Monday, August 15, 2011

Separation Anxiety

I'm quickly learning that any relationship that starts out after marital failure is the equivalent of overcoming the fear of roller coasters. At the start, the first plummet over the edge always has someone on the ride screaming to get off, but then after it starts gaining momentum and they get used to the sensations that come along with it, they can't imagine themselves anywhere else. They're usually the ones who, right before the end, are the ones cheering their heads off, holding their arms up, enjoying the ride. At that moment, they become hooked on the adrenaline rush and when the cars finally come to a stop, they are the first ones off the ride so they can run around to get in line to ride the roller coaster again, giggling and laughing the whole way, ready again to scream, laugh, and ultimately enjoy the sensations.

Crazy, right?

I am one of those people. The first plummet of my roller coaster ride consisted of me being very narrow in my view. I was squealing my head off that I wanted to get off the ride because I didn't know what to do, had no idea of what to do with the emotions that I was experiencing, didn't have control of the situation and was completely disoriented by the feeling of my stomach plummeting into my shoes. I had no idea that I'd end up being someone that was willing to release my death grip from the safety bar and hold my hands up and, as someone wise told me, "Just relax and enjoy it." Not only did I find someone who was willing to be patient while I released, albeit one finger at a time, my death grip on the safety bar, but he also bravely braced himself to endure my tirade of clawing to get off; he patiently taught me how to hold my hands up and really get into why people enjoy the ride to begin with.

But, here's where the separation anxiety comes in: I am now the lunatic who is running from the ride exit to get back in line to get back on again. It's crazy how there are some things you can't get enough of. Addictive, yes. Or as Liz Gilbert so eloquently said:
Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based love story. It all begins when the object of your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something you never even dared to admit that you wanted – an emotional speedball, perhaps, of thunderous love and roiling excitement. Soon you start craving that intense attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie. When the drug is withheld, you promptly turn sick, crazy and depleted (not to mention resentful of the dealer who encouraged this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good stuff anymore — despite the fact that you know he has it hidden somewhere…because he used to give it to you for free). Next stage finds you skinny and shaking in a corner, certain only that you would sell your soul or rob your neighbors just to have that thing even one more time. Meanwhile, the object of your adoration has now become repulsed by you. He looks at you like you’re someone he’s never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You’re a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes. So that’s it. You have now reached infatuation’s final destination—the complete and merciless devaluation of self.”
I'm trying desperately not to be a junkie for that emotional speedball. And here's why.  I don't want to blow it. When you have a relationship with someone who is almost an identical reflection of yourself, from the PTSD, abuse and addiction to the untold damages that come with living a life that ended up being a pothole-ridden superhighway to hell, you sit back bathing in the attention, daisies and ice cream of it all and wonder why it's just now being presented to you. You sit back wailing the questions,"Why couldn't have this happened before I got married?" "Have my experiences been the road to make me ready for this?"  "Why am I so broken?" "Do I deserve to be this happy?" and on and on the questions go until you inevitably beat it to death and fall into bed mentally spent. The wisdom that says "just relax and enjoy it" finally occurs to you after you've closed your eyes and after a "doh" moment, you promise yourself that you'll try to enjoy it more tomorrow.

I sat mortified for a while, flailing my arms and scared stiff of being close to anyone. Worse part of it was when Nan looked at me and said, "You're being courted." My eyes got as big as pie plates and I did some serious emotional flailing trying desperately to justify my idiotic need to push someone away who was being very open and honest with everything. I think my subconscious was telling me that this wasn't a trifle, I couldn't play around with it and there was little room for error, because I was being presented with a real, live, honest to gods chance to be happy. 

