Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am Not a Hamster

You hear about how mother hamsters eat their babies.  I think, "What's up with that?  Do they know while they are doing it that something is not going right?  Are they munching away, going, 'Shit! There goes the third one!  Noooooo!  I need to stop!  Help!'"

I am like that hamster.

Here are the facts, folks:  I love Chuck deeply; he tells me that he loves me and wants to get married; we live here in his house, harmoniously.  It is also true that, ever since we have moved in, I have found myself feeling less and less safe.  More and more anxious.  I actually have moments of queasiness when I think about our relationship, sometimes.

My previous counselor (who offered tough love and often made me feel like I was talking to Anton Ego) 
is no longer on my insurance, so I made contact with another counselor today.  Hopefully, she'll call me back soon. 
So what is UP with this?!?
Is it the baggage?  We have had challenges that many couples would find daunting, I think. The circumstances that brought us together were not good.  We live in a house that is new to me, but that he lived in for many years before I came along - part of that time with his ex-girlfriend.  Her cats' hair is still in the stairwell; her own hair is still in the medicine cabinet.  The hooks that she used to hang things on the walls are onthe walls here above my desk, which sits in the exact spot where her desk sat until a couple months ago.  We sleep in the bed he shared with her.  I try not to let it get to me.
She lives next door.  A few minutes ago, we stood on Chuck's front porch, talking; and I noticed that he wasn't looking at me - he was looking next door, where she was just arriving home from work.  I try not to let that get to me, either.
The fact remains that, ever since we moved in here together, I have been growing more and more unhappy.  I'm not ready to attribute all of it to Henrietta's presence a few yards away.  I am beginning to think it is because we are now TOGETHER.  LIVING.  TOGETHER. 
I think about how things were between us when we weren't living together.  We saw each other most days, although not every day.  When he saw me, his eyes would light up.  He smiled a lot.  He was playful and joyful.  He wanted to be sitting next to me.  He would watch my eyes to see what I thought of things.
Now we live together.  He smiles sometimes.  He is playful occasionally.  His eyes light up rarely.  I wait for it like I wait for fireworks shows to start.  Tonight we were on a walk and he laughed at something I did or said.  I soaked the moment up:  God, for a moment there, I was giving him what I used to give him! 
Maybe this isn't about living together.  Probably this is the dreaded continuum, of which I have written before, from being IN LOVE to....LOVE.  And from there?  What comes after that?  Boredom?  Contempt?  Emptiness? Any of which he will wish he could feel with anyone but me? 
I try to keep it from happening.  Every day, I bring all the joy and commitment and energy I have into being the woman he fell for in the first place.  I don't want to be in a relationship AGAIN! where I fail to evoke joy or passion or openess from the other person, AGAIN!
Yeah, I talk to him about it.  I share all of my feelings with him, carefully worded.  I try to use these conversations to figure out what the hell it would take to keep him lit up about me.
He just says that he perceives no problem. He's happy.  He loves me.  He wants me with him forever.  Except for these insecuritites, though. They make him unhappy.  Sad and worried.  He tells me that he only wants me to work on being the happiest, most self-actualized person I can be.  That would give him the most satisfaction.  I try to allow myself that.  I really do.  But instead, I am a hamster.  I eat my young.  I kill what I love.
I can't escape my negative thoughts, left over from the other relationship:  you are lovable only as long as you do the right things.  Love is a performance-based reward for being perfect.  You are not creative enough or sexy enough or pretty enough or smart enough or articulate enough to keep a man's interest. 
In what may have been our last fight, Simon told me, "You are a bottomless pit!  There is never enough love to make you feel loved.  You will never find what you need."
He didn't think to add, but I have added since, "You will never feel safe." 
Believe me, if I can't feel safe with Chuck, there is no safety for me in any relationship. 
He is very undemanding - he tells me little about what he expectsfrom me.  I pay close attention, trying to discern his needs.  There are lots of things I want to give him.  One thing he absolutely deserves is a happy, healthy wife who isn't constantly worried that she is screwing up.  I'm going neurotic, wondering if I'm neurotic. 
I chose this counselor because she's on my insurance.  Her office is nearby.  She actually had two reviews; and they were both positive.  Her name sounded interesting. 
I don't want to chase my tail.  I don't want to eat my young.  I want to stop looking back at my failed marriage.  I want to feel like I belong in my life, and that I deserve to lay my worry aside.  Every day, every minute, is a chance for me to stiffen my spine and keep trying.  I need to remember that.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Beetle Can Beat Up Your Beetle

A really big moth is competing with me for the monitor, here.  I keep swishing it away.  Chuck is not the only wild animal with whom I share this bedroom:  plenty of bugs; plenty of bats. 

