Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PTDD: Post traumatic divorce disorder

For the most part I am extracted from nearly all interaction with my ex. I wish there was more, I wish it was amicable. Maybe one day. For now, no. He barely makes eye contact with me when he drops the kids at my house. In fact, he usually walks away before I catch a glimpse. I don't think it's anger. I think it's still all just too hard. Or maybe he just doesn't care at all, feels no connection, no affection. But what do I know. Maybe he hates me. It's certainly possible. And even understandable. After years of unhappiness (mine, his, ours), endless vicious fighting, loneliness and tears (mine), I left. I had become so miserable and depressed in the last years of our marriage that I literally became someone else. I didn't know myself anymore. I was untethered, unhinged. I went to work and slowly, throughout the day, became a little bit more me. And then, on the ride home, in just 20 minutes, I retreated to this tentative, unsure, terrified person that was wholly unfamiliar. It made me so off-balance to not know myself in the place where I should have felt most me - my home.

I walked into the house and did what felt like groveling for any kindness from him. I talked around my thoughts, withheld feelings, stories of my day (talking about work too much was being self-obsessed or trying to make him feel bad about not working). I became a quiet angry introvert glued to the blackberry, no conversation possible in the room. I walked on eggshells to avoid threats and epithets. But I desperately wanted something anything a touch a smile a hug though I granted none myself at least not at the end. Still, I was hoping, dying for a hint of affection or gratitude. Or genuine wonder. Isn't that how spouses sometimes feel? They look at each other with wonder and go: how did I get this lucky? How did this person fall for me? I held him in such high esteem (and still admire him despite myself). And then I gave up. And sought (and found) kindness from another. They were virtual kindnesses across the world wide web but they were my lifeline. Any generosity - even of the email variety - felt like love.

I've felt guilty for a long time. But I've reconciled it. Sad people do desperate things. We become people we are not proud of. It is important to be happy for this reason alone.

I still mourn the loss of what I thought we were. Who I thought my husband was and would become. And who I still believe he may be. I dodge and weave trying to find 'the right way' to behave with him. His morality, intelligence and staunch ethics hold me in their sway. Even when there is sometimes hypocrisy woven throughout. And I'm afraid of him. It is so odd. I'm not afraid of anybody. CEO's, Board Chairmen, news anchors, reporters, rooms of 400 people that I have to stand up and speak to. Don't care. But him...he scares me. I'm left flat-footed never knowing what to say or how to say it. How to get the right response.

For all of these reasons, I'd put off telling him that I'd found a therapist for our youngest son, who is having panic attacks. He has been having them off and on for about 2 years. A terrible thing, to watch a 6 year old cry and rock and scream at the top of his lungs "I don't want to die mom!" Yeah that is no fun. It's like my heart is beating red and raw on the outside of my chest and it is all I can do not to descend into a puddle of tears with him. But I hold it together and calm him down and rock him softly til his breathing slows.

A therapist seems like a normal response to this, to me. But I knew that the ex wouldn't be supportive as he wasn't when we were together. He's not a fan of therapy or therapists, as many aren't. I myself am a believer. I look forward to what is now generally only a once a month session as "my time".  Watching the attacks got too scary and painful and I thought: I'm going to take care of my kid. He doesn't need to suffer this way (apparently anxiety attacks in children are treatable 9 times out of 10, in a relatively short period of time). Perhaps it's me that is causing them. I need to find out what is going through his little mind so I can be of help. So I found a lovely woman who specializes in kids and anxiety. I was so afraid to tell the ex that I put it off. I convinced myself it would be fine. I'd shoot him a note and he'd say ok let me know how it goes. But it wasn't. I told him and he said no, not a good idea. Lets not. This will need to be discussed before I grant my agreement (not those words exactly, but that was the gist). I need to talk to her to determine if this is right. (I imagine this all in a stern angry voice, which may or may not be how it was written, who knows anymore). Like it's his choice and his alone. And it was. He said no. I said ok.

And here we are. I'm back on the eggshells. I'm divorced and still beholden. Still in his sway somehow. I need to find a way beyond this. I will. I am better. So much better. But not there yet.

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