Taking my own advice

I have a friend having relationship problems right now. She’s feeling overwhelmed and doesn’t always want to see her husband at the end of a long day. I gave her some advice to try to focus on communicating better about when she can and cannot spend time with her husband so that when she is with him she’s in a better mood. That way, they are spending less time together but the time they do have is higher quality and creates happier memories. Then I realized that, even though our relationship issues are different, I needed to take my own advice. I miss Mike all the time and I resent anything that takes away from my limited hours with him these days. But if I spend the time we are together indulging in jealousy and insecurity and self-pity, it will just compound the problem. It’s far better to give him the space he needs and to focus on keeping myself healthy as much as I can. Then I can try to just make the time we do spend together low pressure and fun. That’s less likely to upset Mike and will create more happy memories of time with him, which in theory should help me feel less insecure (but with my brain, who knows).
Mike’s out of town, and while he’s been gone, I’ve been trying to give him space and practice not being clingy. We have a tradition of writing notes to each other, and he always slips a love note in my suitcase when I go out of town without him. So I wrote him one letter for yesterday and one letter for today and gave them to him. We’ve texted a few times, but not heavily. But it sounds like he’s having fun and in a good mood, which makes me glad. I’m just working on being OK without him around all the time so that I can be a better girlfriend when he is around. Hopefully when he gets back tomorrow I’m really hoping we can hang out and he’ll be glad to see me.

Still trying

I got more sleep last night, which helped a bit. I’m still struggling. Mike leaves town tomorrow. I’m feeling kind of tender because I have a locket that used to have a little note from Mike in it. The note fell out or got lost or something, and when I told him he offered to write another one. But he still hasn’t and I guess it’s just not important to him. I know it’s a minor thing, but it makes me sad. I guess I just really crave extra attention right now because of my depression but I’m afraid to ask for it because I don’t want to cross the line to clingy and push him away like last time. I know that there’s a way to ask for a little extra help without going overboard and smothering him, but I don’t know how to find that balance. Instead my system seems to be suppress my emotions as much as possible until I break down and have a crying fit, then wait to calm down and try to act normal again. And in between breakdowns I try to be as nice as possible to make up for the rest of it. Admittedly, it’s not the best system.

Therapized

I saw my therapist today. We talked a lot about working on the physical things that I can control and will help my depression, since I don’t really have any control over the situational or emotional factors. We talked about good food, exercise, more sleep.
As for the emotional issues, I’m not sure. She told me what I probably needed to hear, but not what I wanted to hear. I don’t know exactly what I wanted to hear; maybe I just wanted permission to give up and stop trying to get better. Instead she told me to keep trying, to push through and to be strong. I want to. It’s just so much work and I’m so worn down.
Lately I’ve felt weird around Mike, like I don’t know how to act. I’m worried that my depression will hurt our relationship like last time and drive him away or hurt him. My therapist said to focus on being the strongest, healthiest me I can, to try not to burden him (my words, not hers) more than necessary for now and to try to work on building good memories and happy time together whenever possible.
She also told me to postpone any major decisions for a few days. She’s hoping that if I get some sleep and exercise I’ll feel better enough in a few days.

