Remember the Dance

1/10/2018© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

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Take Back the Breath

6/30/16 Own your breathI’m sitting in a conference room at the VA in an empty meeting. I’ve been wanting to write on this prompt from my brain for some time but I’ve been scared. I’ve been letting someone else control me. Someone mentioned last week that I hadn’t posted on my blog in awhile. There’s a reason. It’s just not pretty.

5 weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. Things had been getting progressively worse for some time and he decided a FB message was the appropriate tool to communicate with. He brought over my stuff, we exchanged keys, and he left. You’d think this would be the end. It was only the beginning. M- started (or continued) stalking me. He sent me notes through text, email, Facebook, Messenger, left me voicemails and off-topic comments on my blog. He went through other people to get to me, asking them to text me for him or contact me another way. He contacted my mother. He even hijacked someone else’s Facebook profile whom I was talking with to get to me. He at least stopped dropping by my house unannounced or at least I don’t know it. I took him off my FB profile as a significant other. I was confused but felt relieved.

It has been up and down since then. I haven’t felt this boxed in or trapped ever. Some of the things he’s done leave me honestly scared. He won’t let go. I can’t post on my blog because he reads it, can’t share in group because it goes back to him. Every time my phone dings or buzzes I’m on edge because it’s usually him and I don’t know what he wants. Will it be insults today or over the top compliments? Have I ruined his life or saved him? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. He researches me online, talks to everyone about me. I don’t even know what people know about me anymore because he tells everyone everything. I’m a pretty private person. I don’t appreciate mass sharing. There have been days I went to comfort him and was yelled at for an hour. He’s the first person who’s ever said something to me so mean or hurtful that it literally took my breath. I couldn’t breathe. He acts as if his assumptions are truth and won’t believe anything to the contrary. The mood instability and purposeful manipulation grind me down and make me mad. He’s texted me “911” to get me to respond when there was no true emergency.

He asked to stop by after church on Sunday to drop off a letter to me. He stayed awhile. The conversation was uncomfortable but he was respectful. I thought maybe he’d changed. Nope. He went home and started messaging me that I need to change my profile picture on FB because it’s not very flattering, not the best of me, and he’s not the only one who thinks it. FUCK YOU. Who the FUCK do you think you are? I AM NOT YOURS.

In a continuation of the emotional blackmail, he posted on his website that any donations would go to me for my Phoenix Rising tuition. He put up a story about me that’s not true speckled with tiny spots that were. That night at group he brought me a journal and some candy and a drink. So wait, now I’m good again? I can’t keep up. I accepted them and said thank you. I asked him to take down the story since it’s both private and not all true. The one thing that’s really important to me and my future is that Phoenix Rising training and he KNOWS I need money for it. Why not tie me to him for the money? Brilliant idea, except that it isn’t. It only hurts me having to choose whether or not to stay in the abuse for the money. The answer is no. Thing is, I’m not even sure he sees what he’s doing. He honestly believes he is helping… I think.

Today I went to his baptism with another friend. He asked if my last FB post was about him. That SO pisses me off and he knows it. He’s back to saying he loves me and that he’s going to marry me and that when he gets back from rehab he’s going to chase me again. He says he KNOWS I still love him and am still IN love with him and KNOWS we’re still lovers in our hearts. He says he KNOWS he broke my heart (by cheating on me, et. al.) “Stop pretending like you don’t still love me,” he says. He claims to know what I think and how I feel and my history, which he doesn’t. He wants to be “friends.” He says, “That’s all we really ever were anyway.” No, it’s not. We were in a relationship. He was part of my family. He messages me in despair and sadness begging for attention and help. Last time I called him when he sent me crisis texts and he said he was fine, that he had talked to some friends and used some skills. I was livid. He said, “Well you didn’t HAVE to call. I’m trying to give you some space since you think I’m stalking you, even though I’m really not.” He wants me at his going away party this weekend and to agree to take one phone call a week from him while he’s in rehab for the next two months.

