Triggered!

Treun and I are ridiculously happy these days.  Things are cruising along at a good clip and I will, hopefully, be able to write more soon.  I’m finding that the happier I am, the less time and energy I have to write.  I also think I’m so far into my healing journey that I have less need to process.  I want to share my happiness and the good things in my life too but finding time between three kids, working, and Treun proves problematic.

But I need to process this and get it out.  I was triggered in a massive and major way the other night.  It’s been months since I was triggered sexually.  It seems that I get to a point where I don’t even think about it anymore then BAM! something hits me.  It is horrible in its unexpectedness.  It isn’t that I go around thinking, “Hey, I’m all healed now and my life is great!”  I am just living my life and all the sexual baggage from the past just doesn’t exist in my day to day life.  It is, mostly, a non-issue now.  So when something happens, I end up having a massive PTSD episode.

Treun and I were right in the middle of having sex.  Sex with Treun is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  It is simply amazing.  We are comfortable with our own bodies and with each other.  We know works for us and we’re also both enthusiastic about trying new things and continuing to learn about each other.  Treun was behind me and he pulled some pillows and put them under my hips.  I didn’t know what he was going for, but I was willing to go where he lead.  He gently pushed me down so that I was laying on the pillows.  When he thrust and I felt that sensation, memories flooded and I screamed, “NO!!!!” and my body stiffened.  I’ve sat since then and tried to remember exactly what I did.  I asked Treun later if I really screamed or if it was only in my head.  He said that I said, “No” and my entire body stiffened and I lifted myself off the pillows (even with him on top of me).  He immediately stopped and laid down beside me.  I was frozen in place, my breath ragged.

I was fully back in time, back to that place that Bubba used to rape me.  Bubba  had trouble orgasming sometimes and would put me in that position to help things along.  I hated that position and told him every time that I didn’t want to be in that position but it didn’t matter to him.  He was only interested into getting off and that position helped him.  Those were the times that the other Hope would escape from The Happy Place, jump up and scream at Bubba to stop and that she never wanted to have sex with him again.  I would lay there and beg the other Hope to go back to The Happy Place, to walk through the meadow and enjoy the flowers.  I would feel it all and would be unable to dissociate again once the other Hope got out.  It was painful because by then the lube would’ve worn out and I could feel Bubba not only hurting my vagina, but also my labia with the friction.

There I was, with Treun, reliving what Bubba had done to me.  Treun was whispering words of comfort and reassurance to me, even though I can’t recall now what those words were.  I just knew I had to fight the PTSD demon that was trying to take over me.  The litany in my head was, “I’m safe.  I’m with Treun.  Bubba can’t hurt me anymore.”  I was fighting to relax my body because all of my muscles were frozen in remembered terror.  “Relax your legs, Hope.  You are safe.  Relax your back, Hope.  You are safe.”  All the way up my body, I had to manually relax my muscles, inch by inch, muscle by mucle.  It is during times like this that I am glad for the multiple voices I can call upon to help me.  I can tell myself I’m safe while also hearing myself talking to me like a small child, giving me instructions about what to do.  I finally got to the point where I could move the pillows from under me and snuggle up to Treun.  He stroked my arm, calming me, waiting for me to take the lead.  I laid there, curled into his chest, and let the tears flow.  I refused to give into the wracking sobs that were threatening to tear from my throat but I couldn’t stop the tears that silently fell.

I couldn’t talk to Treun about this.  I was still trying to process it all in my head.  It felt like my whole body was sucking comfort from Treun’s body.  I could feel it seeping into my being from his through my skin.  I was triggered a few months ago and I couldn’t talk to Treun about it right away either.  It took a day to work it through in my own head and with Endellion before I could talk to Treun about it.  This was no different.

I got to talk to Endellion about it a bit later, after Treun was asleep.  The first thing she said was, “You did it!  You told him to stop!  That is huge!”  I could never tell Bubba to stop; I’d learned that it was futile and just caused a huge fight.  But with Treun I could say no and it was immediately respected.  Even if I don’t say no, he reads my body language so well that he’s stopped a few times and asked if I was ok when he felt something was just a bit off.  Yes, this was huge!  I am no longer trapped.  I am no longer a slave to a man’s power trips.  I am loved and protected and safe.