I’m just not a strong person

Apparently I’m less ok than I thought I was. I feel like my brain is a war zone. Last night I had a breakdown. I was tired and had had a really upsetting day in terms of professional stuff. Then I started thinking about Mike and the girl he’s seeing, J. He confirmed that he’s going to see her again, so it looks like this will be a regular thing I’m going to have to adjust to. But that information on top of everything else was apparently too much.
At first, all seemed ok. I fell asleep while he was reading in bed. Then he got up to use the computer in the next room and I woke up and he had gone and I just sort of lost it. I was sobbing and felt panicky: my whole response was just completely out of proportion. Eventually he heard me moving around and came in. I think at first he was mad at me because it is pretty unreasonable to cry over that. But then eventually he realized I was just depressed and having a mental breakdown over everything and he held me and talked to me. I spent a lot of time crying in the bathroom in between classes today.
I know I should just try to get through one day at a time, but thinking short-term like that makes me feel sad and like my life is terrible, but thinking of the future, with so much professional uncertainty and relationship stuff to get through fills me with panic.
The thing about Mike seeing someone new is, I don’t know if I’m upset because of the particular circumstances of my life right now or because I had just deluded myself into thinking I was OK with this.
Before he started seeing her I was already feeling deprived. I don’t get enough time with him. We don’t have enough sex (my last long spell of bad depression dampened both of our sex drives. I was just starting to feel like we were beginning to come out of it). And it’s so fucking scary that now I’m going to have even less of it because he’s going to siphon some of that time and energy and libido towards someone else. I feel like I’m being asked to share my food while I’m starving to death.
I’m confused. Because part of me feels like if I liked my job and was generally happy and if Mike and I were spending most evenings and the whole weekend together and having plenty of sex, maybe I’d be fine with this. I’m sure I’d still have feelings to work through, but I would be ok and I’d enjoy getting some time to myself and I wouldn’t resent it. But I’ve never been in that place when Mike has had other partners, so maybe I’m just fooling myself. Maybe I actually just really suck at this. I can add it to my gigantic list of Things Beth Sucks At (it will go right in between remembering birthdays and finding a job that doesn’t give me panic attacks).
But the things I’m worried about and jealous of are different from before. I don’t think he will directly leave me for her. Instead I worry that in an economy of sacristy we are redirecting resources away from our relationship and it will eventually wither away.
I feel so discouraged. I feel like I work so hard at being the person I want and having the life I want and nothing changes. I mean, this blog post is something I could have written two years ago. A financial allegory seems apt. Happiness is money and depression is being swamped with credit card payments and student loans. And I’ve been really good and paying down my debt and then bam! I have an accident and now I owe the hospital $20,000. I can’t get ahead.
I wish I could end this with some nice sentiment about how I’ll be fine or what I’ve learned and what I can do better in the future. But I’m just so tired and worn down and I just needed to get the poison out so I can sleep later.

Trying to figure out yesterday

I really want to process my emotions from last night, but I’m just so tired. I slept intermittently for the first part of last night with the help of anxiety medication. Then Mike came home. I was pretty woozy from the drugs, but I remember telling him pirate jokes (What’s a pirate’s favorite crime? Piracy, duh) and eating peanut butter crackers in bed. Then I slept soundly but woke up earlier than I would have liked. I had a rough day: More school frustrations and a lot of work.

Throughout the day I wrote a few notes to myself on my phone, so I’ll just copy them here and then add some final thoughts.

Looking back on last night, I wasn’t really very jealous at all in the sense that I’m used to. There was no fear that he’d leave me, no feelings of bitterness or abandonment. I was just lonely and very anxious. The loneliness I understand, but why the anxiety?

The trouble is, in the past when Mike slept with someone else, I’d get so anxious that it drained all my energy and coming down left me depressed. I can’t tell if that’s the case now or if I just feel this way because I’m tired and it’s Monday. I don’t have a lot of intrusive thoughts about it like I used to the day after. But it’d be one thing if this had happened on a Thursday or something and today I could be like “whatever, I just have to get through today and then I can relax and spend time with him.” But instead it’s a Monday and I feel tried and shitty and I have to go the whole week seeing him very little and then the weekend will come and he will go out of town and I have to do it all over again. It’s all just contributing to my general feelings of hopelessness.

So that’s what I wrote in the morning. It sounds pretty sad, but to be fair it’s pretty well in line with how I usually feel on Monday mornings regardless of Mike. I mostly just regret the time it causes me to lose with him. We don’t see each other as much as I’d like. ¬†Although I do have to admit that it’s a little grating that the day after he sleeps with this girl she gets to see him at work and I get maybe 40 minutes before bed to hang out. I shouldn’t think about that, though. Mike and I also met at work, and that way lies madness. Later I thought a little more about it and tried to remind myself why I do this.

Remember that what makes you special to him is the love you share, not any physical act or acts. Remember that he’s a person and you don’t own him: He gets to have a life outside of you and that’s healthy and will make him happy, which will make you happier. Remember how special it is that he is free to sleep with whomever he wants and he still chooses to come back to you every time. I guess the only problem is that sometimes remembering that last one makes me feel like I have to constantly audition for his love.

The thing is, I know that Mike loves me and that he’s chosen me and doesn’t plan to change his mind. I really shouldn’t feel that way. But sometimes I do feel like I have to try extra hard to impress him and be a good girlfriend so he will¬†still want to come home to me. In a way, I suppose it’s a good thing to not take your partner for granted and to keep making an effort to keep them happy. And I think my behavior towards him is in line with that. But in terms of what goes on inside my head, I think I’m suffering from flawed thinking. I shouldn’t feel insecure or like Mike’s affection is dependent on me acting like some perfect, easygoing, sexy ideal of womanhood.

