Co-dependence

It keeps getting better

Jerry has a job! Woohoo! Yippee-skippy!

After the series of frustrating events since September 19th, when Jerry was told he didn’t have the local driving job he had just quit his long-haul trucking job for the day before, he has a job. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that long that he went without a job, exactly a month, since he got to go in and sign the paperwork for the new job on Wednesday, October 17th.

The biggest concern we have right now is making sure we have access to a functional vehicle to ensure he can get to and from work. There’s all kinds of drama around that issue right now, that I won’t go into, because I’m determined to focus on the good in this post.

In terms of survival in our society, the fact he has a job seems like it is the best news.  However, that’s just icing on my cake today.

The real good news is that I seem to be stabilizing and actually making progress I can identify in dealing with my emotional issues and my co-dependency tendencies.

In the midst of all this good news and the good cheer we had going as a result of it, there was a distinctive crash.

Jerry’s mom gave us some gas money and we went out to her house to pick it up. She’s in the middle of losing her house because she couldn’t afford to keep up the mortgages after Jerry’s dad died at the end of February. She’s packing up things and has already gotten rid of a lot of things.  This is difficult for Jerry to see all of this. He hasn’t had the time and opportunity to really grieve the loss of his dad. Then he sees everything gone or changing. On top of that, his mom has been in the hospital herself a few times recently. For us to go over there, needing her help financially, instead of him being able to help her and give back a little for everything he’s received, is hard on him. He doesn’t really express any of this. I don’t think he knows how.

Instead, he gets tense, short-tempered, and easily frustrated ~ more so than usual, and that’s saying something.

While we were there, Luna went to play with the kitties. One of the cats acts like he’s stuffed. He lets her do anything and everything without protest or painful reaction to her exuberant hugs and suffocating pressure. The other cat is more frail and has a small wailing whimper that indicates Luna has been a little too rough with her. Repeated efforts on our part to tell and instruct Luna on appropriate touch, during the infrequent visits, have yielded little result and Luna wound up “in trouble.” She wouldn’t listen, didn’t move, and continued lavishing her attention on the cat that couldn’t handle it. Finally, Jerry, gave her a single swat on her padded bottom and sent her into the living room to sit down.

Immediately, she came running to me, wailing with tears running, and attached herself to me. At first I tried to get her to sit on the floor in front of me, But she was quite resistant and was climbing up on me to get hugs, loves and comfort. So, I had her stand against my leg and spoke to her calmly and soothingly about what she had done. Then I sat her on my leg while she started calming a bit.

Jerry’s mom said something to me about thinking I needed to make Luna sit down. In the past, I would have been very offended and internally p.o.’d that she felt it was okay to tell me what I needed to do to discipline my daughter. Today, it just kind of rolled off me. Since Luna still wasn’t really listening or responding to me, I had her go over to her dad, who did the exact same thing I had done, and he spoke calmly and lovingly to her, even though he was frustrated and upset that she hadn’t listened and had wound up hurting the cat. Yay us!

Afterward, we left and went to the nearest gas station to fill up the tank only to discover the one and only gas cap key was missing.

Oh crap! On Friday, my son had stopped by to follow through on something and wound up talking his way into driving our vehicle to get him home and to meet up with a friend, while I rode along and we finally had an opportunity to talk through some things. Jerry was against it and initially said, “No.” However, Marco talked me into talking Jerry into allowing it. Part of the agreement was that he would put a few dollars into the gas tank.  I remember giving the key to him to give to the attendant, but have no idea what happened after that.

Immediately Jerry’s ire was ignited. He started ranting about how he hates the fact that he can’t say no without getting an argument from me and my kids. He was justifiably upset. In order to put fuel in the tank, without the key, he will have to break the cap and purchase a replacement with the little bit of money we have to make sure there’s enough gas in the tank until he gets his first paycheck. However, this incident triggered all the years of frustration that every, single time he tried to say no, he was argued with and had his position undermined.  And so, his road ranting increased and his bad mood carried through into the rest of the evening. Nit-picking and trying to pick a fight with me over inconsequential stuff.

The victory in all of this was the fact that throughout most of it, I didn’t feel the need to soothe or fix his feelings. I didn’t feel the internal snideness and go through the mental monologue detailing how ridiculous and counter-productive he was being. I responded to his statements, reasonably, one time only, if they needed a response and left it at that. I identified what my part of the problem(s) was and took responsibility, but I didn’t send myself into emotional oblivion over his disturbance. I let his stuff, be his stuff.

I focused on my stuff and let myself have my feelings and actually experienced them, moved through them, and eventually went to sleep.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was better and the process is about progress, not perfection, right?

Everyday there is a victory

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