I had a really difficult day Thursday. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a headache that made my entire head feel like I was wearing an incredibly shrinking skullcap made of fire. I got up and walked around a few minutes, but was so fatigued and having pain spasms I needed to lie back down. The sensation of burning pressure faded, but left me with hypersensitivity to sound, touch, and smell the rest of the day.
Thankfully, it was a day that Luna got to go to her pre-school program. However, it was also the day Jerry and I were to meet with the newest therapist assigned to Luna’s case. Neither of us were really in the mood or mode to go, but we went anyway.
Jerry and I, as you will know if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, have a long and chaotic, often toxic history of co-dependency because of our various issues. One of the biggest issues is that I’m a talker and he is not. Despite my best intentions and best efforts whenever we take a parenting class, attend a group, or meet with a service provider I wind up doing most, if not all of the talking. Even when it is something where I’m along as a support person for him, I have this compulsive tendency to speak for him, even when I know I shouldn’t and I tell myself not to. It happens. Every. Single. Time.
This is just one of many issues that sets him off into a sullen and seething silence and he shuts down and shuts me out. It’s something that has been brought up recently when we were with the other therapist and with one or two other service providers.
The previous therapist made an observation when we had the last session with her. During this session she wanted to see how we “played” together with Luna. Play is a very difficult thing for me, for a variety of reasons. It’s one of the issues I know which has interfered in my ability to bond with my children and it’s something I’ve openly discussed needing to learn how to do for Luna’s sake. So, when I was playing with Luna I was focused on Luna and intently trying to pay attention and be responsive to her. So much so, that I completely excluded Jerry.
Being non-verbal, Jerry makes very subtle movements and gestures with his face and body in order to telegraph and communicate.
Even after 16+ years together, I miss them just about every time, because I get very focused and tunnel visioned. I don’t get subtle hints about what he wants me to do. Or, if I get the hint, because it’s a hint and not an outright, direct request, it falls off my radar pretty quickly as I become reabsorbed into whatever task is in front of me.
As I have started taking care of “my side of the street” and trying to not focus on what Jerry should do differently and trying to take responsibility for the work I need to do myself, I’m being honest with him, with myself, and with others about this thing about me. Compulsion or character defect, call it what you will, it’s something that I currently have little to no control over and am just gaining awareness and acceptance that it is an issue of mine that impacts all of my relationships and has for many, many years.
So, this morning, before we got out of bed, I tried to be proactive. I brought the fact that we had this appointment up. I acknowledged and validated how Jerry has stated he feels when I start “taking over” and speaking for him. I admitted that it’s something I need help with and that if he noticed me doing it again I asked him to do something to get my attention to have me stop, whether it was to speak up and interrupt me (not in his comfort zone) or to reach out and physically touch me to disrupt my spiel.
After we got Luna on the bus to school, we stopped in at the government office to apply for the replacement document that was the trigger for the previous day’s conflict. Jerry was raised “old school” and his preference is to do the gentlemanly things like open doors and have me precede him into the room or building. This meant that the greeter saw me first and asked the question, so immediately I began talking. The thing is, we weren’t there for me or my replacement card, we were there for Jerry. This is part of the whole cycle of me taking over and talking for Jerry.
He spoke up and said something. It was snarky, sharp and sarcastic, therefore a bit painful to my hypersensitive self. However, the victory is that He. Spoke. Up. YAY! It shocked me out of my autotalk response system and I closed my mouth and didn’t get defensive or overreact, which was another victory to consider and celebrate. Although, I wasn’t exactly feeling celebratory. Neither was Jerry.
To be perfectly honest, neither of us wanted to go to the counseling appointment. Me because of the physical symptoms and aftereffects I was experiencing and because I knew Jerry didn’t want to go. We went anyway. Woohoo! Another victory to count.
So, we got to the appointment and when I first laid eyes on the woman who is going to be the new therapist, a myriad of thoughts ran through my brain. She seemed older, a bit more fragile, kind of hesitant and diminutive. I have to confess that there were almost immediate and unconscious, uncontrollable thoughts that judged her by her appearance and doubted that she could be effective with us. I don’t like that I did that, however I’m glad that I recognized it as soon as it happened and didn’t allow that to deter me from moving forward. Which makes that another victory.
Once we got into the room, I was really having difficulty with the light sensitivity and it was messing with my cognitive ability to focus and be cohesive and coherent. So, I told her what was going on with regards to my symptoms. The light was turned off and she thanked me for letting her know what was going on. She also indicated that if we needed to leave early that wouldn’t be a problem. She was compassionate, validating, and accepting. Which, I believe, set both Jerry and I at ease.
Since it was a counseling session, I won’t go into specifics. However, I will say that for the first time ever I talked (and cried, A LOT) to a therapist and Jerry about the struggles I have with things like physical affection and intimacy issues. I was able to spend more time focused on and being honest about my stuff rather than trying to manage the outcome of a session. I was able to say what I thought was happening between us and let Jerry speak. Miraculously, Jerry did speak. This was the biggest victory.
Hope is alive