Here I go again on my own…sort of.

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The boundary between my exboyfriend and me is blurry at best.  I fluctuate between feeling so sad for him, being really concerned about his health and resenting the fact that I can’t just simply move on and focus on how I feel about everything that has happened these past two months.
Throughout the week after he moved back and our dog died, he kept telling me how sick he felt.  He claimed he couldn’t even drive himself to the doctor.  I initially dismissed it a little because I didn’t know if he was depressed or just weak from the coma or (worst case scenario) drinking.  He called me Thursday afternoon (which was May 2) and told me that the doctor called and said his white blood cell count was quadruple was it is supposed to be, indicating a serious infection.  He said his mother was flying in to take him back to the hospital the next morning.  I feared he had sepsis and told him I was going to come and get him and take him right away to the ER.  He finally agreed.  I went to his new apartment, something I never wanted to do, to help him pack a bag.  He looked AWFUL.  He was so skinny and weak, it took over an hour to get him to my car and I had to use a wheelchair to get him into the ER.  I stayed with him until 3 am and he was admitted into a room.  They diagnosed him with the same infection he had when he was in the coma.  He stayed in the hospital for another 20 days.  His mother only stayed for the first week.
I was so torn.  I felt terrible he was so sick and so alone.  But for 28 days, my life revolved around his health and I simply could not do that again.  I went to see him that first weekend, mostly out of concern and also obligation, and then did not visit again.  However, we texted and spoke on the phone every day.  He was finally discharged and his friend drove him home.
He has spent a total of 48 days in the hospital since March 15.  I feel like my life has been on hold for most of that time.  I “do” things, mostly around my house (redecorating the basement was a good, but expensive distraction) and hang out with my sister and niece, but I always feel an underlying sadness and guilt.
It occurred to me that he hasn’t lived with me for over two months now.  It is still an adjustment in so many big and small ways.  This morning when I woke up for work, I felt pressure on my waist and for a split second I thought it was his arm slung over my body.  It was my cat sleeping on top of me.  This has happened several times.  Yet, ironically, we didn’t cuddle a lot in bed.  Yet, I find myself in the middle of the night reaching my arm out to his side of the bed to touch his back and feel nothing but the cold sheets when his body used to be.
I know I need to not focus on just the things I miss about him.  I feel resentful that I never got to be a “regular girl” in that when I found out he was cheating on me by texting another woman very explicitly, I did not get a chance to yell at him and throw him out…because he was in a coma.  I never got the chance to be angry about all of the alcohol hidden in the basement…because he was in a coma.  Everything was about his health, but now it has been so long and his health is still a major concern.
I obviously still care about him.  I know we can’t be together.  He has to focus on his health and also his sobriety (which he hasn’t really done anything about)  and I need time to heal.  Yet, over the weekend, I was talking to him and he sounded SO lonely.  I was about to go to the dog park with my niece, my sister and her friend (who has two dogs) and I invited him to come, sort of expecting him to say no.  He said yes and I went and picked him up.  His appearance was startling.  Within two months, he has lost over 50 pounds and looks so gaunt and pale.  He was always so muscular and had thick, strong legs.  Now he can put his two hands around his thigh and they touch.  He walks slowly, like an old man.  I felt so many different emotions when I saw him.  My sister and her friend both hugged him when we met them at the park and I realized when I entered his apartment, I did not.  In some ways, I feel detached.  In other ways, I feel OVER involved.
On Memorial Day, I went to my friend’s pool.  It was the first really nice day, warm and sunny.  He texted me in the afternoon saying how nice it was out and reluctantly, I invited him over, since my sister and niece were there too.  He did not respond and it instantly affected my mood.  I was not able to enjoy myself anymore, because I felt guilty and worried.  Ironically, I was reading a book while laying on a lounge chair about how to overcome being a codependent and the chapter was on “detachment”.  I am having a really hard time with that process, obviously.  I can’t help but still feel responsible for him, knowing he really has nobody else.  I picture him sitting alone in his apartment and I feel SO bad.
But then I think, HE should be the one suffering the consequences of his actions and choices.  He was the one who drank, he was the one who betrayed my trust, he was the one who neglected his health…I feel like if he had not almost died, I would feel differently because I would allow myself to be mad.  Good- he should be lonely and miserable.  I don’t know how to get there.  I keep telling my friends “once he is better, I can move on and stop talking to him and checking on him.”  I need to, but it is so hard to let go completely.

My codependency

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Throughout the entire month my boyfriend was in ICU, I focused pretty much all of my energy, time and attention on him and his recovery.  Now that he is at his parent’s house, I am realizing that it was easier for me to do that than to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on my own behavior.  I feel like such a cliche…the daughter of an alcoholic who ends up dating an alcoholic.  As a child, I felt like I had no control over my father and his drinking problem, yet there was always that part of me that felt like if I was “good” or did not give him a reason, he would stop.  I knew deep down it was not my fault, but I consistently found myself playing the role of peacekeeper in my family and I was always the only one to try to placate him, hoping it would calm him down or avoid an altercation.  I did not feel during my relationship with my boyfriend that I was enabling him, but I have started to realize that I was definitely codependent.  Below I listed the top ten signs of codependency and they literally describe me to a T.  My boyfriend (I guess I should be writing ex-boyfriend, really) and I have been having a lot of heart-to-heart, honest conversations and he recently said something that really made me think.  He said that in some ways drinking was easy for him because he knew that I was responsible and would take care of everything.  It is really so true.  He knew that he could drink and pass out and I would feed the dog and let her out.  I catered to him so much, did so many things for him that my sister would joke that I was his secretary.  I know that was fulfilling some kind of void in my life, some desire to please other people, to feel needed and in control.  I constantly had expectations and was mostly always disappointed.  I would create scenarios in my head of us both getting off work and going to the mall and then out to dinner and then coming home and watching a movie.  And more often than not, he would be drunk or sleeping.  I would be upset and make excuses for him…he was stressed at work, his depression was kicking in, the dog was sick.

