Archives for posts with tag: understanding

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.

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I went to my counselling session last week feeling great, wondering what there was to talk about.

I explained why I was feeling great: husband away at weekend; a chance for us all to relax; a few days, rather than a few stressful hours anticipating his return, to be able to get and maintain a perspective; not responding to the triggers when he returned.  I’d set some boundaries and had managed to maintain them.

And that’s continued.  Instead of absorbing things (I can’t even explain exactly what they are and give them a name), they’ve bounced off me and left me unaffected.

There have been times when I’ve felt the anxiety but I’ve acknowledged this for what it is and got on with things.  I’ve realised that a lot of my reactions are not a result of something tangible but come from a fear of imagined consequences.  In other words, they are in my head and I’m creating the situation based on my past experiences and a desire to avoid similar consequences.

In the first session, the counsellor said it seemed like husband treats me like a child. This made me think of a book that was on my reading list at uni that I bought but never read, ‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne.  I’d downloaded a sample.  For the first time this week, the counsellor recommended a book. I think you can guess which one.  I downloaded it and have started reading it.  And I can already see that certain triggers send me into ‘child’ mode.  Even though the ‘adult’ me can see the truth of the situation, it is the ‘child’ who reacts.

Every week, I learn so much, gain far greater insight and understanding.

After counselling, I go to yoga.  This week the theme was ‘breaking bad’, in other words, ‘breaking free’.

When everything comes together like this, I can’t help but feel they are signs.

Once I understand the Games, I will be able to ‘play’ more effectively.  I will recognise whether I am responding as a Parent, Adult or Child, perhaps begin to understand why, which hopefully will lead to more satisfying relationships, not just for me but for the other person as well, whoever that might be.

The journey of discovery continues…

Another counselling session and a lot more to think about.

This week we discussed my reaction when husband provokes me into an argument; why I can’t stop myself from having my say, even though I know it’s pointless; why I can’t just walk away and ignore it.

We discussed how this has its roots in my childhood relationships.  I did something good: it might have been a drawing that I was really pleased with, or a test result (I was nearly always top of the class).  However, I never got any praise or validation and, although I wasn’t or haven’t been aware of it, my reaction was “It’s unfair.  I’ve done well.  I want acknowledgement.”.

Consequently, when husband accuses me of not doing anything for him, or being selfish, or causing problems in the relationship, the child in me screams “That’s unfair.  I cook your dinner everyday; I supported you during the difficult times you were experiencing; I only want a night out doing something I enjoy; I’ve tried to mend this relationship; don’t you appreciate my efforts; can’t you see my point of view; please understand how I’m feeling.  IT’S NOT FAIR!”

And the more he throws the blame at me, the more the child inside me has a tantrum.  I’m trying to right the wrongs of the past as well as the wrongs of the present.

Another by-product of the lack of praise as a child is that I have a lot of self-doubt and that’s why it’s difficult for me to make a decision.  I might know what I need to do, I might make plans, I might take steps, I might be determined.  But then the doubt creeps in: “What if I’ve got this all wrong?”  I’m paralysed into inaction.  It’s me as a child again, holding up my drawing, which I’m really proud of, or my test result of 95%, which seems so good to me.  When the praise or recognition doesn’t come, I look again at the picture with a sigh “Oh, I was wrong.  Perhaps it’s not so good after all.”  Or I focus on the missing 5% and think “Actually, that wasn’t so good.  I should have done better.”

Consequently, I doubt my own judgement.

I can see that these patterns have repeated themselves throughout my life in every aspect of my life.  Oh dear!

I should feel depressed about this.  All those missed opportunities to feel good about myself, to trust my own judgement when making decisions.

But I don’t.

Because now I know, I understand.

And I can start to put it right.

And the rest of my life will be better for it.

 

* Title of post comes from a Lily Allen song.

I’ve only had two proper sessions with the counsellor but already I have gained so much insight. 

In the introductory session, she went a bit Freudian on me.  Now I’m not a great fan of Freud – I want to deal with the present, not delve into the past.  She asked about my childhood (which was happy and uneventful), my relationship with my parents (which was good) and whether I could tell her about any significant events (there weren’t any).  I thought it was perhaps a bit of a waste of time.  It wasn’t what I’d gone to her for. 

