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Slowly getting better - am I stupid?


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#1 Sapphire

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:41 AM

(Reposted from the "My Story" area)

Hello I am new here and have been reading the site and forums. It is very fascinating to me as I've been dealing with EA/VA for over 17 years now. I didn't know it until about two years ago, when I read the books The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans and Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft on the advice of my therapist. It was shocking because he was doing SO many things described in the books. A big one is joking around, and when I get mad saying, "You are too sensitive." When I told him about the EA/VA I had just discovered was going on, he denied it at first. I was very angry when I realized I'd been abused for 15 years. Then gradually he started to see that yes he was abusing me but not in a physical way, and it was the same type of abuse he'd suffered as a child.

The problem I'm having right now is he is getting better but not quickly enough for my health. I have many physical health problems due to a genetic condition and these are aggravated by his outbursts. He tries really hard to keep the EA/VA under control but there are certain situations which bring them out. Holidays, traveling, meal times, large crowds, noises, anything that aggravates his OCD tendencies will turn him into a raging maniac again. Then after his bad behavior is over he will apologize and say he is sorry but the damage is done. This has happened so many times that my 13-yr-old son and I really can't stand him. Sad to say but we just don't "like" him. He nags me for sex constantly, criticizes me and is very insensitive to my needs.

I've been to therapy so many times and he's gone with me a few times. The first few times he sat there with arms folded and refused to speak much. The last time or two he did talk but didn't engage a lot. So I haven't really taken him back. Plus my therapist pretty much says, "He is being abusive and I don't see much hope for your marriage." So I haven't been to therapy for awhile because no matter how much I talk, we always end up there.

On the other hand he has made some great progress in the past couple of years. Am I stupid to wait and see if he will get better? With my health issues it would be difficult for me to be by myself. I can't lift heavy objects due to shoulder problems and he has made an effort to help me out around the house more. He has started to become more "social" and has developed a more positive attitude at work to the point he has gotten promotions. I feel he was really under his family's thumb all these years and not allowed to live his own life. They were very controlling of him and now maybe he is starting to finally leave the nest at age 39 :-

Going to his family's gatherings is a complete nightmare for me and I will often become physically ill. I'm not sure why because they won't do anything per se. It's more what they don't do. They don't talk to me, they just sort of ignore me like I'm not even there. His dad and brother are nacissists and I suspect he is too which is why nothing I do or say is interesting to them. I'm a people-pleaser and tend to just shut up and deal with it because I don't want to make waves. However if I never saw any of his family members again it would be a huge relief. Are they the source of all this? For years I thought it was something unpleasant about ME and I would try to get them to like me. Then I realized they treat everyone this way.

Thanks for listening! ~ Sapphire

#2 PrudenceB

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:16 PM

Saphire-

First, it is most important that you take carre of yourself and protect your child. If your H grew up ea/va, then what do you think your child is experiencing? Your husband is your son or you (tolerating abuse) in a few short years.

Second, you can separate without getting a dovorce. You can take time out to let him know that you are important enough to you to need space from him and that it is his choice to get help or not.

Third, none of this makes youu "stupid" or "bad" or makes him "unredeemable". Taking the labels out sometimes can help. Sometimes they are useful. Use them wisely..

I have been through someone else's recovery. It takes years when the person is very committed, has hit bottom and is left with no other option. And when I say years, I am talking 3 plus to get behavioral changes that are motivated by a different attitude - not surface changes that can not stick - and that is providing the exact right therapy with a strong willingness on the part of the patient. With adequate therapy which is not the exact right, it takes a lot longer.

Additionally your therapy needs to be very active and in partnership with his (not marriage counseling) in the sense that it works on you changing your role in the dynamic.

If you want to save youur marriage, there is absolutlley nothing stupid about that. It just means you have to be able to assess realisticallyt what you need to do and what you are able to do with a certain set of circumstances.

How about reading the book "necessary ending" by Henry Cloud? It might help you to think through some of the questions you are facing.