For me and my history with relationships, that was the equivalent of the bubonic plague of all emotional experiences, because each time I thought I had found it, it turned out to be a lie or I would unknowingly sabotage the whole thing. So to be presented with something that huge, ok, let's cut to the chase, when you've got the brass ring in front of you and you've had it jerked out of your grasp time and time again, you're going to be scared senseless or completely disbelieving and mistrusting of anyone who would dare hold it up again. Do you reach for it or don't you? As Doc Cat says, "Life is about risk. What are you going to do when the risk comes? Sometimes, you just have to jump and see what happens." For me, that kind of jump is near to impossible, and oh boy did I have one hell of a time being talked off the ledge and convinced to take a leap of faith.

I have been getting hit with this amazing emotional speedball right, left and center. So, what does the addict brain do? It tries desperately to hang on to its habits, it does anything to justify the use of whatever it craves to get by. The cherry on the cake of all of this is that the relationship I'm in seems right now to be a very healthy addiction. I took Doc Cat's advice and said, "Ok Sher, you get one hour, ONE, to obsess and then you've got to get on with the things that have to get done," and I've been doing just that, devoting my time to work, getting registered for school, getting my financial aid all worked out, everything top to bottom all fixed up. But then my hour comes, and it's filled with dinners, conversations that are meaningful and sweet, and they end up being longer than just one hour.

And don't you know it...I just got a 2 a.m. text from him about external hard drives, killing the whole topic that I'm writing about, talk about a reflection...the guy is as random as I am.  I get asked, "Are you up?" I of course reply, "Yes." and what do you think I got?  Instead of "I'll be right over..." I got "Here, check out this hard drive."  OY VEH!  He's so going to pay for that tomorrow.  My relationship partner is a fellow reader and I have only one message for him.  That's right pal, you're gonna get it!  I'm thinking of the denial of good back scratching or I might hit below the belt and be a foot massage hold out.  My devious mind will come up with some playfully cruel way to inflict some sort of retribution for messing up my great romantic story.  Ugh, talk about getting de-railed...well, HA!  Try as you might to give me writers block, I'm not falling for it!  I'm in charge of steering this boat, so we're going to get back on topic...

Here's where the next dip comes, I'm not alone in my separation anxiety.  I'm not even the one who brought up the topic, he did.  Speaking of text messaging, I got one the other day that referenced his separation anxiety from me.  I can't help but think it's healthy.  Two addicts, two absolutely triggerable PTSD sufferers and the great thing of it all, it's two people who understand what's going on, how to make it better and be soothing for each other.  Except for the 2 a.m. external hard drive text, (oh, he's so gonna pay...) especially when I'm in the middle of romantic separation anxiety.  Note:  If a girl says she's having that kind of anxiety, don't talk about computer parts!  It's not computer parts she's thinking of!  LOL!

See what I mean?  I think it's a good thing to have separation anxiety when it comes to someone who makes you laugh, who when you come out of the dressing room at Banana Republic he's standing there with his oh-so-groovy sunglasses on (which look amazing on him by the way) and he's got this great straw fedora on and it makes you squeal in laughter and joy (when before you would have been embarrassed because you didn't know what to do with the emotions it evoked), that his goofiness plays right into your own, that when you both face something you don't necessarily like to do and you give each other a "get out of jail free" card just in case someone gets triggered, ensuring no one gets hurt, and you end up spending the evening laying on a blanket under the stars and a full moon while the outdoor play you went to see doesn't inspire either of you so you make the time work for the both of you and end up counting the stars, looking for the satellites passing over head and all of a sudden the thing you didn't want to do turns into one of the favorite moments of your life.

It's having the same favorite soda pop.  It's knowing that when you're in the kitchen and it's just big enough for just the two of you, there is a happy little dance that happens where one person is like the right hand and the other the left hand and you negotiate things with ease and a happiness that is rare to find.

So tonight, the left hand is looking around for the right hand and not finding it.  I'm having separation anxiety, but it's a good thing, it's got tons of nutritional value because, well, I know there is always tomorrow and I know he's having it too.  I finally feel like I've got a partner...and it's pretty damn cool.

So for the song of the day, something that says it better than I ever could, a perfect little tune by Lifehouse called "Broken."

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