Thursday, January 2, 2014

Life is not fair, and I am angry about that.

It's been welling up again. I've sensed it, and for some reason, I haven't addressed it.

I feel a tremendous amount of anger. The last time I received a message from CLS was in late July of 2012. The message was as follows:

(It began with a salutation, ironically, started with "Mrs.")

This'll be short.  I'm writing this to you now to ensure you know the extent of these thoughts.  This has been rewritten many times (I've even tried recording it, but that was just dumb), and it never quite sounds right, but I'll do my best.  I'm not even sure if you care to hear this.  I can only speak for myself, and since I would want the sincerity of someone who wronged me, that's what I'll send you.

I want you to know I'm sorry.  It's been said before, and I meant it just as much then, but there's a little more to it.  I'm sorry for what happened, truly.  But I'm also sorry for the person I was when you knew me.  I was that person because I allowed it to be that way.  No excuses here, just another apology and a little explanation.

About ten months ago I really was in a place of choice.  There were two distinct paths.  The one meant denial of my mistakes and faults - pour some dirt on it, plant a flower or two, and pretend to forget it happened - and that choice led straight to a dark, unhealthy place.  The other meant admitting to my mistakes, admitting to the horrible person I allowed myself to be, and to admitting that change was absolutely necessary.  

I've tried the first before.  This will all sound very direct and overly-blunt, but it is better explained with no emotion: when I was young, there was an older man and sexual misconduct, and I told no one nor did I seek help.  I should have.  Instead, I pretended to forget, and I refused to admit to the effect it had on the way I treated people (and allowed them to treat me).  Afterward, I allowed myself to be in more unsavory situations out of a twisted sense of obligation and a profound difficulty with the word "no" - I certainly wouldn't admit I still wasn't treating people right years later.  I understand this absolutely isn't an excuse - really, I do.  The fault is mine for not being honest with myself and with people who could have helped me and for later going against what is moral.  But it was a lesson, and it's why I'm taking the other direction this time.

So often it feels like people are ready to accept others for what they are and what they've done - ready with compassion and kindness and forgiveness; I can't speak for anyone else, but I've found it's difficult to earnestly turn that same care inward.  

The guilt is here every day, and perhaps that seems right to you - I'm not sure.  You once said I faced no accountability for my actions.  Externally, accountability didn't directly come until I was honest with my family and others.  Internally, accountability has been here daily.  We each have to find ways to live with ourselves, I suppose, and what that means is different for every person.  For me, it means humility in every sense of the word.

The point of this is to try to convey my sincerity to you.  I regret what I did every day, and that isn't an exaggeration.  But I have to forgive - and that applies both to others and to myself.  I have to.  If I can't live with myself, then there's no use living, and me just giving up would be the ultimate selfish act toward my family and those I've wronged.  Better to carry the mistakes and try to help others with what I'm learning than to take the easy way out.

I'm so sorry for what I took part in.  I do not expect your forgiveness, and after this, I will leave you and those near to you entirely alone.  You have much to give the world in ways only you and those like you can, and I truly wish you nothing but happiness and wellbeing.  God bless you, and I appreciate you reading this.

Take care.

With sincere apology,
(Ended with name)

So, that was that. I was given a "Sorry I betrayed you. I feel badly about what I did (to be clear, there was no statement of regret for the impact it had directly on me, and yes, she is capable of making that distinction). I will leave you alone, and yep, I'm taking the absolute last word."

Every so often, I feel a fair amount of personal guilt for feeling ANGRY about the way this relationship ended. I mean, she says that she was abused, and I'm well aware of how any sort of childhood abuse can permanently jack up one's ability to make good and relatively harmless life decisions. I should take her word when she says that she feels an intense amount of regret. I should be moving up and moving on and celebrating that she has, by all accounts, created a good amount of success in her young life.

Jesus Christmas, though, I can't keep doing that. She fooled me multiple times. She lied repeatedly, even before the affair (when she was stealing from my friends, or lying about other people, or doing other things to maximize her position or push others away from me or my former spouse). She was very good at it. And, as a reformed liar, I know that those habits die extremely hard, and every time I read her words, I see a thick layer of bullshit.

This was my protege. This was my star student, and she was the one who always seemed to be so much like me, only with more promise. When she told me she was being bullied, I saw my history, repeating in her. She asked for my help, and I gave it, in part because I did not receive the same sort of help when I was a teen. When her mother told me she had an eating disorder, I saw my story with only slight variations. And, because of those similarities, she latched on, and I did everything that I could to see her gain the very best in every area of life that I could influence.  Was I doing too much? Maybe. I think that all mentors run that risk. I didn't have a mentor- at least, not one who would claim me- so perhaps I'm wrong. But, looking at colleagues, I saw similar relationships. 

Anyway, this was the kid who made teaching worthwhile. She was the one who was looking up with rapt attention and marveling at just how amazing music could be. She (and a core of fellow students, some of whom are now vaguely friends of mine, all of whom are grown adults) made teaching exciting.