The next day, Treun and I had a long car ride so I brought up what happened and explained it.  He’d figured as much and he knew I’d talk to him about it when I was ready.  I’d apologized the night before when I couldn’t continue and he told me I didn’t have to apologize or worry about not finishing because the most important thing to him is that I am ok.  He’d told me that the night before and again in the car.  *I* am what is important.  *I* matter.

Yes, getting triggered sucks but I know that Treun is here for me.  He respects me and loves me.  It is still mind-boggling to me because relatively speaking it is still so new.  I had disrespect and selfishness and control for two decades, I’ve only known this great love for such a short time in comparison.  It feels like I shouldn’t be surprised by Treun’s character anymore but I still am.  He is a good man.  <happy sigh>

Something Wrong With This Wedding Photo

I saw this on Facebook today.  A friend had posted it and so I clicked the link because hey, I want to know what is wrong with that wedding photo.  I’m a need-to-know kind of gal.

The first photo is a picture of a bride and groom from the shoulders up.  Nope.  Nothing wrong there.

The second photo is a zoomed out picture of the same couple but from the waist up.  I looked and looked but couldn’t find anything wrong.

Then I scrolled down and read the statistics.  Sadly, I’m in the 25%, the 33%, and a member of the 2.3 million.  And it was NOT apparent.  I was not believed by my own family because I didn’t sport the bruises.  I thought I was protecting my family by not telling them what was really doing on.  No, I didn’t realize I was being abused at the time but I knew Bubba was not treating me right and I was trying to protect him too because my family holds a grudge.  They do not let the past die.  They do not forget.  They would’ve made Bubba pay for his mistakes for the rest of his life.

Sadly, that bit me in the ass.  I protected him so well that they believed all his lies.  They believe that I’m an alcoholic, that I’m a compulsive liar, that I’m a terrible mother, that I’m a horrible person.  It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken to my family and they are still trying to convince everyone around them that this is the truth.  It simply isn’t.  They are wrong about me on so many levels.

The back of picture of my life with Bubba resembled the back of that picture.  I lived in hell behind the scenes.  I was deeply shamed that my marriage was not the amazing, wonderful marriage that I tried to make it seem to be.  I was miserable and I was hurting.  I also didn’t know any better.

Now, I know differently.  I know I am loved and cherished.  I know that Treun would never hurt me, emotionally or physically.  I will never have to hide anything from anyone.  He respects me and cares about what I think and want.  He values my input and when we don’t agree, we discuss it and come to a mutual agreement rather quickly.  It still leaves me boggled how quickly we work out disagreements.  In fact, I wouldn’t even call them disagreements.  They are differing starting points.  We discuss as we move toward each other and our mutual goals.  And somehow we always end up standing in the exact same spot, thinking the same thing.  We work well together because we each put the other first.  Arcadia watched it happen the other day and said it was beautiful to watch us think and work and come to the same conclusion within five minutes.  She was watching it from my end while Treun and I texted and she watched me get all upset, thinking we weren’t going to get it worked out.  Then she got to see me totally befuddled that we figured it out so quickly.

Another thing that I know is exactly who I am.  I am a strong, courageous woman who walked through the fires of Hell to get out of an abusive relationship and keep herself and her children safe.  I drink occasionally but more often than not I plan to drink then wake up the next morning realizing that I got busy living life and forgot to actually have the drink.

I am forthright and hate to lie.  I despise liars.  I lived with one for entirely too many years to have respect for liars.  In fact, I have to work hard to not over-share because I’m still learning my own boundaries of what information I do and do not have to disclose.  I’m horrible at lying (you can read it in my face) and it’s too much work to try to keep stories straight so why bother with anything less than the truth.  (I’m so glad Shane no longer believes in Santa because that one was getting really hard to answer questions about without lying while also not ruining the magic of Christmas for him.)

I’m a good mom.  I’m not perfect, I make mistakes all the time but I put my kids first and would do anything to keep them safe.  I’ve provided for my children and taken care of them.  I meet their needs.  I’ve often met their needs while not receiving any child support.  I’ve always met their needs when Bubba has been behind in child support (for the record, he is still over $3K behind).

I’m not a horrible person for setting and maintaining boundaries.  I am respecting myself by not being in contact with people who are not safe for me to be in contact with.  It isn’t safe for me to be in contact with people who side with my abuser, who take his side, who do not believe me.