The problem, as it usually is with me, is figuring out the difference between knowing I should feel a certain way and actually feeling it. The good news is I have therapy on Wednesday, so I guess that’s just one more thing to remember to talk about in my appointment.

This again

For a long time now, I’ve been sort of intermittently playing with a friend and Mike has not been seeing anyone but me. So for a while, I would have the occasional passing thought that it’d be nice for him to have a new fuck buddy. Then I started having some major issues with work and school and for the past several weeks I’ve been feeling very stressed and overwhelmed. Mike has been a big support, and non-monogamy just hasn’t been on my mind at all. Then recently he’s been getting closer to a friend from work. Last week he got drinks with her. I was more or less OK, but fairly anxious, and it was hard to sleep without him tucking me in.
Then today I was feeling sort of meh. I talked to my sister on the phone, and recounting all of my professional struggles just made me dwell on them and upset me. I was dreading my Monday and slogging through homework.
Then Mike let me know that he’s going over to his work friend’s place tonight to watch TV and potentially (probably? definitely?) hook up. It’s sort of OK. I know that Mike loves me and isn’t looking to replace me. Part of me feels a little worried that he’ll think she’s sexier than me, but really that’s not too relevant. For one thing, I’ve always been a bit self-conscious of my body and that’s been worse lately. For another, he sees other women out and about all the time; sleeping with one won’t actually change anything about how he perceives me or them. In the past my therapist has suggested that if I know there’s a hard time in my life when it would be unduly difficult for me to deal with added stress, I can ask Mike to avoid scheduling dates during that time. But right now I don’t see my situation even beginning to improve until August, and it probably won’t be significantly better until December at the earliest. So that would be pretty unfair to the two of them and I’m just not willing to be that person. I think that in the long run it will be better for me to just face this, anyway.
I’m mostly just a very tender combination of sad and anxious right now. I’m so used to snatching an hour with him before I go to bed, and it’s hard to give that up for even one night when everything else in my life is so unsatisfying. Also, he’s part of my nightly routine and it makes it hard to sleep when he’s gone. That’s where the anxiety comes in. I’m used to him being with someone else being scary, so I have an automatic anxiety response to it. And those things combined make me worry that I won’t be able to sleep tonight. I have an early morning tomorrow and a long work day, followed by a potluck with friends. I absolutely cannot miss work, but I suppose I could stay home from the potluck if I’m really tired. I took half a Xanax when I found out and I’ll take another before bed. Maybe that will help me sleep and I’ll wake up and be able to function at work. Tonight I think I’ll shower and shave and lay out an outfit for tomorrow so I can sleep as late as possible.
I’m actually feeling better than I would have expected. Just really fragile. It will probably get worse right before bed, so I’ll medicate myself and turn in early and hope that I can scrape by enough sleep. In the meantime, I made myself my favorite tea (decaf Irish breakfast with cream and sugar) and I microwaved my fanciest frozen meal because I already cooked for the potluck tomorrow and didn’t feel like making something else. I finished all the work I have to do today, but if I need a distraction later I can do more. I’m watching a familiar, comforting show on Netflix and if I can focus enough I’m reading a really good book on English history. I owe a long-distance friend a long email. I’m just trying to be nice to myself and let myself feel sadder than I logically should. At this point I’ll be pissed if I go through all this trouble and he doesn’t end up hooking up with her lol.

 

**UPDATE** This is pretty stupid, but my outside partner and I sometimes put a show on Netflix at the same time and text each other while we watch it. We were going to have a synchronized West Wing viewing tonight, but his plans changed and he had to cancel it. It’s a super minor thing and I don’t actually mind, but I guess being sort of temporarily passed over by a second guy in the same night made me feel sort of shitty. It raised my anxiety a bit. I’m hoping another cup of tea will calm me down.

Perspective

I got a little bit of perspective on my self esteem issues today. I’m not always super happy with my body, and I’ve started going to the gym with Mike to see if I can feel more comfortable in my skin.

Today after our workout, I stopped to get water before we left and I noticed a guy turn around to look at me as I bent over the fountain. I felt really shy about it because I genuinely assumed he was judging me for how sweaty I looked at the moment.

But then in the car on the way home, Mike told me “I saw a guy check you out today.” He was talking about the same guy. It made me smile, even if I did feel a little goofy for my original assumption.