I suspected that the affair and her betrayal was partially responsible for my sudden change in teaching ability. At the time, I thought it was the emotional upheaval and the pain, which was making EVERYTHING difficult. The longer I am away from the classroom, the more I am realizing that it had much more to do with her and the loss of the protege than it did with the affair itself. 

I can't explain why, and I hate that I can't explain it. 

What I hate more than anything is being unable to understand something. I do not understand this. 

Every so often, I will have to do something that is marginally related to my former career. I guest lectured for a friend's class a couple of months ago. I explained how to make sound with a whistle last week. Things like this are close enough to what I used to do, and when I do them, I feel two things. I feel really, really sad. I also feel really, really home. It's those times when I realize how much talent I had as a  teacher, and it's when I realize what I really lost. I feel a passion for my new career in a way that I never experienced as a music teacher. This does not mean that my heart was not fully into my job. And that was what was lost. I think it was the ability to trust my students, and with no trust, teaching music doesn't work. Ask any of my former colleagues. I know that I won't ever again be a mentor in any meaningful way, and that is very sad. 

When I think about the times where I do something "teacher-y", that's when I feel this acute sadness. And this is when I feel tremendous anger toward CLS. And because I allowed her to have the last word, that's as far as it will ever go. I have no ideas of how to process the anger and the sense of loss. 

I am lost, and this is her fault. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to feel

Geneen Roth said (and I'm paraphrasing) that sometimes we think we know how we feel about something, but it's not how we actually feel. The "thinking" part gets in the way. We begin to judge and analyze and critique our feelings. This is a barrier to the feelings.

I didn't used to be like that, as far as I can tell. I was always extremely good at mindfulness activities. Now, I'm stoic. When I start to feel anything (mostly the sad, sometimes the angry, rarely the happy), I can actually feel the resistance. I clamp down on the feeling before it gets out of hand.

And now, I'm at a loss. I don't know how to feel the extreme sadness and grief that I can tell is welling up. I don't know how to get rid of the resistance. Interestingly, I'm now in a position where I probably have more resources for how to practice mindfulness and feeling acceptance, but I can't seem to do it for myself.

I might need some real help.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The cycle continues.

Heh.  My boyfriend told me that I have regular and predictable times when I'm affected by the affair.

He was totally right.

I don't feel like including a song, because I'm nearly over this (apparently regularly scheduled) cycle of bad feelings.  But, I did think it was worthwhile to post an update, if for no other reason than to establish the timeline of (what I hope is) recovery and "moving on".

Last week, I started feeling generally shitty and fat and old and pretty much worthless.  Fortunately, I recognized it pretty quickly as residual issues from the affair.  And then, I told my ex about how I was still hurting, and we had a sucky and painful conversation in which he became immediately defensive, and then I bawled, and then he felt bad.  So, sort of like the marriage. 

Anyway, then we went to see Dark Knight last week.  Great, great movie, by the way.  But, there's a certain actress in the movie who looks remarkably like a certain person who a certain ex husband had sex with:

and yeah, it sort of took me by surprise.  Because there were certain scenes where they looked fucking identical. It's interesting how many things come up in life that are reminders of the affair.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I Should Not Be Trusted With Sharp Objects.

Okay.  Yes, I certainly have more restraint than I give myself credit for.  Or I have a penchant for melodrama.  Or I'm a weenie who couldn't inflict physical pain on someone else intentionally. 

But if I could, I would today. 

Someone shared this song with me when I first found out about my soon-to-be-ex's affair.  And I thought I got it.  I thought it was all about, "Ha-ha, you thought you were getting off easy, but you're a douchebag tool who is doomed to be miserable, and I'm going to be fine.  And I am fine.  And my life is going to rock.  Dick."

I get it now.  Ms. Palmer, I understand.  You're not a liar, but you're a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, brave-faced bitch. 

I remember the third-to-last thing my ex said to me tonight.  There were other parts of the conversation, but everything after that memorable statement is sort of a red, hazy blur.  We were talking about his jealousy issues with his current girlfriend (read:  the jealousy issues that have probably been present since he was born), and he was bothered by her going to spend time with a guy friend who was having a rough time.  He recognized that this discomfort was irrational.  Good.  He's learning.  But, he said that one piece of advice he gave her was:

"Don't over-console him.  Because that's how you women are, wanting to comfort and being there when he's vulnerable..."

FUCK.  YOU.  I absolutely refuse to be lumped into the category of people who would do that.  Because I didn't.  The girl who he chose to have sex with while he was married to me did that.  And goddammit, I'm not going to let him get off so easy as to suggest that he was persuaded to go astray by a red-headed temptress.  Please. 

It's BULLSHIT.  It's a lie.  And I won't buy it.

Anyway, the song.  So.  She's not okay.  She's not on fire.  And neither am I.  I'm hurting, and hurting badly.  I feel like I've been ripped open...again.  I know that we're apparently only allowed to feel so much hurt at once, so that our brains don't explode, or something, but I really wish I could be done being blindsided by fits of agonizing emotional pain.  Yeah, agony covers it. 

