Archives for posts with tag: blame

I read an article in Psychology Today entitled What drives emotional abuse in relationships.  I could identify with so much of it.

Firstly, the blame.  ‘I feel bad, and it’s your fault…You push my buttons’ is the accusation the article highlights.  For me, this translates into ‘You make me angry’ and what this does is shift the blame onto me.  The article suggests that angry and abusive partners fear their inability to cope and seek to control their environment and the people in it.  My sister recently mentioned how he has always been quick to anger.  She cited the example of when the girls were young and they dropped their ice cream.  He would shout at them but, as she pointed out the other day, no child deliberately drops their ice cream; it’s an accident.

‘Disengaging partners…try to deal with their sense of inadequacy about relationships by simply not trying – since no attempt means no failure’, the article goes on to explain.  So true, as every time I tried to discuss us, he got angry and blaming and gave no indication that he cared about me or the relationship.  Stonewalling and disengaging by one partner can make the other feel ‘unseen and unheard; unattrative; like you don’t count; like a single parent.’  This was exactly how I felt.  I used to describe myself as being single in a relationship.  I know I was definitely lonely, incredibly lonely when I was with him, yet fine when I was alone.

The following extract sums up my situation in a nutshell: ‘The most insidious aspect of living with an angry or abusive partner is not the obvious – nervous reactions to shouting, name-calling, criticism or other demeaning behaviour.  It’s the adaptations you make to try to prevent these episodes.  You walk on eggshells to keep the peace, or a semblance of connection.’  No relationship should be conducted in this manner.  Even now, I’m finding it very hard to stop automatically reacting to others in this way.  It’s become my way of life.  I engage in ‘constant self-editing and self-criticism to keep from pushing [people’s] buttons’.  I second-guess myself to the extent that I’m aware that I don’t know who I really am.  But I’m working on changing this.

‘Victims’ it goes on to say ‘will blame themselves…when the abuse is subtle…implying that you’re ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, not worth attention…you are more likely to think it’s your problem’.  This couldn’t be more true.  Look back through my past journals and you’ll find me analysing situations and searching for ways to get things right.  I had an ‘if only I could be a better wife, mother, housekeeper, cook blah blah blah, or sexier, thinner, better organised, more fun blah blah blah.  I didn’t feel that I was good enough in any respect.  I was working out and losing weight, to the point where I was less than 8 stone and could pull my jeans over my hips without undoing them.  His response: a look of disgust and a comment that I wasn’t back to my pre-baby weight.  I had a housework schedule to ensure that everything was done on a regular basis: he would always find something to fault.  I was cooking meals from fresh and on a budget: he didn’t want fish that day, he wanted a roast.  There was always something.  And I’d kick myself for getting it wrong.  Why?  I was never going to get it right.  For him, it would always be wrong.  I asked him what he found fun – I would do it, just to try and get some kind of connection, but ‘I don’t find anything fun’ he would say.  And I felt that was somehow my fault too.   I look back to that time and think I was pathetic, pathetic to be trying so desperately hard to please him.  Then I think, no – I should admire myself for being so determined to do my best to make it work.  At least, I can say with utmost honesty that I tried everything.  And despite his constant blaming me for ‘what you’ve done to me and our family’, I know that there was nothing more I could have done and I am not to blame.  I’m so thankful I wised up.

So now I need to watch my reactions and put a halt to the habitual responses.  We are divorcing, the relationship has been dead for a long, long time, and it’s time for me to make no apology for getting on with my life.

Thank you Psychology Today for giving me greater insight into my situation.

It’s my life!

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My youngest daughter was unhappy the other day.  I asked her why and she told me that dad had been acting aggressively and she’d been scared.  I still don’t know the exact details but he had been drinking and apparently locked her in the back garden for 45 minutes because she spilt some sugar.  When my eldest daughter got in from work, he had face cream smeared on his face like tribal paint.

We we need to be out of this situation as soon as possible. The house sale and my new purchase are moving far too slowly, in fact no progress seems to be being made.  He has made offers on five properties and withdrawn all of them.  He’s on various medication and is drinking on top of that. Yesterday his drinking started at 10 o’clock in the morning.  It is evident to me that he is depressed.

