Happy and sad, all at once

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have wanted to have my own business and have been working hard to get there. Last year, I took Marie Forleo’s stupendous B-School entrepreneurship course — what a wonderful experience.

Then, well, life sort of happened. My husband has been in treatment for depression since Feb. of 2013, and it’s been a difficult and stressful journey so far. All of that impacted my ability to move forward with my own goals and dreams.

But now, I am. I started my business and, while I’m not yet making much money, I know it will happen. Everything feels right. That’s making me very, very happy, because I’m helping people. The abundance of all kinds, money included, will follow.

What’s making me sad, then?

People I interact with online and via Skype — the people I’m helping through my business — have told me over and over again that I’m a light to them. My spirit is somehow touching them, and they’re openly telling me this. I had a Skype session with a woman the other day who was saying that she couldn’t wait to meet me because I was such a bright and shining light in a sometimes dark world. Even my website, which to me seems a bit unpolished but still genuine, has received comments like, “Your website made me cry with happiness at finding you.”

So how could this possibly make me feel sad?

The reason is because my husband still has trouble seeing this light in me. And I realize it’s not because of me, but because he is still have trouble seeing the light in anything, including himself. While he has made progress and has worked very hard, he still misses so much of life because of the depression he has suffered with for so long. I wouldn’t call him clinically depressed anymore, but he still lives in an inner world that is often cut off from emotion and connection.

Will he be able to see the light, as it were? First in himself, and then in others? I don’t know. I don’t use the word “hope” anymore because it places emphasis on the future, which doesn’t exist.

Only this moment exists, and as I live in this moment, I flit between happiness and sadness today, trying to find the positive aspects of everything and succeeding, momentarily. What I do know for sure is that I will never allow anything or anyone to extinguish this light. My first husband couldn’t do it, much as he tried. And this situation won’t, either.

I hit the proverbial wall today

Crops growing in a fieldI’ve made no secret on this blog, and in my book, that a major part of my life that’s been disappointing to me has been my career, or lack thereof. It’s one of the things that my traumatic experience took from me, and I’ll never have what I could have had. That’s a tough pill to swallow some days.

Like today.

Earlier this year, I took an incredible entrepreneurship class offered by Marie Forleo. It was eye-opening to me, not only because it showed me the possibilities that still exist for me in terms of work, but also because for the first time, I could actually see those possibilities.

I could envision my life being different. My work could be fun, meaningful and creative — not to mention lucrative.

In my post-trauma life, I have experienced something that happens to almost everyone who goes through domestic violence. I have been unable to imagine a future. As weird as that sounds to people on the outside of trauma, it’s very real to those of us inside it.

To turn a corner and be able to see what might lie in front of me — a path of my own making — has been a miraculous change in my life as a result of the excellent therapy I received.

Getting back to today …

I’m in a new job, which is fine and is much better than my previous one. But it isn’t what I want to be doing with my life! I want to work for myself again and have control over my income and my schedule. Today, I was denied vacation time I requested — time that is vital to me — because the office is severely understaffed.

This is not a situation I created. It’s one that the director has not dealt with, even though it’s obvious to everyone.

That was the wall. That “no, you can’t take a vacation.”

So to say I’m ramping up my new business venture fast would be putting it mildly. I now have a hard deadline for myself of August 15. Everything will be ready to go. I have to start somewhere, sometime. So this is it. I’m sure things will evolve, as they always do. But starting is the first step.

Even though it hurt to run into that wall today, it also was freeing. Because after I ran into it, I KNOCKED THE THING DOWN!

There is nothing standing in my way now. All I see in front of me are possibilities and a life that is radically better than the one I’m currently living.

 

One less thing to feel stressed about

Yesterday was a good day. Today is a good day, too, although it started out extremely badly.

Yesterday, I interviewed for my old job that I left 3-1/2 years ago — only, it’s not exactly like my old job. It’s better. There’s a new director, who according to everyone in the office has made things absolutely great. I would be reporting to a different supervisor, who also has an excellent reputation. I would be working alongside one of my best friends.

But what made yesterday so special was the reception I received from all the people there who know me and with whom I used to work. Hugs upon hugs, wonderfully genuine greetings of affection.

It felt so nice to feel appreciated and liked by so many people, every one of whom said, “Please, come back. We miss you, and things are so much better here now.”

I left with a job offer.