However, in the spirit of wanting to be open, understand and help myself, I reflected on this.  I realised that my mother was unemotional.  She kept her feelings hidden.  Although I was a ‘good’ girl, I didn’t get approval, but equally I didn’t get disapproval.  

And I think, because of this, I probably thought my best wasn’t good enough and if I tried harder and did better, I would eventually be praised and acknowledged.  So I tried harder and did better and tried harder and did better and always felt that I had to do better than my best.  This has carried on throughout my adult life: in work, in marriage, in parenting, in relationships, in study.  I always feel that to gain approval, I must be the best, nothing less than perfection will do.  So I set myself an impossibly high standard that is unachievable and am never satisfied with myself: I can always do better if only I put in more effort. 

So, how does this tie in with the state of my marriage? 

Firstly, disapproval hurts.  If I’m doing my best and being ‘good’ and I am disapproved of, then that is seriously damaging to my sense of who I am.  So husband disapproving of my friends (whom he’s never met) and my hobbies and interests (which he shows active dislike of) and the way I want to live (which he feels is wrong) is incredibly hurtful.  I want approval, I’m doing my best, I get disapproval, I try harder to please, I get disapproval, I change to fit in with what he wants, I get disapproval.  When all I want is APPROVAL – just a little bit – please. 

Secondly, if something is going wrong (the marriage), I believe that I can fix it, if only I try a bit harder.  If things don’t get better, then I resolve to try even harder, keep trying, looking for the right thing that I can do or say to get through and make it better.  And that’s what I’ve been doing – for years – trying, trying, trying until I got to the point where I simply felt there was nothing left for me to try – although, ironically, a small part of me still thinks that the elusive, magical remedy is there, if only I try a bit harder to find it.  Frankly it’s exhausting, and is leaving me feeling inadequate, and perhaps I just have to wise up to the fact that I can’t fix this on my own – except I can’t quite let go of that, admit failure, admit defeat. Because then it would be my responsibility, my fault; it would be me who carried the blame.  For not having tried hard enough. 

And I don’t want that. 

Because I would disapprove of myself.

 

And that would hurt.

When he returned home last night, he opened the door to the living room.  I looked up and said “Hi!”  He gave me a look of disgust and loathing, said nothing, closed the door and went to bed.

In the past, I would have followed him, concerned at what was wrong, begging him to tell me so that I could make it right.  This would lead to an argument or silent treatment, with me agonising over what I had done, running through potential causes, beating myself up for doing or saying the wrong thing.

But last night was different.

I understand that this is his way of trying to destabilise and control me; it’s not about anything I have or haven’t done or have or haven’t said.  So I let him go to bed and I got on with reading my book.

I’m apprehensive about what will happen today, but at least I got a good night’s sleep last night and didn’t toss and turn with my mind spinning.

There was a point yesterday evening when I was wondering whether I was imagining it all; the he really wouldn’t emotionally abuse me.  I began to doubt my perception of the situation; perhaps it is my fault.

His look confirmed that it isn’t.

 

You can tell I’m feeling good!

Why?

Because now I understand what’s happening thanks to www.mythoughtsonapage.com.  She suggested I was being psychologically bullied so I looked it up and found an illuminating website, www.drirene.com.

I never thought I’d say this; I never thought anything like this would happen to me; and what is so shocking is that I didn’t have a clue; I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that I was being emotionally abused.

All the time, I’m treading on eggshells, waiting for the next blow-up.  Every time it happens, I curse myself for saying what I said or doing what I did, basically for making the wrong choice.  Consequently, I’ve become more analytical, more cautious, more wary; I doubt my judgement because I always get it wrong.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve become more aware.  On numerous occasions, I’ve caught myself assessing something to ascertain how he will see it and whether it might make him mad.  I do it automatically, without even realising, and it causes me so much completely unnecessary stress.

For example, he was out earlier and I was downloading some audiobooks for my holiday.  When I heard his car pull up, I leapt off the sofa and into the kitchen where I picked up a cloth and started wiping the surfaces.  Why?  Because he makes me I allow myself to feel guilty for doing something pleasurable, something he would use as evidence of my selfishness.

