When we left of in Sex, Love and Obesity part 25 I was at a place where I began to recognize the pattern. Having too many loose threads in my life and too many possible love interests was making my already difficult struggle regaining control of my Dissociative Identity Disorder even harder.
Although I recognized the pattern, fixing it wasn’t as easy as it would seem. For me to start tying up loose ends, parts of me had to be willing to let go of the person that they thought I should be with. But that wasn’t going to happen just because I wanted it to. Dissociative Identity Disorder doesn’t quite work that way,
May and June were full of me trying to figure out what direction my life was going in. Which in my mind meant, trying to figure out who I was going to be with?
Part of me still had every intention of moving in with Clark.
I kept moving things into his apartment and looking for a job closer to him. I was trying to convince myself that the lack of intimacy didn’t bother me. But it did. Maybe it didn’t bother one part of me, the part of me that was so deeply in love with Clark. But it bothered all the other parts of me. It had been over two months since I had showed back up on Clark’s doorstep. So far, there was no sign of intimacy. We kissed, we hugged, we snuggled on the couch and we slept in the same bed. But nothing went beyond that.
I began wondering why Clark was doing this to me. This man knew me so well. He probably knew me better than anyone else in the world. So, why would he withhold from me the one thing I needed more than anything to make me feel safe and wanted?
If Clark would have just given me the intimacy, my brain would have settled down and the fragmented parts of my mind would have come to one united decision. We would have chosen him.
Instead, he refused to go there. He told me he needed time. He explained that I had hurt him badly. So, for him to be intimate with me he needed time to make sure his heart wasn’t going to get broken again. Admirable. Understandable. But what about what I needed?
I didn’t know if I could do this again.
Before coming to Clark, I had ended a marriage where our non-existent sex life had ruined any chance at saving the relationship. That feeling of not being physically wanted that had haunted me for decades of my life just seemed to be following me from relationship to relationship. How could he continue to deny me the one thing I needed most out of a loving relationship? Was this normal? I talked to my friends. I talked to my therapist. Heck, I even talked to Atlantis and Shane about it.
The consensus was pretty much the same all over the board. If Clark couldn’t or wouldn’t address the lack of intimacy issues it was highly unlikely that this relationship was going to work out in the long run. I could stay. I could love him as much as I wanted. But I would never truly be happy. If I wasn’t happy, there was a high chance that I would seek that happiness outside of the relationship. In fact, I had already done it in Portland. Despite how badly I wanted Clark and I to work, despite how deeply I loved him, I had to face the harsh reality that us not speaking love in the same language was a problem. If it was a problem we couldn’t fix, we probably didn’t really belong together.
I began spending more time with Atlantis and Shane
They both traveled for work. Work brought them both close to where I was every other week or so. I started sneaking off to meet with them. I probably could have been honest with Clark about the time I was spending with Shane. It was innocent enough. All we did was talk. We talked about my problems, we talked about his problems. Most of our time together was about enjoying beer, discussing work related stuff and discussing the similar histories we had. I’d never really had the opportunity before to spend time with a man that understood the ramifications of childhood abuse. Shane understood me in a way that other men had tried to but couldn’t.
There was something admiral about Shane. He had this tenacity when it came to work that I wished I possessed. At the time, I was trying to figure out how to expand my career. Searching for a direction that would make me more financially successful. When we were together and I presented a work-related problem he could resolve, he was instantly all about fixing it. He’d grab his phone, make a call and instantly have a plausible solution or three that I could follow up on. I respected him.
Atlantis was a completely different story. Our time together was full of ravenous sex. There was very little talking involved. Our sexual escapades included things I won’t even write about in a blog. The taboo and sexually deviant nature of those encounters would only be permissible if I was writing a book. But I will say this; There was no doubt that Atlantis made me feel physically wanted.
I was about to learn that being physically wanted wasn’t enough.
Atlantis was married. I was too actually. I still hadn’t filed for divorce yet. But Jason and I were separated. We’d be living apart for nearly three years. When we filed for divorce was now a matter of convenience and finances. Atlantis’s story was different. He was still living with his wife. Even though his feelings for her were full of anger and resentment, he hadn’t taken any true steps toward separation.
The time we spent together seemed to propel him more in that direction. The more time he spent with me, the more adamant he was that he was leaving and that he wanted something different out of life. He insisted that he wanted to explore a relationship with me. I was firm in my resolve that I would not emotionally invest in anything that could lead to me getting hurt or getting my heart broken.
I’d already had my fair share of hurt in life. Someone else in my life with the potential to cause me that sort of hurt and pain was completely unacceptable.
I told myself over and over that it was just sex. Sex for sex’s sake. Friends with benefits. What was going on between us was nothing more than a sexual band-aid I was using while figuring out what was happening with Clark and Peter. And yet, every time Atlantis went home, I found myself sitting there wondering why I was a second choice. Why didn’t he just stay? Why didn’t he pick me instead? Was I that irrelevant to his life? Why didn’t a relationship with me hold more value? Was I that worthless to him? Why didn’t he fight for me?
“Why didn’t he fight for me?”
This single question held so much relevancy. More so that I realized at the moment. Looking back now, I realize that I could ask that question in regard to almost every man I’ve ever been in a relationship with. “Why didn’t he fight for me?” I’m not just talking about the obvious, I’m leaving, you’re losing me and you’re not doing a damn thing to stop it. I’m talking about the deeper examples of that.
“Why didn’t he fight for me?” – Jason
There was a point in my marriage that things could have been saved. A time where he could have stopped having online affairs and lying about them. A point where he could have chosen not to keep popping pain pills and checking out of life. A time where he could have decided not to ignore that I was there and stopped choosing to let our sex life dwindle down to nothing because he refused to instigate and engage. A point where he could have decided to stop being content to sit on unemployment while we struggled financially.
