So much has changed. So fucking much. I can’t believe I’m the same person, honestly. And I’m pretty nervous about the future, in spite of things going as well as they have.
After my last post, things got pretty intense in my own life. I spent Father’s Day sobbing into my own hands while trying to spend time with my children…and their mother. I was falling apart. Eventually, after their mother kept asking what was wrong, I opened up and said I missed her, but that I didn’t expect anything from her in return. I just felt like I needed to say it. I was tired of hiding it and I was overwhelmed. To my surprise, she said she missed me too. And she was open to working things out.
I was shocked, not just because of this conversation, but because of the ownership she took of her role in what happened between us. We’ve since had many conversations, often full of tears and hugging, but understanding that we loved each other. We needed to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable, and we needed to be open to feedback and a difference of opinion in situations. I’m elated, but I’m also determined. Aside from acknowledging that I should be cautious moving back into this relationship, I’m determined to be a better person and work on myself.
Like I said in my last post, I need to own up to how I contributed to the problems and how to make it better. I’ve been doing a lot of reading (audiobooks are my new addiction) and a lot in “self-help” type of literature. One of the books I read on repairing relationships identified that it often takes couples in crumbling relationships (with dynamics similar to what happened with me and my wife) can, and should be expected to, take 18 months to repair. And so, I’ve started that journey. Both my wife and I have identified, in the short time since we started working things out, that things seem so much better. We’re communicating much better, and we’re working as a team. It’s been really awesome so far, and I’m looking forward to managing things as best as I possibly can.
I do have to identify, as an addict in recovery, how some of my behavior contributed as I had been in significant denial about it before. I spent a lot of time online, like I said in my previous post. But some of it, a lot of it, was completely unnecessary. I wouldn’t say I was “addicted” to being online, but it was escapism. I had set up a small community of people through my social networking that offered communication and support. I won’t fault the people I was in touch with (and a few do still email me), but I relied too much on their support and not as much as I should have on my wife’s and in-person connections. Obviously I haven’t cut myself off entirely from the internet, but I need to be more present for my family. Especially my children. My relationship with my kids has improved significantly since my decision to cut out social media from my life. I mean, really, this has been a great move and has freed me from a significant amount of anxiety.
I am seeing my counselor on a more regular basis. I had been seeing him once a month, but since this revelation and determination to change I’ve been trying to see him once a week. Save for these past few weeks due to personal issues and vacations. I think he was happy that I finally opened up about my online use and my denial, but he never openly said that. I am of the impression that it helped to state “hey, I really was holding back about this stuff, so let’s talk.” It’s been good, so I hope that trend continues.
Now, the “other woman” involved in this situation. That was messy. I had told her around the same time I had written my last post that I couldn’t continue a relationship with her. I was too unstable, didn’t know what I wanted (or what was an option for me), and I needed to figure myself out. And it was met with more boundary pushing. It was met with more “It’s because my body is like this, isn’t it?” “I don’t have tattoos so…?” Things of that nature. I told her no more, and I asked her to leave. The messages continued, so I blocked her number. There was an expectation that she was coming later in the week to collect her belongings, and she showed up earlier than expected. By a few days. She also had sent an email asking to come up that day, and I told her no. I asked her to respect my boundaries, and she refused.
On a side note, if you haven’t seen the documentary Dear Zachary, I would advise to see it. But the circumstance around the first half of the movie is essentially what I became concerned about.
She showed up while I was talking with my wife, and I lost my mind. My kids were also in their beds in another room. I told her she had to leave (not my wife, the other woman), and she kept trying to talk with me AND my wife. She kept apologizing, but then she insisted she should have an audience with me since she had just traveled so far to see me. I told her multiple times to leave, and she wouldn’t. So I got mad, I yelled, and I told her to get the fuck out. She did, but she continued to send me emails telling me where I could find her, how long she would be there, and asking if we could talk.
I gave no room for any of that. I sympathize with her circumstance, but she did not sympathize with mine. Especially with my request that she not show up. So, the following day, I sent a message telling her to get her things and leave her key. If she refused to do so, I would be contacting the police. She kept asking for a face-to-face conversation, and I said no. Again, see the documentary and see why I felt it was out of the question for me to speak with her in person.
The last contact I’d had with her was an email she sent me a week or two ago where she told me that someone had blocked her on Twitter and she hoped I was doing okay. I ignored her and didn’t respond.
So here I am. I’ve been working things out with my wife and I’ve felt (almost) amazing. Some things have been a struggle for me, most notably I can’t shake the feelings about someone that slept with her while we were separated. I’m not mad at her for doing so, but it is something that continues to return when I am anxious. I don’t want to pry or ask, or even bring up how it feels, because it makes me even more upset (even while writing this I must admit). I also must acknowledge that she does not, nor did she, owe me anything during this time. I was sleeping with someone else during this time, and I’m sure she feels the same way that I did/do. So perhaps it’s fitting that this bothers me. Perhaps it works as a reminder of “don’t want your wife sleeping with others? Then don’t sleep with others yourself, and don’t be a dick.” She has been upfront and honest with me about these things, which I am grateful for. So this is, perhaps, my just desserts.
That aside, I am working on being more upfront with how things affect me. I’m trying to do more with managing the kids, taking care of things like laundry, dishes, trash, and other house-management things. This was something I’d read about during our separation, which was notably that men don’t take on as much around the house because they expect to be asked when help is needed. I felt immediately guilt while reading that article. So, I’ve made it a point to discover, for myself, what needs to be done and do my damnedest to take care of it myself.
I’ve also been proactive in taking better care of myself. Most importantly with my own mental health issues. I’m going to be seeing a psychiatrist about what’s going on with me and see if there are any recommendations around self-care, medication, and how better to manage my anxiety. Perhaps they’ll also help with me being transparent around my emotional needs, taking on conflict, and relationship management. I have also been working on being out in the community more and fighting through my knee jerk reaction to each opportunity to be out in the community to isolate. I was isolating pretty badly about a month ago, and I need to not do that. I have actually been finding that, the more in-person interactions I have, the better I feel. So there’s that.
Okay, my kids’ movie has ended and I better go prepare them lunch. Lots to do today.