Hi The Band,
I feel kind of dumb typing this out, but I need to talk to somebody – out of respect for my husband and his feelings, I can’t tell the people I’d normally go to for support. I’m not even sure where to start, so forgive me if this is disjointed.
I’ll start here: I have an incredibly complicated situation with my in-laws.
Some background: my in-laws are lovely people, and I genuinely love and care for them, BUT they drive me a bit crazy. Sometimes, my in-laws act in a less than socially appropriate manner – they want to be as close as possible to my family and me.
Before my husband was born they had a stillborn daughter, followed by my husband (who is healthy), followed by 10 miscarriages. Then, my in-laws adopted my brother-in-law, who has had mental health and behavioural problems from the get-go.
I don’t think they’ve ever really dealt with the death of their daughter. Back in those days, baby losses weren’t really acknowledged, you know? So when we got married, I was embraced as the daughter they’d never had, and frankly, I felt smothered by their desire to know everything – to be a part of everything in my life. I’m a private person and feel uncomfortable answering questions about my sex life (why in the world would you want to know what your son and I do in private?!) or other personal stuff from my husband’s parents.
Anyway, the smothering got worse when my daughters were born. I totally understand how precious it is for them to have granddaughters, particularly after the pain they’ve experienced, so we tried to be understanding. Although there have been issues over the years with boundaries being crossed, we’ve worked hard on getting along, and my girls have a good relationship with them (I’m super careful not to say negative things about them).
Fast-forward to a few months ago.
My father-in-law came over, and as we had some errands to run, he offered to look after the girls. No big deal; that’s happened plenty of times before. This time, though, while we were out, my oldest daughter called, upset, and begged us to come home NOW. We did. She was settled; everything seemed normal, but after my father-in-law had left, I asked her about it. She said she had felt really uncomfortable around him and didn’t want us to leave them with him again.
I felt sick.
She assured me several times (and has when we’ve discussed it since) that he didn’t say or do anything wrong, didn’t touch her or anything like that, just that she felt really uncomfortable. She’s very open with me, and I am confident she’s not lying; she seems really confused about why she felt that way, but is adamant that she did feel that way. Thinking back, I wonder if it was a culmination of my in-laws’ more “natural” approach to things (e.g. they had a naked photo of themselves kissing on their fridge for a while (just a Polaroid, not an artsy one) and on one occasion my toddler had gone into the toilet with him and he didn’t send her out (I called her to come out and he was cranky about that).
I wonder if it was something like that.
I genuinely don’t believe that he would molest a child. One of the things I really respect about my in-laws is that they supported a childhood friend of my husband who had been molested by their minister and went to court to testify, despite enormous community and family pressure not to. They lost “friends” through that process, but did the right thing.
I really don’t think he has done anything to my daughter. HOWEVER, obviously, I will never leave her in a situation where she isn’t comfortable, so my in-laws won’t be babysitting any more. That’s really awkward, though, because they’ve babysat before.
My husband and I have talked and talked about it and just can’t find a good way forward. My in-laws want as much contact with our kids as possible and now want sleepovers, too. We won’t let that happen, but how can we possibly explain it? They would be SO hurt, and I think their good relationship with our eldest daughter would be very damaged. It would be impossible to explain in a way that doesn’t hurt their feelings, and honestly, there is NOTHING they could do that would make it okay to look after the kids again. My father-in-law will forever have this question mark lingering around him – since I don’t know why my daughter was upset and uncomfortable with him. My mother-in-law has MS and can’t cope with them on her own. It’s just a nightmare.
My husband is so sad that we’re in this situation. He loves his parents and wants them to be happy, but what they want isn’t a possibility. My littlest daughter is only 2, so I see years and years ahead of conflict about access to our girls. It’s meant that we never leave the kids at the moment because if they hear that we’ve used other babysitters they’ll be even more hurt – no more dates or possible weekends away. I don’t see a good way forward.
I don’t actually know if I even want this published, but I just needed to get it out. I don’t want to go on and on to my husband because it’s so hard for him but it bothers me everyday, and I just want to bounce it off of somebody, you know?
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, thank you for your time.
What would you do? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Or am I not reacting enough? I’m going nuts just thinking this out!
I’m a married woman
My husband and I separated for two months, and during those two months, I cheated and was unfaithful to my husband.
He found out.
We did end up getting back together, but I didn’t admit to having an affair to him.
Now, every time I want to go out – especially if it’s someone he doesn’t know – he doesn’t allow me to. I have no social life.
