Still Wounded

I wrote a post about 5 days ago, but didn’t post it because I had to drive Fox somewhere.

I just want to give a quick update before I share the post: it turns out I was transferred to Fox’s prescriber at the same clinic where I’ve been going, so I was able to make an appointment with her (just in time to refill my meds). The “epic quest” was not so epic after all – thank God. (I’m still having trouble believing it.)

This turn of events was extra good because I was able to use my doctor’s appointment to address some problems that have been bothering me for a while. I apparently have arthritis in my knees; he sent me to get x-rays, which may result in physical therapy that will (hopefully) alleviate some of the pain so I can be active, healthy, and happy(er than I am when I’m sedentary). I’m also (hopefully) going to have a sleep study done to figure out what’s causing my chronic fatigue (you know, besides the depression), and blood work for good measure. My conversation with my doctor has me feeling more motivated to try and actually eat healthy foods, which is an important part of self-care.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the post I wrote 5 days ago:

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Domestic Violence

I was interrupted from my early morning insomniac reading by what sounded like a woman crying and talking in a very rushed, upset voice. It sounded like it was coming from nearby, but outside. Then the doorbell rang three times; I thought, who could possibly be ringing the bell this early in the morning? I’m not answering it! But then Fox came into the room and said he didn’t know what to do, he’s not officially a member of this household yet but it sounded like someone was calling for help. I was off the couch in an instant – if someone needed help, I wanted to help them.

I went to the door to find a woman on my (enclosed) porch holding her dog. She was crying and shaking with her cell phone between her ear and shoulder, already talking to the local police department. As soon as she saw me she started apologizing and explained that the door to the porch had been unlocked, so she ran in to get away from her boyfriend. The boyfriend had been drinking, hit her, and threw her dog across the street. She was convinced that if she hadn’t gotten away he would have killed her. “Thank you so much for keeping your door unlocked. It saved my life!”

I let her in and locked the door behind her and checked that the other doors to the house were also locked. Sure enough, the boyfriend came and was banging on the door to the porch to be let in. I assured the woman that the most important thing to me was for her to be safe. Mom came over and tried to comfort her as well; that helped me feel more confident that I was doing the right thing. The cops came and arrested the boyfriend and took her in for questioning. Before she left I looked her in the eye and said, “Don’t go back to him under any circumstances.” I really hope that was helpful.

From what I’ve learned, by the time physical violence becomes part of an abusive relationship, the victim’s self-esteem is often so damaged ze has great difficulty living without the abuser – everything from believing hir safety is more important than the abuser to being able to perform basic tasks to care for oneself.

The woman on my porch kept apologizing, said she was “stupid” for staying with the boyfriend for two years, and said she owed me dinner. At the time I interpreted all that as low self esteem, but she seemed very, very agitated – very scared and grateful for safety and compassion. She was able to say that “he makes [her] look like a liar.” She was able to run away and call the cops and assert that she didn’t want to ride in the same car as the boyfriend; these facts give me hope that she will choose to stay away from him, and hopefully avoid abusive relationships in the future. But I’m worried about her, and I don’t feel safe living across the street from an abuser. I was shaking myself for a good half hour after everyone had left.

The whole thing was so surreal, I’d think I’d dreamed it if I didn’t still smell like the woman’s perfume from hugging her. It reminded me of dreams I’ve had in the past, where I tried to run into the house to escape some unknown but terrifying danger or run through the house locking doors behind me (often to no avail). But this really happened – to someone else – and I was a brief witness to it. I provided comfort, a haven, maybe even some hope.

