It might be time for a therapeutic rupture.
When I saw E today (outdoors, in the slightly damp back garden), I told her, half jokingly, “We need to watch out now. It’s July.”
Her eyebrows went up in an unspoken question.
“All of our major ruptures have taken place in July,” I explained.
“They have?” she sounded surprised. Then she laughed, “So I guess that means we are headed for a rupture?”
“Not my plan,” I said, “and if it’s yours, I would ask you to change it.”
She laughed again, “It’s good that we have been through so much together, and now we can laugh about it but recognize all the growth.”
I didn’t laugh. I can see she feels it’s all old stuff, finished up, and we are past it. I partly feel that way, but there is also a part of me that feels afraid it could happen again.
“I agree that I learned a lot from the experience,” I said, seriously. “I agree that it taught me a lot about relationships being able to withstand immense and painful pressures in a way I would not have imagined possible. But it was hard, really hard.”
She nodded. I do believe that it was hard for her too, but nothing like what it was for me. I am still not even sure she fully understands what it was like for me. Maybe someday it would be worth talking about that with her. But not today. Probably not ever in July, which still (sort of) feels like a cursed month in terms of my relationship with her.
“So anyway, if you have any ideas of provoking a rupture so I can learn more about secure relationships, please trash that idea right now,” I told her. She smiled kindly and assured me that she does not provoke ruptures on purpose.
Again, a part of me wasn’t so sure about that. But I decided not to continue down that pathway. I actually had a different topic I had brought with me to therapy this week.
“I feel like all my work on developing my sexual relationship with my husband has stalled out. Partly it has been the pandemic and the way it has shoved other things aside. Partly it has been my discouragement that EMDR therapy never went anywhere. And then, it feels like there is a new obstacle, on top of the ones we were already dealing with (trauma history and physical pain from scar tissue being the main obstacles).
“What’s the other obstacle?” she asked.
“The loss of privacy since my son moved home,” I said. “It’s not that he’s around all the time. His bedroom is upstairs, and ours is downstairs, so that gives us some separation. And sometimes he retreats upstairs after dinner and doesn’t return downstairs until the next day. But he could. Sometimes he comes down at midnight for a snack from the kitchen, or for whatever reason. It just doesn’t feel as free and private. And it’s hard enough to relax and feel safe anyway, without also thinking my son could suddenly be outside our bedroom door, saying ‘hey Mom, are you awake?’ or ‘why do you guys have the door shut?'”
“Would he do that?” E asked.
I shrugged. Maybe, maybe not. But he could, and I’m just aware of that and self-conscious.
She asked a few more things, including what I really wanted. Yes, I really want to reignite a sexual relationship. My husband is loving and kind, and we touch and cuddle, and that’s all fine. But I would also like the intimacy and pleasure that can come from sex, if that’s possible.
“Then I think you should tell him that,” she said.
I wrinkled my nose, making a face. “I have to talk about it?”
E nodded, smiling, “It does seem like the first step.”
“Ugh, I can see that. I just… I wish it were easier to talk about.” I paused. “I know, I know, the only way it will get easier is if I do it more often.”
We talked some more, about why it’s worth the effort, about how well my husband responds when I let him into my internal world and share my thoughts and emotions with him. He doesn’t try to change me; he just expresses appreciation that I let him know me better.
Amazing that it’s still hard for me, given the way he is. It takes a long, long time to change old patterns. A long time to get over the fear of talking about emotions, fears, and desires. A long time to get over the fear of a rupture. A long time to trust deeply.
CREDIT: Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
I wonder what it is about July?! Or actually, more likely, the time building up to July… maybe more like April, May and June? Just a thought… as these things often build slowly, don’t they? And then it’s the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Anyway… fingers crossed this July can be different for you both!
As I think about it more, I think it’s more of a coincidence, maybe with the added sensitivity of thinking, hm last year in July we had these problems… And maybe not being fully over it. In fact, this July, there is nothing for us really to have a rupture about, but I realize that I am still kind of mad about the first rupture. Maybe not mad, exactly. But I feel like she never fully understood my experience of it or acknowledged that her initial reaction made it so much worse. Do I need that acknowledgement still, now, four years later? I don’t know, maybe… something to think about!
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Definitely sounds like unresolved business. These things have a habit of returning until they’re fully dealt with, don’t they. It’s hurtful when something is not understood or is made worse, I can understand not feeling positively about that.
I can’t remember, does E normally take any time off in August? That could be why July is such a precarious time…it’s like you’re building to protecting yourself from what’s coming. Or I could be completely wrong. Either way, you’re approaching this beautifully and I think this will be the July that breaks the curse!
She usually took a two or three week vacation in September (though a few times that has varied; one year she went in May). But with COVID numbers skyrocketing all over the place, she isn’t planning to go anywhere. In January, she told me that she and her husband had decided to take more vacation this year so they could travel more, but the virus made that impossible. So I won’t have to prepare for and sustain myself through a therapy break this year.
It’s possible that knowing a break was coming made me extra sensitive in the past. I know there is nothing specifically about July that is “bad luck” or whatever, but because it happened several years in a row, now that it’s July, it comes back up for me. But I don’t want to let that cause new problems! I agree, I hope this wlll be the year I can let that go!