I can’t breathe, but I’m getting by

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.


Reaching the End of My Rope

I feel like I’m out of options. I feel like I’m just fucking losing this battle against my anxiety. I fucking hate it.

I’m constantly unhappy unless I’m doing something to get a thrill or excitement out of a boring or tame moment. I’m not happy with what I’m doing, even if I’m doing ten things at once. I always feel like there’s something I should be doing, but can never figure out what it is. My children are in constant need for something I feel like I’m never able to give them, and it’s only been exacerbated this week by the fact that they’re both under the weather.

Worse. Their presence is somehow a constant reminder of a few points in time when my ex and I were happy. The relationship, as a whole, was a fucking train wreck, and I know that. But seeing my kids makes me yearn for the days and times when we were legitimately happy and supported one another. I shouldn’t focus on that, but instead on the times when she did things like belittle me for how awkward I was. How she used me as a goddamn punchline to all of her stories she told our mutual friends at parties. How she drank around me and gave zero fucks about how alcohol is a poison in my life. I should remember the accusations she threw at me while I was at work, charging me with horrendous, untrue, unsupported statements and the tears I shed in my bosses office as I worried that the police might come collect me.

She was awful to me. But my brain isn’t letting me remember those feelings or moments.

The woman I’ve been seeing, who gave up drinking for me, listens to me and validates my feelings (no matter how irrational and ridiculous they may be), and cares about me as a human being who has been through so fucking much and comes to her as a damaged package. It never feels like enough, even with me having to remind myself that she does everything that I wanted out of a relationship.

But I’m just not feeling it. And I just had an exchange with her where she would not acknowledge my request for a boundary. And she made it about her. Now here I am trying to fight my feelings about my ex, I want space to help readjust my thoughts and feelings, and then she doesn’t accept or identify that I needed space, and it becomes about her.

During lovemaking, she stopped because she said she felt “self-conscious.” So I granted her request to stop. Then she tells me that she’s uncomfortable because she thinks that I must notice a difference between my ex and her while doing what we had just been doing. This is after numerous occasions of affirming for her that, no, I’m not “less interested” in her because she doesn’t have tattoos like my ex. No, I’m not thinking of leaving her because my ex is into fitness. It was just reassurance after reassurance, time after time.

It started to form a pattern very similarly to how I viewed the tension with my ex; reassurance after reassurance that I wasn’t having an affair. No I wasn’t cheating on her. No, I’m not sleeping with my coworkers. No, I’m not interested in my editor.

Let me be clear about something before I proceed; people experience feelings about certain things because of experiences they’ve had. My ex was cheated on by someone that was pretty important in her life, as well as experiencing the dissolution of her parents marriage due to her father cheating. She once said in therapy that she refused to end up like her mother; she would never be that stupid.

I can’t fault her for being highly sensitive to things that looked like cheating. What I will fault her for is how she approached the circumstance. It wasn’t uncommon was receiving picture messages of my junk inbox in my email, with the caption “pack your shit and leave.” Had she spoken with me about how seeing these things made her anxious, or how it triggered old feelings from being cheated on, I think I might’ve been able to work with her.

With the woman I’m seeing, I understand her concerns. She is sacrificing a lot to be around me and to start her own divorce proceedings. I’m sure she really is concerned with the idea that this behavior (from me) might be indicative that the relationship will end. Very literally, as I’m writing this, she has only now given me what I had originally asked for. Space. It has taken me since 7:30 this morning until now, 1:40 PM. Two hours of that I won’t count against her since she knew I was working then.

I want to accept responsibility for how I have contributed to these differences though. Part of my ex’s circumstance was that she didn’t like how much time I spent on the computer, especially online. I did this as part of my side profession, as I was frequently writing, researching, or asking for resources from colleagues better informed than I. This also meant reaching out to people for opportunities to speak at events, interviews (some of them happening online), or offering blurbs for other authors. And sometimes, after she would voice that she wanted me off the computer or that she was annoyed with how much time I spent online, I would play a game on my phone so I could provoke her further. This wasn’t a frequent thing, but I took more of a position of “don’t get mad, get even,” rather than acknowledge how my choices affected her. So certainly I have contributed to the conflict equally. And better communication may have solved this problem. But it’s too late for that.