There are no more hidden, behind-the-scene pictures in my life.   I am safe.  I am happy.  I no longer live in fear.  It is truly an amazing life I have.

Is He Up To Something?

Treun is getting ready to go on vacation again to see his folks on the other side of the world country.  He does it twice a year.  Last time he flew out by himself.  This time he is driving out with Noble.  It will be good for them to have father/son time.  With Noble in school a couple of hours away they don’t get to have enough time together so this will be so nice for both of them.  I just have to get through ten days without Treun.

Over the weekend, we went to Sears to have his oil changed and his tires rotated in preparation for his trip.  He wanted to buy me a gift but said that I needed to help pick it out because it is something that I should like.  He’s been dropping hints lately and my first thought was that he wanted to look at rings.  We dropped his car off and then he said, “Does Sears have a jewelry department?”  My first thought at that was, “Aw, hell no!  You are NOT buying my engagement ring at Sears!”  What came out of my mouth was, “I don’t know.”  We ended up going to Penney’s and as he walked me over to the jewelry counter, I figured it was at least a good place to start.  He led me over, looked down, and said, “Here! I want to get you a watch and since you’ll be wearing it, it should be something that you like.”

Never have I been happier to be facing away from someone.  My face fell.  A watch?  Really?  We’ve had this conversation before.  I don’t wear things on my wrist because it drives me nuts!  I have just enough sensory issues that watches and bracelets makes me want to rip my hair out.  I just can NOT wear anything on my wrists.  When he said that, I simply said, “Oh.”  I just stared at him. I tried to hide my disappointment.  He asked if I saw anything that I liked.  I told him that I don’t wear things on my wrists.  Then what he said next triggered an internal struggle that I did not know that I could over come.

“You just need to learn to get used to wearing it.”

Exactly something that Bubba would say and expect me to then do.  I could feel my insides screaming that this is not something that should come out of Treun’s mouth.  I came as close as I have since dating Treun to dissociating, right in the middle of Penney’s.  I could see myself in my head standing there screaming at him, “NO!!!!  I DON’T EVER HAVE TO LEARN TO GET USED TO ANYTHING!  YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!  I DON’T WEAR WATCHES AND I WILL NOT WEAR THEM, EVEN FOR YOU!”  While that part of me was screaming in my head, the saner part of me was saying, “Calm down.  This is Treun.  He would not want you to be upset by a gift he wants to give you.  That is NOT who Treun is.  He is trying to please you, not control you.”

I don’t know what, if anything, he saw on my face.  I don’t know if I’ve mastered concealing anything on my face.  I highly doubt I have but I was really struggling to keep control of myself, to not let loose the raging, caged woman.

I finally turned to him and said, “Treun.  I so appreciate the thought but it would be a waste of money to buy me a watch.  It would sit on my night stand and not get worn because I truly cannot wear anything on my wrists.”  I could tell by the look on his face that he was sad that I didn’t like what he’d thought up but that he would respect my wishes.

When we left the store to walk around the mall, I told Treun I needed to visit the ladies’ room.  I texted Endellion and told her.  She laughed!  She said that he’s up to something.  She thinks he’s trying to throw me off the scent by claiming to want to buy me something that we’ve already talked about me not liking.

I’m doubtful.

I wanted it to be a ring so badly.  I want to marry this man!  When it was a watch, I can’t tell you the amount of disappointment I felt.  I can’t get my hopes up again.  If it happens, it happens when it happens.  I can’t look forward to it again only to be crushed again.  Endellion insists that it will come sooner than I think.  I am just as insistent that it will not happen any time soon.

He might be up to something, but for now, I will keep dreaming in my head and try not to look forward to it.

Dreaming of the Future

I have a secret board on Pinterest.  It is called “Dreaming.”  It is where I collect the many ideas out there that I’d like to have at my wedding.  Yes, there I said it: I want to get married.  More specifically, I want to marry Treun.  I want to spend the rest of my life with this man, going to bed with him at night, waking up with him in the morning, and spending what is in between together.  It is getting harder and harder to leave him at the close of the evening.  It is getting more and more difficult to drive away to find my own bed while he crawls into his own.  It just doesn’t feel right any more.

