Tips that have helped-talking to myself

Our couple’s counselor has taught me to talk to myself. When I identify something in me raising concern or fear, I talk to that part of me.

“Hey buddy, what do you need from me now?

Or, “Hey big guy, what are you scared of right now?”

And more than the response I get, I think the action of paying it attention diminishes the volume of the fuss it throws.

The counselor usually asks, how old is that voice? And the most recent time I said he seems about 11 years old. About the time I really started trying to make the girls I liked, like me. Oh, the desire and hope I held.

And B falls short of the ideal I once hoped in. She is amazing but there is this one thing that I focus on, that seems vastly disappointing of the ideal. And it causes me much consternation.

But speaking to the dissenting voice in me seems to help.

R 3-1-21

Tips that seem to help- remembering good memories

I realized I should write here what has helped me the most.

Number one tool: forcing myself to remember the good things.

This usually snaps me out of my feelings of dread. I started sending B 5 things I like about her every night. And the simple act of reminding myself of those things makes me happy and grateful, until a negative memory replaces them.

And it’s like the default is negative memories. So it is an uphill battle.

R, 2-25-21

Fun then tons disappointment

Yesterday was fun, and we worked together well to get a sweet dinner, do some shoppoing for a friend’s anniversary surprise for his wife, and making out a lot in her bed.

But this morning I got up at like 7am and did exercises and my prayers. And even when I went back after that she was too tired to even want to make out much. She suggested we go get biscuits and then spent so much time putting makeup on and stuff we didn’t get to go do that. And on top of that I really have to be careful not to obsess over what she says.

It’s strange how when you’re disappointed, you just find more things to be disappointed about. So I’m a little venting today. I don’t want to really look at her. I told her she looks nice, but now she’s in the other room doing I don’t know what.

We’re supposed to watch a virtual sermon in a few minutes but I’m not excited about being with her.

Is this just what it’s like trying to do relationships?

R, 2-21-21

Is it supposed to feel this wrong sometimes?

I just got done with small group with B. And since the moment I got there everything she said seem to shut me down or I feared was going to be something that would shut me down. She got her cute little goddaughter a balloon and an invitation that she couldn’t even open and couldn’t even read by herself to be our flower girl. I had already told her she’s wasting her time and she doesn’t have any time to waste with everything on her plate. So when she did it and even the others said the god daughter had no idea what was going on it just really made me feel disappointed in B. As I was alone, going to the bathroom I reflected on it and felt a little bit passive even though I was disappointed. I wasn’t going to let myself tank just because of that. But over dinner with our small group it just seemed the tone of everything she said made me think she just sounded totally dumb even if the content was OK the way she said it made me not trust her opinion at all.

Her friend asked if we could talk about engagement party and stuff and I was just so shut down that talking about that didn’t sound good to me at all. I already was disenchanted by the amount of parties they said we need to throw for this. An engagement party, a bridal shower, a bachelor party, a bachelorette party, and then of course the reception. I counted 6, I think. Some of them are just so that you can get gifts. And other ones, like two of them or just for the people who are going to the wedding anyway.

I also had to drive almost 2 hours in traffic to get to Small Group and then her friends which we drove all the way up there for disappeared to put the kids to sleep for like 30 or 40 minutes. We had only a little bit of discussion before it was time for us to go home so I was super frustrated. I had a headache from the car ride.

As we walked out the door B held my hand and held me close and tenderly said you were triggered in so many ways tonight weren’t you. I nodded and said a humble “yes, it was really hard.” She has so much compassion on me but the rest of the car ride home was a hard conversation.

I could barely look at her and I didn’t want to touch her. But I had her on my lap the whole time at the small group. And I reached for her hand for much of the time in the car and held it. she was quiet and wrote down some thoughts on her phone, maybe to bring up later. She said let’s table to conversation about wedding plans but if there’s anything you want to process we can. We talked about what happen tonight.

She said she’s not telling me about all the plans for the wedding we have to decide because she’s afraid I don’t have the capacity for it.

I told her I’m so sorry I get like this. I told her I’m scared it won’t get any easier and I will always be like this. I told her I feel like she’s adding too many things to her plate. She responded by saying you aren’t supporting my ministry. I said some days I just don’t feel very in this, only some moments I corrected. How she heard it was you don’t want to be in this. So when I realized she was only hearing the negatives I reminded her of the positives I had said too. I told her I wanted to be in this but sometimes I felt trapped. Like anxious attachment style people feel maybe. We said goodnight and I told her so love her and we’re in this. She cried but we kissed.

I called a friend and couldn’t get a hold of him on my way home. Then I called my brother who had to pay attention to his kids and call me back but when he did he was patient and helpful. He said these are triggers, not necessarily things that are wrong with her so there’s hope that you can change them. He said it may take time to get used to not thinking of breaking up as an option, now so give some grace to yourself. (I don’t think of breaking up as an option now but that’s partly why I feel trapped I suppose.) He said now you just choose to love and that sometimes helps things get better as well as just been what you should do.