I can’t do it. I have laid back, kept quiet, tried to deal with this on my own. I have respected his privacy, though he doesn’t respect mine. I have altered my life. I have constant anxiety. When I think about him I get angry. When I see him in person it’s hard to breathe. Texts and FB messages haunt me. Hugs eat at my soul. I can’t get away. Last time I saw him he told me he was going to frame all my PRYT art and hang it around his house. That’s just creepy. I have waited, played along, pretty well I think. Friends and church members have encouraged him to keep pursuing me. He told me we are destined by God to be together and that no matter what he’ll find me and we’ll be together. I don’t know what to do.

I’ve been waiting to set any boundaries because I’m scared, both of the backlash towards me and the very high probability of a spike in his suicidality. I don’t hate the man. I have compassion towards him. I care but I am not in love. I am under attack. I really don’t want to hurt him.

Since what I send to him usually becomes public knowledge anyway, I will spare him the hassle and make this an open letter:

Dear M-,

I’m sorry you’re feeling so scared about this new journey next week. You will make it. I’m also glad to see you get baptized today. You are a man of God now and strong in your faith.

The past 5 weeks have been very hard on me. Your constant pursuing and intense emotions and reactions have left me trembling, fragile, ANGRY. I don’t hate you. I have compassion both for you and what you’re going through, but it can’t include me anymore. Contact from you (good or bad) sets my body on alarm. I feel fear. It’s hard to squelch my anger about what you’ve done. Apologies don’t erase memories. And neither does any other excuse. I truly treasure the time we spent together and what you’ve done for me. We both grew and expanded our lives. But that time is over now. This is a new time. And in this new time we need to focus on ourselves.

You are leaving for rehab on Tuesday. I’m proud of you for going, for having the courage and strength to face your demons. I don’t want you going there thinking the whole time about how you’re going to get back with me when you’re released and live happily ever after. You’re not. I’m not interested. I’m not in love with you and my heart is not broken. I do feel sad though that it had to end like this. It’s not what I expected.

It’s important for me to be specific so these are the boundaries I’m asking for.

Boundaries Needed

  • Please do not call, text, email, FB message, other instant message, comment on my blog or communicate with me in any other way except for true emergencies (impending or imminent death) or about DBSA business matters no other board member can answer or solve.
  • At DBSA meetings, please choose a different room than I’m in.
  • At board meetings, please stick to business.
  • I do not want to work outreach together.
  • At the VA MH Council, please stick to business and be professional.
  • Please do not attempt to contact me through someone else.
  • At church, please sit in a different pew.
  • I do not want to pick up the refugee family anymore.
  • Please do not come to choir practice just to see me unless you intend to join the choir.
  • Stop asking my permission to do or attend things.
  • Stop bringing me gifts.
  • I don’t want to salsa with you.
  • I don’t want to “hang out” or listen. You have other support.
  • I don’t want to be chased or to have a 3rd run at our relationship.
  • I don’t want to be your friend (by your definition).
  • I don’t want to go to couples counseling.
  • I think it would be better if you didn’t call me from rehab.

What is okay:

  • Basic interactions at church
  • Contact about DBSA business
  • Contact re: life & death crises (in progress, imminent death)
  • It is okay to write to me snail mail from rehab if you want.
  • I am willing to work with the staff at rehab if needed.

I know it’s a lot to take in. We will see each other when you get back and maybe someday when we’re both healthier we can be friends (by my definition). I’m not your best friend and I’m not your lover. Until then, we can be fellow group members who really care about each other.

Please leave me alone, M-. Please.

With respect,
Michelle

(deep breath)
It’s time I take back my breath. This is my life and I want to live it. So, hopefully you’ll be seeing more posts from me soon. If not, at least you’ll know the pause is not from fear. Just sadness. And living my life.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Dusty Light Bulbs

5/21/16     4:13pm

2016-07-03 16.01.42

I sit in Target. My insides tremble. My face wants to scream. I just left the DBSA event. A fair amount of people showed up and were happy. No one asked me about M-. A few people asked how I am in general, never touched the subject. It shouldn’t be a secret.

