As the holidays approach, I have been thinking about my past holidays and how our dynamic really suffered last Christmas. There has been much reflection as of late on our marriage and what lead us to here. Many great conversations with others, which brought up insecurities and confidence in both Barney and myself. This past week Barney and I have been having numerous mini conversations as that is all my horror moans would allow me to have. The subject has been difficult to discuss, and extremely difficult to hear.
I am no longer a person who builds new walls. Oh to be certain I have many walls still constructed within me, but I have laid down my mortar. Ever the one to adapt however, I have picked up a new 'habit', 'coping skill'- that isn't! I have realized in situations (that I may construct in my OWN mind) I am the wearer of many masks. Some Mammoth Hand Man may suggest this is a method of control. After I kick him, I may admit he is right ( oh and by the way I did...well more like a foot shove on the couch....but c'mon the guy is a wall in his own right! I'm not stupid).
The Martha Stewart/Keep Busy Mask. Now this is a very complicated mask. You see being the 'host' of a get together, I actually have to BE this person, which by the way I not only thrive in I love....LOVE. However, when I 'do' this , whether it is with friends or family get together, or a holiday like Christmas, I isolate myself. Inevitably people come to help and force themselves on me, but I unwittingly start to withdraw. Making excuses even to myself why I need to be there. Most likely because I can't relax if there are 'things undone'. The problem with sporting this mask is, you are 'going it alone'. Everyone else, even if they are in the same room with you, are making connections with each other. Maybe they know they are, maybe they don't. Maybe you are? Maybe you aren't. Usually when you are wearing the Keep Busy Mask, you don't have time to think about much else. But that is the point now isn't it?
As time goes on. You find yourself reaching for this mask more and more. I mean really no one needs to rearrange things THAT often. Why do you do this? Because you have isolated yourself. Emotionally . I am not saying for my most recent vacation specifically, just realizing what I have done in the past.
The Curt/Sarcastic B*tch. The person now has managed to feel hurt, all on her own. No one created the situation, but herself. Now there is hurt inside- which if you have been following along in this most excellent 'adventure' turns to anger. Why? Because that doesn't hurt as much. So now one individual is a target. Usually someone who is 'irking' the mask wearer for whatever reason, valid or not. Bits of ire come out. Maybe those around don't notice, but in truth it doesn't matter because the shrew you feel inside is there and you feel horrid later. Perhaps it is the husband, or the guy who just showed up to the party wearing offensive cologne. There is no real rhyme or reason to it.
There are many more masks that I have, but I want to stop here for now. The problem with these two masks are at night, there is no one to b*tch at. There is no more cooking, or planning to be done. What there IS - reflections of the day. How you weren't true to yourself. How the people around you only caught glimpses of the real you. Or worse, saw part of you that basically doesn't truly exist.
This lends itself to other issues. The basic mental mutilation of your own character. How could you let yourself distance so much within? You want so desperately to be 'you' and yet you found a way to get away from your core. There have been many a night in the past where I have sobbed myself to sleep because of these detrimental thoughts. Or ran a bath during the day in order to steal some time away to sob. I mean literally sob not cry. These are 'new' coping skills as there is no wall to truly hide behind anymore.
The problem with wearing masks is the desire to connect is still there. Suppose you have a family member who has a similar 'need' that you do. Perhaps they 'require' physical reassurance from other family members. You put your
I Don't Like People Invading My Personal Space Mask on. As the evening progresses, they are hugged, and have had their shoulders rubbed. Maybe someone is holding their hand. All the while you are wearing your mask. The mask is for those who can see your outside, but the inside is still hurting. So out comes Martha Steward/Keep Busy Mask or The Curt/Sarcastic B*tch Mask. Further perpetuating the 'myth' you have already created with the 'don't touch me vibe'. Everyone is just giving you exactly what you have told them.
NOW here is the catch to THAT one. Since starting ttwd, when your husband falls for these masks because you are now outside of the 4 cosy walls of home or because company in yours, the loneliness builds. This time however it is a feeling of aloneness that is crippling. You have removed your walls and there is no where to hide except behind these masks. While masks are great at concealing your face, they offer no protection for your core.
Barney and I have experienced this in our recent past. He has admitted that when we are on vacation, like last spring, or in the summer, or if we have company, or the kids are distracting, he 'forgets' , in his words, "How fragile you really are". Is this new? No, but him seeing it is. Or rather me allowing him to see it is.
He forgets that he has to seek me out, because I will go into a mode. ( Or for the purpose of this post, put on a mask). The 'mode' usually involves a vibe that is independent and not needy or soft. We know, collectively that the more independent I am, the more I really do need him. Although to be fair that certainly isn't a vibe you would feel. It is one that needs to be remembered by both of us. You see, because in the moment neither one of us remember.
Right, so why bring this up now? Well like I said we recently had many wonderful and in-depth conversations with others about ttwd. Barney was able to see through them where we came from and where he would like to be headed. What he wants for me. What he wants for us. He has literally grown as an HOH,( gah I hate that term) in the past few months. I think he understood it before our conversations this past week, but the dots weren't always connected. Or the pattern within the dots didn't make a complete picture for him. Now I believe it does.
The other day we were about to have a reconnection spanking. This had been put off a day because my husband had declared that I was far too fragile at the time to be put in a state of physical vulnerability as well. I have to say, I have said, "I want to be cherished but not considered to be made of glass". This fragility was entirely different. In the past he would have been like this:
Present day" Are you alright? Do you think you are ready for this? "
"I don't know"
" Okay I understand that. I think we need to do this. It seems to do something to you. To calm you when you are hurting like this"
He then proceeded to let me veto implements. While I was OTK, he didn't really let up. In the past if he thought we were in a good place, or if he thought I was hurting he wouldn't have much conviction behind his actions. I have to say this was one of the most caring spankings I have ever had. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like he doesn't love me any other time, just a genuine sense of love this time. He stopped for quite a while after about 25 minutes. He asked me a few more questions about the changes in our relationship. Judging by my answers, he decided to continue. So yeah, the next portion was 15 minutes of FULL attention! LOL. Before he ended he said something to me that makes cry still today,