If I seem glib or flip it's because I just came out of DV group. I believe an hour and a half spent in a secluded setting with powerful women battling the odds in their lives would leave anyone in this state of giddy agitation.
We all come in with our varying degree of up or down, and by the end we've ranted, raged, cried, and laughed until our lives seem doable for another week. In today's case, three weeks, because of the impending holidays. I'm genuinely sad.
I can't share any stories or situations, but I can say that there is consensus: Abusive men use the stigma toward mental illness against their victims. And though I can see my husband making baby steps in progress, he has used, and I believe, may continue to use the same argument against me. We are all the crazy wives, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends. They are the helpless victims.
Tonight, a couple of the women in group acknowledged their struggles with mental illness. I nodded. I'm in the same boat. But what was said was powerful...
"Hell yes, I'm crazy. I've been hospitalized. I'm diagnosed. I'm on medication. But he's the dumb*** who married me. So who's the truly crazy one here?"
I told the woman who shared that I was stealing her words for future ammunition.
I met with my husband for lunch today. I hadn't seen him for nearly two weeks, and I can't say that I was really missing him much. I approached the meeting with a good degree of apprehension. Like I said, he's making progress, but in baby steps. When he asked me why I chose the lunch date over an evening dinner and movie I told him we needed to work back into contact in a microcosmic setting rather than swinging for home base. He agreed it was best. And it was, because even in that hour it was tense. I didn't feel like he was showing much interest in me and that the conversation was all about him. He confessed afterward that he didn't want to push for more than I was willing to offer. I can see how he's trying to be safe, but if I've been struggling for a year and a half of marriage feeling unwanted and under-appreciated I need him to show interest and to ask questions to help me even feel secure that my presence is desired so that I'm willing to share. My guard is up. And when I feel he isn't trying to understand or accept my responses I panic and begin to disassociate.
There's a learning curve we're up against. We both see the problems, but implementing solutions is getting a rough start.
I must give him credit, however. Before I left he said, "You don't deserve to be yelled at. No one does. I know I have to work on that." He said that even if we don't end up deciding to stay together that I need to get better for me, and that he needs to get better for him. (He still insists on keeping a weights and measures of fair play, which frustrates me because I fail to see that my behaviors, even the abusive ones that are completely wrong and must not be repeated, did anywhere the damage that his have done to me.) Still no admittance that his yelling would qualify as abuse. No admittance that he has been wrong. But baby steps.
I probably need a few days to recover before I'm ready for a second date. Maybe we'll make it a weekly gig.
I received my acceptance letter from University of Humble Pie.