Archives for posts with tag: communication

Well, it’s been an interesting start to 2016.

Firstly, it all kicked off with yet another argument where I am blamed, the latest being I am trying to take the children away from him.  He seems to overlook the fact that we are talking about ‘children’ aged 19 and 22, who are more than able to make their own decisions.  He kept shouting that I should leave because everything is OK when I’m not there.  And I thought ‘you know, you’re right, I should leave – for my own peace of mind and well-being’ so I did.  I went to stay at my stepmother’s as she was away.

Then, I lost the house I was buying as the vendor decided he wasn’t going to sell.

Then, I got an email from my solicitor saying the Consent Order for the financial arrangement had been approved by the judge and she could now apply for my decree absolute.

Whilst at my stepmother’s, it gave me the time and space to think.  It was lovely returning there after work and being able to relax.  For the first time in ages, I looked forward to going home.  Annd I realised I couldn’t return to the marital home.

My sister works for the estate agents who are selling our house and so I asked them if they could find me a property to rent.  I have a problem going through the normal channels as I’m self employed and can’t provide the required work references.  Her boss has very, very kindly offered me a property he is refurbishing for rental, and at well below the market rental value.  He says he knows I will leave it looking as pristine as it is when I move in because my house is the most immaculate property he has ever taken on.  I move in next week and I am so excited.  It’s is Wimbledon, a very expensive and desirable area that I wouldn’t otherwise even have the slightest chance of living in so it’s going to be an interesting and enjoyable experience.

And because I feel so excited and positive, I know one hundred percent that it is the right thing to do.  I know the girls will visit me;  I am sure they will stay from time to time.  I’ll be able to forget the nonsense and focus on finding somewhere to buy and on becoming myself again.

In the meantime, I am staying with another.

And learning to be me.

 

 

I find it hard to believe that a whole year has passed and I am still in the same situation, perhaps a bit further down the road but nowhere near as far as I thought I’d be.

I met a friend this week.  In 2015, she managed to get divorced, sell her house, get remarried and buy a house.  And me?  I’m still trying to get divorced, still trying to sell my house, still trying to buy a house.  This time last year, when I looked forward to this time this year, I thought I would be in a different place.  I never dreamt I would be in the same position.

Some things have changed, however.  This time last year, I felt fearful of what the future would hold, how I would feel when my house finally went on the market, whether I would have regrets.  Everything was scary and uncertain.

Everything is still uncertain, but I’m no longer fearful.  I feel positive that I will be able to deal with whatever course the next few months take.  I’m trying not to let my anxieties dominate; I’m not dwelling on the what ifs.  I’m trusting that somehow I will be able to deal with situations as they arise.

My STBX and I are still living under the same roof.  He’s still trying to control me – this week alone, he has complained about me putting things in the bin, saying I’m not adhering to his rules; he’s perpetuating  some kind of ongoing battle about who cooks for our younger daughter (I can’t even be bothered to explain this one); he’s got angry that some of my friends have not included his name on their Christmas cards; he’s accused me of monopolising the children (aged 19 and 22, and adults who can make up their own minds) over Christmas and the New Year.  Whereas in the past I would have got worked up over this, I’m now just tired of dealing with it and let it wash over me.  I see it for what it is: his attempts to get me back under his control.  That’s not going to happen though: I’m done with that.  We should be living separately, then it would be easier, but living together still, I think, leads him to see us as still being together, to see me as his wife (which technically I am, although not for much longer).

The house sale is proceeding so I think it is only a matter of weeks before we go out separate ways.  My purchase is not proceeding so I don’t know where I will go, but I’ll go somewhere.  It will all work out one way or another.

Mentally, I’ve made the break and I’m moving on.  I don’t think he is as far down that road as me.  But that’s a journey he has to make for himself – I’ve spent years feeling responsibile for his happiness and well-being, but it really was never my responsibility.

So I’m sitting here thinking that I should be scared, fearful, anxious, and a whole host of other negative emotions.

Yet I feel calmly confident.

And that’s good.