And every fight we now have now, he brings up my infidelity, and when he does, he calls me terrible, hurtful names. These insults hurt me so deeply that I don’t feel I can handle it.
I feel so trapped in my marriage – he insults me, he doesn’t let me go out with friends – ever. It hurts.
I don’t know what to do. Do I stay or do I go?
When will this stop?
“Can you not do the whole, um, pap smear?” I quickly made eye contact with the nurse, who, up until then, had been fumbling with the crinkly OB gown, the one she wanted me to put on.
“I’m not sexually active and, I just, it’s really not necessary I know I’m fine.”
“Well,” she hesitated, “I can certainly let Dr. Jeffrey know your request, but just so you know,” she quickly flipped through my chart, “it looks like you haven’t gotten an internal exam in…over 2 years.” She stared at me. “And we really like our patients to have an annual exam once they turn eighteen.”
With that she closed the door and left me alone to change into the paper dress, waiting for the knock from the doctor. I sat on the edge of the table and took deep breaths.
You’re fine…you’re fine…this is routine…everyone does this.
The knock came.
“You don’t want an internal?”
“Can I ask why?” She wasn’t warm. She wasn’t kind. She didn’t sit down and pull her chair in close to me and put me at ease. She didn’t see that I was clearly bothered, tell me to put my clothes back on and come into her office to chat with her about what “the issue” was. She just stared at her clipboard. “You’re 22, Caroline?”
“No,” I started, “I mean, yes, I’m sexual but, I don’t have sex, not,” I motioned to my vagina, “intercourse.”
“So other things?”
She looked at me again. “What’s “the issue” with the pap smear?” she asked.
“It makes me uncomfortable. I squirm. I just…it hurts. I don’t like it, I tense up. It happens when I try to have sex, too. I mean I don’t try that often I’ve just tried a few times. With my boyfriend,” I added.
She “mmhmm”d and continued to look at her chart, “and how long have you been with you boyfriend?”
“And you’ve never had sex?”
“No. But we’ve tried…I’m really just overwhelmed by the idea of it…I can’t get myself to um, open up…”
“Caroline,” she flipped all the pages so that her thumb rested on the top page, “we won’t do an internal today. But you need to take care of this. Or your boyfriend is going to leave you.”
And with that she left the room.
Her last sentence continues to echo in my head. And that conversation?
That conversation happened two years ago. And my boyfriend did leave me. And I am a 24 year old virgin, terrified of sex.
Instead of drinking, I dyed my hair. Instead of partying at 15 years old, I would go for car rides with boys and let the lyrics to popular songs guide my adolescence.
Shy. Self-conscious. 16 years old. The bottles in my backpack read: clinical depression. Therapy since I was 13 years old. Would later attain more bottles. Bipolar disorder.
Friends started to have sex. There were stories of bleeding and awkward mornings after.
I’d say “I haven’t had sex yet because I haven’t found anyone I loved and trusted enough to want to roll over and see next to me in the morning, and not, you know, like, puke.”
“You’re so smart,” they’d tell me when their high school boyfriends were sleeping with girls at other lunch tables.
I met Chris on the first day of college and the outline of his body pressed into my bed sheets for 8 months. Both virgins, we planned on being each other’s firsts. But in the dark moments we moved together not knowing how or what to do. And so we would kiss, and feel, and love so hard, sharing smiles that said this was enough for both of us. And then we broke up.
I spiraled downward with my first broken heart. I threw away the bottles of medication that made me fat. I tried to sleep over the soundtrack to the rest of my friends going out and living life. I was not meant to live, I thought. But I ended up living anyway.
My parents could see I was unhappy. So they did what they thought good parents should and would do – they bribed me in order to motivate me. 6 months later, I traded an unhealthily lost 47 lbs for a brand new car.
Overnight I went from being fat, awkward, unpopular, and lonely, to being beautiful, thin, living in my first apartment up at school for the summer, dating the popular guy at work and sought after.
My phone would ring all day long.
What are we doing tonight? Party at your place?
For 30 days in my 19th year, I led my idea of a perfect life.
On the 31st day, I woke up alone in my bed after a party to find my popular boyfriend asleep with another counselor in the living room. He continued to fuck her all summer long, but pose as my boyfriend in our happy relationship.
And I let him. I wanted the pictures of me in a bikini being tossed over the shoulder of my hot boyfriend much more than I wanted someone to hold me as I fell asleep.