Then my other friend tried to call me back but I couldn’t answer but it was nice that both of these people were there for me.

I called B again a few minutes later just to say I love you and I just wanted a reset tonight and wanted to see her. I wish her luck on her event she was throwing the next dayand talked about when we could hang out again together next. She wiped her eyes and we said goodbye.

R, 2-19-21

IKEA dates always win

I was feeling heavy from this all day. After getting up at B’s house and having her say like 4 things that I disliked, I got into a really dark mood. I was not feeling love. It was a feeling more like frustration or maybe even almost disgust. I watched a TV show about the landing on the moon and a character said to her daughter, “You should watch this because you will remember it the rest of your life.” I thought, B wouldn’t be astute enough to recognize that those moments are the ones you remember, unless she heard the idea from someone else. What a weird thing to obsess over, right?

I Marco Polo’d her (a video messaging app) and forced my self to say some things I liked about her. I told her about how when I proposed this weekend I liked how she socialized with all my family and all the people. And I sent another that said I really liked how she gets along with my step mom. This sometimes has the power to replace heavy thoughts with good ones, but today it was like I still had a bad though hangover.

I wanted to talk to someone but almost anyone I could think of would get tired of me having these feelings after just proposing. They’d say get out or you can’t complain. You’re making this decision. I finally talked to my friend W. He is grace filled and has plenty of days he wants to talk about the difficulties in his marriage. He is a great support.

But in my last Marco Polo I said I’d love to see you tonight.

It was so sweet. We went to IKEA which seems like my only fairly safe place. I’ve shut down, or had negative feelings, at just about every location we’ve gone to around our city. And those shut down memories seem resonate as the strongest and longest lasting in my mind. It’s sad that they contaminate all the good memories.

Our IKEA time was sweet. I recognized a few things right away that bothered me. The types of things I’ve shut down about before about sounding naive or uninformed. Some days they take me down and other days I can still have a wonderful time despite them.

Today was a wonderful day.

I was teetering right on the edge until the video guy sent us the video from our proposal day. It was beautiful. The song “Let’s burn the bridges down” was the theme song and it reminded us that we are moving forward and burning the bridges behind us because we’re deciding we will never turn back.

Then B told me about something she realized during a worship service she was at this morning (they have corporate worship one day a week at her ministry). And as they sang this song that said, You are good in the morning, you are good in the evening, she remembered all of the people over the years that told her they were praying for her future husband. From pastors in Haiti to dozens of widows from one of the ministries she taught at.

I got this idea that it is not me alone on this battlefield of my confused emotions. there is a whole cloud of witnesses offering up prayers for many years for me. For me. For me to love B well. I plan to write a story and make an art piece about that tonight.

I also read her some of the notes from my counseling session. She might not have gathered a new insight or anything from me reading them, but she mentioned, do you want to pick one of those things to focus on right now?

I said, that’s a really, really great idea. I thought. “Yes, I want to practice loving unconditionally. And if I ever question that tell myself, no, this is what I believe will bring us the most success.”

Then we went and ate Chipotle. And we talked about wedding plans. We agreed that we both want it to be a wedding that is a worship service and is vulnerable about our struggles so that it can convince people of the beauty that God can bring in difficulty. We want to the first priority to be exchanging vows, but second we want people to be drawn closer to God through our wedding.

She showed me a venue her roommate sent to her. Its capacity is 64 people. Guess how many people were on our guest list?

64.

It was a really good evening with her after a very hard day. I choose to believe there is purpose in the struggle. I choose to live like there is purpose. And by living this way I GIVE it purpose.

R 2-15-21

Rotten day after proposal

This is really hard. I proposed to B on Saturday. Sunday was disappointing. And today I’m just really unhappy.

Is this because the relationship is not right or something? Or is this just living with rOCD? She has been sweet the whole time but she just says stuff that drives me crazy.

I prayed that the proposal day would be a good day. And it was great. I guess I did wake up that day with a sinking feeling. What she said sounded dumb, naive and slightly annoying the night before when we were watching a movie. But I was resolved to keep going forward. I went on a run the morning of the proposal and prayed. God reminded me this journey is not as much about the relationship of b and I, but instead God and me. That took off some of the pressure.

We got up and she was beautiful and I liked listening to her talk to my parents. And I got back on track. On the way to the coffee shop where I was planning to propose we played a few of our songs. One of our newer ones is “Burn the Bridges down” by Johnny Swim. It’s about burning the bridges so in this relationship there is no turning back. There is no leaving. It was beautiful. What a crazy, scary adventure we were about to embark on. She just didn’t know it was about to happen in a few minutes.