I knew deep down that he loved me- truly loved me.  I think he still does.  However, I felt unloved and unwanted and lonely a lot.  I was deprived of affection and of intimacy for so long.  I think that is why finding out he was unfaithful by texting another woman was so hurtful.  The attention and interest that I so desperately wanted from him for years he so easily bestowed on someone else.

It is really difficult to objectively look at our relationship since it just ended and the heartache is still so fresh.  He has a lot of work to do in order to get healthy and sober and I accept the fact that I cannot be responsible for him anymore.  It is time to focus on myself so I can become a stronger person.  I also know that I cannot hide behind him and his problems anymore as a way of avoiding my own.

TEN SIGNS OF CODEPENDENCY

From: https://www.recoveryconnection.com/top-ten-indicators-suffer-codependency/

  1. Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems. The codependent feels the need to solve another’s problems. They feel that the person in need cannot manage to make the right decisions or take the right actions to solve his or her own problem.
  2. Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not. The codependent jumps at the opportunity to provide “much-needed” advice. 
  3. Expecting others to do what the codependent says.  Codependents often do not understand boundaries.
  4. The codependent feels used and underappreciated. The codependent will expend enormous amounts of energy to take charge of another’s life. This is all under the guise of sincerely wanting to help. When the help or advice is ignored or rejected, the codependent feels angry, abused, and unappreciated.
  5. Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent. Codependents will go out of their way to please another person. They hope to receive love, approval or be accepted and liked. If the approval is not given, the codependent will feel victimized.
  6. Taking everything personally. Because there are little to no boundaries, any remark, comment or action is a reflection back upon the codependent. This makes the need to feel in control paramount.
  7. Feeling like a victim. Everything that happens either to the codependent or the loved one is a reflection on the codependent. Such people usually feel victimized and powerless and do not understand their role in creating their own reality.
  8. Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior. Codependents will respond in a fashion that will force compliance by others. These tactics may be unconscious and it is important that the codependent feel in control.
  9. Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior. Because codependents do not deal directly with their feelings, they develop techniques to lie to themselves about others’ behaviors. Because they feel responsible for others’ behaviors, they will rationalize and blame others for their loved one’s poor behavior, seeking to maintain control.
  10. Fearing rejection and being unlovable. The codependent fears that if he or she is not successful at everything, or indeed expresses his/her feelings or needs, they will be rejected. In a codependent’s way of thinking, he or she will be unlovable. 

I am a teacher.

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When I started my teaching career 18 years ago, I knew that I would have a lot of different roles at my high school.  I have been a therapist, a cheerleader, a confidant, a maternal figure, a nurse, a role model, a disciplinarian, a mediator, a comedian…the list goes on and on.  I knew that being a teacher was going to involve more than just teaching.  I knew there would be amazing days, when lessons went perfectly and students were well-behaved and sweet and engaged.  I quickly learned there would be really hard days, where students were bored and disrespectful and rude.  After almost two decades, I can take the good with the bad.  I still love this job and can’t imagine doing anything else.

When I started teaching, it was only a few years after Columbine, which hit home for me because I lived in Littleton, CO at one point when I was young.  At the time, it seemed like that was the worst possible scenario that I could imagine happening in a public school.  I also naively believed it was a one time tragedy.  Obviously, sadly, I was very wrong about that.

For most of my career, I had to sit through (usually boring) teacher staff development seminars on standardized testing and curriculum standards.  But now we do active shooter training.  I should be learning about differentiated instruction methods or how to implement new technology into my lessons.  Instead, I am learning how to barricade my classroom door and what warning signs of violent behavior to watch out for in my students.

I’m sure this sounds immature, but it just isn’t fair.  Teachers and students should not have to feel scared in school.  Anytime I go to a different room in my school, I mentally plan an exit strategy.  When I have cafe duty, I run through the scenarios in my mind of where I can hide the students if they are in danger.  When I hear the “beep beep beep” of the loud speaker turn on, my body stiffens with instant anxiety, waiting for an announcement about a lockdown and when I hear the secretary page a teacher to the office, I feel a wave of relief.  I read about the teachers who died shielding their students and I wonder if I would have the courage to protect mine.  I have nightmares about one of my students exacting revenge because of my disciplining them or reporting them for cutting my class.  I scrutinize my students for any signs of bullying, loneliness, exclusion, depression, drug abuse, anxiety, etc.

There is not one single day that passes that I do not think about a school shooting at some point.  Unfortunately, this is the new reality of being a teacher in this country.