Opening up Honestly and Sharing the Scary

Nothing is as hard as speaking our inner truth. Allowing others in. I’m discovering this is true for everyone, not just abuse survivors.

Adjusting to our back-to-school hectic schedules has been stressful on our family. I noticed Hubby and I falling back into familiar icky patterns of speaking and tromping on each other to get through the day, and complete the insane amounts of tasks required of parents of young children.

Hubby and I were speaking harshly to each other, adding blame, or hearing blame, and putting little hurtful zingers out there. This went on several days, until the wave capped and broke. I had enough yesterday. I felt attacked and did not know why. It seemed Hubby was angry with me and I did not know why. His words were not matching his tone. I got shaky, dizzy, and retreated from our conversation abruptly, saying something like, “My world is not right, I have to get out of here”

I left the room, and the house, as I held back tears and kept this reaction from overtaking me. I took my laptop to the library and wrote Hubby a letter, asking what was bothering him. I calmed down once I wrote the letter, and enjoyed the peace at the library, and got a great book called The Angry Heart:Overcoming Borderline and Addictive Disorders by Jospeh Santoro and Ronald Jay Cohen. Just started reading it, but I can already tell if will be helpful to me, even though I may not be Borderline exactly. It discusses the effects of psychotraumatization on children in dysfunctional families and has a narrative from someone on his own healing journey.

I gave Hubby the letter when I returned home, and when to our bedroom to start reading this book. He read the letter, and came upstairs and gave me a big hug. I asked him what the hug was for. He always looks so confused at me, but he said, because I wanted to hug you. I thought maybe the hug was an apology, or a peace offering, or even maybe pity for me. (I told you my world was not right)

So we chatted a bit, and then got into the heavy scary stuff. Our true feelings. I told him I feel attacked and I don’t why. I asked what was bothering him, and although he didn’t get right to it, he did actually tell me! This was huge! I am so proud of him for opening up to me. And proud of me for listening. He criticized me, told me something he needs from me and has not been getting. I told him I did not know, and will work on that for him. I want to be there for him, and I want him to expect me to be there for him. I have leaned on him for so many years, the guy deserves his own soft place to fall – in me.

Then we went through some of my new book together, helping him understand what my reaction was to his perceived attack on me earlier. If the book wasn’t exactly me, it was at least a conversation starter. And it helped us realize a few things I had been hiding from him, from my therapist, and I think even from myself. I’m not all better. My strong face is just a face. Inside I am swirling chaos. I was explaining my reaction to my son touching me a certain way, and realized my fear and anger and pushing him away was because it caused a flashback. As I described it to him, I broke down sobbing and shaking. My flashbacks have not completely stopped, I just learned to manage them. Oh dear – what do I do with that? I keep going. I keep working. I also revealed that I often have suicidal thoughts. Now if you don’t have these thoughts, this will not make sense. I am NOT suicidal. I am not in danger. But I do have to throw out thoughts that pass through my head and tell me life is not worth living, and that I’m not worthy of living. Not everyday, but often enough.

So by opening up honestly and sharing the scary, we gained new understandings of each other, and another level of connection, trust, and intimacy that I never knew possible.



18 thoughts on “Opening up Honestly and Sharing the Scary

  1. I understand the whole suicidal thoughts but not actually being suicidal. I experience that, too. I think it is a coping mechanism that allows us to feel we have control over a difficult situation.

    I also love to go to the library! I enjoy the quiet time alone. Good for you for taking care of yourself.


    • Hmm, I never thought of those thoughts as a coping mechanism. I get what you mean, I think. Like we can choose to end the bad feelings, even if it means dying, but it is a choice to stay and keep working hard, and also keep feeling bad at times.

      Yes I crave those quiet moments now, and make sure I get them once in a while, especially when I feel overwhelmed. No quiet moments in this busy house!

  2. It does make sense. I get those thoughts too, thought not so much lately. What’s odd about them is that they never feel like they’re my own thoughts. It’s not like I sit down and think these thoughts, they always feel more like implanted messages. I think they’re the “subtext” we picked up from our parents. This article really helped me to understand where they come from:
    I hope it helps.

    • Wow Kara, what an excellent link!

      “There are three questions that I hear repeatedly in my work as a therapist: Who (or what) am I? Do I have any value? Why doesn’t anybody see or hear me? Sometimes there is a fourth question: Why should I live? . . . Why, for some people, do the four questions emerge after trauma or loss? Because in the subtext of the parent-child relationship, these questions were never adequately answered. Or if they were answered, the message was: you don’t exist for me, you have always been a burden, or you exist for limited reasons having to do with my own psychological needs. Lacking satisfactory answers, the person can spend their whole life erecting props-ways they can validate their very existence. They do this through relationships, career success, self-aggrandizement, obsessive or controlling behavior, drug or alcohol use, or other ways . . ”

      This is completely me. Always going to back to my on worth, I question if I should be allowed to take up space on this planet. And I have been looking for validation through all those other ways, and it explains why I fall so hard when I fail, because it proves I was never good enough.

      This terrifies me though – how do I know I am answering these questions for my own kids? Will they grow up asking these questions of themselves too?

      • These are very good questions. I don’t have kids myself so I can only answer from the point of view of how I felt as a child. I think children are not that different from us, we all want the same things really: to be seen as person, to be heard, to be loved. We know we matter to someone when they spend time with us and listen to our concerns, value our opinions.
        This is another link from the same website that might help you with answering these questions for your children:

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful stuff and the crumby stuff. Yep, I understand those suicidal thoughts but not worrying about follow through. It lets me distance myself.

      • Oddly enough, when I’m thinking thinking of ending it all, I’m not focusing on what happened, what drove me to those thoughts. Adding to the weirdness is this: If I’m thinking about what happened, I’m stuck, whereas if I’m thinking about ending it all, it doesn’t take me long — sometimes it requires sleep — but I realize that whatever triggered the spiral downward really isn’t as big a problem as I thought because I’ve just listed the litany of other things that were worse and yet I didn’t end it all over those things either. I’ve had countless prayers asking, “God let me come Home. You’re not going to let me, are You. I keeping hoping I won’t wake up in the morning, but I will because I always do.” I found it helpful to own up to it, ie, “I know suicide isn’t the answer, but right now I don’t have anything else. Just let me sit in this for a bit. I will be better later. I will drag myself out of the mud and move on, but right now I’m just going to sit in the mud.”

      • I get it now. Thank you for explaining. My spiral is similar, and I have said the same bedtime prayer 😦 that is so sad. But yes, I always wake up the next day, and try to be grateful for the gift of a new day, but sometimes I wish I had not woken, and then feel guilty for that wish, and on it goes.

    • Oh my goodness!! No way, thank you so much for writing that to me!! I hoped this blog would be inspirational to those in dark places, but as I write about me fumbling through life, I’m never sure what I’m trying to accomplish here. I just know I wished I had not been so alone for so long, and want everyone to know life can be good, and we can keep going.

  4. I know that feeling but I am starting to see that sometimes it is habit. Seeing a knife triggers the thoughts. I carefully put the knife away knowing I have no intention to use it but the thought is there. Your post shares the wide gamut of frustrations faced every day. I think it is just awesome that your level of communication is increasing with your husband. This is giving me hope. Thanks.

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