Tonight he’s gone out, even though he ‘never’ goes out the day after he’s finished work.  I know that he’s gone out because I stay in on a Monday evening.  It’s an evening we can spend together (although he usually gives me the silent treatment on Monday evening) and he’s ‘punishing’ me for going out last night.

However, because I understand the situation, I’m not bothered.  I watched a TV programme that I like but never get to see now because he rules the TV, I’ve downloaded another audiobook, and I’m writing this.

In the car on my way to work, this song came on the radio.  It sums up how I feel today.

‘I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive

I can fly, I can fly, I can fly

And I’m loving every second, minute, hour

Bigger, better, stronger, power’ *

 

*From #thepower by Will.i.am

I think that one thing that people seek is understanding: understanding of how and why they have got to where they are.

One thing that we got wrong was losing our identity as a couple when we had children.  I thought we were doing the right thing in putting the children at the centre of our world, and of course to a certain extent we were.  However, in doing so, we neglected to give any priority to ourselves as a couple; we made sacrifices with the best of intentions.  I now see that this was a mistake.

Now that the children are more independent, I thought we would pick up where we left off as a couple and start doing all the things we hadn’t been able to do.  Husband, on the other hand, seems to have become quite comfortable with our new existence and doesn’t see any need to change things.

Consequently, unbeknown to each other, we had been heading off on different paths and now we are staring incredulously across the canyon that divides us, both wondering how the other person has ended up on the other side and having no idea how to bridge the gap.

This is one possible explanation for our current situation.

Every so often I read back through my locked journal, which I started on March 13.

I’ve read many times that journaling is form of therapy: a place for recording your thoughts, which releases them and helps understanding and healing.  It is interesting to reread the unfolding story of your life, particularly when you are going through turbulent times.  Here is the end of my first entry:

That’s why I’m writing this down: not only so I can get my thoughts straight and out of me (I can’t keep bottling them inside, I feel like I’m going to burst) but also so that I can look back and see how the events proceeded so that at some point in the future when my life has crumbled around my feet, I can understand why things happened the way they did.

So often, we arrive at a point and wonder how we got there.  We forget not only the sequence of events but also some events themselves, and everything becomes a muddle.  When I reach that place in the future where my life irrevocably changes, morphing into one which I never thought I’d be living, at least I will understand the how and the why.

I hope.

Since I woke up that fateful day in February realising that I’d switched off from my marriage, I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the hope of gaining some understanding of how I’ve come to feel like this.

At the beginning of the year, I read a newspaper article by Andrew G Marshall highlighting that Jan 3 was the most common day for women to file for divorce.  The husbands are often astounded – what has suddenly happened to make their wives feel like this; they had no idea there was a problem.  Women, on the other hand, have reached the limit.  For weeks, months, years, they have been voicing their concerns, only for their pleas to fall on deaf ears.  “Why didn’t you say something?”, the husbands ask incredulously.  The wives are equally incredulous: isn’t that what they’ve been doing for ages?  It’s the final straw.

Seeing as how Mr Marshall seemed to have some inside knowledge of my position, I turned to another couple of his books: My wife doesn’t love me anymore and I love you but I’m not in love with you.  Yes, he’s definitely been a fly on my wall.  The part that best explained to me what has been going on is entitled ‘Indifference/indifference’.  In this situation, couples live parallel lives.  On the surface, everything looks calm and OK.  One partner has an excuse for not doing things together.  The other partner accepts this and gets on with their life.  Distancing behaviour is work, TV, drinking, watching sport, and hobbies.  Husband works every weekend, turns the TV whenever he’s at home, secretly drinks and watches sport.  I have developed a string of hobbies to amuse myself (reading, writing, sewing, knitting, exercise, dancing).  Although there are strong individual identities, there is no couple identity.  The only area of commonality is the children and once they grow up, one half of the couple “will often find the loneliness unbearable”.  I feel far more lonelier when my husband is present – it seems magnified.

So at least I have some understanding of why I feel as I do.