Runnin’ (Lose It All)

As I drove, I heard, “Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy, on the radio. The lyrics stuck in my head, so I googled the runnin’ line and found this video. (Lyrics by Arrow Benjamin, Beyoncé, and Carla Marie per genius.com).

As I watched, tears streamed down my face.  I’ve felt this “runnin,” so many times.   Chasing, chasing. Chasing after an elusive safe love.

These four lonely walls have changed the way I feel
The way I feel, I’m standing still

For the past 8 months, Dave and I have been separated.  And I’ve been staring at four lonely walls. It could be worse, though.  It could be my worst nightmare, my greatest fear.  He could be dead,

“…And nothing else matters now, you’re not here
So where are you? I’ve been calling you, I’m missing you…

Memories turn to dust, please don’t bury us
I got you, I got you.”

and I could be chasing after an elusive wish to have done something more to keep him alive.  And I know it’s not my role to keep him alive.  But in relationship with him, I found myself “runnin,” watching, to make sure that he was okay.

And whereas in this video the characters swim into each other’s arms, I swam away from Dave.  Is it permanent?  I don’t know.  For awhile I thought so.  Something happened that sent our family into a tailspin. I got tired of the crises.  He stopped turning his anger inward, but then his anger spilled outward toward us (mine did too).  Dave wants to make everyone happy. But it costs him too much.  The accommodating to everyone, to his coworkers, to myself, to Beth, it takes an emotional and psychological toll. Not asserting and voicing his needs–he pushes all his upset down, and resentment builds.  And where he used to go to hopelessness and act to harm himself, when that avenue closed, when he decided that was not an option for him anymore, where else could his built up, accommodating to please everyone, anger go–but toward Beth and I.

And he was not the only one angry,  I was too, and so was Beth. Dave and I were both afraid to voice our upset directly and we both held things in.  I was too scared to voice directly what I saw going on with Dave. I was getting better at it, but I was primed to read Dave’s cues, verbal and nonverbal that it was not safe, and to tread lightly (and some of that priming–was pre-Dave family of origin stuff, my stuff).

When the family crisis, and it was a crisis with a capital C, cropped up, we separated.

I ain’t runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all
If I lose myself, I lose it all

I was scared to leave.  I was scared that he might end it all, if I left, but I separated anyway. And I didn’t want to face a life alone, but I separated anyway. I “ain’t runnin’ from myself no more, I’m ready to face it all.”  It took the family crisis to set in motion a therapeutic separation.  Initially during that period, we were all reeling from the affects of the crisis.  And the first 6 months were pretty tough, some of the roughest times–psychological and emotional affects of the crisis, of the separation.  Single parenting while holding a full time job, and a part time job wasn’t easy.  Plus Beth was going through a rough patch with me after the separation, and all the stressors piled up on each other, and I felt pretty hopeless at times.

I got serious about getting Beth help. She’s a teen, she didn’t want to go to therapy, but at the same time she cooperated and went.

And Dave, for the first time, started to go to therapy weekly.  During the eight months we’ve been separated, he didn’t make any suicide attempts.  In therapy he’s been working on asserting his voice, how to manage his emotions, safety planning to prevent future crisis, and building his self-esteem.  There’s a quote, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear,” that comes to mind.  I’ve heard the concepts that Dave shares with me from his current individual therapy, talked about by our couple’s therapist in the past, but I think Dave’s ready now to take it in and apply it to his life.

I ain’t runnin’, runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all
If I lose myself, I lose it all

For me, my work in individual therapy is that I’m working on me.  I’m working on my anger, and what it means, and what I need.  And what I want and need for Beth and I–is safety.  I need to know that there will be no running away from problems, no escaping from problems, disagreements–through harm of self or others.  And that goes for all of us.  Staying in the relationship the way it was, was harming to myself and Beth, and even to Dave.  I’m working on my childhood that carried into adulthood, caretaking, over-resposible, enabling role.  And I’m working on my self-value.

During the separation, I was told by my therapist to take my time, don’t rush into any decisions. To sit in and sit with various contemplations, to clarify my feelings and needs, before I decide.

I’m getting clarity.  But the thing about clarity is it depends. It looks different today than yesterday. And clarity will look different tomorrow than it does today. And it’s not incongruent.  It’s my truth in the here and now.  And I accept that it’s gonna change.  And it’s okay.  And I need to assert the truth, my truth for today.

The progression of my truth went from, not knowing if I wanted to stay or leave, to wanting to break up, to now–taking a wait and see attitude.  Why the changes.  The factors included, the level of crisis I was in, the effects I saw on myself and Beth, the amount of blame I was placing on Dave.  Thinking that I never wanted to go through another crisis again.  But as Beth and I have stabilized emotionally, and I’ve been seeing that Dave and I have been making positive changes.  But I’m going to wait.

What am I waiting for? I’m waiting and observing–can we be safe together?  Can we talk directly about our issues and feel safe? Do we have coping strategies to manage our emotions.  Do we have a support system in place to turn to when we are unable to give support to each other?  Does Dave have a safety plan and will he implement it?

My line in the sand, is safety.  If we don’t feel safe–issues will go underground again, and build up, until it turns into the next crisis. I’m tired of living that way.

We’re tired of living that way.  Tired of “runnin” in circles, in dysfunctional cycles.  Instead, we’re “runnin'” toward psychological, emotional and relational health.  I feel healthier already.  Beth and I our closer than ever. Dave and I have been dating.  Like our therapist says, “Trust is information over time.” I don’t know what the outcome will be, my decision, Dave’s decision, but I’m taking it slow.

And I

Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all

And I really am.

(Note: I encourage the above “therapeutic separation” process to be done under professional supervision, by qualified mental health practitioners).

Do I Stay or Do I Go?

I’ve wrestled with the question “Do I stay, or do I go?” especially at times when Dave makes an attempt or when I feel he’s sliding toward it.  My therapist explained it as holding both fear and hope.

On the one hand I’m struggling with Continue reading