In one way it feels too soon.  We’ve been together for almost eight months.  He helped me on my journey through hell and back when I was so sick.  We’ve spent countless hours together.  But I think to myself, “It’s only been eight months!  How do I know he won’t change the minute he marries me?”  I still have that left-over from Bubba.

Then I sit and think about it.  There are simply no red flags with Treun.  There is no unease in my gut that I’m trying to ignore.  Trust me, I’ve looked.  The first few months were spent analyzing everything he said and did, just waiting to see the first hint of a red flag.  My gut was screaming at me while I was dating Bubba.  I simply didn’t know what it was trying to say.  I’d not been taught to look for signs of bad things in guys so when my gut was trying to tell me to run away, I had no clue what it meant.

Now, I know what to listen for from my gut.  I know what to look for.  I know how manipulation works.  I just don’t see anything from Treun that can be construed as run-away worthy.  He has good boundaries, he is kind and caring, and he is a good man.  The only problem is that we’ve both been so hurt in the past that we are moving slowly and we both still find it hard to talk about the future.  We are making huge strides in this area but neither of us is willing to start that conversation yet.  And that is ok.

I’ve often heard, “How do you eat an elephant?”  Well, the answer is, “One bite at a time.”  That is what Treun and I are doing.  We are eating this elephant one tiny bite at a time. Small conversations here and there.  I happened to mention the fact that I don’t want a diamond when an engagement ring commercial came on the other day.  We’ve talked about turning his house into a rental and buying a house together.  We talk about whether living together or getting married would be better.  No, we haven’t made any definite plans but we are having the talks, slowly chewing away.

For now, I sit here and collect things on Pinterest and dream about marrying him someday.  I don’t know if he thinks about it as much as I do but I can tell from our small conversations that he’s considering everything too.

Oh, look at those beautiful shoes!  I must go pin that!

One Year Ago

I was reading old posts and came to “The Party and the Great Big Realization.”  Wow!  I’m simply shocked by the difference a year has made.  It’s been a year since Sean was in my life and we were doing the dance around each other.

A year ago I struggled with needing him in my life.  I hated myself for needing a man.  I felt defective and broken.  Celia’s words were still so strong in my head.  It was a tumultuous time for me.  Wanting Sean in a physical way, knowing he wasn’t good for me, was just hard on so many levels.

This year is totally different.  Treun has been in my life for over half a year now and I have absolutely no problem admitting that I need him in my life.  I have no problem admitting that I want him.  There is no angst, no hearing Celia’s words in my head.  Where Treun is concerned, I feel like I’ve found my other half.  Yes, it has taken quite a few months to get to the point but I am comfortable in needing Treun in my life, in leaning on him, in relying on him.  It feels natural to do so now.

A year ago I was still fighting my body’s need for sex, for physical closeness.  This year, I embrace it.  I think the difference is in the man.  Sean just wasn’t the man for me and it feels like Treun was made for me.

There is no drama with Treun.  Just the opposite, in fact.  When I’m with Treun, I feel peace and calm.  Even as I was debating with myself about telling him I love him, when I was with him, the voices in my head calmed and were quiet.

This past week was a doozy.  Dealing with what would’ve been my anniversary and finding out Luke was engaged were hard.  I bawled my eyes out.  The next day when I was with Treun, I thought I’d have to do more crying because I didn’t feel done.  Yet, as soon as I saw him and he wrapped me up in his strong arms, all the terribleness that had been in me melted away.  As soon as I saw him again, I didn’t care that Luke was engaged.  As soon as I saw him, it didn’t matter that Bubba is an ass who tried to destroy my life.  I realized that Treun is what matters now.

Now, a year after that time with Sean, I feel like things are right with my world.  I remember the angst and the yearning and the fighting myself from last year.  I remember never being sure of Sean and whether he’d be there for me when I needed him.  Now I have a man who I know will absolutely be there when I need him.  There is no doubt in my mind.  He shows up on time, he doesn’t stand me up, he doesn’t walk out the door and disappear for two weeks.  He is reliable and caring and here for me.

Treun is a wonderful man and he makes me ridiculously happy.

Too Many Emotions

Today would’ve been our anniversary.  Over two decades we’d have been married had he not chosen to remain an abusive asshole.  Today, I’m angry.  Today, I’m mourning.  Today, I feel a little sick.