For the woman I’m seeing, I’m not always acknowledging in moments like these what it is that is contributing to my own anxiety. I’ve reassured her in multiple instances that I’m not going to end the relationship, but my reaction to her recent responses were to shut down more. To only communicate if it was absolutely necessary, and to say as little as possible. In a relationship that has been completely open, information-wise, from the start this must feel foreign and ominous.

The problems are obviously not as simple as I had laid them out here, but just some of the difficulties with how I process information. It’s multi-tiered, multi-dimensional, etc., but I need to process sections of it that way. I cannot process things in an all-encompassing concept. And I’m not saying that meaning I am not able to, because I do. This is more of a reassurance to myself. I’ve made quick, rash decisions from taking it all in at once. Or trying to. And I cannot continue to do that.

As for right now, I think I need to eat lunch and then do some self-care. Maybe some music. Maybe a video game. Maybe a nap.

So Long, and Goodnight.

I’m writing from my new apartment. I moved in just over a week ago. It’s been strange, to say the least, but I am doing well. This was actually a really good move (no pun intended) for me. My anxiety has been significantly less than it has been in the past. I’ve even been cutting back on my medication.

Whoa! Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. I’ve been using citalopram for the last few months. My anxiety was so bad that I was doubling the dose (prescribed 20 mg once a day, so…), and it was working. So now I’m back to using the prescribed dose and doing well with that.

This isn’t to say everything has been smooth sailing. It’s certainly difficult to attempt to manage my two youngest children and to realize “I’m legitimately doing this on my own.” It does amplify my anxiety, but I have decent enough coping skills to manage it without overreacting or doing anything stupid. I am anxious about money. Seeing as it’s my first month in the apartment, and what with the security deposit and all, it’s been hard to manage finances. I also got stuck with the bills for all the utilities until I had taken my name off of everything. So…let’s talk about how much fun that is.

All being said, I’m in a much better place. I’m getting the time I need to do some self-care, I am able to manage the cleaning and maintenance of the house, and the only people I have to worry about, aside from myself, are my children when they’re here. It’s pretty great.

Oh, and I may have met someone that acknowledges my anxiety. She provides the acknowledgment I need to feel cared for, validated, and like a human being. So, things are looking up and I finally feel like I’m taking charge.

“We need a break”

I can’t do the rollercoaster anymore. I can’t go between feeling loved and feeling shunned. This feeling of awesome hopefulness to utter despair is exhausting. I’ve been using that word a lot lately.

She told me tonight she isn’t, and hasn’t been, happy for a while. I asked her what I can do to make her happy. She said I have to be happy with, and love, myself first. While I can’t deny that, I felt she was part of that equation. As a couple, and one with kids, that meant working together. Being together. Now she wants to be apart. Now I need to distance myself from her in order to figure out what I really want. When I asked what it is I’m not doing that she needs me to do, she simply said “love yourself.”

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to do that. I am an incredibly flawed human being, and I feel this circumstance has demonstrated that to the N’th degree. I have always felt inadequate, below average, less than worthy. It’s not that I’m incapable, but it’s a work in progress, to say the least. And especially given the situation, I feel like it’s going to take more work than I’m prepared to put into it.


That is all…

2017 Sucks Already

It’s been a while, and quite a bit has happened. I’m not sure where to start, and I’m tired but I can’t sleep. Hence why I’m here writing so late.

So my medication has either plateaued or it just isn’t working. Generally I’m still pretty anxious, just not as bad as I’ve been in the past. But the real bad tipping point for me was this past Friday when I had a full-blown panic attack. I didn’t really know what was going on. I couldn’t form coherent sentences though. Or understand what other people were saying. They originally thought this was attributed to one of my other conditions, but that proved to not be the case as they treated what they thought the problem was, and my talking problem persisted.

So, they pumped me full of liquid Ativan and, voila! I could talk and understand people. And my doctor still tells me they don’t want me on Ativan because there’s a risk of my abusing it. Despite the fact that it has helped me so much, and the best, with my anxiety issues.

