Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can I Be Open Here?

Can I be open and honest on this blog? I'm sure that my readers would be fine with that, but I'm not sure I can do it. I have had this blog for nearly 5 years and have carefully avoided saying anything about my true feelings, problems, joys, sorrows, etc. that entire time. I'm not sure if I should continue on that way, or open up. What I'd really like to do is get together with a few friends in real life and open up to actual flesh and blood humans. I'm not sure how to do that though, so for now, it's broadcasting it to the world or nothing. . .

I can see how it would be very therapeutic for me to write some things out, but I don't know that it would help to write them on the internet, for everyone (including future employers) to see. I am an intensely private person, and it terrifies me to think of anyone except carefully selected friends knowing my true feelings about ANYTHING. It doesn't really matter if it's embarrassing or not - I just don't want most people to know anything about me. The article I read about Soulful Relationships may help me change that point of view, and realize that it's not scary to let people see who I am. I already write out my feelings to a few friends by email and anonymously on a forum specific to my situation, and both of those are very helpful. I am hopeful that putting this out there will be helpful to someone else and will keep me more accountable for making the changes I say I am going to make.

The whole reason I am thinking about this is because I am getting divorced. You may have noticed over in the sidebar that I changed the 'husband' status to 'STBXH' which means soon to be ex husband. Readers of my blog never really 'knew' my husband anyway -- I only wrote about him 2 or 3 times. He barely even knew I had a blog and he never read it as far as I know, so I didn't feel it would be fair to write about him.

I want to tell everyone the reasons for my divorce, so they won't think that I just fell out of love or gave up over something silly. I will not share the reasons, but I will say that probably without exception, every one of you would say "yeah, a divorce was a good choice" if you heard the whole story. The story is not secret; I'm just not going to publish it on the internet. Anyone can email me if they would like to hear more. I waffle between telling myself that ANYONE would get a divorce in my situation and knowing that anything COULD have been overcome if we were both willing to do the necessary work.

The Ex and I did not ever have very good conflict resolution skills, and he would suggest divorce frequently, throughout our whole marriage. I first considered divorce seriously in June 2007, but only because I thought I had to. We decided not to go that route and things seemed to be getting better. The Ex was not satisfied at work and decided to move back to Houston for work. I found out he was thinking about Houston two weeks before he moved. I do not deal with things quickly -- I need a lot of time to process. But I came around and was very excited about Houston. I was especially excited about not having to deal with snow! I called up my old boss and got my old job back.

Before he left, I realized The Ex was making plans to do something that I could not live with. I was so overwhelmed by the idea of the move that I didn't do anything about it. Then The Ex left to drive back to Houston. I talked to a friend and realized I did have a choice. She told me that I was worth being emotionally safe, and for the first time, I began to believe it. I didn't have to sit around waiting to see what The Ex would do. So I called him. I said I was very concerned about our family, and that I didn't think we could make it as a family if he did what he was planning to. I was very careful to say this was not a threat or ultimatum, but he took it as such. He blew up and during the conversation said we were getting a divorce. He had said this many times before, but it felt a little different this time.

I prayed and fasted (a huge deal; hadn't done that for 8.5 years) and attended the temple. I felt very calm about divorcing. I had refused to consider divorce in the past because of the devastating effect it would have on the kids. But suddenly it felt like it would be a good choice. I didn't get any sudden clear answers, but I felt calm and happy and I came to an understanding about the meaning of a scripture that really helped. I've always wondered why we have the story of Nephi killing Laban in the Book of Mormon. Most modern day LDS aren't going to have to kill someone. But I had an epiphany and felt that divorce was the modern day analogue to murder. Usually, people will not be given an answer from God that they should divorce -- it just shouldn't happen most of the time. But occasionally, it needs to happen, for the better good. I felt like I had been given this understanding of the scripture. Things like this almost never happen for me.

I'm alternately devastated, ecstatic, sad, calm, agitated, happy, sad, hopeful, and hopeless. It is a bit of a roller coaster, but it is tolerable because the intensity of these feelings is nothing like the intensity of the roller coaster I've been on during the marriage. The worst pain I've ever felt in my entire life happened in May 2007. I am scared that I may go through that kind of pain again. I'm hoping that since I went through it 2 years ago and to a far lesser extent went through it continually over the past 2 years, that I'm done with it and I can just move forward. But I worry that I may just be burying things and will not deal with them appropriately.

The Ex and I were in marriage counseling over the past 2 years, and I have continued to see the counselor as an individual counselor. I asked him how I could 'make' myself feel what I need to feel, to be sure I didn't sweep it under the rug. He said I was probably so busy that I didn't have time for a breakdown, so I was just keeping my mind off of it. He suggested I find a safe space, where I am all alone and have no demands on me. He said I should intentionally think about everything that is happening and even write it out. I have not done this yet; even while writing this huge blog post, I carefully keep the most painful parts sealed safely away in my mind. I guess I need to do it soon, at least to get a feel for how much pain I am hiding.