The bats are amusing.  They flit awkwardly around in the rafters while Chuck and I scramble to turn off the ceiling fan.  Once or twice I have heard the tell-tale thunk that means a bat has bought it.  I found one in the bathtub, not long after we moved in - bludgeoned in flight.  I like bats!  They're cute!  And they eat bugs.  I feel bad about the fan; but Chuck tells me it is worse when they survive the fan and decide to hang around for a few days.  They like to roost in the peak of the roof, right over the bed.  I woke up a few weeks ago to a little droplet landing on my face.  Bat pee.  SO glad I did not have my mouth open... Anyway, I think that if the bats are going to live in here, they ought to earn their keep.  Why not eat all these moths?  Especially this little bastard who keeps dive-bombing my fingers.

Two nights ago, we had a beetle.  By American standards, this was a substantial beetle:  as long as my finger.  Capable of loud buzzing while in flight, and freaky hissing if he got flipped on his back.  You know the scene in Harry Potter IV, when Mad Eye Moody demonstrates the Cruciatus Curse?  Just like that.  I named the beetle Harold, and Chuck and I played with him for a few minutes before he wandered off on his beetle business.  Which was, I soon discovered, to terrify children.  After a few minutes, I heard excitement from downstairs and Sara ran up to report the biggest beetle she has EVER! SEEN!  (She needs to live in Australia for a little while.  All the bugs are bigger in Australia.) 

"Harold!  Where are you, Baby?" 
"HAROLD?!?  You call that thing HAROLD?" 
"Yeah, he's my friend!"  I made a production of scooping him up in a piece of newspaper and talking to him in googey-talk.  "My Pwecious Pet!"

The kids were both dancing with disgust. 
"What are you going to do with him!?!" 
"Make a brooch out of him."  Everyone looked at me, confused.  Even Chuck. 
"Sure.  Haven't you guys seen those brooches made from live beetles?" 
Chuck said, "You're bullshitting me!" 

Here you go, Honey! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

July Ends in Pictures

 Yeah, I know:  July ended a few days ago.  But I was on a river trip, and I just got home.  This was my view on waking up:  Snake River from the Idaho side, looking across at Oregon.  Look how smeary my lens is!  Pisses me off!  All of my photos from this trip are smudged.  What's up with that.  My camera is only 9 years old, after all..

 When you pee on river trips, etiquette demands that you pee in the river.  This was my view from my morning pee spot.  The night before, I peed in the middle of the highway before going to bed.  No one uses this road except to maintain the dam downriver, and to start river trips. It was kind of fun to piss on the center line.
 We slept in the tent, because the wind was driving me crazy - flapping the sleeping bag up and down my body.  It was like being shaken awake over and over again.  I finally surrendered and asked Chuck of we could get inside.
 Typical back seat prior to a river trip:  water bottle; whiskey; t-shirt; granola bars; glasses case; camera bag; baseball cap...

Still clean.
Looking down on the put-in from the top of Hell's Canyon dam

 For those of you who, like me, are still learning about river running, here is the boat-slide.  The boat is belayed down the metal sliders in the middle, and the stairs on the side are for people to scurry up and down. 

Supplies and gear are sealed up in these rubber dry-bags.

 Here is Chuck's boat, ready to go.  The bigger boats were rigged for oars, but this boat is only 10 feet long, so we paddled it.  It was by far the smallest boat in our group - people were afraid to ride the big rapids with us.  For two of the biggest rapids, we were able to persuade someone else who was a passenger in another boat to ride with us, lending weight and an additional paddling arm. On the last big rapid, no one would do it - Chuck and I paddled it alone.  Hey!  I'm still here to blog about it...
 Chuck and I camped with Chuck's brother, Mike and Mike's friend Larry.  We camped near the put-in and got up early to rig the boats before the day got too hot.  But then, the rest of the people in our group didn't show up at the put-in... didn't show... No cell phone reception, so we couldn't call anyone...  Here is Larry waiting.
 Larry and Mike, waiting...  They finally showed up, almost at noon.  We had imagined death!  Destruction!  Illness!  Car accident!  No... they just like to get a slow start  in the mornings.
They rigged their boats in the heat of the day.  Including a cooler with 400 pounds of ice and beer. 

Life vests on!

Waterproof camera ready!

 We got sick of waiting around.  When the others took a break after rigging their boats and broke out beers, we decided to get our show on the road. 

Lunch break.  Pat caught a nice little bass.

Scouting Sheep Creek rapid

Chuck, looking at Sheep Creek rapid.
  I wish I had a waterproof camera.  We were pretty impressive, doing Sheep Creek in our little boat.  The others said there were times when only our heads were out of the water.   

In calmer water, my day was like this.

 Here we all are, setting up camp on the first night.  To me, as a backpacker, river trips involve an obscene amount of gear.  But big rafts hold a lot of stuff.  Chuck says, "It's like car camping, but with a rubber car."
Dinner, complete with margaritas.
 After that, it got dark, so I couldn't take any more pictures of my day.  Anyway, it mostly involved drinking too much and experimenting with sleeping on the overturned raft.  Nice idea, but it was saggy enough in the middle that after a while, I started feeling like I was trying to sleep in a Chuck-taco.  The beach was rocky, but I was too lazy to hike up into the woods to look for a softer place.  As the night wore on, the rocky beach next to the raft started looking softer and more comfortable.  We tossed our bag down onto the shore and slept great.