Here’s the kicker: my wife asked me for a divorce after this. Part of it is due to my social anxiety, as I prefer to stay in and take care of our kids than go out. Also, we really don’t have money to go out. So why are we discussing going out if we don’t have…ugh. Anyway…

So she feels like I have no desire to be part of the community and she feels like, if she’s going to go out alone, she may as well be single. But this story changes depending on her current mood. Or it feels that way, at least. It certainly hasn’t helped my anxiety, or the overwhelming depression I’ve been feeling.

My boss told me not long ago that some people’s lives are simply complicated and, while some thrive off of complications, others can get exhausted. And I am. Bitterly so. I am fighting with my doctor to change my medication, my wife doesn’t address problems with me until it’s too late and now it seems she doesn’t want to fix things (and this is also exacerbated by the fact that she thinks every female interaction I have now is me pursuing another relationship, which is the *last* thing on my mind right now), it feels like I am about to end up homeless and without health insurance because of how upset she is with me, I’m mortified to do anything on any electronics because I’m afraid she’ll twist it into something it isn’t, and I feel like I’m drowning. Like I have social supports, but I’m ridiculed for the ones I do have because they aren’t people I meet up with in person every day. So my wife minimizes my connections I have with friends in different states, who are networking connections that I’ve built (what feels like) a good friendship on.

But fuck me, because those aren’t legitimate friendships. Fuck me, it’s just weird. Sorry, you’ve got a legitimate anxiety disorder that you were fucking hospitalized for a week ago that didn’t go away until we pumped you full of a potent drug. But god DAMN are you weird for having friends online and explaining how social interactions in person affect you negatively. You shake and sweat when talking with people in person? Get over it. Only having friends in real life is legitimate and the right way. I can’t tell you why it’s weird (legitimately her words), but you shouldn’t do it.

I’m sorry. A million times over I’m sorry for using this as a personal complaint space. I just don’t know how I’m supposed to respond. I’ve given this woman my unquestioning love, trust, and devotion. There have been odd quirks and workarounds for me, but I’ve never told her she has to change. I’ve never forced her to “get over” something or face up to it because I thought it was weird. She has told me she has made personal choices about philosophical things because of conversations she’s overheard, seen me have with other people, or that I’ve had with her (never intending to convince or talk her into something), but I’ve permitted her to come to her own conclusions. Fuck, I’m sorry.

It’s just hard to accept that it’s over. I’ve failed at another relationship. And I’ve wanted to drink so fucking bad. There’s liquor, beer, and wine in our fridge (thanks friends who don’t understand that “Sorry, I’m an alcoholic” is not an invitation to gift alcohol), and I just feel this pull towards it every time I open the fridge. I just have to keep reminding myself how awful I felt and acted when I did drink. I don’t function like a normal person who drinks to unwind at the end of the day, and does so responsibly. One drink becomes ten, I become beligerent, and I offend and upset people. I hated waking up in the mornings after a blackout (which happened a lot) and wondering who I would need to apologize to that day. I hated the sick feeling of the hangover, but I got used to it. I prefer going in to work with a clear head, with energy to do my job, and without the distraction of “am I going to puke” lingering over me.

If I can make it through this without hitting the bottle, I’ll be just that much stronger. Wish me luck :/

It never gets easier

I’ll apologize ahead of time. I don’t want this to be a forum where I just whine, so I apologize if it comes off that way. I’m just finding it hard to talk with people or find anyone empathetic to my situation. So, here goes nothing.

I haven’t had my medication changed yet. I called my doctor, and the person who answered said they’d pass along the information to the nurses at the facility to consult with my doctor. I have not yet heard anything back. Meanwhile, my anxiety and depression has gotten worse. I believe I had mentioned I’m having intermitten thoughts of self-harm. Nothing I’m planning on acting on! I really want to emphasize that. I am depressed, yes, and I do have these thoughts, but it seems more like my mind is offering thoughts out of this scenario rather than being a conceiveable option. It’s like people dreaming of winning the lottery in order to alleviate their financial situation.

Side note: my heat just kicked on and the warm air feels really good as it blows on me. It’s the little things sometimes.

More and more I’m realizing that I have almost zero time to do much for self-care. Today is a prime example. I’ve been going out and playing music at open mics, and I even played a political event for a local politician. It was pretty cool. So at the last open mic I played, there were a few people there who had seen my play before. They told me there was another regular open mic at a coffee bar nearby. I was planning on playing it today, and I’m about 99% certain that I had told my wife. I remember this because we were talking about her schedule to do her part-time work and how it overlapped slightly with the open mic schedule.