Take heart- there are solutions and you will find them. You are not helpless or stuck or doomed. While discovering what you have can be very hurtful and overwhelming, it is a great thing because it opens doors to you that you may not have seen before! You can actually do something about it now!!!

#3 Sapphire

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 07:56 AM

Thank you Prudence! What type of therapy do you recommend? I do think he needs some kind of mental health therapy for the OCD and possibly bi-polar or some other mental illness. I have even gone so far as to call a psychiatrist's office and they said he needed a referral. But, when it came to getting a referral he backed out and refused to go. He doesn't realize that his behavior is not normal, and the anti-depressants our family doc gave him barely scratch the surface. We went to Mt. Ranier last summer and he said it was the first time he could ever remember NOT being anxious and stressed out. He promised then to get help, but once we were home he backed out :-(

I definitely think the EA/VA bursts out when he is feeling this anxiety and stress.

I do feel bad for my son. When he was about 3 yrs. old he told my mother-in-law "I want a new daddy!" This was my husband's mother! She just sort of stared. My son is starting to have some anxiety and anger issues too.

It is good that I've identified the problem so I can fix it. People hint I am "not so smart" for putting up with any of it; they don't realize it takes years to get rid of all the bad habits. Hubby wants me to tell him when he is doing something bad. He says he is not always aware of it. Like the other day, we were shopping (huge anxiety producer for him) and when we got to something I was interested in, he tried to rush me along and didn't let me look at what I wanted to see. I almost blew up at him right there! I tend to overreact to it now that I see what is going on.

#4 lionheart

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:45 AM

Welcome Sapphire. If I read correctly it sounds like you are already separated from your H and are now in waiting to see if he changes mode. In the meantime I would resist the urge to diagnose your H. Instead, just pay close attention to what he actually says and does and at least as important pay close attention to how you're feeling about him, yourself, and your marriage.

For now if you haven't read it yet you might also want to read this thread: Signs He/She Has Changed: http://www.drirene.c...showtopic=43472

Anyone who is genuinely focused on their own recovery must do it for himself or herself not for someone else and not as a means to an end, for example to win you back, or to win back their family. You can't make him change, or even make him want to change. If he wants to change let him find his own therapist, or psychiatrist. Let HIM decide what he needs to do and then let HIM do it. What he does will tell you if he wants to be different or if he just wants YOU to be different.

It is good that I've identified the problem so I can fix it.


If what you mean here is you can change the way you think and feel about the way your H acts and reacts and treats you then good, because that is something you can change. But if you mean you can 'fix' your H then sorry to say you are deluding yourself and I would urge you to seek or continue with some kind of individual therapy for you. Because the fact of the matter is the only person you can control is you. You trying to fix your husband is textbook codependence.

#5 PrudenceB

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 10:39 AM

I can;t reccomend anything doll. I am not a doctor and I do not know your husband. It is up to him to seek out the help he needs for what ails him. There are innumerable combinations and solutions that work for all the different kinds of people and what they suffer from.

You are not stupid for trying to work through the bad in a marriage. It may not be possible to save it, becauuse the cost is your soul, but that does not make oyu stupid.\\what yoou might be able to do is talk to the family doctor if you have a solid relationship with the doc, you might be able to stage a mental health intervention with an interventionist, you might be able to talk to a clergy person if you have a strong network there -

But what is most important is that you realize that you are not responsible for him. You are not responsible for telling him about his behavior. That is him asking oyu to tale responsibility for him and then you becomming his mother, which he will resent and you will resent and the explosions will continue.

Stop doing that now is my advice.

I think you seem to need to learn skills to del wiith it that assert the dignity and independence of both of you.

Try reading "boundaries" and "safe people" by townsend and cloud

also "stop walking on eggshells" and :the verbally abusive relationship" to learn what this means.