I can’t have my daughter scared when he is with her but I need to go out to work. So I had no choice but to confront him. I asked him what had happened the day before. He got angry and warned me not to start. I pointed out that I wasn’t ‘starting’ but had simply asked him a question. I was calm. He wouldn’t tell me. I said that she had been scared and that was unacceptable and that he should consider the effect of his actions on and the feelings of his children.  He told me I was ‘high and mighty’ and that I had ‘put the events in motion’, that I was ‘to blame’ by filing for divorce.  At one time, I would have been enraged by this and fought back, but I no longer care. I know the truth. I’d made my point and I hoped that a little part of it would sink in and cause him to reconsider his behaviour.

Our elder daughter says she never wants to see him again. If he’s not careful, our younger daughter will take the same line.  And I think that’s sad because I might not want him as my husband but he is still their father.

Our younger daughter has said she would like me to meet someone else. She realises that this has not been a proper relationship, she says she thinks of me as single, feels I deserve more and, as she put it, she doesn’t want me ‘to die alone’!  I’m glad she recognises that the relationship is not ‘normal’.

Yesterday my my daughters went shopping together. They bought me a dress and a card with a lovely message of encouragement and support in it because they recognise that I have been feeling down. And they’re right: the days when I’m feeling low are becoming more and more frequent. But when I stayed at a friend’s place while they were on holiday, I quickly bounced back to my normal self so I know that this is only temporary. But I’m fed up with feeling tired and stressed when I’m in my own home.  It wasn’t until I was away that I realised how my body is in a permanent state of fight or flight and this can’t be any good for me.

The situation is driving me crazy.

But hopefully it won’t be long.

And in the meantime I can continue…

Dancing with another.

Like I said in my last post, I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the last few weeks.

I’ve realised how the impact of the controlling relationship I’ve been in filters into other interactions.  I’ve been ‘trained’ not to make others angry. I don’t even spend my time trying to please people; instead I spend my time trying to take actions that will not make them angry.

For example, I’m staying with a friend at the moment and while they were at work I decided to fry myself some steak.  In the past, they’ve told me not to wash the pan, but I was frying steak and I wanted to wash the pan. And I couldn’t decide whether they would be angry if I washed the pan or angry if didn’t wash the pan and I agonised over what to do.  Eventually I decided to wash it because I’d fried meat and I didn’t want the smell to linger.  When they came in, I explained what I’d done and went into great detail to justify my actions.  They just looked at me, smiling like I was crazy, and said that it was ok that I’d washed the pan but it would have been ok if I hadn’t washed the pan and that it really wasn’t important.

And I realised that, had it been my husband, both actions wouldn’t have been right. Whatever I did would have been wrong.  But I would have thought I’d chosen the wrong action and kicked myself for my poor decision, and the ensuing bad atmosphere and spoiled day/evening would have been my fault.

But when I think about it, how could I have made the wrong decision 100% of the time. The law of probability says that I should have chosen the right action 50% of the time at least.  And however much agonising I did would never had led me to the “right” decision because in the eyes of my husband whatever I did was automatically the wrong decision.

And it really didn’t matter.

My friend has given me a key.  When I came back from work and I knew they were in, I didn’t know whether I should let myself in or not.  If I buzzed the door entry and they had to get up to let me in when I had a key, would they be angry?  But if I let myself in, would it look like I was treating it as my own home and not showing them respect, and would that make them angry?  Decisions, decisions.  So I compromised.  I let myself in through the external door; then rang the doorbell before letting myself in through the internal door.

And I realise that all this sounds crazy, and that all this IS crazy.

What kind of life have I been living when simple, unimportant decisions are fraught with anxiety, anger and blame?

But at least I’m aware of it.

Now.

It’s my birthday today. A time for celebration?  Well, yes, but…

I feel sad. I feel happy too, but I also feel like crying.

I feel like crying because I’ve been thinking about my birthdays over the past few years.  In 2011, a significant birthday, I went to a London show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, with my husband and daughters.  I got a deal for a meal and best available price tickets and, would you believe it, they gave us a box!  It was a great night, but I organised it and paid for it and had to persuade husband to come, but who cares?  It was good.

