It’s been a while since I updated you on what’s happening.
Turns out I was wrong about my parents – which was the beginning of the spiralling thoughts of the last four or five days. They asked for nothing. They asked not even to have it paid back. All they asked was that I don’t tell anyone, and that I don’t lie about my situation anymore. That’s it.
Which made me feel so shitty for assuming that there was going to be more. And made me look, really look, at the people they are, and at our relationship.
And then, on Saturday, I finally confessed the rest of the debt to my husband. Which went about as well as you are imagining. It isn’t the money, it’s never been the money for him. It’s the lying. As it should be.
And I left this weekend feeling very disheartened, very much alone, very sad, and wondering – how do I change?
I’m not a dumb person, I’ve beaten all sorts of IQ tests and learned to read at 2. I manage millions of dollars of other people’s money and make decisions that affect that money every day.
And yet, for whatever reason, I cannot manage my lying, my debt, my drinking, or my follow through. And this made me feel like shit.
It did, after about 24 hours, also diffuse his anger though. Because normally I “promise I will change” and “I will never lie again” becomes my battle cry. But this time I sat there, I cried, and I said “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do it.”
He said that he was tired of me choosing things over him, over our relationship. Tired of me choosing alcohol over him, of choosing lying over him. Because ultimately, whether or not I feel like it, I have a choice.
And something clicked this morning for me, about the word ‘choice’. Implying ownership. I have choice around where and how I spend my money. I have choice in my life. I’m not sure I’ve recognized that choice before.
And in choosing how I spend it I also choose what is important to me. And looking at it that way has changed something. I’m not sure what yet.
So I got to therapy this afternoon and was also kind of mad at A. How have I spent almost $13,000 on her and not know what’s wrong with me!?
I explain everything that happened.
Me: *ends rant* I feel like I’m going backwards!
A: I know things are really hard and painful right now but I am struck by this celebratory feeling. Because I think this has represented a big shift for you. You’re looking at what you have done and what you can do instead of looking at what has happened to you. And I think maybe the word “bankruptcy” was your bottom. Maybe it’s shaken you awake.
Me: Why am I like this? Why do I lie? Why am I lazy and selfish!?
(Post session I know the answer – because it feels like it hurts more to show up than to be those things)
A: you are not bad, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not your behaviour, and you know that. “Did anybody model dealing with their feelings? Did anybody tell you it was ok to be not perfect? Did your caregivers deal with things head on or avoid? Did people solve their problems with alcohol? Do you get where I’m going with this?”
A: “If you had an ideal upbringing with attuned parents and lying was still your default and things were still messy then I’d be like, yes, we have a problem, let’s figure it out. But this makes sense. There is nothing wrong with you.” How does it feel? The muck?
Me: *snaps* Fantastic, obviously. I’m having a great time.
A: You never speak to me like that (said as matter of fact statement). What brought that defensiveness on?
Me: *stubborn silence*
A: So this is where you are right now. What do you want? What do you need?
Me: A quick fix.
A: That’s what your ego wants. What do you want, in your heart?
Me: *more stubborn silence*
A: I think you want to show up.
Me: And my immediate instinct to that is what is the point? My whole life I’ve tried to show up and nobody was there.
Me: And there it is.
I pause here so you understand the enormity of this realization for me. I’m afraid to show up, because I tried to show up so many times before and was never acknowledged. I tried showing up as everything I thought they wanted, everything I thought they loved. I tried fitting into that box. I’m still trying to fit into boxes. This was a huge realization, the “and there it is” said slowly, as though I could taste the history in each word as it left my tongue.
A: It crushes me a bit, because, and I know you’re not saying it about here, you show up here, and we’ve made something wonderful here, and you still feel like what is the point?
Me: (huffing) that’s not what I meant
A: I know. Showing up has always brought you extreme pain and a feeling of not belonging.
Me: *tells a story about my Mom* all I ever have striven for is the perfect body and job and husband and career. My diaries were full of lists of ways I need to be better. I eventually figured out I could basically cure cancer and still not get what I need. What if I show up and he leaves?
A: There’s a risk there. But what if you don’t show up at all?
Me: *a less stubborn, more thoughtful silence*
A: Its important to me, I want you to know that I love you.
Me: All of me? All the messy and ugly bits?
A: All of you. Those things aren’t you, they are things you do.
Me: I love you, too.
A: And you should know it’s so wonderful to be loved by you
Me: I just want you to tell me what to do. To be like “do this”.
A: And you think you would listen to me?
A: Okay, so if I said “PD, don’t drink until the next time I see you,” you wouldn’t drink?
Me: I wouldn’t drink.
A: (surprising the shit out of me) “Alright, then don’t drink until the next time I see you. And next time we will have a discussion about it.”
Me: Okay. (Crap)
I wonder what she’s doing, and I know that if she forgets I’ll be upset, but if she’s helping me get over the first hump of staying sober, it will work. I respect her too much, our relationship matters too much. She knows the real me.
Even I don’t know who that is.
I’ve been struck by the word “choice”. My husband said it last night and then I was watching Meghan Markle do her interview with Harry and the BBC and she says “we just chose each other” when she is asked how she’s made it work.
And it has always felt so automatic, that “choice”. It hasn’t really ever felt like a choice at all. Maybe it’s because my behaviour has never felt like it was mine, or like I had ownership over it. And maybe A is feeding into that by this experiment of “I’m telling you not to drink again until I see you next”. Or maybe she’s going to do what I think she is, and when I attribute it to her, remind me that I owe her nothing. And that it was ultimately, my choice.
I am usually on to her, but I’m not sure what she’s up to right now.
So it isn’t that I don’t want to take ownership. I do. It’s that maybe I don’t know how.
Choice. Show up.
I have a choice to show up.