We had my parents in town for the proposal. And it all went off without a hitch. She thought it was perfect. I designed a drink inspired by her and her ministry, and said it was for valentines day. Each component represented a part of her ministry and at the end she blew away some ashes (that were used to smoke the glass) and the ring was there.

That was Saturday. This morning, Monday, I just feel angry. Hugely disappointed. I use these strong words because it feels like venting a little bit. But overall I’m not hugely disappointed. Just at moments like right now. (I think I’m disappointed a lot at myself). But here’s what got under my skin yesterday and this morning.

This morning she got two things completely wrong in two consecutive sentences. I had tried to please her sexually with my hand that morning and she said, “I’ve noticed that it gets itchy the day after you touch me if it’s too wet.”

“Do you mean too dry?”

“Yeah, too dry,” she said as if she didn’t realize she had ever said the wrong thing.

And then she said, “I’m like a microwave.”

I said impatiently now, “Like an oven you mean?” She was referring to the adage men heat up fast like a microwave, women slow like an oven.

She thought for a second and said, “Oh yeah, an oven.”

She was putting on her face serum routine, which I think is kind of ridiculous to spend that long and that much money on stuff that probably doesn’t help much.

I was making a smoothy and from her room she said her friend had her baby. And she added that her friend got a pedicure last night. She was referring to this old wives tale that women give birth sometimes after they’ve had a pedicure. I looked it up this morning and sure enough, no scientific evidence, though it is something some people claim worked for them.

I just felt angry and disappointed. Why does she have to be thinking about these things? Why is she this way? Why is she so dumb.

Yesterday it was a couple things that I responded poorly to. She said, something that wasn’t necessarily stupid, I can’t remember what now, and I just raised a mean, skeptical eyebrow. And then she read something to me on the back of the ice cream container which said, “Grass fed milk.” I responded impatiently, “Yeah?”

I don’t know why it bugged me so much. It was a valid thing to point out. What other way is there to feed cows? It is kind of interesting.

And yesterday we were showing my parents around my apartment and my dad told a story about skinning a catfish, and how catfish don’t have scales. I had my arms wrapped around B and whispered in her ear, “Woah I didn’t know that!”

She said, “Yeah they have skin!”

She followed that up a moment later with, “I’m impressed with myself that I something that you didn’t!” That was hard for me because my trigger is that I’m afraid she’s not smart enough. That comment just felt like it verified that.

A moment later we were looking at Stereo view glasses that my roommate has and I asked her if she knows what those are for. She said, well it’s obvious you put them up to your face and look through them. I was asking if she knew they were for seeing a picture in 3D. I’m still not sure she picked up on that.

Later that night we were sitting in her car and she was crying. She said, can I tell you something that was difficult for me? You seemed like you were testing me when you asked be about the stereo glasses.

I said, “Yes I was because I want to gain a trust in what you know and what you say. And when you said you were proud you knew something I didn’t it made me really question that.”

She put her head in her hands and cried. She said, “I’m emotionally tired. Can we table this for later? I have so much to do before we can go to bed.”

“Yes, hunny of course.” And I washed a bunch of dishes she needed help with. I prayed and we met in bed. We prayed for help. It was a sweet presence of not needing to say anything. She asked, “Can you just hold me.” I said yes, of course.

I said, “We’re in this. I’m not leaving. We’re burning our bridges down. We’ll figure this out.”

I reached to touch her breasts and said, “These are mine.”

She reached and touched my groin and said, “And this is mine.” We smiled and nodded. We had offered our bodies to each other as being the possession of the other a while ago.

I just had counseling. (I’ve upped the power of my counselor to a new psychologist). He basically said you have to convince yourself that loving someone unconditionally will lead to better outcomes.

We’ll see. I really need help.

R, 1-14-21

Choosing Good thoughts

Tomorrow I propose to B.

But every morning this week I wake up with negative thoughts of her. Things she said or the way she said it that bothers me.

I have to choose joy. I focus on things I like and it usually helps. I focus on enjoying my breath and it feels better.

When I have a negative attitude it seems to gather all other negative thoughts to it.

When I have a positive attitude, it’s not quite as contagious but it seems to not think of the negative thoughts, or not be affected by them.

Each morning I have to choose Joy. Otherwise I’ll obsess about the negative.

R, 2-12-21

Triggered by Rock Climbing

Well, later that night we were having a wonderful time driving together and shopping. Then we went to a nice Tapas restaurant and were kind and fun and working as a team the whole time. But her tone was a little bit ditzy and it just gave me this ever present unsettled feeling. I tried to just carry it without obsessing over it.

But here is one thing that really triggered me. And things like this seem to outweigh all else when I remember back to the date.

She mentioned how she wants to get into a sport activity with me and said she was thinking about rock climbing. She said, as if it were a very important difference, “The low rock climbing, not the one where you need a rope.”