But he never chose any of those things. Instead, he chose to stick his head in the sand hoping the problems would go away. I finally decided I was the problem. So, I went away. He just sat there and watched me go. Was I that irrelevant to him? That valueless? Was I that worthless?
“Why didn’t he fight for me?” – Clark
There was a point with Clark, where all he had to do was learn to speak love in the ways I would hear it. Where everything else in the relationship was perfect and the only thing lacking was the frequency of our intimacy. It wasn’t for a lack of me expressing what I needed. It wasn’t for a lack of me communicating my needs. He had chosen to ignore them. He had chosen to ignore them until I once again felt neglected and unwanted.
We could have gotten help. Gone to relationship therapy, tried to figure out a way to address the problem. But he never even really tried to fix the underlying problem.
Even now that I was back, standing there saying “I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I love you, I want to make this work.” He was still refusing to work on it with me. I was willing to work on all the things he needed me to work on to fix the relationship. But he wasn’t willing to work on the one issue that was the most prevalent problem for me. Why? Was I that inconsequential? Why was I so unessential to his life?
I could ask the same question of most of my relationships.
Now that I thought about it, “Why didn’t you fight for me?” was a question I had been asking for even longer than I had been having relationships. I’d been asking that question in several different ways ever since that scared little girl in the garage learned to remove herself from the situation and escape by creating another person to protect her.
There is a take away here that I hope nearly 30 articles of the Sex, Love and Obesity series has demonstrated for my readers. You can lose all the weight that you think is holding you down or holding you back. But none of it will matter if you haven’t started to address the real issues that drove you to food and led you to obesity. I had not addressed any of those issues.
This was the first time in my life I even came close to realizing what those issues were.
As I began recognizing the questions that I had been asking myself for nearly four decades, I finally started to see how significantly my desire to be loved, not just by a boy, but by anyone had impacted my life.
“Why didn’t you love me enough to protect me?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to make sure nobody hurt me?”
“Why didn’t you listen when I tried to tell you?”
“Why didn’t you understand what was happening to me?”
“Why didn’t you believe me all those times I said I wasn’t lying?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to try to fix what was wrong?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to help me?”
As I got older and started looking for love with boys instead of within my family I began asking the same types of questions.
“Why didn’t you love me enough to not hurt me?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to not break my heart?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to try to fix it?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to hear what I needed and try to give it to me?”
“Why didn’t you love me enough to fight for me?”
These questions had haunted me for almost as many years as I had been alive.
I was done asking these questions. I was done not mattering enough. The wondering why nobody would fight for me was over. If someone wasn’t willing to fight for me, if they couldn’t see the value in me, then they didn’t deserve to have me. That would become my new criteria. If you’re not willing to fight for me, I’m not willing to fight for you. If nobody was willing to fight for me. I’d start fighting for myself. I’d start saying no to relationships that we’re not giving me what I wanted and needed.
Ideally, fighting for myself would have meant learning to love myself instead of looking for someone else to love me. But let’s be honest, I wasn’t quite there yet. Instead, my realization was that it was going to require time and space for me to figure everything out. I needed to not be living with Clark and trying to have a committed relationship while sneaking off to meet with Atlantis. I needed space to explore my options. Maybe get out there and start dating.
I had spent my entire life living with someone. As a result, when the relationship began declining, I was stuck. I had nowhere else to go. Financially, I was always in a situation where I couldn’t afford to be on my own. I always needed someone else paying half the living expenses. This had led to me bouncing from relationship to relationship, moving in with someone else to get out of whatever situation I was in.
I was about to do that all over again.
I had already bounced from living with my husband to living with Clark. Then I had bounced from living with Clark to living with Peter. Now I was about to move back in with Clark. Was I doing it for love? Part of me thought so. But another part of me knew that wasn’t the case. There were a lot of factors influencing this decision. My fear of being alone. My inability to afford a place on my own.
I asked myself “If Atlantis called me up right now and told me that he had left his wife, gotten his own place and wanted to be with me. Would I go?” The truthful answer was, “I would seriously consider it.” And that answer, is what made me realize that I needed to stop making decisions because I needed someone else to survive. I needed to be able to survive on my own. I needed to be in a situation where I could honestly look at whatever relationship I chose to be in and say, “I need you because I love you.” Not, “I love you because I need you.”
For the first time since Peter and I had broken up I started to find my courage.
If Clark and I were going to end up back together again, it was going to have to be because we both wanted to be. Not because he had to rescue me from a mistake and not because there was no other way for us to explore a relationship other than living together.
If Atlantis and I were going to explore the possibility of a relationship, it was going to be something where I took the time to explore it.
I needed to distinguish what was real and what was just another passing phase of me wanting to be wanted.
At this point I made a very important promise to myself.
From this point on anyone I ended up in a relationship with was going to be someone willing to fight as hard for a relationship with me as I was willing to fight for a relationship with them. Shane and Atlantis had both made me realize something. I wasn’t sure I really in love with anyone. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be with anyone. The only thing I really knew, was that I didn’t want to be alone. However, I was finally starting to see that being alone was exactly what I should do.
I wasn’t going to move in with Clark. No. I was going to move out on my own. It was time to face my fear of living alone and being on my own. I ‘d get my own apartment, have my own space, make decisions based on nobody else but me. I was going to be selfish. Put myself and my needs first. I’d focus on my career. I’d focus on me. And, regardless of what came next, I was never going to sit there asking “Why didn’t you fight for me?” again.