At the time I put my needs aside to help someone in crisis, but now I need to tend to my own needs. Writing this post is part of it but I feel like there’s more – I’m not sure what, though. I think I’m still a bit too shaken to try and sleep. I have a letter I want to mail and a massage appointment I’m thinking of rescheduling. The former is an attempt to reach out to my cousin whose father died in late March, letting him know I love him and support him in doing whatever he needs to take care of himself on Father’s Day. Writing it (yesterday early morning, when I couldn’t sleep) was therapeutic for me because I was able to be honest in it while feeling like I might also be doing some good. The latter is a deep tissue massage intended to relieve the tension in my back, but at the expense of physical pain, emotional upset, and soreness lasting a few days. For a massage to be helpful today, I’d need its focus to be purely on relaxation – not the specialty of my currently-scheduled therapist. I think I’d rather cuddle with Fox, maybe even do something to try and express the crazy mess of emotions I’ve been feeling trying to block out by playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion all hours of the day and night.

Communication

I talked to Mom about some of the things I’d written in my last post, particularly:

  • wishing I had a support system for recovering from depression similar to the excellent support she’s getting for her recovery from knee replacement surgery
  • being willing to help her out with her recovery but needing something in return
    • including sharing care of Dog and asking her to order her groceries online
  • family therapy
  • how I felt in response to her dismissive ‘goodbye’

She seemed pretty understanding and concerned about me. She reluctantly agreed to order her own groceries, then explained that the place where she’ll be receiving physical therapy 3x/week is near the supermarket. We can go grocery shopping together after her therapy. She also offered monetary compensation (TBD).

She seemed reluctant to engage in family therapy, asking, “well, what do we need to work on?” I realized that, while I’ve been discussing her behavior fairly extensively with Wakana, I haven’t actually talked to Mom about it/its effect on me. That’s not really fair.

So, I told her how I felt when she started talking about all the things she’ll need me to do and coming home from rehab, then abruptly said “goodbye” without taking a moment out of what she was doing to look at me. She said she had no idea I felt that way, I had wanted to know everything she would need so she was trying to help me by telling me. She thought we’d already hugged goodbye and I was saying I had to go so she didn’t want to hold me up. She hadn’t meant to be dismissive, nor to hurt me – of course not! She said I need to let her know when she’s doing something like that, at the time when she’s doing it.

I really felt like she was concerned about me, felt bad to learn that she’s been hurting me, and genuinely wants the feedback that will help her better communicate her love and caring. But I found it very hard to give her that feedback, and I’m concerned that if I try to do it “in the moment” I might say it in a way that’s hard for her to hear – or outright hurtful – and we’ll both respond to each other in ways that hinder our efforts to develop a healthier relationship. We’ve been doing that kind of thing my whole life, after all. I wrote that I want her to have support in listening to me, but just as (if not more) importantly, I need support in communicating this stuff to her! I find it horribly uncomfortable, I’m afraid I’m going to break her, I feel like I’m violating some essential, fundamental, unspoken rule. I need help learning it’s okay to tell her how I feel, especially in response to her behavior.

Wakana can help with that – she’s already been helping a great deal – but I think there’s only so much she can do without seeing both sides of the equation. Everything she knows about my mother is from my perspective; a family therapist would get to know each of us as an individual and have the opportunity to observe how we interact with each other during therapy sessions. Ze could support both of us in trying new ways of interacting that might help us both get what we want and need out of our relationship. Ze could help me recognize when I am misinterpreting Mom’s behavior, draw Mom’s attention to nonverbal cues about my emotional responses, get us both to say those things we think we’re not allowed to say – or think the other person already knows.

I’m not sure how much I should push for assert my need for family therapy, or if I should just accept that it’s not something she’s comfortable with and keep working on my own stuff that prevents me from being honest with her. I have Wakana, I have Codependent No More – which has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust – I have other stuff.

NO!!! I’ve been doing this my whole life! Enough already! She wants me to be a huge part of her recovery; I need her to be at least minimally involved in mine. I appreciate that she’s willing to work with me, but at the very least I need her to help me feel more comfortable expressing my needs to her. I need support in asserting myself, help feeling like it’s safe. I’m not entirely confident she’ll be able to give me enough such support on her own; the work I’ve been doing can only help so much. We don’t have to dive into family therapy as soon as she gets home (in about a week), but I at least need it to be an option. A safety net, if you will.