I think I was already feeling that unease, and wasn’t sure if spending more time with her would make me feel more triggered. Plus in the past when I had heard about women who rock climbed it made me feel like those aren’t my type of women.

But I humbly asked her if I could talk about something that triggered me.

I said, why was it so important to distinguish that it was the type of rock climbing without a rope.

I gave an example of what that felt like to me. “It’s like, hunny, if I was telling you about two pizzas (she’s allergic to gluten) and I told you emphatically I’m talking about broccoli pizza, not pineapple, when it just shows I’m unaware of the real issue, that they both have gluten. Whether it’s with a rope or not seems irrelevant but you made it sound like a big deal. It makes me think you don’t understand what we’re talking about here. ”

She said she felt like she got more of a workout with that type.

I was like, “That doesn’t make very much sense to me. Why would it do that?”

She said, “In my experience when I’ve tried it before I’ve been more sore when I’ve done it without a rope. Maybe it’s because I have to flex my core more.”

And I tried to ask her if she understands why that might be. She said maybe because she doesn’t feel like there’s that extra protection so for some reason that made her flex her core more. I was thinking the rope helps pull you up a little bit and and you rest some of your weight on it. But she didn’t really conclude that.

I said, “Okay do you want to ask me again in a way that takes into account this new understanding?” I wanted to see if understanding the difference would help her understand how to change her tone so it didn’t sound like the rope or not rope was such a big deal. I mean it’s still just going to the rock climbing gym that mattered.

She tried to repeat, but felt tested. And when I was disappointed she replied oh, you wanted me to repeat what I had just told you?

“yeah, I wanted to see if you understood how to say it so the important parts were clear now.”

She said, I’m sorry, I thought you couldn’t be asking me to explain what I had just explained to you.

I said I was sorry. And I know I’m being a bit ridiculous. We hugged and kissed and I said, I’m getting better at just being okay with the tension. “We’ll figure out how to do this better.”

This is the nature of rOCD. I’m glad I have a woman who will put up with my ridiculousness.

As I write this, I propose tomorrow.

R, 2-12-21

Triggered by a Kids Book

It’s two days from when I’m going to propose and I’ve woken up every day this week with this heaviness. This unease. Am I supposed to feel so unsettled? The first things that rush into my head are things she said that I don’t like. That’s not even natural; why would I think about that stuff first thing every day? It feels like my body is trying to protect me from some deep fears. But I don’t know if it’s helpful.

But it’s hard because several times while we’re hanging out she says things that make me think, how do you not understand that? I don’t know if my feelings are reasonable. But I think of other women that would have known what she didn’t and would have spoken with intelligence and nuance. I shouldn’t compare. B is who she is and I’m marrying her for the things that set her apart from other women in other categories. She really is the best, so why do I feel so heavy.

We had couples counseling and during the session she joked about how she became a crazy person when I brought her ice cream, because she was so annoyed I had put sprinkles on this premium ice cream. She compared it to this kids book called “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.” She said just like that book the issue snowballed in her head. And she thought, if he doesn’t know I don’t want sprinkles, he’s not going to ask for my parents’ blessing to marry me before they die of COVID! (her dad had been in the hospital for COVID that weekend).

She was teasing herself because she knew her conclusion was ridiculous which is awesome she’s so self-aware. But what I latched onto (started obsessing over) was that the main point of the kids book she mentioned was not what she used it for. I assumed she didn’t understand the most basic message of the book. She said it’s about a mouse that asks for a cookie, and when the person gives him a cookie he asks for a glass of milk, and by the end of the book I assume the mouse is asking for the whole house or something. (to see how ridiculous I am, I haven’t even read the book). But when she gave us the summary of the book, and then she said how that snowballing effect is what happened in her brain when it went to the worst case scenario of her dad dying, I felt like she didn’t understand the main point of the book at all. I brought it up in the session, and we spent time talking it out.

She said she’s learning to see these things as my OCD moments and is learning not to carry them herself. And that might be the right thing to do. But that’s not what I want her to do at all.

With the counselor we came up with three things I wish she would say to help me in those moments. They involved her showing me that she realizes her mistake, and what she didn’t understand before, now she realizes makes the most sense. I want to help her learn to think more critically and I want to see ability and improvement in that category. She tried to repeat back to me what I had requested, “So you want me to apologize and help you feel validated in your concerns?”

I said, “Not really. It’s not about me feeling more validated. I just want to have confidence my girlfriend can understand some really basic seeming things. I hope we can start with the same basic assumptions and conclusions about things in the world. Otherwise I feel extremely disconnected from you.”

I don’t know, is this stupid of me to request? I felt some resolution and we were kind the whole time, but we didn’t fully resolve it before I had to leave and I’m learning to just be okay to carry the unsettledness.

This is the stuff rOCD messes with, I think.

R, 2-12-21