
Then he said "that does sound really frightening," and the light got bigger. Now again, I have said this to him before, but this time his crack was still open so it actually got in and made a difference, which in turn made a difference to me. Between us the light was slowly getting bigger. Over the next few days I have had what I now call an "emotional hangover". I feel fucked! Tiredness like you wouldn't believe, headache, sicky and washed out. However, as I said, I feel different. More rational, more logical. I can see things for what they were and the prospect of this actually going feels possible, just a bit. I've started to feel more excited about the future. I've started to feel more like a victor than a victim. That feeling of strength and empowerment is returning, real and genuine. The belief I might even be able to see this woman without any reaction at all is increasing (just a bit!) This is my life. She is irrelevant. My family is in tact and that's because of me.
I. Am. The. Wife.
Please keep going. You did not deserve this. Hang in there. There is light.
You. Are. The. Wife. xxx