I may be seeing progress on building emotional boundaries between myself and my husband. In spite of the fact that he’s clearly been having a rough time, he did arrange for a visit with a new therapist, and went on Saturday morning, and we have not yet fallen into another lengthy and exhausting conversation in which he wants me to assuage his feelings.
There is, of course, plenty of other awkwardness and discomfort still present in our life and interactions. The other night it was after 10 and he wanted to continue watching TV with the boys in our bedroom, and I had to ask them to watch TV in the living room so I could begin winding down for sleep. It was clear he felt piqued about that. I’m weary with having to constantly reinforce a needs-based boundary. Just that brief interaction made winding down nearly impossible for me. To add salt to my wound, after he sent the boys to bed, he went to bed himself and fell asleep before I did.
It’s somehow ironic and infuriating that the man that robbed me of my sleep for years, claiming that nothing could be done about his insomnia, and that he couldn’t fall asleep without lulling his brain into torpor through watching television until the small hours of the morning, decided he’d start going to bed when I did after the move, and now falls asleep much faster and more easily than I do. He’s no longer napping on a daily basis, either.
On the other hand, the fact that I share a room with him – even though we’re in separate beds now – is preventing me from falling asleep quickly, or easily, and prevents me from staying asleep. His presence is a constant source of tension and stress – and even low levels of tension and stress can still prevent me from resting.
I think my body knows very well what the main existential threat to me has been. That my husband has been the direct cause of major stress and the inability to get basic needs met, and I think it is trying to communicate with me that I need to get out and get away. I think this is why I get one REM cycle and then wake up in the early hours of the morning, because my body is grudgingly giving me enough sleep to go on for the moment, but wants me to now get up and get away.
My rational mind can’t erase the impact of years of traumatizing stress and my needs being blocked. It doesn’t matter that it was never his intention to cause trauma, the reality is that he caused me quite a lot of trauma. Even if everything shifted so that he was no longer actively causing me stress, it would take me years to unlearn the programmed stress response his presence sets off.