Which leads me to today, when I had a PTSD meltdown this morning, before going to work, about having to tell my current supervisor that I’m leaving. If you clicked on that link just now about my supervisor, you’ll recall that I am in a workplace that’s filled with cliques and bullying. And she is the ringleader.

So it was no small feat for me to walk into her office today and tell her that I intend to accept this other job offer.

You know what she said?

“Congratulations.”

She seemed surprised and speechless. We talked for a few minutes about what she needed from me in the short term — details about my projects and so forth — and that was it.

Now I’m just waiting for the HR wheels to turn.

And I’m exhausted.

I realized today that the past six months of working in this particular office have really taken a toll on me. In fact, my entire experience of working at this institution, as a whole, has been extremely challenging. I have two reasons for taking my old job in another department: a) because I know the job, it’s easy, and I like the people there, and b) I need a paycheck. Otherwise, I’d dump everything and focus all my energy on developing my own business, with the help of all I’m learning in Marie Forleo’s B-School.

That’s not a choice I have right now, so I’m focusing on the fact that leaving this workplace is giving me one less thing to feel stressed about. As it is, I’m giving almost all my “free” time to creating a new business — a process I’m totally loving, by the way. Without the stress of this particular job, I believe I can do even more, even faster. I don’t want to set a timeline for myself, but my goal is to have a profitable business that I can live on in 12 months.

And I don’t feel stressed about that at all. Only happy. How about that? I actually feel happy.

 

Tumultuous times, hopeful times

I keep wondering when my life will stop feeling so tumultuous.

That’s not always a bad feeling, I might add. For example, diving head first into entrepreneurship and immersing myself in all of the materials from Marie Forleo’s B-School program has been wonderful — even though I do feel like I’m under water some of the time. OK, a lot of the time. But I’m forging ahead with a new business and continuing to learn as I work through the program.

But the other area of my life that’s still very wobbly is my marriage. I’ve written before that my husband of nearly 16 years was recently diagnosed with dysthymia, a form of long-term depression. This diagnosis was a relief, because for years I’ve known something was wrong and couldn’t convince him of it. When he sought treatment a couple of years ago, it was woefully inadequate — but again, he wouldn’t listen to me when I told him he needed to see a psychiatrist, not just his internist.

In January, he finally made the decision on his own to seek help.

Since he started treatment, he has shown some progress in understanding what, in fact, has happened to him: that he has been ill for as many as 20+ years, and it has taken a huge toll on his life and every aspect of it. He doesn’t yet fully grasp this situation, but the enormity is beginning to dawn on him. As a result, he’s talking more to me about what’s going on with him, which is great, and he has an excellent psychologist who’s helping him.

But as a consequence, I am now learning more about what his life has been like with me for the past however many years.

I’ve been shocked by it.

All this time I thought that I was building a marriage, I really have been building nothing. He has not felt anything except sadness or, literally, nothing, for many, many years. No love for me. No engagement in our relationship. Nothing.

And all this time, I took on the burden of our problems, thinking that my past history of domestic violence and PTSD was the reason for our marriage breaking down. That wasn’t true at all. Yes, they played some small role in our relationship, but overall it was minor. Somehow I knew that that was the truth, but I was so conditioned to take the blame, I did it readily.

After I finished my own therapy for PTSD/trauma, I realized that, in fact, I was not the one causing problems. But still, my husband wouldn’t listen to me.

That’s where I’m stuck right now. I’ve learned a lot about what has been happening inside his depressed mind all these years, and I know I’ll learn even more as the weeks go on. What I can’t get past is that he watched me suffer, listened to my pleas, and he still continued to deny that he had any problems or that he could do anything to help. He told me he would say to himself, “There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine.” By doing that over a period of 10+ years, he destroyed any trust I have in him.

I know that these tumultuous times will lead to learning on my part. One thing I’ve learned, and have been doing, is that I need to be straight with him. I’ve openly expressed my anger and resentment at being treated so shabbily. He, in turn, is realizing that he needs to work very hard to earn back my trust. One way he’s doing that is by listening, as best he can these days, to my anger and not shutting down, which is what he would have done in the past. So for the first time in years, I actually feel a ray of hope that our marriage can be turned around. I saw a glimpse of him as a partner this past week, someone who could listen and respond to me appropriately.

There’s still a long way to go. His treatment process is so new, that I won’t really know for several more months if it’s going to help with our relationship. But I had no hope before. Now, I do.