After an aborted attempt at a house move in August (lost our buyer so I lost the house I was buying), I felt very low.  I was hanging on, believing that I only had a few more weeks to get through so when it all fell through, it hit me really hard and I felt both physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had trouble concentrating on anything, work was a struggle, and day-to-day living under the same roof with my STBEx became an even more stressful experience.

Now we have another buyer and I have made an offer on another house, which has been accepted.  Our buyers want to move quickly so I’ve said we’ll vacate even if my purchase hasn’t gone through but I’m just hoping that somehow it all comes together at the same time.  The whole situation is giving me sleepless nights – made worse by the fact that it’s been two years since I’ve had a bed to sleep in and I’m on the sofa or in my daughter’s bed.  In the middle of the night, my thoughts run wild with all sorts of problems and scenarios racing through my mind.  Then the next day, I’m exhausted and feel down, negative, anxious, all of which is made worse by extreme tiredness.  Then because I’m a fighter, and an optimist, my mood lifts and I feel positive and happy – it’s a rollercoaster.

Living in the same house as the person you’re divorcing is a surreal experience, made difficult by the fact that he blames me for everything. Sometimes he speaks to me as if everything is normal, then there’s a hugh blow up, then there’s the silent treatment, and so the cycle continues.  Somehow I manage to detach from this – most of the time anyway.  I much stronger than I used to be.  But I don’t have a home I can relax in.  I spend my days outside the house, but then I can’t get on with my life properly.  It’s not easy to say the least.  I feel as if I’m a ghost in my own life.

But despite this I’m relatively happy.  There are lots of positives in my life.  Although I have my dark days, and although they are becoming more frequent, I hold on to the hope that sometime next year, and sooner rather than later, I will be in my own place and my daughters and I (and our new addition, my daughter’s dog) will be living the life that we want: a life that is not controlled by someone else’s anger and abuse, in a happy home where there is fun and laughter, and family and friends are welcome.

In the meantime, to keep myself sane, I enjoy socialising, reading, writing, walking in the park, yoga and pilates, holidays and…

Dancing with another.

 

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!

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.

When I was a child, I used to feel sad when Christmas and the New Year were over. For some strange reason, I also used to feel afraid. Although I can understand why a child would feel sad that the fun and festivities had come to an end, the feeling of fear doesn’t quite make sense. It was a fear of a whole blank year stretching out ahead; it was a fear of the unknown; it was a fear that the happiness wouldn’t return; it was mourning the loss of an oasis, when the ordinary, everyday could be forgotten.  But wasn’t it strange for a child to experience that fear?

Then I grew up, got married, became a mother, took on more and more responsibility, especially that of making Christmas special for everybody (alone, as husband just sat back), and it became stressful. There was a pressure to get it perfect, that I was responsible for everyone else’s enjoyment; irrational, but there all the same.  And that took away the pleasure for me and I always breathed a sigh of relief when I took down the Christmas cards and put away the tree. Now I only had the normal, everyday pressures to deal with – alone.

Today I’ve started thinking about that childhood mourning. Why? Why for the first time since my early teens has it come into my head?

Because I’ve just removed all signs of Christmas and instead of feeling the normal relief, I feel sad and afraid and I’m mourning the loss of the oasis that has been the past two weeks. Why? Why this return of those childhood feelings?

To begin with, although Christmas was sad, because we weren’t together as the proper family we should be, which is my fault because I’m ‘the one who is splitting up the family’, it was also happy. Happy because I spent time with my children, and my sister, and my friends, and a special friend. And I didn’t even attempt to make anything perfect because there was no way it could be made perfect so why bother trying?  And in a funny kind of way, that made it better. I didn’t have to do everything alone, I didn’t have to slave away feeling resentful while husband sat there with his feet up, I didn’t have to persuade him to come out with us or join in, I didn’t have to put up with his drinking or sitting miserably with my family and wanting to go home. I forgot all about him and got on with my life.