I had tons of pictures from that summer.
Not an ounce of trust.
I didn’t know what I had done to deserve so much continual rejection, but I was determined to pick myself up and keep going. After all, this was college, I would tell myself. It doesn’t mean anything.
College was coming to a close when Dave and I were four months into our relationship. Our love started out as best friendship – the kind of partnering you pay 13.00 to watch in a movie theater on a Friday night. I was sure this was it. I surrendered and waved the white flag, fully prepared to leap.
“I’m ready,” I breathed.
“Ok,” he kissed my forehead and pushed forward.
I tightened up.
“Babe, relax,” he said.
I started breathing in and out, in and out.
“Is it in?” I asked, wincing.
A single tear rolled down my face. I was twenty two fucking years old with the sexual capability of a senior in high school. I felt like a fucking idiot. Why did I think this would be so fucking easy?
“Just fucking put it in, Dave.”
And then I felt it. Immediately my legs closed and went into fetal position and I kicked Dave off of me, the balls of my feet against his chest.
“What the HELL?!” he shouted, “Are you fucking out of your mind?”
“I AM NOT DOING THIS,” I screamed, “I can’t. It hurts. I’m not ready. I just can’t. I can’t do this, Dave.”
He stared at me.
“My body won’t let me,” I whispered.
Days and weeks and months passed by. Seasons ran their course, semesters ended, final grades were received.
“Do you wanna try, babe?”
“Um…maybe,” I’d say, but then we wouldn’t.
A year had come and gone and Dave stopped asking, and I stopped trying to put tampons in or finger myself with lube or even read up on “the issue”.
Our relationship became tense and unloving. It was strained. I found myself in a mindset that I imagined infertile women were in when they’d see their pregnant friends, the ones who “weren’t even trying to have a baby.” I’d watch shows like Teen Mom, or hear my 17 year old cousin ask me for sex advice and I’d become beyond agitated.
I wanted to shake them and tell them they were way too young to be having sex. And I wanted to shake myself because I WASN’T too young. But I couldn’t do it.
Dave eventually did leave me, citing “you need to learn how to fuck” as the largest of our irreconcilable differences in our almost three year long relationship.
I became his survivor story. I was the sentence said over tall glasses of Blue Moon in dark bars with friends.
“I can’t believe you haven’t fucked in 3 years, dude.”
“I know,” he’d say.
“We need to get you some pussy, dude.”
“I know,” he’d say.
No longer a lover. No longer a friend. Just someone he never fucked.
And now I lie in bed awake almost every night in my apartment alone. I think about the secrets I won’t tell people, I think about the guys who I won’t go home with. I think about the amount of time it will take for a guy to become invested in me for him to not want to leave when I explain this ridiculous fear that manifests within me.
I think about the marriage I want, and the children I want. I think about how it must feel to be loved unconditionally for every flaw.
And I think about the fear of letting go and letting someone in. And I think about how not metaphorical that idea is.
I think about that conversation with my OB/GYN 2 years ago. I think about how I drove home that day, determined to figure out my fears and my anxiety and my thoughts as soon as possible. I think about how 2 years ago I swore that in 2 years, I’d be fine. I’d be on track.
And then I think about how quickly two years can come and go.
And then I cry, hard and heavy tears.
The only things I am able to let go of.
Sometimes, people on the outside have no idea how to help those with depression.
This is her story:
How do I make you see that being depressed is not something I have control over? How do I make you see that when the darkness is creeping in, I feel alone and I need an anchor?
I can’t just “be happy”. I can’t just change my negative thinking. I can’t just change the fact that I feel like a failure. I need a lifeline.
You are that person for me. You are my rock, my oasis. But that doesn’t mean that the darkness does not creep in. It doesn’t mean the thoughts cease.
It does mean that I will cling harder to you while pushing you away. And I hate that about me. Because I love you. Because I know you deserve better. Because I know in the one year we’ve been together, I have come to trust you more than I have anyone in 16 years. Because we’ve walked through fire together.
But my mind won’t let me see that enough. My mind tells me, “He doesn’t love you.” “He will leave you.” “You will be alone.” And instead of looking into your eyes and hearing you tell me you love me and planning our future together, I listen to the voices. My mind isn’t trying to protect me. My mind has gotten used to the negative thoughts and now thrives on them.
