(Image by Jeanie Tomanek @ Jeanietomanek.com)
I’ve committed to a lot of work with this therapy I’m doing. Staying connected to my husband and deepening our relationship, not allowing myself to spiral into depressed or disregulated states, feeling my feelings, fostering a more positive relationship with my body image…the list goes on. It is, all of it, a lot of work. My instinct is to pull away and keep to myself, to live half in and half out of my life. The work requires me to stay in my body, talk about my feelings, pay attention to my thoughts and challenge what’s distorted, and to somehow do all of this while also taking care of the menial things of every day life.
I see the value in all of this and I’m beginning to see the fruits of the labor, as well as the improvements caused by simply taking my antidepressants and anxiety medications every day. And then, of course, life happens. My in-laws come for a 16 day visit which coincides with a four day family reunion. They’re wonderful people who love me and my children and who did a fabulous job raising three very sensitive and creative sons. When I finally got up the guts to tell my husband that 16 days is too long, his response was to remind me that a dear friend had just visited with her children and spent several days camping in our backyard. I wanted to stamp my foot and say “that’s not the same thing at all!” Instead I told him we’d talk about it after his parents leave.
The difference is really how much I can be truly myself and how much space that ease provides me. I can share a lot with my in-laws. They know about my trauma history, my struggles with depression and my chronic illnesses. My friend has known me most of my life and she’s seen me be wildly irresponsible, a puddle on the floor, a battered and frightened woman, a glowing bride, new mother, anorexic, a cheating wife, a wife who was cheated on, and a survivor hell bent on recovering from all my trauma. She saw me off when I packed up my car and moved to another state alone. These aren’t stories for her, they are parts of my life and my experience she witnessed first hand. And through all of it she loved me unconditionally. I’m trying hard to be that raw and transparent with my husband. I don’t feel that I need to be that open with my in-laws in order to have a good relationship with them but I don’t know how to strike a balance of staying open with my husband and in the same day having to spend a lot of energy staying tucked away so I don’t lose it in front of his parents.
My mental health is, at best, stabilizing. Interacting with people and needing to keep a lot hidden is exhausting. I got sick last week, then went into a fibro flare and now I’m having seizures every day. I so want to go back to the woods where I was wandering half-numb through life.