For now, one hint I can give you is to say "that's interesting, why would you say that to me?" or "hmmm"

When abuse starts, excuse yourserlf calmly. "It feels heated right now, I will come back when things are calm"

also, try eliminating circumstances where he is stressed- this is a very short term solution - if he freaks out shopping, then do not go shopping with him. If you can see he is anxious giv him a hug and say "can you hhelp me understand how you are feeling, you seem a littl edistracted. are you ok, I would love to know how you feel?" blah bah blah "I can see how it must be uncomfortable to fel that way" -- if he starts to get abusve (blames you, for example) remove yourself.

I would start with the kreiger and Evans books- and then move to boundaries, safe people and then necessary endings.

#6 Sapphire

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 07:36 AM

Thank you, Prudence and Lionheart. I was able to find the "Boundaries" book at my local library and am reading it now. It is really interesting - my only complaint is the constant Bible verses thrown in. Because I grew up in a very controlling religious environment where my mom quoted Bible verses at me to make me feel guilty. I don't like that constant Bible verse throwing <_< But I get what they are trying to say and a lot of it sounds like me. Also when I was reading the reviews of it on Amazon.com, someone used the term "enmeshed family." I looked it up and I was like WOW there is a WORD for how my hubby's family is??? They are like the show "Everybody Loves Raymond" and I'm Ray's wife. Luckily however they don't live across the street but they are pretty much just like that.

As far as "signs he has changed". . .I would say he is showing about half of the change signs but he still lapses pretty easily. My emotions are very cold because I don't trust him. When he has a couple of good days, I'm afraid to be happy because I know he'll backslide again. I realize it is his responsibility to fix himself, but I guess I can start working on my boundaries and also dealing with his family because they stress me out too.

- Sapphire


#7 PrudenceB

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:30 PM

Thank you, Prudence and Lionheart. I was able to find the "Boundaries" book at my local library and am reading it now. It is really interesting - my only complaint is the constant Bible verses thrown in. Because I grew up in a very controlling religious environment where my mom quoted Bible verses at me to make me feel guilty.


That is what your mother did. not what God did. She perverted his words and intentions to condemn. Please don;t blame God or feel bad about his word becaiuse someone else, as a fallen person, misued him. In this case," shoot the messenge", not the authorr :-)

I hope that makes you feel better.

As far as his issues go, yes, you are right, you can not fix him. Focus on you for now and you will realize that you are less and less annoyed by what other people do -

I do notspecifically reccommend "boundaries" because of the biblical focus, but because it's a great tool), however you did say that you grew up in a religious househild, so I will say to you personally, although we can grow up with people misusing and abusing God's word to us to condemn, God isn;t about that. As much as he forgives me, he foorgives everyone. As much as I do not deserve the level of forgiveness, I can not begrudge what God has to offer them, nor can I not forgive others as I have been forgiven.

To some people that might sound like admonition, however, it is freedom. Forgive yourself for being where you are right now and go forth to do better, and do the same with your h. You will be free of needing him to change for you and be able to live the best life you can- even if that mmeans without him, either temporarilty or permanentaly - God loves you and is not condemmning you - he wants the best for you. He wants you to have bouyndaries so you are safe to yourself and to others and he wants you to be able to discern between right and wrong so ypou can travel right and stay clear from wrong. It's not selfish to focus on yourself and do your part. It is an act of love to yourself and to your husband anc child.

#8 lionheart

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:58 PM

If the religious bent of the Cloud & Townsend books is off-putting you might take a look at Anne Katherine's books, Boundaries, and Where To Draw The Line. They cover largely the same subject matter in a secular way.

#9 Sapphire

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:38 AM

Thanks Lionheart, I'll look for the other one as well!

#10 Sapphire

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:45 AM

That is what your mother did. not what God did. She perverted his words and intentions to condemn. Please don;t blame God or feel bad about his word becaiuse someone else, as a fallen person, misued him. In this case," shoot the messenge", not the authorr :-)

I hope that makes you feel better.


Yeah it is amazing I am still a believer after the amount of condemnation I saw. But somehow I was able to get through it, with time. My mom's "mellowed out" quite a bit in her old age. She's nowhere near as strict as she used to be.




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