Yesterday M- broke up with me. After several months of escalating issues he had reached the borderline of verbal abuse. Constant fights, arguments & insults, passive-aggressive and manipulative behavior. He continuously reminded me I have “no relationship skills” and even stated multiple times that no other boyfriend would put up with the shit I give him. I’m not a “normal” girlfriend. This isn’t a “normal” relationship. I know. He makes so many assumptions and believes them to be truth. Ego flies high between crashes. “Walking on Eggshells” for Borderline doesn’t begin to describe it.

He posted on FB that we broke up both on my wall and in DBSA. In the DBSA post he also said he didn’t want comments and requested that people let us both grieve, said we’re too good of friends and plan on remaining so. Bullshit. BULL-SHIT.

I’m not grieving. I’m not sad. I’m angry. I have taken so much shit from him recently. It’s not okay but I let some of it slide due to fear of a spike in suicidality, which I was correct about as indicated by his new FB photo. I’m angry that he’s not working on his issues. And I’m angry that he needed me to let him go, asked how much longer I was going to make him lie in bed all day alone. I can’t do it. I have managed his money, been involved in his healthcare, answered his calls and texts and put up with some very hurtful things he’s chosen to say. The recent severe symptoms are difficult to handle but I won’t be mistreated or berated or used.

Each interaction begins and/or ends in a fight. He tells me over and over how I have to sacrifice for him, that I’m not a “normal” girlfriend, that he loves me IF I change. He’s putting in the time waiting because I’m supposed to change into what he wants. I stand my ground. It wears me down.

I’m proud of myself for staying assertive and setting boundaries, for not changing who I am just for him. I’m proud of myself for not responding with anger or harsh words. I used my skills. I’m not perfect but I did a damn good job. (tingles) Now the pain is inside of me.

After his FB breakup message I replied asking what the boundaries are he wants for our intertwined lives. He called several times with more insults and asking about my previous relationship. I kept redirecting to the issue at hand. He insisted on coming over right then to give me my stuff back. I was not happy, said it wasn’t a good time. He came anyway. It was an awkward goodbye, however short-lived, since the texts and FB messages resumed arriving late telling me he knew I was up demanding that we talk. Messages too that he still loves me. Today he asked me to come over because he needs to go shopping and asked for food help from -. I replied that he has his debit card now, why does he need me?

I was clear from the beginning about my boundaries. This is the first time I’ve actually stood up for me. I’ve just been taking it, afraid he couldn’t tolerate a loss, but slowly it kills me. I don’t need to be with someone who sees me as a template for what could be. I am already me. Far from perfect, many issues, but I’m proud to be me.

I’m not caught up on the end of my relationship. What keeps running through my head are the biting hurtful things that he said. I feel sad that a man I love has such poor insight and ability to care for himself. I feel sad that I can’t change him, glad I’m not trying. I feel angry that he paints himself the victim, that no matter the issue somehow it’s always my fault. All I asked for was respect and for him to listen. He’s just not able. I feel sad to watch him spiraling when there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I am not sad or hurting because he broke up with me.

I thought there would be pause. No such luck. He expects me to come by today. I want to scream and text back, “I’m not your girlfriend anymore. Remember? That’s not my job.” I think I would be so much more angry if I didn’t understand the root of the behavior. But knowing why makes me feel somewhat helpless. I have to remind myself that illness is not a pass for bad behavior. Boundaries are for EVERYONE.

Mom and D- are at a street fair. Neither of them responded to my note but I’m glad they’re getting to spend time together. He’s leaving tonight. That sucks. There’s a withdrawal effect that takes time to dissipate.

When I woke up this morning I slowly moved through my room, freezing at different spots. Last night I completely shut down. I changed my sheets (huge task for me) alone. Mom said she would help but was with D-. I started putting things away. I have a long way to go. I need simplicity. I need me. My gospel choir concert is tomorrow. Yellow pillow. (close my eyes)

It felt good to learn that I’m lovable. Now I have to keep loving me. Dusty light bulbs, show tunes and all. I need to gift myself some rest, set the pain free.

Oh, by the way, my ECT is on hold for now. I miss how it reset me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016