Unfortunately, the voices haven’t always came from my own head. They’ve come from bad relationships. Some that lasted only 10 months, one that lasted almost 6 years. Six years of hell. Six years that left me scarred. Time may heal wounds, but the scars are still visible. As the years have passed by, I have tackled one issue after another that I carry as baggage. But I still have the depression. I still have the anxiety. I still have the fear. And that’s when the darkness begins to creep in. And the cycle begins anew….
I want to be a better person. Not just for you. Not just for my kids. But for me.
But I need your help and your understanding that these walls are not about you, they’re about me.
Adult Children of Addicts are at a far greater risk to develop addiction to substance abuse.
This is the story of three brave men:
My father was the son of an alcoholic. He had a brother and 3 sisters who all would partake in the ocassional alcoholic beverage but never let it interfere with the normal every day functions of their lives. My father, on the other hand carried on the family tradition/trait/ illness, or whatever you wish to call it. He was not an abusive drunk, although I do remember he and his best friend trashing our house fighting each other when I was a pre-teen. He was very much involved in my life and that of my brother and sister, but he was still an alcoholic.
As years passed, his drinking became more and more severe. It wasn’t until my teen years that I really started paying attention and noticing that he was consuming a case or so of beer by himself, everyday, along with as much as a pint of liquor. He became more pissed off at the world and everything about it. The world was out to get him and so was everyone on the planet. It was getting to the point where nothing we did was right.
After graduating high school, it was time to marry my high school sweetheart. A day I had dreamt of for a long time. I was never one for dating and the whole girlfriend issue, but this girl was for me and I was so looking forward to that special night and our first dance as husband and wife. In the middle of the most special dance of my life, my father interrupted and said, “why don’t you play something we all like?” Our wedding song was “All Of My Love” by Led Zeppelin.
I was stunned, flabbergasted, ashamed, and yet I let it slide.
I vowed my entire life that I would not be like him, and to that I stayed pretty true. Sure, I had the occasional drink as a teenager. Yes, I got drunk from time to time but never really cared enough for it to become a regular thing. Never would I be like him. I would not put my children through that, even if he was not mean, it was not a childhood I would not want any kid to have to live. Little did I realize at the time that I was just like him.
Although I was not a drinker, I had no problem smoking pot, tripping on acid and mescaline, doing ‘shrooms, or just about any mind-altering substance that I could get my hands on. But hey, I was not a drunk.
It wasn’t until my mid twenties, deep into a cocaine free basing addiction that my wonderful wife, the high school sweetheart, told me ”I don’t know what you are doing, but you either quit or I leave.”
Wow, a brick in the face that one was.
I finally looked at myself in the mirror, literally, and saw a pasty grey skinned man, skinny and sick looking he was just one step away from death or an institution.
I quit. I vowed to myself and my wife that I would never touch the stuff again. I spent several years going to narcotics anonymous, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day and I am proud to say I am free, clean, and sober. I am a fairly healthy 45 year old man still married to my high school sweet heart, and I have 3 wonderful sons and 2 grandsons.
I have felt their joys and sorrows. I have seen their smiles and frowns. I have been there for them. And I was there to help my oldest son through his addiction.
He chose to follow me and go the drug route. I have always been open with my children about drugs hoping that it would steer them away since I was speaking from personal experience; not quoting something I read in a book. He saw it like, hey you’re still alive, it couldn’t have been THAT bad.
On his 17th birthday, I did something that even I could not believe.
On the way home from picking him up at school one evening, he was so wasted that he was actually hallucinating in my car, asking me questions about how we were going to get the car through all those trees, and what were we going to do when we got to the end of the road where it turns red. I was so scared for him; it was time for another search of his room. I found pot growing in his closet, for the second time, so I figured I had no choice. I turned in my own son and he spent his 17th birthday in the county jail, and several others months following. It opened his eyes a bit. He stumbled a few times since but is now a wonderful 21 year old man with 2 sons.
One night, not to long ago, he finally told me that he hated me for quite a while for turning him in, but he then said he could not thank me enough for what he did and that he loved me.
I am constantly worried about him. Will the stress of the children lead him back to the drugs? Will he make it through as I have? Will any of his children follow the familiar path?
One good thing that has come of my sons addiction is that his younger brothers want absolutely nothing to do with any of it. So for now I just let him, and his brothers know, that I will always be there for them, and that life might not always be wonderful but it could always be worse.
And of course, I must thank my wonderful wife.
She stayed with me.
She saw the problems and instead of bailing out she stuck by my side.
She spent several weeks with very little sleep as my mind and body fought each other she was there to calm me.
She saved my life.