In 2012, it my birthday fell on the day of the Christmas party at the dance studio where husband and I had been having ballroom lessons.  By this time, husband had stopped attending the lessons, but I was hooked and kept going on my own.  He very, very reluctantly agreed to come to the party. He sat in the same seat all night, looking miserable, and refusing to socialise, making it quite obvious that he didn’t want to be there and had only come because it was my birthday. I enjoyed myself because I’m that kind of person but it’s not a good feeling to be out with someone who obviously isn’t enjoying themself. It darkens the evening.

Last year we were supposed to be going out, where I don’t know. But a couple of days before he started making noises about him having to finish work early and the expense.  The expense!  I don’t need money lavished on me to have a good time. Anyway, to put him out of his misery, I told him not to bother. So he didn’t.  I had lunch with a friend and went dancing with another friend in the evening.  Husband didn’t even ask me what I’d done or if I’d had a good time. When I raised that with him later, he said he hadn’t asked because he didn’t care.

And presents?  He asks my daughter to get me something from him.  My daughter and I went along with this charade of her buying me something and us both pretending it was from him.  Until last year.  Last year, she gave me ‘his’ present of lacy underwear and I knew this wasn’t from him because the last time I put on lacy underwear, he asked me what the f**k I was doing and switched on Sky Sport (that was on a weekend away!). Then later on he saw the bag from the shop where she’d bought the gift and asked me who’d been shopping there. You, I told him, for my birthday present. He later chastised my daughter for not warning him. Should we laugh or cry?  Who knows.

So these are my past few birthdays.  Yet I am responsible and completely to blame for the failure of this relationship.

Little wonder I feel like crying.

But I’m also happy.  Friends who know about my situation have sent me cards and I know the messages have been chosen especially to show me their love and support.  And people I’ve only known for a short space of time show me such kindness when they really don’t have to at all, they have no obligation to, but they do it because they care.

And who knows when my divorce will come through and what I’ll be doing this time next year.

At the moment, I’m out having breakfast on my own and thinking about the past and thinking about the future and feeling sad and feeling happy and feeling…

Alive.

 

I’ve said all I have to say. I’ve told him how I feel, I’ve explained why I feel like I do, I’ve asked him why he’s shown me no affection or companionship for years and yet doesn’t want us to part, I’ve told him I just want to be able to understand.

His response: he doesn’t know.

So if he doesn’t know, then how can I understand?  There’s no more I can do or say and so finally I feel I’m ready to let go of that need to understand. What’s the point?  It won’t change the situation and so I’m wasting no more time analysing it and seeking explanations. It is what it is.

My daughter’s been on holiday and so we decided (me, older daughter and younger daughter) to go out for a drink and a catch-up. I told a friend I was doing this. Why can’t you just sitting in the living room and open a bottle of wine, he asked. Good question. Why can’t we?  I put that to older daughter.  She looked at me like I was crazy and laughed. Sad but true.  But it was a wake-up call – it’s what ‘normal’ people do.  Yet it would be so abnormal for us that it doesn’t even enter our heads as an option. And I got to thinking how nice it would be if I could just invite my friends over for coffee, or lunch, or dinner, and if the girls could have their friends round, and I imagined a house full of friendship, and love, and laughter.  And I know that’s what the girls and I want – an open house, which although poor financially, would be rich in love.

I told the girls I couldn’t live like this anymore, that I’d been to a solicitor and was going to take action, that my priority is to care for them. ‘Don’t worry about me.  I’ll be ok,’ said older daughter. ‘I want to move out,’ said younger daughter. She hates the arguments. But I’m not wasting no more time on pointless arguments. I showed older daughter the list of unreasonable behaviours; ‘100% true’ was her verdict.  I’ve been so uncertain at times, wondering if I’m making too much of things, imagining them.  They almost seem trivial. But they’re not: their impact is immensely damaging. The one that had the biggest impact on me when I saw it in front of me in black-and-white was that he doesn’t appreciate what I do for him and the family. I didn’t say that to the solicitor; she took that from other things I said. And it brought tears to my eyes, and I hadn’t even realised I felt like that or how important it is too feel appreciated for putting everyone else first and ignoring yourself, and yet being called selfish. I’d dismissed it as being trivial.  But it isn’t. It most definitely isn’t.

