In Sex Love and Obesity Part 22 I introduced you to the concept of Dysfunctional Dissociation. Meaning, several different parts of me are making different decisions at different times and it’s not working out well.
I’m not always in agreement with those decisions.
It had been about three weeks since I left the apartment with Peter in it. Three weeks of constant arguing with Peter over the phone and text messages about what was going to happen. We fought about where I was going to go and how the stuff in the apartment was going to be distributed. Even after Peter and I had gone to visit my therapist and I told him it was over, he still very much insisted that he wanted to somehow fix things. But I wasn’t buying into the promises he was making anymore. As a result, I wasn’t going to allow him the chance to fix anything. I was adamant that the relationship was over.
Once Peter had decided that he wasn’t going back to Massachusetts, I had this unrelenting feeling that the small town we lived in just wasn’t big enough for us both. So, I was going to move to Dallas.
Clark had just gotten home from work when I sat down to talk to him about my plans. “I’m going to move to Dallas. Be closer to my friends and family, get far away from Peter and start over,” I explained. I can still vividly see the look on Clark’s face when I said those words. It was the first time in the entire time I had known him that I could see the look of disappointment and hurt on his face. “Dallas is so far away.” he murmured. For a moment, I thought that Clark was going to try to stop me. Ask me not go to Dallas. Tell me he loved me and ask me to stay with him.
Clark didn’t need to tell me he loved me though. I knew. I’ve always known.
In fact, Clark is probably the closest thing I’ve ever had to unconditional love. He’s been there, with an open door and an open heart no matter what horrible mistakes I’ve made. He’s let me go and welcomed me back repeatedly for the better part of 18 years. But the look on his face when I said I was moving to Dallas, it stopped me in my tracks. Clark loved me. He really loved me. The look on his face told me he was willing to take me back, willing to try again. That kind of love is rare. If Clark still loved me, I was going to try to make it work.
For the next few weeks I stayed with a dear friend of mine that lived in Wilmington. I’d drive in from Greensboro on Monday morning, work Monday through Friday then pack up my car with as much stuff as I could on Friday afternoon and drive it all back to Clark’s house to spend the weekend with him. I started looking for a new job local to where Clark lived. Things were good. I was happy.
But everyone close to me was questioning my decision.
Perhaps my decision to be with Clark was more about my fear of being alone. They questioned whether I would be happier with Clark this time. Whether things would change between us when it came to sex, intimacy and passion. And, if it didn’t, how I would deal with it any differently than I had last time?
I dismissed their concerns. They were not my concerns. I already did the whole “the grass is greener on the other side” thing when I left Clark to be with Peter. Peter and I had amazing sex. Amazing. But it had amounted to nothing when it came to the relationship. Maybe I didn’t need amazing sex to be happy. Maybe all I really needed was someone that loved me enough.
Meanwhile, Peter and I continued to argue and fight.
There is this moment when a relationship is coming to an end where you play your cards. Meaning, you say the one thing that you’ve held back saying knowing that it’s a point of no return. What you are about to say is going to change the game completely. I finally got to that moment with Peter just a few days before I left for California to go run my half marathon.
We were in the middle of a fight about furniture and money when the words came out of my mouth. “I’m not moving to Dallas, I’m staying with Clark, I still love him. I never should have left him. It was a mistake. You were my biggest mistake. I’m going to try and fix this.” I knew that my words stung at Peter. I was content with that.
My intention was to hurt him. He had hurt me so badly. I had felt so emotionally abused, so beaten down and the truth is, I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt him just as badly. It worked. I hardly heard from Peter for the next couple weeks.
But Peter had some final cards to play as well.
I was off to California to run my half marathon. While I was in California, Peter took a day trip to Virginia to meet up with another woman from the weight loss surgery community. Hearing the gossip about their get together was upsetting to me. Or, more accurately, it was upsetting to part of me.
Mutual friends of ours pointed out how much this new girl and I had in common. Similar looks, similar hair styles. We were both die hard Disney fans. Both gym rats, both runners. I didn’t know her personally, I didn’t know her story. But from what mutual friends were telling me, she had the sort of damaged past I had. A history of hurt, abuse and mistreatment.
It was upsetting to me. Was I really that easy to replace? It didn’t matter that I had done the same thing to him. No, that was different. I didn’t go and find someone that replaced Peter. I went back to a relationship that Peter’s entrance into my life had broken. Clark and Peter were nothing alike. But why did it matter so much? Why did I even care?
I’ll tell you why. Because I felt invalidated. Completely invalidated.
Him running off and trying to find someone new within just a couple of weeks of me finally saying “This is over, I’m moving on,” made me feel invalidated. I started wondering if the entire year and half of him professing undying love to me was all a lie. I mean, can you really love someone that much and that deeply and be over them that quickly?
Mutual friends of ours assured me it was just a rebound thing. But they questioned why it bothered me so much. If I was truly happy with Clark, why did it matter? So, was I truly happy with Clark? Or, was I afraid to be alone and clinging to what felt safe? Was I jealous of this new girl? Was I still in love with Peter? Yes! The answer to all those questions was a big resounding yes. All those things were true. I was fragmented. I was dissociating to a point that it was dysfunctional. Different parts of me felt different things. It just depended on who was in control.
