That’s a relationship milestone, isn’t it? Wasn’t that an episode of Sex and the City?
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that, in addition to my dated television references, I have… difficulty processing negative emotions.
Me: “All kidding aside, I genuinely think that if we just bury our negative feelings, without discussing it, there won’t be any long term consequences as long it doesn’t happen often.”
So, last Wednesday, when I topped off my already terrible day by running into my ex-husband for the first time since he signed the papers five years ago, I coped as only Belle can… which is to say I didn’t. It was only 4:00 in the afternoon, y’all. I was already overwhelmed and still had a night at the library head of me. I chose not to process such unpleasantness. After all, no words were spoken. We only made eye contact and kept walking. It was easy enough to compartmentalize and label it Future Belle’s problem.
Indeed it was. That night, after work, lying in bed, I had an… episode. Though it’s been almost five years, occasionally, I still have nightmares about my marriage. Usually, I’m still married, he’s still a sociopath, and the worst part is that I have trouble waking. Even more rarely, I wake and have trouble convincing myself that I’m in the present day and in no danger. Last Wednesday, however, was… severe.
I’m talking, Lifetime Original Movie severity, here. It was epic, in a way it has not been in years. So, naturally, once I’d come to my senses, emotionally and physically exhausted, I assumed the drama was out of my system. Everyone gets one meltdown every decade or so. Fortunately, I’d had mine that night, as opposed to the next, when my boyfriend would be staying over. What luck!
Jake came to town the next day and I conversationally explained a bit about why the previous day had been so awful, including that seeing my ex-husband “rattled” me. We went to dinner, watched a couple of movies and an episode of The Walking Dead, and we went to bed. Once there, we fooled around for a little bit and then I started to feel a bit… off. I feared I knew what was happening and went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. I told myself to get control and went with my usual inner mantra.
It’s 2015. Your’e 28 years old. It has been almost five years and you are safe.
It wasn’t working. Of course, I shifted my focus to hiding my breakdown from Jake as I got into bed. It seemed easy enough to do with the lights off, even if that was making my little PTSD-worthy flashback worse. I told myself to keep my feelings where feelings belong: on the inside…
… as I started shaking. To Jake, there was no catalyst. The room was cold and he assumed the shaking was shivering… for the first few minutes.
Jake: “Are you okay?”
Jake: “Belle? Are you alright? Say something.”
Without a response, Jake reached for the light… and I lost it.
Me: ::hysterically crying:: “I’m fiiiiiine.”
I don’t remember a lot of the conversation, honestly. It’s sort of a blur beyond Jake finally getting frustrated with all of my apologies for crying.
Jake: “Will you stop apologizing and just please tell me what’s wrong?”
Me: “Sometimes, I just… I feel really panicked and just get really… scared. I’m sorry. Yesterday just really freaked me out. I promise this never happens!”
Jake was impossibly sweet, as he stroked my hair, told me I was okay and that I was safe. At one point, he actually feared I couldn’t breathe as my throat started to close and I wheezed through my cries. He just held me as I apologized again and again for showing negative emotions.
Me: “Do I have too much baggage?”
Jake: “No. Jude’s not too much baggage. He’s close, but not quite.”
He made a joke. The guy realized how much I don’t like to talk about feelings and he joked about my clingy dog being too much baggage, instead of forcing me to take the situation seriously.
Once I’d calmed down, Jake kissed the top of my head…
Jake: “I want my tea.”
Jake: “I’m thirsty.”
Me: “There’s a water bottle right there.”
Jake: “I know, but I have tea in the fridge and I want to get it.”
Me: “Okay? Why are you telling me this?”
Jake: “I just didn’t want you to think that I was getting up to put on my boots and leave, because I would never do that.”
More than once in the night, Jake actually woke me to make sure I was alright. The next morning, I brought it up first.
Me: “So, did I freak you out too much last night?”
Jake: “What? No. I’m just glad I was here.”
Me: “Yeah. Me, too. It was a lot worse the night before last. Don’t worry, though. I only cry once a year. If feelings were meant to be talked about, they would be called talkings.”