I think I’ve been so busy for so long just being happy to be free of the nightmare that was being married to Bubba that I haven’t let myself look back and really mourn.  Sure there was the mourning that I did while I was married to him that made it easier to just be thankful to be out, but since I left, I’ve confined my mourning to small moments here and there.  I’ve never really let myself mourn because there never really was anything to mourn.

Today I am mourning what we should’ve had if Bubba had been different.  Had he chosen to get healthy and truly changed from being an abuser to someone who learns a different way, we could’ve had a very different day today.  Our children wouldn’t be as scarred as they are now.  They could be healing too instead of being re-traumatized all the time because Bubba is still abusing them.

I mix that in with being so happy with Treun and my head is spinning.  It is hard to reconcile mourning the family the Bubba destroyed while simultaneously being deliriously happy with Treun.

If that wasn’t enough, I decided to take a look at Luke’s FB page.  You see, I took him out of my newsfeed eons ago because it was just too painful to watch him live his life knowing I’d never be a part of it.  Then when Treun and I got together I had no big interest in seeing what he was up to beyond the few times he would comment on one of my statuses or I’d share something funny with him.  Well, I looked today and he got engaged the other day.

So I sit here sobbing my eyes out that Luke got engaged.  I hope he is happy but it drives home the fact that we really, really weren’t meant to be together.  He didn’t want me.  I’ve carried a torch for him since Junior High.  The first time he got married, I cried myself to sleep the day I found out.  This brings back all that pain.  No matter how happy I am with Treun and how much I love him, there will always be something special about Luke.  It is what it is.  Luke played a pivotal part in my healing and he will always have a special place in my heart.  He just does.

I’m sitting here angry with Bubba and mourning what he robbed us of while saying good-bye to Luke once again while loving Treun so much I feel like my heart is overflowing.  Being a feeler, this is actually painful to me.  All of these emotions bombarding me is like drowning and not being able to hit the surface of the water long enough to take a life-sustaining breath.  I’m getting little gasps and all of me hurts with the effort to not let the feelings take over completely.

It hurts.  Tonight everything hurts.  I need the emotions to go away and leave me in peace.  I need to not feel everything so intensely.

Back Child Support

I logged into my bank the other day to check on things.  I used to just look at it twice a month since I pretty much know what I have in there.  I’m buying gifts for Christmas with cash I’d saved over the past few months but need to buy a few things online.  I needed to make sure I have enough money to be able to buy what I want without it impacting my ability to pay rent soon.

I logged on and saw that my balance was thousands of dollars.  What?  Huh?  What?  How is this possible?  My first thought was that work added an extra digit to my paycheck or just plain keyed it in wrong.  I clicked on the checking link to see what deposits had been made to find a substantial deposit made to my account.  Then I looked at who had deposited it.  Child Support Services.

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the table and bounced onto the floor.  Bubba was around $9,000 in arrears and here he is, making a huge payment.  This brings him down to about $3,000 in arrears.  Again I ask, What??????  Where in the blue fuck did he get the money to pay this lump sum?  As far as I know he was fired again a few months ago and here he is paying a nice chunk of change.

Something is up.

Bubba never does anything that doesn’t suit his purposes.  I wish I could think of Bubba in a positive light.  I wish I could look at this and think, “Wow!  He finally wants to be a good man and a good dad and take care of his kids.”  Sadly, my experience with Bubba is more along the lines of, “What the fuck is he up to now?”  Really.  What is in it for him?

Part of me is scared that the state finally caught up to him and made him sell off some possessions in order to pay this debt.  If this wasn’t 100% voluntary on Bubba’s part to pay this, what will the repercussions be to the children?  How would he take it out on them?  And what is he going to say to the kids to try to poison them against me now?

I am thrilled that money will no longer be an issue.  I can save and pinch pennies with the best of them.  This gives me a nice nest egg and a safety net.  It gives me peace of mind.  I’m not holding my breath that Bubba will get caught up or continue to pay regularly.  I’m just going to enjoy the fact that I have a good, healthy savings again after having had it depleted by my illness.