Two orbs that can’t make a united decision.
One part of me was chasing a hope that somehow things with Peter could rectify themselves and work out. That part of me thought that if I left Peter, went back to Clark and he had some time on his own to resolve his issues he’d figure out that I was worth loving and worth fighting for. He’d go to therapy, get some help and try to be a better man. Then, maybe he wouldn’t be so controlling, so emotionally abusive, so emotionally manipulative.
The other part of me was hanging on to Clark. To what I knew was solid. Despite what any other part of me thought or felt, Clark was safe. He loved me endlessly. Maybe he didn’t speak love in the ways that the different parts of me needed to hear it. But that wasn’t his fault. The kisses were not passionate. The sex wasn’t mind blowing. But who the hell cared? I mean, someday, all that comes to an end anyway. Was sex really that important?
Two orbs that can’t make a united decision usually ends with another orb deciding what to do. That’s exactly what happened next. If those two parts of me couldn’t figure it out, someone else would make decisions until they did.
Hello Portland. It’s been awhile.
Let’s talk about conventions for a moment. They should be this great moment that a bunch of people in the WLS community get together and celebrate their weight loss journey. Maybe you’re helping to raise money for other people that need to have surgery. Maybe you are gathering together to learn more about the latest scientific studies in the fields of obesity. Sure. That’s all well and good. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t have any ongoing relationship problems, that is probably all a convention is.
But for those of us that don’t fall into that category, it’s a breeding ground for dysfunction. It’s a time we get away from our significant others, surrounding ourselves with people who understand us, and get us in ways our significant others don’t.
You ever heard of those people that go to rehab and fall in love with someone at rehab? It rarely ends well. Conventions are sort of the same thing if you ask me. Every once in a while, you’ll hear about two people in the WLS community that met at a convention, hook-up, and go on to have a healthy relationship. It’s rare, but it happens.
For the most part, they hook-up, they go back to their lives in different parts of the country. Or like Peter and I, they try to have a healthy relationship and fail miserably. So now here I am at a convention in Portland. Portland. My home town. A city where weed is legal, and I know all the best downtown bars.
Portland. A town that holds 12 years of history for me.
All of it mind you is still sitting in the apartment that I left it in when I drove away. The things I couldn’t take with me. The some-day-to-be-ex-husband. I had a lot of unresolved issues waiting for me in Portland. I went back to the apartment that Jason and I lived in and cleared out the rest of my things. Jason wouldn’t face me while I was there. He locked himself in the bedroom while I went through the house. He said it would hurt too much to see me.
Did Jason still love me? The thought crossed my mind. Part of me wondered for a moment if this had all been some horrible mistake. Should I have never left my husband? Was this some post WLS phase I went through? Should I go back and try to fix my marriage? I guess the part of me that still lived in that moment came and went rather quickly. I continued to pack the rest of my things. Since Jason wouldn’t see me, I left a good-bye card on the counter for him. I was trying to find closure.
I was shipping most of things back to Clark’s house in North Carolina. But there was one thing had to go with me on the plane ride back. My father’s ashes.
My emotions were going in so many directions. So much was happening at once.
Part of me wanted to run away from it all. I could just get on a plane and go somewhere where nobody knew who I was and start all over. But my Godfather was with me and I had a presentation to give at the convention I was attending.
Peter, Clark, Jason, my Godfather, my father’s ashes. Every man that had been important in my life in the last 20 years was a factor in this moment. Who did I love? Who did I want to be with? Did I love anyone? How was I going to deal with the grief I felt holding my father’s ashes in my hands? What was I going to do with them? Would my Godfather being there help me hold it all together? Was it even possible to hold it all together?
I had to try. I went to the convention. Gave my presentation. I put on a fake smile and I pretended everything was okay.
And then, the weight of everything that was happening came crashing down on me.
Once I had done everything I was obligated to do I started to feel the gravity of everything that was happening. It was too much to deal with. To overwhelming. So, I went pleasure seeking. I drank my face off. Got stoned. And, of course, I found someone else to sleep with. I lit a match. In doing so, I set my entire life on fire. It was like committing emotional arson. Why did I do it? Two reasons.
One, Because I couldn’t use food as an escape anymore. Doing so might just lead me back to weighing over 400 lb. and that wasn’t something I was going to allow to happen to me for a third time in my life. Instead, sex, drugs and alcohol were my go-to coping mechanisms.
They had been for the last year and half that I had been with Peter. There had been a time that I used exercise to deal with my emotions. But that seemed like a past life now. Peter had ruined that for me. Robbed me of that coping mechanism. Or, more accurately, he had broken the part of me that used exercise as a coping skill. That part of me, that orb, wasn’t participating in my life anymore.
Secondly, because sex, drugs and alcohol were the go-to coping mechanisms of the pleasure-seeking orb that was making decisions for me in that moment. As a result, even though I’d been sober for over 30 days staying at Clark’s house, falling back into this pattern in Portland with that part of me in charge was an easy slip.
Whether I agreed with the decisions or not, that was how my fragmenting mind was going to deal with it. I was still in this state of Dysfunctional Dissociation and honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be functional again.