Yesterday he blamed me for ‘wrecking’ the relationship. I pointed out that you can’t wreck what is already a wreck.  I also stated emphatically that I wasn’t accepting the blame because I knew what I had done to try and keep things on track. He’s going to blame me – so be it. Deep down I know how hard and for how long I’ve tried.  And if he searches deep inside himself and confronts the truth, he’ll know that too.  But if he doesn’t, so be it.

Yesterday I picked up my new glasses.

And now I can see so much more clearly.

I’m not wasting no more time.

I saw the solicitor. She’s drawn up the divorce papers. So I had to tell him but it’s so hard.

Nobody gets married to get divorced. And I’ve tried so hard, so very, very hard. And I hate giving up because I truly believe that there’s no problem that can’t be resolved if you just work hard enough on the solution.

But it takes two.

Not one.

And I need to feel that the other person wants Me, wants me emotionally, physically, socially, and not just the service I provide. And I’ve seen no sign of that, no sign at all in the past four or five years.

And when I try to explain how I’ve arrived at this decision, when I remind him of all the hurtful things he’s said to me, and the crushing blow each hurtful comment has dealt me, what is his response?

That he doesn’t remember saying it.

How can he casually dismiss something that has had such an impact on my confidence, self-worth, self-esteem?  That has resulted in my being in a position that I didn’t want to be in?

That has left me with no choice?

And now he says he wants things to work and that I don’t and that I’m am breaking up the family.  Which is true, I can’t argue with that.  But I’ve got nothing left to give him, I’m empty, void, depleted.

And I feel so awful.

And unreasonable.

And responsible.

And horrible.

And mean.

And small.

I have an appointment with a solicitor next week. I’d been stuck for ages, getting frustrated that I couldn’t take the action that I knew was necessary.  Ironically, when he told me he’d taken advice, I was spurred on to take advice of my own.  He’s done me a favour.

For  longer than I care to remember, I’ve been trying to make sense of the situation: why he wants us to stay together but doesn’t want ME.  Something he said made things clearer: ‘I don’t want to live in a flat’.  It’s not about me, it’s about his lifestyle.

So I predict he’s going to make this difficult. And this seems stupid to me. It’s over.  Lets move on with our individual lives because there’s no going back to what we once had many moons ago, in another life.  Why won’t he accept this reality and make it easier for us both?

I’m tired, worn out, exhausted from living in a constant of stress and tension.  I’m existing on less and less sleep.  I’m struggling to function a lot of the time.  I can’t continue like this.

And it can’t be doing him any good either.

So why is he digging his heels in?  Part of me thinks he’s hoping I’ll leave. Then he can stay in ‘his’ house.

Because that’s what he wants.

Not me.

This evening he told me not to bother coming home because I wasn’t welcome here. This followed on from him complaining that I wasn’t home in time to cook his dinner so he could go to the club to watch football.

I was at work!

He said it was my fault he couldn’t go out. I told him I hadn’t stopped him from going out, that he could have cooked his dinner earlier.

But it’s no use.

This morning I was brave. I told him we needed to sell the house so we could both find our own places to live and get on with our lives.  He refused point blank, said I couldn’t make him sell, that he wasn’t leaving, and that he wasn’t going to live in a flat.

He means it.

He’s  not going to be reasonable about this.  He calls me a crazy woman. And oh boy, is he right. I am crazy mad at him for not working with me to put this marriage right. When I tried to sit down to talk about it because I had tried so hard to get him to be part of our relationship without success, he just kept shouting and blaming me.  When I suggested counselling, he said I should go for counselling because I was the one with the problem with the relationship.  It was like talking to a brick wall.  Eventually, I got to the point when I realised it was futile and gave up. Still he made no effort. Then I reached the point where I told him we needed to separate because I was at the end of my tether.  I didn’t get married to be alone, to be in a loveless, sexless marriage where my husband didn’t want to socialise with me or come to our holiday home with me or…  Well you get the picture and I’m sure I’ve said all this before.

So we’re in this non-marriage that is unacceptable to me yet he doesn’t want it to end.  He now says he wants to go to counselling but I’ve gone beyond the point of no-return. During the past three, four, five, six, however many years, I’ve seen no sign that he cares about ME and now I think he only cares about HIM: who will cook his meals and clean his house and organise everything and deal with the paperwork?