I never thought I’d be this financially stable AFTER I divorced.  These past nearly two years have seen times of being very worried about how to provide for my kids but through it all I’ve still been more financially stable than I ever was married to Bubba.  I will take this money and use it for the good of our family.  I will make sure to stash enough away for a rainy day.

I will put away worry about what Bubba is up to.  Bubba will do what Bubba will do.  There is nothing I can do about it except play damage control whenever his true intentions come out.  He isn’t worth the time I’d spend worrying about him.

I Have to Process The Surgery

Last night Treun and I were laying in bed relaxing after having a very nice time.  I love nothing more than laying naked beside him, snuggling and touching and coming down off the shared high of love making.  I’d gotten up to get something and hopped back up on the bed and walked across it toward him on my knees.  As I was moving toward him he said, “I’ve put some weight on you, Hopey.  It looks really good.  You were getting too skinny.”  He said this with great pride in himself.  He sees it as him taking care of me.

Somehow, though, all that registered in my head was that I was fat.  I know it was the Ghost of Abuses Past coming to attack again.  It was the years of subtle digs by Bubba that had me diving under the covers and telling Treun that I felt self-conscious and never wanted to be naked in front of him again.  The Ghost whispered that I was fat and ugly and that no one would ever love me.  The only one who could ever see past my “grossness” had always been Bubba.  He’d make sure to say it in such a way that I could never put my finger on it.  It was so insidious and he was so good at it that it is hard to describe how I could feel that way all those years.  Now here I was, being complimented by the man who genuinely loves me and I was freaking out.

It wasn’t until after I got home and starting chatting with Endellion that my brain began its path of twists and turns to get from Treun telling me I’d put on some weight to realizing that I need to process the surgery and what happened to me.

The truth is that I’ve very effectively buried thinking about the surgery and what it meant.  I told Endellion that I wished for death, even knowing what it meant for the kids.  I have so much guilt over that.  My death would mean the kids going to live with Bubba – exactly what I fought so hard against during the divorce.  Yet, there I was ready to ship them off to him if someone would’ve just offered me an end.  I would’ve gladly signed them over to Bubba, done whatever it took to simply be done with the pain.

Endellion argues that it was the pain talking – not me.  She said that pain changes our brain chemistry and that it wasn’t ME who wanted to die, it was the pain.  I know how much pain I was in and I know what I was willing to do to not be in it anymore.  I told Endellion that I don’t know how to work through this.  I don’t know where to start.  Even having her tell me this does NOT make the guilt go away.  Usually Endellion can logic cannon me and show me my faulty thinking.  It isn’t working this time.  The guilt is there as big as ever.

And now that I’m writing it out I think it stems from the fact that I was very, very close to actually dying.  I was literally digesting my own organs.  I still could have life-long repercussions from that bile leak that I may not discover for years.  I simply don’t know. I do know that I came very close to dying.  It is twisted in my head that I was only a small step away from getting what I wanted – the release of death.  How I asked for it, longed for it, begged for it is something that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life; knowing that I came so close to getting what I asked for is something that I don’t want to deal with.

I just know that I do have to deal with it.  I know that burying this is manifesting itself in physical symptoms that I haven’t had to deal with since before I left Bubba.  My eczema is out of control like it hasn’t been since before I left.  I’m not sleeping well.  I’m exhausted all the time.  I have no energy.  This may all be caused by other health problems so I’m going to have some blood work done today to check everything since I haven’t had anything checked since before my surgery.  I want to rule that out if I can.  I just know that what I’m experiencing is beyond what my blood work could possibly show.  I know the physical consequences of burying stress.  I lived with them for years.  I’m starting to live with them again.

This is unacceptable to me.  Burying things is not the person I am now.  I have to deal with this but frankly, I don’t know how.  Once again, I know that it is important for me to get back into counseling.  I just don’t know how I’m going to find the time to do it.  I have one evening a week that I could fit it in.  Today I start my search for a counselor.  I’m not looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to opening this up.  I just know I have to do it.  The one consolation in this is that, hopefully, I can go forward with counseling without opening up the past.  I don’t want to revisit the past with a new counselor.  I don’t want to get into the huge background of stuff that has me recounting my years in an abusive marriage.  I just want to deal with the surgery and get it worked out.

I hope that it is possible.  I hope that I can find a counselor who can work with my weird schedule.  Either that or I need to figure this out on my own.  I just know that I won’t know until I try.

