Wednesday night, Lora wrote back. On the face of things, it was a good email. She apologized (great). She acknowledged that it’s her insecurity ruling her and that she gets extra-anxious when Jon is working a lot (great). She said that still didn’t excuse it, and that she was sorry not just for me hearing it, but also for saying it (awesome). She said she will not go there anymore (great idea, we’ll see if it works in practice). She said it’s a really weird feeling for her to have two people supporting her, and she needs to remember that we’re there to build her up, not tear her down (eeeeerm, yes, sort of, but…personal responsibility, yo!).
She said that she knew that couples therapy would build her trust and confidence in her and Jon’s relationship, and that would make things all better (NO).
So, first of all, while this all sounds great, in theory, and Jon will probably seize as a little crumb showing that she IS getting better, and really WANTS to get there; I see it as a tactic (quite possibly totally subconsciously) to keep things good for her, meaning if she doles out a little bit of emotional competence, maybe we’ll be satisfied and back off of that whole “taking care of herself” spiel.
So this is what I wrote back. It’s all true, and it’s just…I can’t let the sleeping dogs like. I need to poke them with a stick. The dullest, kindest stick, but still a stick:
Thank you for saying all that. I am really heartened by your response. I really want to say thank you, and that it means a lot to me that you said those things.
But, speaking as someone who has done a lot of therapy, I would feel like I’m taking the weak way out if I didn’t say that that is going to be something that you need to work on for you. It’s not a relationship thing; it’s a you thing.
I’m not pointing that out to make you feel bad, or to be hard on you, but because all the support in the world from Jon or me isn’t going to make it better, because it has to come from inside you and only you can fix it.
There was a point where I had a kind of triggering event. I was between therapists at the time, but something happened that brought up every horrible thing I’d ever felt about myself (it’s a really, really long, and somewhat weird story). I wondered if I should just give up, and I felt like there was nothing I could possibly do to ever be a healthy, whole person. I sat in the bathroom and wondered if I should even bother to keep trying to live. I hadn’t gotten my college degree yet, because I couldn’t find anybody who would take me for my internship (remember, I mentioned that a while ago. There was a chunk of months where I had no idea if I’d ever get my degree, because nobody would take me as an intern). I had about 14k in credit card debt, and I was working as a a go-go dancer. My mom was pretty disgusted with me, and my dad was baffled.
I felt like I’d failed at pretty much everything, including the relationship I was in. So why bother?
Why not bother?
Here’s the thing, there was no concrete reason – the only person I “had” was a boyfriend who’d just told me that I was a completely fucked up, emotionally damaged person (like I said, long story). I wasn’t speaking to my parents. They’d been amused, then kind of freaked out that I went from being a Hooter Girl to a go-go dancer. The “jokes” about becoming a stripper were becoming less jokey every day. I felt pretty awful about everything.
And I just figured “what the hell, why not?” Which isn’t much, in the way of “what do I have to convince me to keep trying and work on myself?” But for me, the thing that was important about that was that nobody could take it away. If I had a reason – I’m pretty, I’m smart, I’m physically healthy, I am working two jobs and my coworkers love me, I have to live for my cat. Those are all THINGS and they can all be taken away. Hell, as I age, they ARE all going to be taken away.
But no one but me can take away that desire to change, to get better, to see what’s out there, except for me. I get to choose that. I only answer to myself, and in the end, only I could make that decision in a way that made it totally MINE.
So I did.
That might make no sense whatsoever. But it’s still true.
I really hope that helps. And even if it doesn’t, I hope it makes it clear that I’m coming from a sincere and vulnerable place when I say that only YOU can make it better, and it’s going to take work that you do for yourself, by yourself.
Even though it sucks and it’s hard and it’s scary, it’s also the best thing ever in the end.
I hope you have a good night, and a good sleep, and wake up feeling good tomorrow. I’ll see you at the hangout tomorrow.
Lora responded to my message. She reiterated that she really meant what she said about understanding that she needed therapy and that she was really going to try. BUT – she said – part of why therapy was so stressful to her is that she’d had a ton of therapy as a child and it was a horrible experience. She also admitted that there are a lot of things that happened in her life that she feels really uncomfortable with, and has no interest in revisiting or talking about for any reason.
The “I had therapy before and it was terrible” statement is a direct contradiction to what she told me several times before, which was that she had never tried therapy and that she’d always thought she could benefit from it, but that her psychiatrists always said that it wasn’t necessary. I remember this extremely clearly, because I had to restrain myself from saying “What kind of psychiatrist would tell a person who they were prescribing heavy-duty meds for anxiety and PTSD that she doesn’t need therapy?”. I want to cautiously bring this up to Jon, because he was present during one of the conversations where she said that, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m going a little bit insane.
Additionally, the part about there being past experiences that she has no interest in revisiting or talking about under any circumstances sounds pretty ominous to me. Though I’ve had years of therapy myself, I’m by no means an expert, but going into therapy with an attitude like that sounds like a recipe for making little to no progress, even if she’s also saying she’s really going to give it a try.
So, while Lora was responded to my emails in a theoretically positive, but deeply concerning way, Jon had decided that he’d had enough and texted her to tell her that he really thought that she needed solo therapy. They got into a huge fight over it, with him basically begging her to do solo therapy, which she grudgingly agreed to, in part because he told her he didn’t know if he could handle it if she didn’t.
I didn’t know about this until Jon got home and I woke up to the sound of him stifling his sobs. He cried his eyes out last night. He told me about the fight he had with Lora earlier that night. He told me she was furious with him, because I’d emailed her too, and it was obvious to her that we’re ganging up at her. He told me that he was sorry he kept pretending that everything was fine; he knew it was terrible, but he was afraid to talk to me about it. He told me that he made an appointment for solo therapy for himself. Then he said that he should go tell Lora he’s home and say goodnight to her.
When he did, she launched into another fight with him – I’m not sure what about, but I heard the raised voices. He started sobbing again, and told her he didn’t want to fight, and went to shower. She stayed with him in the bathroom while he was crying and showering. He wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. I wasn’t sure if I should join them or…god, it was around three am and I had to be up for work at eight am, so the idea of wading in there was just…I couldn’t do it.
But eventually he finished showering and came to bed (he and I were sleeping Wednesday last night). He cried a lot more, and said he was sorry, and that he didn’t know what to do. I told him that solo therapy was a really great step in the right direction for him and for Lora. And I kept telling him that I loved him.
Yesterday morning, Lora was clearly still pissed at Jon, as she slammed around getting ready and then didn’t come in to kiss him goodbye before she left for work.
They must have worked it out, because by the time I got home yesterday, everything was quiet (we skipping going out for drinks. nobody was feeling it). Jon and I spent a little bit of time together, but he was still totally emotionally checked out (as was I, really). A few times, he started crying randomly. The first time, I asked him what was up, and he said it was so stupid that he was playing this game on his computer and it was clear he was going to lose and he was crying over it. I kinda feel like that’s a symptom of knowing that you’re in a horrible situation, but being afraid to take steps to get out of it.
I am so glad that he’s going to therapy soon.
A bit later, when he started to choke up again, he motioned to Lora to come over and hugged her. Looking at them, I thought to myself “Yep. That’s it. Hug your abuser. She’s having a quiet, calm day today, and clearly being careful. I’m sure she’ll stay that way until things settle down again and then she try to cover us with a blanket of her insecurities and bullshit and abuse again”.
After that, I only spoke to Lora and Jon as much as I needed to like, share a house with them. I just feel totally done.
Tonight, I’m supposed to spend a few hours with Jon in the park, after I get off of work and before he starts. I’ll write about that more in part 2.