Saturday, March 29, 2014

Understanding Where Things Went Wrong (Part 1)

An update to my last post, the reminders above my monitor are helping quite a lot. Every time I feel myself dragged back into the negative thoughtspace, I read them, take a deep breath, and I will feel calmer afterwards. If reminders for now are necessary, then they are necessary. Whatever it takes to keep the demons at bay.

I've been thinking a lot about recent events, processing, understanding, clarifying in my mind everything that happened, good and bad. One big source of conflict was that I was becoming 'dependent'. I felt hurt. I felt judged, and, more importantly, judged wrongly. Though I certainly didn't express myself well at the time why this was such a problem for me, and so I was also judged to be in denial about everything. I've still only just been organizing my thoughts about the whole issue, and even doing research to better explain why this was never remotely a threat, in my mind.

So, yes, I did just break away from a marriage that was codependent, and so worries about me sliding back into dependency in some way are not unwarranted. Codependent is the term my psychologist has used to describe my relationship with my husband. Codependent brings up thoughts of interdependency, where both sides are completely reliant on the other in some way. And that's kind of a true way of thinking about it, but it's also not. It's more true to say that one person's actions create a codependent situation. It's about a cycle of feeling needed.

In my case, I did spend time at the beginning of the marriage completely dependent, because my mental illness was so severe at that point that I was completely non-functional. But I started treatment and over the years, I've been making a lot of progress increasing my functionality and towards my own independence. I got to the point where I held down a steady job! A very challenging job, but challenging in many ways which were fantastic for my mental health. I worked full time, or nearly, most of the time I held the job. It was almost like being a real person again. At this same time, my husband quit his job because he was so miserable and went into a period of pretty terrible depression and a long unemployment. His behaviour and actions began to affect me negatively and drag me down. It slowly became harder and harder to continue functioning as I had been. It got to the point where my own mental health deteriorated back to a severe level and I even self-harmed some... an addiction I had broken for years at that point. At the same time, my physical health deteriorated, and I wasn't able to continue working, either. So, I quit my job, and ended up frustrated, angry at myself, and fell deeply back into my hole of depression and anxiety. The husband managed to secure employment by this point, and things in the relationship went back to 'status quo'.

Cue take two of attempting to work a steady job and function independently. Not all the circumstances were entirely the same, but the end result was. It felt as if every time I began to do well and need my husband's support less and less, his behaviour would worsen and I would slowly fall back into the depths of my mental illness all over again. It was a cycle, a vicious one, and one that my psychologist helped me realise that I needed to escape. I would never achieve the independence I sought so desperately when I was with someone who also desperately needed to feel needed. Add into this his paranoia that I'd leave him and that his life was meaningless without me, and you can see why I have realised it was a form of emotional abuse. I was trapped and desperate, and I knew that if I stayed it would literally kill me. It very nearly did before the actual separation happened, because my mental state had gotten so bad that I fell all the way down back to rock bottom.

I spent most of last year fighting to survive against my mental illness while also fighting to have the courage to extricate myself from a very damaging situation. It was terrifying, especially because I was in no state to cope  much with life, much less hold down a job, and I had no idea if I'd be able to support myself properly or not once on my own. In addition, I'm still experiencing some sort of as-yet undiagnosed chronic pain/illness, and my ability to function is limited greatly physically, as well. Still, I pushed and fought and clawed my way out of dependence, and I am damn determined to be the strong, independent, and functional person I want to be. The very idea that I would let myself slip back into that so easily is abhorrent to me. Yeah, it's been a bumpy road, and yeah, I've had to rely on friends a lot more than I usually would allow myself to... but make no mistake, I got myself here and I already feel so much freer and happier overall than I have in many, many years.

That's not to say I didn't get myself into an unhealthy attachment cycle. I definitely did. And there's a lot of context and other things surrounding how and why that happened. Which I will get to in the second part of this braindump...

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