Thursday, November 06, 2003

Call the National Guard! 

Sometimes I think the tagline for this blog should be, "Witness the demise of a dysfunctional relationship!"

No demise yet, however. What we're witnessing is stress taking its toll. Steve's depressed, as am I -- I wonder if Prozac all around might be a good idea. Our sex life would deteriorate, but I have to wonder if that's such a hard price to pay. We were happier back in the days before we ever had sex, anyhow -- not because the sex is a problem, so much, but because this relationship has never been based on sex.

Anyway. I called Steve tonight, right after I posted that last message. I was upset to the point I was having a hard time talking... my voice was cracking under the strain. I asked him to read the post, and he did, and we talked.

"If we were to go to a marriage counselor," he said, "do you know what they'd say?"

I did not.

He said they'd tell us we needed to take a vacation. And what a nice dream that is -- to take the time to get away from everything and just enjoy each other's company again. Unfortunately, it's impossible (for now).

So, what now? We talked for a while, and it went relatively well. Which is to say, as well as it can go when we're talking about the fact that this relationship is falling apart and neither of us really know what to do to get it back on track.

I thought maybe having fun together was the answer, and for a time, he agreed, but then he decided that wasn't really it. He wants more time with me, just me, without distractions and without drama. This sounds quite appealing to me as well... just not sure how to go about it.

Somewhere, in the hurricane that has been our relationship, we've lost hold of each other. I was the first to let go. That was months ago, after we lost our unborn daughter. I pulled away and withdrew emotionally from Steve, because when we first found out I was pregnant, he panicked at the idea of becoming a father at eighteen... and thought that I should have an abortion.

He didn't realize what he had done, that it was a rejection of the worst sort. And I hold no bad feelings towards him because of it -- he didn't know, his reaction was understandable, and he did accept and even look forward to having this child in the end. So I pulled away when we lost her, and that was the beginning of the end.

Since then... crisis after crisis, and I set the pattern. Rather than leaning on each other for support, in the best cases we back away from each other... in the worst, we openly oppose each other. It's become such a deep-rooted pattern that correcting it, and repairing the damage that's been done, is a monumental task.

Something happens, one of us is upset, and since that day it's no longer a matter of "Let's face this together". Now it's all "Me vs. Him" in a battle of the wills. I win a lot. Nearly always. Which I'm sure is why he's struggling so much more than I am.

Steve said to me, tonight, "It's time for emergency measures." I took the first of these last night. I call it, "The List".

The List is a method by which I can force myself to calm down. My emotional volatility is a major destructive force in this relationship -- because of the way I react so strongly, our fights get escalated out of proportion until we're ready to call it quits and break up.

It's not the only reason -- see the previous post I made. The devastation left behind is multiplied by the number of red herrings Steve comes up with before the truth emerges.

Then it's squared by my emotional reactivity, if not cubed.

So, the List. I made the List last night, and asked Steve to enforce it without exception. If I'm upset or angry, I *must* complete everything on the List before we can discuss the issue at hand. It works, or at least the one time we've had to use it so far, it worked.

And I'm certain it'll continue to work, as long as I actually do it. It's hard, sometimes, and in the midst of one of my temper tantrums, it's even harder to find the motivation to go through a damnable checklist instead of just saying, "FUCK THIS SHIT YOU ARE DUMPED GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"

Not that I've ever said that. Thought it, perhaps, but never said it.

We have a new rule. "No dumping" didn't work out, nor did the week rule (no dumping for a week). Now it's "No dumping without a professional second opinion (couples counseling)."

There's an old saying that engaged couples inevitably believe that no one has ever been as in love as they are. I know that's not true about us, although I certainly used to revel in that feeling. But I have to say this -- we are fucking determined. Anyone else, I think, would have given up on this relationship months ago... especially since we're not even married yet.

"You're dumped" is a whole lot easier than going through the process of filing for divorce and all that good shit.

That said... now what? I'm not sure. Steve is suffering more than I am, that's for sure. He's more inexperienced, he has a harder time dealing with the emotional rollercoaster than I do (I've been doing this my entire life). The stress of our relationship is definitely harder on him than it is on me.

So, I'm giving him the reins for a while. "What do YOU want?" is my new mantra. He wants less structure -- the schedule idea was nice in theory and shitty in practice. He wants more time together. I don't know what else. But for now, it's time to focus on him and see what both of us can do to improve his existence.