And so now I’m the crazy woman.

Today I asked him if he remembered all the times I’d asked him to switch off the TV (it could be on fourteen hours a day) and he said yes.  I asked him why he thought I did that and he said because I wanted us to spend time together.  I asked him whether he turned off the TV and he said no.  What is there not to understand about why I’m completely disillusioned?

But I just don’t think he’ll ever understand.  I’m so lonely in this marriage that I’d rather be alone.  And now he’s accusing me of wanting to break up the family.

When I tried so hard to keep everything together.

And so today I took my biggest step so far.

I phoned a solicitor and said the words I never thought I’d hear myself saying: I want advice about a divorce.

I am trapped in misery.

And I have to get out.

Am I wrong?

He’s trying to exclude me, consciously or unconsciously I don’t know, from my own house.

I no longer sleep in ‘our’ bedroom – I have no bedroom. I sleep on the couch or in my daughter’s bed if she’s not here.  When I moved out of the bedroom, he got rid of the mattress even though it was almost new.  He says he didn’t push me out of the room, but he did keep pushing my pillow half off the bed, and so in the end, I left. I notice that everyone is calling ‘our’ bedroom, ‘his’ bedroom now.  It doesn’t take long. The other day my daughter asked where I wanted her to put something.  ‘On my bed’, I answered. ‘Where do you mean?,’ she asked. Oh well!

I no longer sit in the living room with him. I go out or camp in my daughter’s room. This is what he wanted: having the TV to himself. ‘It’s my TV, I paid for it, I can watch what I want,’ he said a few years back. I want to pull the plug out and say ‘my electricity’ because I pay the bills, but that would be childish and I’m not like that.  So now he’s on his own in the living room and I can tell he’s not happy that I’m not there. I suppose he’s lost some power and control, except that he hasn’t really because he’s indirectly controlling where I am in the house.  How has it come to this?

This morning I needed to go to my wardrobe which is in ‘his’ bedroom. The door was closed but I went in anyway and got my stuff.  When I left, he closed the door immediately. But I needed to go back to put some bits in the laundry basket.  When I left he closed the door immediately.  This is my house too, I feel like screaming.

If I confronted him, he would say that he hasn’t pushed me out the bedroom, or the living room, or anywhere else, but I can see his behaviour is passive aggressive.  And I know it’s very hard to challenge this kind of behaviour because he just says ‘I didn’t tell you to move out of the bedroom’, which is true of course.  But you don’t have to say something to make someone feel they’re not welcome or wanted.  Pushing someone away when they sit next to you on the sofa or when they try to hug you, or refusing to have a physical relationship – nothing was said but the message was delivered and received.  He just doesn’t get it.

And it’s ‘my’ house too.

It’s taking me a long time to get from A to B. I know where B is but I don’t know how I’m going to get there – it all seems a bit overwhelming. However, I’m not putting any pressure on myself, figuring that I need to wait until I feel the time is right to take each step; then allowing myself to get my head around it before I take the next one.

Last week I told him I wanted a divorce. It was the first time I’d said the D word. As usual, my words didn’t make any impact, other than the usual torrent of anger and blame. After two hours of verbal abuse, I walked out because I couldn’t take it any longer. I’m fed up with being forced out of my home to escape the misery. This should be a place of sanctuary. Then he went on holiday for a few days and I could relax, we could relax: my elder daughter came back home, the living room was ours again, I didn’t have to worry about doing one of the seemingly endless things that upset him, it was a different place.  And I began to like my home again.

But…

My daughters and I need to live like this all the time so while he was away I got the house valued.  I need to start working out my finances. I told my elder daughter I was getting it valued and she was all for the idea: she said we’d manage in a one bedroom flat if we had to. Except that wouldn’t be fair on any of us, and I don’t want my actions to have a negative impact on my children. The good news is that the house is worth more than I anticipated and I think I’ll be able to afford a two bedroom flat.

Her response when I told her was “you need to sell it so we can move out and live happily”.

Today I feel that I’ve taken a positive step on the path from A to B, and I know that, when the time is right, I’ll be able to take the next step.

And I don’t think it will be long.