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What I learned in Couples Therapy Today

When people say marriage is hard, it’s an understatement.

Today was the first day of couples therapy for me and my husband. I saw him tear up a couple of times and I hate that I caused him pain, but I know that this will make us stronger in the long run. And surprisingly, we laughed at ourselves a few times. And I took away 3 main things today:

  1. We’re going to be fine (after we have some tough conversations).
  2. We have history on our side.
  3. My husband’s trust issues go much deeper than my affair.

After my husband discovered my secret friendship, I told myself that it was a good thing. It was good that it was out in the open because honestly, I knew it was risky. For the record, I never thought that it was an emotional affair, but I knew it had gone on long enough without talking to him about it. I look now at the way I behaved within the friendship and knew it was going to hurt my husband. But I never knew it would hurt him so deeply and I never thought he would label it as an affair. I should’ve stopped it long ago, but I always felt it was somewhat harmless.  Hind sight….  Anyway, I remember thinking it was a good thing it was out in the open becuase I felt that he held me to a standard that was impossible to maintain. Of course, I was going to screw up.   And now that we’ve had the first of many therapy sessions, I realized how right I was.

You might be thinking that I’m being super presumptious, but stick with me a minute. My husband explained to the therapist his long history of not being able to trust his mom because of how many times she broke his trust. She taught him to hate/fear his father (who is legitimately a great guy); she never was honest about his family and why they were estranged from them; and she refused even during his adulthood to tell him what truly happened when she and his dad divorced (when he was an infant). And all of these trust issues happened over the course of his entire childhood with a few critical moments happening when he was around 14 or 15. For his sake, I’m not going to go into all the details of each scenario; the main point is she hid a lot from him and he has reason to not trust people and especially women. I knew of all this history, but today, for some reason, it clicked in a new way during therapy and I had more empathy than I already had for him.

Fast forward after his critical childhood moments into the college years and insert the codependent young lady into his life that wants to please a man to replace the love she wanted to feel from her dad. See where I’m going here? Our relationship and marriage was destined for a lot of problems. And to boot, I have my fair share of trust issues as well.

I’m scared and anxious and hopeful to go through the therapy process this time. The last time we did this, I learned of his affair after and therapy didn’t do much for us. He wasn’t honest with me then out of fear…. see the theme? Fear.

But this time, my husband talked a ton and seems legitimately open and eager to fix our situation. So, this is all part of the journey out of the rat race, right? I mean if you can’t retire happily together forever after, then why retire early?

 

Until next time….

 

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So Many Needs, So Little Time

I have been engaged with so many dynamics the past week that I am not sure how to define it all except it is the human condition. I have encountered people that are facing really tough situations and others are facing their own self-induced tough situations. It really has me humbled in how I can or cannot make a difference.

I struggle with codependency in these situations. I really want to help, but know that I am not able to help everyone with everything they need. And I know realistically that I have to prioritize those closest to me in order to truly help people the way they need. Since my therapist told me last week to focus on the emotion and the root cause of that emotion, I want to do that here.

If I am honest with myself, my reason for being frustrated that I can’t help everyone is selfishly rooted. I do not want to NOT be there for someone if they need me because that might mean I will disappoint them and I can’t stand letting people down. Good God, am I for real?! Is that perfectionism or codependency? I do not know the difference sometimes. I mean, it is superbly unrealistic to think that I can be everything to everyone at the exact moment they need me.

So, where does this come from? Why am I am so scared to let people down? 1) Some of it is that I don’t always feel like people are there for me when I need them and I give them a lot of excuses. But the people I surround myself with now are no longer that group – they would be here at the drop of a hat. 2) I’m sure some is also the trust factor that I have with people that they truly do not say what they feel. 3) I would guess a majority of it is related to communication and deep-rooted in the way that my family communicates.

But that’s a guess. So, how can I deal with this? And why is it bothering me now more than normal? Some days I feel I need constant praise and reassurance and get none. Again, is this perfectionism, self-doubt or what?

I have so much to learn. I feel that the keys to unlocking my true happiness and true human spirit are hidden in the puzzle of my brain. If you haven’t noticed this blog is not just about the journey out of the rat race for me. It is about my journey to happiness as well.

Overcommitted as F***

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with the consequences of my tendency to overcommit. I’m not around the house enough to do the simple things, yet somehow it’s all getting done.

It’s been two weeks since therapy. There are notes I took during my session.

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It’s a learning process. My husband and I have had several spats as I work through it. He’s learning how to be empathetic and helpful in the house, while I’m working on not being a yes woman.

I don’t know why I’ve struggled so much with commitment to others. Part of me believes it is related to my need to please everyone. I want to do everything I can, at the sacrifice of what’s important to me. I’m going to work on this more. No. I am fixing this.