I had this whole, beautiful, perfect stream of anger ready in my brain, and I knew that when I sat down at the computer it was going to be cathartic and I was going to feel better.  And the second I started typing, it dissolved, and I'm sitting here shaking and nauseous and feeling very, very broken.  And I hate that he did what he did.  I hate it.  I hate feeling like this.  I hate feeling like it's not ever going to get better. 

I don't know what else to say.  Anger would be easier, I think. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

No. Not there yet.

Heard this yesterday.

I seem to live my life in a constant micro/macrocosm way of thinking.  There will be an issue, or a topic, that gets into my brain, and it infects.  Everything.

What I'm learning is that there are only a handful of really major, recurrent themes, and then there are smaller issues that branch from those themes, and all of it manifests in different ways in every area of my life.

And, while that makes me sound like an absolute headcase (and I won't complain about that accusation!), I suspect that the same is true for most people.  There are scripts that we learn as kids, and we desperately try to stick with them until we die.  Because there's comfort in familiarity.  Even if it's painful or confusing or difficult, it's what we know.  It's home.

Anyway.  This song is linked to one of my two big issues (the other one is fear of abandonment).  I have a compulsive fear of not being accepted.  (HA!  I just realized that both of those are linked to one, huge, overarching fear of rejection.  See- journaling does work.)  In any event, this feeling of not fitting in isn't anything new.  This feeling of not belonging where I am isn't anything new.  This feeling of not being "right" isn't anything new.

I wonder what happens when you name your demons in real life.  In stupid kid stories about witches and evil spirits, when you name the demons, they go away.  Or they become corporeal and can be killed.  Somehow, I doubt things are that simple in real life.  And NOTHING is simple when you're a grown-up.

So let's see.  Abandonment, I name you.  Lack of acceptance, I name you, too.  And rejection, I name you.  Does anything change?  Am I better now?  Doesn't feel like I've cast anything out.

Now, I need ideas.  Once the problems are named, something needs to happen, and the problems need to be addressed.  (No.  Therapy, not an option.  If it was going to help, it would have helped by now.)  I mean, I'm smart, I'm obscenely insightful, and I think more than any person that I've ever met (even more than my boyfriend.  Yes.  Truth).  I should be able to figure out a process to address and eventually exile these fears.  Right?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I heard this cover a while back, and loved it.  I've always said that I can identify with this song- with the feeling of being obscenely alien and wrong.  Today is one of those days when I just feel wrong.

My therapist sent me a couple of articles and I finally read them today.  I ended up feeling mostly sad and angry.  For starters, one of the suggestions was "don't get into a new relationship right away".  And no matter how much I feel like my boyfriend is an amazing person who is very right for me (and wow, I can't even begin to express how blown away I was by how wonderfully last entry's issues were resolved- the man really is very, very adept at communicating with me in a way that leaves me feeling heard, understood, and appreciated), I still end up feeling sort of guilty when I hear things like that.  Because you're NOT supposed to just "rebound" into something new.

Even if the person is right.

That seems sort of stupid, but universally preached.  I wonder what you all think about that.

The second thing that irritated me about the articles was that the focus was on the relationship between the cheater and the one who was betrayed, and more specifically, on how to repair the relationship.  Well, that sucks and hurts.  I WANTED to repair the relationship.  He didn't.  And, when it comes down to it, he used the affair as a way to force me out of the marriage.

He wanted to be divorced so badly that he did the single most hurtful thing imaginable.

At work today, someone brought food.  I already had a lunch, but I ate anyway.  That's been a trend- if it's there, I'll eat it.  And I'm engaging in some of my old, familiar, destructive habits (hiding, sneaking, sometimes lying about food).  I was thinking about that on the way home, and realized that I feel a bit like I need to eat it while it's there, before someone else takes it.  And like I'm entitled to it.  And like it's going to be gone if I don't move in and take it while I can.

Even with food, I have abandonment issues.

Another thing:  I was supposed to have dinner with the person my ex had the affair with (I'll call her CLS, for sentimental reasons).  And, as I feared, she hasn't responded today, so I'm guessing that's not going to happen.  I'm feeling really sad about this.  It's another rejection.  I feel like she did a whole lot to gain my forgiveness, and now that she feels like she has it, I'm not worth the effort.  I feel duped and stupid.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Oh. Thought.

There may be a balance that needs to be struck between kind, loving words and kind, selfless action.

My ex was very, very good at doing things for me.  Still is.  But, he almost always wants acknowledgement of how much of a "good guy" he is.

My boyfriend showers me with affection of all kinds.  But, he's (by his own admission) sort of lazy and unmotivated.  I can't count on him to do things in the way that my ex will.  So, this may be another thing that I have to get used to being different.

And I'm okay with that.  I'm good with self-reliance (and I like having my independence).  But it feels weird.  I've grown used to translating acts of service with love.  It wasn't the thing I would have preferred (and my boyfriend's methods of showing me he loves me are perfectly suited for what I want), but it was what I knew.

Growing pains.  That's all.  I hope I'm able to figure out how to talk to him about this without hurting him.