After all, I'm reactive in nature. If he's happy, if he's feeling it the way he used to, I'll be happy, too. That simple. Of course, he's reactive, too... back when we had nothing but positive feelings for each other, we were mirroring that to each other and were incredibly happy. Now that the negative has entered the mix, we're mirroring that, and it's like an infinite pit of shittiness.

...and I'm finding it's a whole lot easier to introduce negativity than it is to introduce positivity. Blech.


Updates have been few and far between lately, I admit. It'd be easy to chalk this up to being busy, and it's true I have been, if fucktons of drama at home count as "busy". It'd probably be more accurate to say I'm lazy, though, since I do my blog almost entirely from work and I generally don't have any drama there.

Still, I've been pretty damn drained by the time I get to work.

Tuesday was hellish. Six, count 'em, SIX hours of drama, complete with a mutual decision to break up, lots of crying (on my part), well wishes that we'd find the right people (on both of our parts) and eventually the determination that it was all a crock of shit, so we didn't actually break up. Or maybe we did, and got back together five minutes later, it's hard to say. I don't think it really matters.

I am not an easy person to be in a relationship with, mostly due to behaviors centered around my BPD. We all know this. Steve, on the other hand, is infuriating to be in a relationship with. He's also clueless and unmotivated when it comes to figuring out his internal workings and making adjustments to them, so in a way, it's worse.

I think a shrink would do both of us a lot of good, but I think he'd benefit more than I would, just because of his utter lack of self-awareness. I can figure myself out, and figure out what I need to do to correct certain behaviors on my part. He can't even identify his own problematic behavior half the time, and certainly can't figure out why he does these things or how to correct that.

We have two overwhelmingly huge problems in our relationship -- one for each of us. How convenient. It's all based around communication, but still, these two things are separate and distinct, and each of the two belongs exclusively to one of us.

I think my readers have a pretty good handle on what my major malfunction is -- emotional volatility. I am one moody motherfucker.

Steve, on the other hand, is pretty calm most of the time (less so when I'm erupting like Mt. Vesuvius, but still). His problem, however, is something that triggers even more of my moodiness and BPD-style behavior, and is horribly, horribly frustrating to deal with.

He'll get in a terrible funk, then attempt to tell me what's bothering him, and chances are we'll go through multiple relationship-crippling diasters before we figure out what's REALLY on his mind. And then find out that all the other shit was merely a figment of his imagination, or as he puts it, "red herrings".

On Tuesday afternoon, Steve informed me that he was getting an urge to break up with me, so that he "could do things he can't while he's in a relationship". Such as what? I ask.

"Play computer games and look at porn."

Now, before I continue, I have to address the porn thing. This is undoubtably incomprehensible to most, if not all, of my readers. All I can really do to explain the why is note that:
A> You cannot expect a person who is schizophrenic, comorbid with Borderline Personality Disorder to be rational about everything.
B> My ex-husband beat his meat while looking at pornos, to the exclusion of having sex with me.

That's the best I can do for *why*, but the *what* is easier. I have an aversion to pornography that rivals most peoples' aversion to anally raping six month old babies.

There are lots and lots of things that Steve could do that would piss me off. For example, he could have a ten year long affair with my mother, get her pregnant, and bring me home an STD. I would be quite angry, but only perhaps one tenth as angry as if I caught him jacking off to porn. Or looking at it, at all, for that matter.

Irrational? Yes. Unrealistic? Depends on the man, but in this case, I don't think so. He's not actually (seemed to have) had any problems with this single condition I place on our relationship. There were a couple of misunderstandings, which created tremendous fallout, but he's never once (before Tuesday) complained that he missed porn.

Besides, it's not like he doesn't get laid regularly. I'll put out at a moment's notice, and I'm always willing. Okay, red days get in the way (we're using NFP currently), because he's not a great fan of condoms, but still. I'll have sex with him any day, any time, with the simple condition that he wears a rubber on the eight days surrounding ovulation. Or else doesn't mind getting me knocked up.

In fact, he's stated several times that he doesn't consider porn to even be important to him and doesn't miss it at all. Good enough for me.

But I digress. Back to the point -- he said that, and I barely even heard "computer games". The P-word had been spoken, and terrible drama was now inevitable.

So that led to the good, old-fashioned standard P-word explosion.

Me: "WHY?!! What on earth do you get from this that you're not getting from me?!"

I happen to think that most men would happily trade in their multi-gigabyte collection of porn for a 36DDD nymphomaniac. I could be wrong. Men?