Making Plans

Treun and I started talking.  I can’t remember how the conversation started but we ended up talking about the pros/cons of getting married vs. living together.  I’d asked him to run to the local used bookstore with me because I needed to find one more Christmas present for Serenity.  We looked around, I bought what I was looking for, and we got back in his car.  That is when the conversation started.

We’ve been talking about home improvements in his house. We have talked about replacing the carpet with woods floor, totally gutting the kitchen and redesigning the whole thing, painting, enclosing the loft for more privacy.  We’ve previously talked about me not wanting to move into his house because of the history there as he lived with his ex-wife and kids there for a few years before his divorce and the fact that it is in a different school district than I’m in now.  The practical part of me sees the advantages in doing the home improvements and making it “our” house and I think I’m fine with that.  We’ve discussed ways to get Liam to/from school if we can get special permission to keep him in his current school.

But we’ve never broached the subject of marriage/living together.  Until yesterday.  There are so many factors that have to come into play when we move toward making this decision.  There is health insurance and taxes and school districts and physically moving and merging our stuff and Bubba.

Treun has a specialized health insurance and he isn’t sure that he can cover step-kids.  This shouldn’t even be an issue since Bubba is court-ordered to provide health insurance but the fact is that Bubba has not had them on health insurance in nearly 18 months.  I’ve been providing it through my state’s low cost program.  I pay a premium each month that should not be mine to pay.  It is dependent on income so if Treun and I get married, the children would no longer qualify for this health insurance.  If Treun can’t add them, I’d have to add them to my plan at work and that is pricey.  If Treun can add all of us, that would be a good check in the marriage column.

Taxes are another big factor.  We would have to sit down and crunch the numbers and see which is going to work better for us.  With Bubba being as far behind as he is in child support, I heavily rely on my tax refund for a safety net.  I can’t have that impacted until he consistently helps support his kids.

Moving school districts is the most major part of our combining households that I have to consider.  Liam is about a year and a half away from being able to drive himself to/from school if we move districts and can get special permission to stay at his current school.  Treun and I would have to figure out how to get him to/from school until Liam is old enough to get himself there and back.  But the bigger concerning factor is Shane.  I have an amazing team at Shane’s current school who are all dedicated to helping Shane succeed in school.  We’ve worked hard together over the past two school years to get Shane the help he needs.  Moving him to another school before I have to is a huge consideration.  He has two more years left at this school before he moves up to the next level.  Am I willing to move him and hope the team at the other school is as good and caring and dedicated as the one at his current school?  I simply don’t know.

Then there is Bubba.  One can’t predict how he will react and what he will do.  So far, we’ve been able to keep my relationship with Treun a secret from Bubba.  He’s been constantly accusing me of having a varied string of boyfriends since we split but he’s never had anything concrete to lash out against because I’ve never had a boyfriend before now.  He sent me so many emails over the past two years accusing my friends/boyfriends of molesting the kids that I have a feeling that will be his first line of attack when he finds out about Treun.  The simple fact is that while he can cause a headache if he would make serious accusations and involve either the courts or CPS, he risks more for himself than anything.  The children felt very unheard while we were going through the divorce.  They will tell their story.  They will tell how Treun has been wonderful to me and to them.  Shane, especially, will be very vocal about it and also about the fact that his dad is mean and yells a lot.  While I don’t welcome whatever Bubba could send my way, I’m not afraid of it either.  It is just something Treun and I need to be aware of.

Right now we aren’t discussing a time line for all this to happen.  We’re having fun talking about the future and how we can merge our lives (getting rid of kitchen ware and buying all new stuff for one!).  We’re taking the kids into consideration because they are the most important part of this puzzle.  How to make this future transition as easy as possible on the kids is our top priority.  It is a lot to think about and a lot to work out.  We have so much more talking and planning to do.  We’re just in the beginning stages of this.

I’m excited!  When I left Bubba I never thought I’d date again let alone get married and here I am talking about doing just that!  I’m still amazed that men like Treun exist.  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that he loves me.  It’s just so different than anything I ever experienced before and I’m so happy we found each other in this crazy world!

Retroactive Guilt

I woke up this morning and decided to check Facebook before I got started with my day.  I saw that Treun had posted a few new pictures and decided to check them out.