I spent time with people who want to be with me. I went walking with my sister and her dog and a friend on more than one occasion, ending up in cosy pubs, drinking mulled wine.  I went to London with my daughter, visited Covent Garden, saw the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and had lunch.  I went to the theatre with a friend, heading to the West End on the off chance we’d get tickets for something, and we did and I had a great spontaneous evening. I went out for breakfast and lunch with my daughters and we talked about our lives and our hopes.

And it was an oasis in a difficult time and I could forget about my problems for a couple of weeks. But now it’s back to reality and the year ahead contains so much uncertainty and husband doesn’t want to discuss things so communication is impossible and it’s always down to me to instigate difficult conversations and I’m mourning the limbo land of the holiday season.

But when I took down the tree, I thought: hopefully, next year, this tree will be going up in my new place: a place where family and friends will be welcome, and laughter and fun will be allowed.

So, despite my circumstances being difficult, I had a much happier, better Christmas and New Year than I’ve had for a long time.  I spent time with people who mean a lot to me and I went…

dancing with another.

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.

 

It’s 10 days since I instructed my solicitor to proceed with my divorce.  It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my life: it’s final, there’s no going back once the wheels are set in motion.

I was afraid: afraid of what I might unleash, afraid of the impact on my children, afraid that I was being selfish and thinking only of myself, afraid that I would regret it. So I kept postponing the inevitable. Even though I knew it was inevitable.

And then the moment came when it couldn’t be postponed anymore. I’d kept waiting for me ‘to come to my senses’ as I referred to it; to take up the fight for my relationship once again, to try harder, better, stronger to make it work. But it takes TWO, and there was only one, me.

I felt sick at what I was doing but there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.

And so I did.

I felt lousy and I expected this feeling to continue and get worse.

But so far it hasn’t.

How do I feel?  Relief, strength, excitement for the future.  I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, a shackle has been removed from my leg, chains that were holding me back have been cut. And now I keep waiting for these feelings to pass and for fear and dread and despair to replace them.  But they haven’t so far and perhaps they never will.  And if they do, then I will remember what led me to my decision, and how I did not make it lightly, and I will take responsibility for my life and my happiness.  And I know I have the resources and the resilience to do this. So I needn’t worry.

And now I’m wondering why I was so scared and why I waited so long.

When I knew it was inevitable.

The letter arrived yesterday. I went out for the day: gym, coffee shop, park. If I’d had my passport on me, I would have booked a flight to my holiday home because I was scared to go home.

But in the end I did. And he didn’t say anything, which I’m realising is typical of the way he deals with things.  He ignores them and hopes they’ll go away.

He went out for the evening, I went out for the evening.

I didn’t sleep well last night but finally I dropped off for a few hours.

And when I woke up, it was just like any other day: the sun rose, my daughter got ready for work, I prepared breakfast for her and saw her off, my other daughter texted me, my sister texted me, I had breakfast, I got ready for the day.  Everything was normal, the same as it always is.

And I realise…

Life goes on.

And life will continue to go on.

I tried to have (yet another) discussion about how we move forward.  But he doesn’t want to talk. And I’m starting to realise that all my attempts to repair our relationship were doomed because he can’t or won’t face up to the issues and discuss them. He avoids them, closes down.  It’s like talking to a rock.

There was a classic from him today:

“I know I don’t want a physical relationship or to socialise with you but I haven’t treated you badly.”

And he honestly believes that this is acceptable and I should be satisfied with..what exactly?  Just his presence in the room as he stares at the TV screen.  I find it incredibly difficult to understand how anyone could expect to treat someone like this and then be surprised when they protest.

Each interaction with him makes me realise how futile this has been. And each interaction makes my next step a little bit easier.

I’ve instructed my solicitor.

And although it’s scary because the future has become so uncertain and the life I thought I was going to lead has evaporated into the ether, it’s perhaps not quite as frightening as continuing as I am.

Making such a decision has not been easy, and it’s not something I’ve taken lightly.  I read an article saying that making decisions can be incredibly difficult because whilst we are delaying, all options remain open and possible.  But once a decision is made, certain avenues are closed off.

Now I have made my decision and must focus on the future.

And it’s hard.

But I can do it.