The other big thing I'm dealing with in counseling is that I feel that I don't deserve to be happy any time soon. I feel that I have absolutely, thoroughly, and completely failed and destroyed my kids' lives and happiness. I'm not much worried about myself, but I am devastated about the kids. I feel that I don't deserve to be happy because I need to pay in some way for destroying their happiness. Now, that all sounds very dramatic. I don't think about it in that extreme of a way most of the time. My kids seem to be doing fine. I have no idea what is really going on in their minds, but they appear to be OK. The Ex worked out of town for 15 months out of the last 3 years, so the kids have dealt with him being gone for up to 5 months solid before. I also recognize that my mindset completely denies the efficacy of the atonement, and I don't want to think that way. I also realize logically that if I keep myself unhappy, that will be WORSE for the kids. Intellectually I understand all those things. But it's hard to convince my deeper belief that this is the case.

I don't have a solid, workable plan for how to move forward, but I do have some ideas. I've always been a great sleeper, but once The Ex started working out of state 3 years ago, I started staying up until 11, 12, 1, 2, or 3 in the morning. I've been utterly exhausted ever since. Look at me now - it's past 1 am already and I am supposed to take the kids on a difficult hike tomorrow! Anyway, the first big thing I could improve upon would be my sleep, and related to that is my self-discipline, since for me it requires a great deal of self-discipline to not waste time on the internet and go to bed.

Directly related to spending time on the internet is having real life friends. I am absolutely starved for flesh-and-blood human relationships, male or female. I do not get together with friends, ever, and have rarely done so at any time during my marriage. Our first 2-3 years of marriage, we would get together with other couples occasionally. In the past 3 years, I've been to a playgroup 3 or 4 times. I've gone to book club once. In Houston, I went to a friend's house a handful of times. I have no idea how to start up new friendships. The main problem is time. I work full time. After 5 years of doing it, I have no better handle on running a household, spending time with my kids, and working. I just don't have time to be sitting around hanging out with friends. I absolutely do not want to leave my kids in order to see friends. That would not be fair to my kids. Although in order to be a good mom, I do need to get a handle on the friends thing, or I likely WILL go insane, and then I'll be a much worse mom. The second hurdle to starting friendships is that all my acquaintances are married stay-at-home moms. They see their friends during the day. After the kids' bedtime, when I'd be available, is their time to be with their husbands, as it should be. I haven't kept in touch with any single girl friends, nor do I think I would be the first choice for them to hang out with if I had!

Another HUGE thing I need to do is figure out who I am and what I believe. I skipped that process. I got married at age 20, the typical age when people are figuring these things out. Particularly I need to figure out what my religious beliefs are. I have never had the courage to do that. I bend to the opinion of whomever I am talking to at the time. If I am emailing my ex-LDS agnostic/atheist friends, I am free to express doubts and concerns. If I am at church or visiting with a church friend, I am free in expressing faith and hope. But I've never had the courage to figure out what *I* believe and what I want to do with that belief. Getting divorced has released me from The Ex's expectations, but I still do not feel any more courageous about it.

I have emailed most of my readers privately about at least one of these issues at one time or another, but this is about 1000 times more open than I've ever been publicly on this blog. So I will probably wake up in the morning and freak out and want to delete the whole thing. Just so you know, it very well could disappear.


alisaterry said...

I'm really glad you got all of this out. I know you held back in some areas, but this is still a tremendous step and I'm sure it felt good.

I think that creating a peaceful environment IS the right thing to do for your children. You're not ruining their lives, you're making them safer and more loving and creative and inspirational!

Katie said...

I am still really freaked out about putting this on the internet. But just typing out this one post and publishing it made it so much more real. I'm conflicted about whether I keep going or not. I may try journaling it and realizing that not everyone needs to read about how I feel when I'm in the depths of despair ;-)

Ramon said...

I think you are over analyzing what you have posted here. In a way a blog is a space where you can be honest and your friends need to appreciate your honesty. I say that some of the things you have written have caught me off guard, but it isn't because of what you have written, more than how I perceived what you were accomplishing in life. Keep up the posts, rant a little here and there, I probably take too long to post, but I am currently trying to deal with my Durheimien thoughts regarding society and religion. Ultimately remember this, we are your friends, we are here to help you out, and in the long run, this is always a good release for you.

Katie said...

So you're saying I'm a big fraud? Just kidding. No, seriously, I put up a good front, but that's about it. I was totally serious when I commented on your last post and said I hadn't accomplished anything and felt like a huge loser.

So what did you think I was doing that I'm not?

I really, truly appreciate the support from both of you.

Katie said...

Oh, and Ramon, you say I'm so smart, but I can't even follow half the stuff you talk about. Not because you don't write well - I think you write very well. It's just way over my head. I deal well with x + y = z, and that's about it!! Now I have to go look up Durheimien.

Marly said...

I think its great to have an outlet. This is your blog, write about what you want. Even if no one comes and reads it, you can have it be what you want :) oh, and I'll come and read it still.

Katie said...