They were old pictures from his time in the military – one official one in his dress uniform and a few from a time overseas in his camo.  He was more than 10 years younger than he is now and wow!  I guess I love a man in uniform.  He was so sexy in those pictures.

Then it hit me.  He was hers back then.  He was still happily married, with two children at home.  Then another thought hit me.  I was still married too with two very small children at home.  Yet, I wasn’t happily married.  Those pictures were taken at the same time that I wrote that one journal entry where I was so absolutely miserable and feeling so trapped.

Hello guilt! I’m sitting here finding another woman’s husband attractive while I was still married.  NO!  That was then, this is now.  It doesn’t matter what was going on in our lives then.  I can look back at pictures of him from then and I don’t have to feel guilty because I didn’t even know him back then.  I am doing nothing wrong now.

The guilt that Celia taught is so deep-seated and ingrained that it even gives me retroactive guilt!  How can I feel guilty for my feelings now even though they were not then?  Hell, I didn’t even know Treun back then.  Exactly!  It makes no sense!  As you sit there and shake your head at how my brain even came up with this, I sit here fighting that Ghost.  I hear the voice of that Ghost screaming in my head, “You shouldn’t find him attractive because he was hers then.  You are lusting after a married man.  He had that picture taken then went home and made love to her.  Those hands that you are drooling over?  They were on her a mere few hours after that picture was taken.  You have no right to him.”

I’m trying to tell myself that we are together now.  Looking at old pictures does NOT make me some kind of cheater.  I know who we both are and had we bumped into each other back then, absolutely nothing would’ve happened between us because that isn’t who either of us are.  Neither of us are cheaters.  Yes, we love each other now but back then, it wouldn’t even have entered our minds because we wouldn’t have been looking at each other that way.

The battle is raging in my head.  I know that I have nothing to feel guilty for, I can look at pictures from the past and find Treun attractive and have nothing to feel guilty for…yet…it is there.  That feeling of wrongness for wanting him in those pictures.

I think it all stems from the fact that I desperately wonder what it would’ve been like to have been married to him all those years – to have had my babies with him.  We went to a party a couple of weeks ago and I got to hold a friend’s newborn.  As I was holding this sleeping little boy, it reminded me so much of doing just that for my children.  I looked over at Treun and the look on his face just made me wish he’d been the kids’ dad.  It made me wonder what my life would’ve been like to have him there, supporting me and loving me while I raised our children.

Treun and I will never have children together.  Neither of us want more babies and it isn’t physically possible at this point in our lives.  Yet, there is a small part of me that longs to watch him with our baby.  I’ve been past my baby-making days for quite some time now and have never had an urge to have another baby yet I wonder.

I think that is where the guilt comes from.  Wondering.  Wishing.  And being absolutely envious of what his ex-wife had and threw away.  She had the life I dreamed of – being able to stay home with the kids and be that kind of wife and mother.  Whereas that kind of life was meant for me, she felt constrained by it and fought against it to the point where she ripped her family apart.  She wanted more than just being a wife and mother.  The ironic part is that I had to go out and work full-time while she still doesn’t work outside the home.

I’m jealous of Treun’s ex-wife.  She had everything I ever wanted and she threw it away yet she still gets to stay at home because of who Treun is.  He gave her enough in the divorce that she won’t have to work outside of the home for another six years even though their youngest recently turned 18 and Treun no longer has to pay child support.  Bubba screwed me over at every turn and continues to do so.

That is where the guilt comes from.  Jealousy.  It is just another way to realize that I picked a bad man to marry and have kids with.  I’m paying an awesome price for that decision.  Treun’s ex-wife picked a good man to marry and she is still reaping the benefits of it, even four years after their divorce.  She’ll continue to reap those benefits for another six years.

I have nothing to feel guilty for in finding Treun attractive in those old pictures.  I just have to work through the jealousy that is eating me in regards to his ex-wife.  I think I can conquer that by focusing on the fact that Treun and I are together now.   She is missing out on the next 40 years with him.  Now I get to reap the benefits of having a good man in my life.  The most amazing benefit?  Getting to be with Treun.  He is such a wonderful man and I get to spend my time with him.  I get to share his life now.  I can’t change the past but I can enjoy the future with him.

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