I need to first prioritize and actually stick to that. I take my husband for granted. I assume he’ll always be there and the truth is, he may not. He is the most important person in my life, yet I often put him last. It’s frightening. Before you think I’m an arrogant bitch, this behavior is not intentional. I basically commit to things because I think it’s okay and then realize later it’s pushing into our limited time together. Our time is limited because of his job. Like I wrote last time, he’s grounding me and building the hill underneath my feet. It’s amazing, and it causes me great guilt to prioritize our relationship more than I have been.

Ouch:
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Basically, I need to slow down. After establishing with my therapist that I need to ask for help, I.did exactly that. I asked my friend for help organizing myself and managing myself better. I’m trying to get promoted again and if that comes, I’ll be at a high level that I’ll need to know how to manage myself better. She’s going to help reduce the excess noise in my mind.

And on that note, I’m going to go to bed. I need to unplug.

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All steps, big and small, are important in my journey out of the rat race.

I Just Don’t Care

I probably will be scrutinized and criticized for this blog, but I don’t care. I am to a point of just not caring about many of the things in the media or the things going on in the news. I don’t know if this is a callus developed from 9/11 or what. It’s just my reality.

The recent riots in Baltimore are tragic, but they are not surprising. Nor were the riots in Missouri very surprising either.  Everyone in social media is shocked by these human behaviors, but take a step back and ask yourself, are you really THAT surprised?

What about devastation happening all over the world? Why do you not care about that? What about the sex slave market that still exists to this day? Or the daily abuse of child labor? Is it because it’s not in your backyard? Riots and inhumanity happen on a daily basis in South American countries and people seem to be fine with that continuing. I guess I just can’t take a stand on this particular incident because there are so many everywhere daily for various reasons.

This is all part of the human condition. It’s not that I don’t really care about these things. I do. I just don’t think it necessary to plaster my devastation to all the social media. I’d rather discuss it while with my friends or family and have deep meaningful conversations instead of pushing my opinions to everyone. I’d rather find solutions to the problems if possible. In reality though, most days, I just want to fulfill my right to the pursuit of happiness. I cannot help everyone. I know this. And I know much of this will not go away. It’s cyclic and history repeats itself. But I can help those I love around me. I know there may be a time I feel strongly about certain things, but right now in my life, I just feel irritated by the “strong stance ” others take on Facebook.  If you hate the situation, do something to make a change! Don’t just tell me that you’re mad. I just do not care.

Do You Live in Fear?

When someone tells you that they are going on a trip, what do you say to them? Do you ask where they’re going and what they’re doing? Do you tell them to have fun? Or do you always lead with “be safe”?  Can you imagine going on the same trip yourself? Or does that scare you?

I have been pondering why so many people in my life tell me to “be safe” a lot. Those people in my life seem to live in fear a lot of the time. I think my adventures make them worry about my safety more than they are excited for my experiences. Even with things that keep us connected, like facebook, they still seem to think what I’m doing is crazy.

My job requires me to travel internationally about once or twice a year. I wanted the job partially because of that and I am consciously aware of what that means to my safety. I trust my company is not going to send me places that are unsafe and I take precautions and do what is necessary to make sure that I have a successful work trip and fun adventures while I am there. It is interesting to observe the reaction of people when I tell them that I’m going to exotic places like Shanghai or Vietnam. Almost immediately, those people start thinking in a negative way.

But I am not just talking about that kind of fear. I am talking about basic independence. People tend to react in fear of the unknown – sometimes just driving across town. Fear of the unknown is pretty much every animalistic instinct we have. So what I am really seeing is the people in my life have that fear of the unknown and worry a lot about it. I feel sad for them. It has taken me several years to understand that this is what they are feeling. For awhile, I was offended when they would tell me to “be safe”. I could not understand why they could not just say “have fun” or “I love you and I will miss you”. It just did not make sense to me. Then  today I realized that it is second nature to these people because they live in fear of that unknown.

Another observation that I’ve made about these people is that they’re strong in their Christian faith. I cannot understand how you can have strong faith yet not trust God for everything. These are the same people afraid to drive out of their own town and are asking for prayers for the most minor things. I’m pretty sure in the bible, Peter or Paul talks about fear being the opposite of love. Maybe Jesus did… Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that these words are true.

Fear seeps into everything like a fungus growing on the the bark of a tree that eventually takes over the entire thing and kills it.

What is the difference between worry and fear? Nothing.

If you worry for someone, you are living in fear about that person.
If you worry about someone attacking you at any given time, you live in fear. If you are worried your relationship will fail, it probably will.  There is nothing wrong with being aware of your surroundings or being ready for a situation, but there is a big difference between being ready and cowering in fear.

Do you want to live life? Do you want to feel all that it has to offer?

Let go of fear and live it!

Let’s go of the fear that your relationship is going to fall apart and actually enjoy the relationship that you have.

Let go of the fear that keeps you from driving to the other side of town or the other side of the state or the other side of the country or flying to the other side of the world if that is what you want to do.

You no longer have to just wish for it.

You can actually do it! Let it go! Trust me!

This is what God wants for you too!