I have been experiencing a lot of growth this year so far. It’s been intense. Most of my revelations have been deeply personal and all have revolved around things I need to heal from my past relationships. When people never communicate their feelings or discuss how events effect them, it’s a set up for failure, in my opinion (and experience). I was never modeled good communication skills, boundaries, or any of those important tools one needs to be successful in relationships. I learned “on the job” as it were. I was not a great student. I was an unconscious student, reacting from my own pain and unable to see anything but my own pain. Therapy helped me react from a conscious perspective and it’s saved me. Codependency was modeled as a “normal” way to operate and I am still unlearning things ingrained from childhood.
I’ve gotten a bit better at analyzing my uncomfortable feelings and reactions when they pop up. When something has touched an old wound, I do withdraw and become pensive. Some might call my reaction “pouting” but that isn’t completely accurate. Withdrawing is a protection mechanism and the whirlwind of discomfort has been the birthplace of many epiphanies.
What’s happened recently to make me write this blog post?? I’ll tell ya.
I was sitting on the couch with my roommate (who is a fella I dated before, I care deeply for but we aren’t “dating” right now because we’re just trying to survive life at this point) and I was rubbing his back a little. Maybe “petting” him might be more accurate. Nonetheless, he said he hated it when people did that. To him, it’s feels like someone giving false comfort, paired with a throw away phrase or two of fake reassurance. This is hard for me to explain so I’ll paint a scene instead. Picture upset person #1 with comforter person #2 gently rubbing their back and spouting flimsy platitudes about whatever being “OK” (when it most certainly isn’t). Make sense? Now, this wasn’t our actual scenario at all. But to him, it reminded him of such an scene and possibly feelings from a past experience. My response was to stop and slap his back instead! Not in anger, but in a playful way. I actually was checking on him because I thought I heard him getting sick in the bathroom. Turns out I heard wrong and I decided to go back to bed. I noticed this morning, when I woke up, I was feeling sad and had uncomfortable (and familiar) feelings bubbling up. Something about this short interaction from hours earlier was bothering me. But, why?? To fully understand, you’re gonna need some context.
I got married way too young, to a man I didn’t know at all. As I found our years later, he was planning to go back to Mexico when we found out I was pregnant. He only decided to stay because he didn’t want another man else raising his kids. Noble, but he didn’t stay because of me. We got married and he didn’t love me. I thought I loved him but I wasn’t even experienced enough to understand what loving someone looked like or meant. During the early years of our marriage, he was angry and resentful about seemingly everything. He was with a woman he didn’t love, working hard to provide for children he didn’t plan for in a country he had planned to leave. He was often angry towards me, said unkind things often, wasn’t helpful around the house and felt that since he earned all the money, he shouldn’t have to lift a finger. As the years went on, the resentment turned into acceptance but I still never felt loved by him. I felt like he put up with me because this was the hand he was dealt whether he liked it or not. I felt rejection from him often, especially when I tried to be loving in a physical way. Even reaching out to touch his arm felt like an intrusion and annoyance. Reaching across the space between us in our king sized bed felt like an unwelcome invasion. Physical intimacy dwindled to once a month, if at all. We became roommates, at least that’s what if felt like. Living separate lives, existing under the same roof, much like my parents did for years. We’d get along but there was no emotional connection one might expect after spending 22 years as a married couple. This is why we’re divorced.
When my roommate said he hated when someone pets his back, I felt rejection all over again. My roommate did nothing wrong. He wasn’t mean to me. He only voiced a preference. That’s it. But I felt all those icky past feelings of rejection and being made to feel like a bother/nuisance/unwanted all over again and it really sucked. I still haven’t had a proper cry either. I do still feel a bit sad, even though I’ve analyzed the hell out of this and understand it all on a logical level. I probably need to take a nap to help me fully process. It’s quite exhausting being me sometimes. This is definitely coming up in my next therapy session.