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.

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