So earlier today, I was talking about going to play the open mic, and she seemed stunned. She claimed I had not spoken with her about this (we’ve had multiple discussions that I know, for a fact, that we’ve had and she has suddenly forgotten about the day the information was pertinent), and I said that I just would like to go once she was done doing her work. She like her work, it’s a “thing” she enjoys doing a lot and is self-care for her. However, this work she does leaves me home with our kids a lot. And if I’m watching the kids, I can’t do a whole lot for myself. I mean, I can’t do my self-care stuff as it really involves me being focused on one thing.

So my wife appears agitated. She starts asking how long it will take, how long will I play, she needs me home after I’m done playing. And I get anxious. I get really annoyed. My thoughts are “I give you a lot of freedom to go out and do what you enjoy, and you make some money off of it. I want some freedom to go and have a half hour to myself where I can play some music.” I try and not let it get to me, but when I feel like I pick up a lot of the slack at home, doing chores, cleaning the house, watching the kids, making sure the dog is taken care of, cooking meals, etc., it becomes increasingly frustrating when my partner seems upset when I want some time to do what I want. I’m not saying she doesn’t help, I’m saying that I feel (I *feel*) like I do a lot and it bothers me that I can’t get just a few minutes to myself.

And I think that’s what I really want. I want an opportunity to be alone for a bit without external distractions and interruptions. I’m in a constant state of multitasking. I’m frequently picking up, ensuring the safety of the kids, making sure the dog isn’t eyeballing a snack the kids have, preparing a meal, entertaining someone, and/or making sure other people’s needs are met. This all while, in my head, I’m thinking about how much I’m failing at my job, how I picked the wrong major in college (and the wrong masters degree), where we’re going to get the money to take care of our heating bill, if I can’t get a certain need met, can I fill that need with a placebo of some kind? I suck as a father. I suck as a husband. I suck as an employee. I don’t have any friends. When’s my next therapy appointment? Is my wife having an affair with someone and is she using her part-time job as an excuse to sleep with them? Does she have divorce papers that she’s waiting to throw at me? Sweet mother of mystery I’m getting fat. My children’s problems come from me.

And on, and on, and on…

My mind is a mess. My emotions are a pile-up of shit. I want a vacation that my employer can’t give to me (because my position doesn’t permit it). I want an hour or two where I don’t have to meet other people’s needs, but I can’t because I have two little humans that need me to help them and a partner that is working to try and help us out financially.

I’m starting to see why people get into drugs.

…said the pill-popping, anxiety-ridden, depression-enveloped mental health nightmare.

Happily never after

It was short-lived, but it was good while it lasted. The wellbutrin isn’t working the way it used to. I was about a month into using it, and it helped, but now I feel like the reverse is happening. I’m starting to feel more and more agitated, I’m not happy or relaxed as much as when I started it, and the sadness just seems to be elevating. It’s like laying on the beach as the tide is coming in. I’m not drowning yet, but if I hang out here it’s going to happen.

Yesterday was, overall, a pretty decent day. I was productive and took care of a lot of issues at home. One of them was that the bottom panel of my car fell out. I’m not a mechanic by any means (I’m probably the least knowledgeable person when it comes to cars of anyone I know), but it looked like a relatively easy fix. I had to get some zip ties (you can already tell either how easy this was to remedy or how incapable I am…I can’t tell the difference at this point), and then I had to jack up the car.

So the car is small and sits relatively close to the ground. As a result, my anxiety kicked in and I started thinking about what would happen if the jack gave out and crushed me while I was fixing the panel. Obviously it didn’t, but I worked pretty quickly. The longest part of the whole thing was just lifting and lowering the jack. It did help distract me and take my mind off of the car potentially falling on me, at least after the fact. And it also motivated me to do some other chores. That aside, I don’t know how quickly I’d go to do another car repair anytime soon.

Okay…that’s all I’ve got. I hope I can get my meds fixed/changed so I stop catastrophizing little things around me. I hate this feeling and was really hopeful it was gone for good. I’ll update when an update becomes available.