And then we went down this bizarre road in which it was revealed to me that apparently Steve doesn't think I'm as hot as he's assured me I am, practically every day, for the last almost-year. In fact, he was apparently "dissatisfied with my appearance". WTFWTFWTF!

I resisted the urge to strip him naked and make him stand in front of a mirror, while I pointed out his gut, receding hairline, back hair, love handles, the field of zits on his back, stretch marks and microphallus. Okay, I'm exaggerating now -- he doesn't have a microphallus. By any means. Unbearably poor hygeine, yes, microphallus, no.

Had I been thinking, I'd have recognized the fact that by essentially saying, "pictures of half-plastic/silicone, garishly painted women are more attractive than the real you," he was making an underhanded attempt to sabotage our relationship. In fact, I think he wanted me to dump him.

Weirdly enough, he wasn't aware of this until it was pointed out to him.

So we went through a horrible bunch of drama, probably the worst ever. Right down to the good old-fashioned, "I don't think you love me, at least by my definition." "Maybe I don't, maybe I've been fooling myself this whole time because I've been so desperate to be loved."

This was presented as one of three possible theories. That's the thing about Steve -- he can't say "This is how I feel", more like "Here are some theories about how I might feel, let's see if we can find the right one." Unfortunately, just the fact that he's presenting such things as possibilities is not exactly easy to deal with.

So the shit hit the fan, and I figured I was going to have to move out. In theory, it'd be nice to have him as a roommate, but in practice I think it'd just be too hard... especially once he started bringing home other women and fucking them a room away from me. Ugh.

And then, after that, I realized something suddenly. All this crap had started right around the time he decided to stop playing computer games entirely. We know he has an addiction, and if we did break up, he'd get to play games all he wanted... hmmm...

I mentioned this. I'm also well aware of the fact that when there's some kind of hidden (or not so hidden) dissatisfaction going on, it's hard to remain attracted to your SO. I've experienced this phenomena several times. When you're in love, they look perfect -- even features that would usually not be to your taste are treasured, you decide they give him/her character.

Quote from an email Steve sent me several months ago:
"[...] You are *so* beautiful, more beautiful than any other woman [...] I cherish you, all of you, and the most important thing to me is getting you to understand...even your stomach, with stretchmarks and whatever, is the best stomach in the world, I'm sure."

A great example of this is back hair. I've generally gone for the lean, muscular, not-hairy kind of guy, and found back hair pretty darn unappealing. I *like* Steve's back hair... it's nice, I like running my hands through it. It's part of who he is, and I love all of him, even those features that would make many women think, "Yuck."

On the other hand, when you're feeling resentment towards someone, it's like they magically start getting uglier. You can't help but notice those little flaws, and they annoy you, and eventually disgust you.

So, I did the only thing I could think of, and made an attempt to work out a schedule where he could spend sufficient time gaming without having too much of a negative effect on our relationship. After all, NOT gaming was having even more of a negative effect.

Last night he was up far too late, gaming much of the time. In fact, he never did manage to fall asleep, and had to call in to work today. While I don't think the gaming was the main cause, I do believe it contributed, and I'm rather concerned about that. Current solution is, no gaming after I go to work, because he needs to spend that time asleep.

We'll see.

On another note, I went looking for that quote from his email from months ago, and now I'm feeling just awful. I used to read all the email he'd sent, as a way to cheer myself up and feel a bit less lonely on those long nights at work. Now it's devastating to read.

I'm just in shock, having gone through all that email (107 messages, in fact) and realizing that I'll probably never hear words like that again. I don't know what's happened, or maybe I do -- months of crisis after crisis has worn away at what we had until it's not even recognizable as what it once was.

We're locked in this awful cycle where the drama hits and we tear hell out of each other, again and again. It's unbelievable. I used to get irritated after he got here and I'd send him email, and he quit writing back (mostly due to time constraints, I guess). It's not that he stopped writing back that upset me so much, it's that he stopped expressing those things that made me feel so cherished and loved.

And as much as it hurts to say it, I think it's because those feelings aren't there like they used to be. This is more than just the end of the infatuation stage -- our relationship has been ravaged by all the trauma we've endured. Some inflicted on each other, some inflicted by factors out of either of our control.

The worst of it, I think, is that I still feel that way about him. I still look at him and feel this incredible joy, that he's mine, and hope he always will be. Somehow he's lost it, I think... and I don't know what to do. All I know is that I miss what we had, and I'd do anything in the world to have that back.

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