Comments for Catbox 36
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
Hi, everyone and especially the new people. Computer Nerd I am sure you will make it. It is good for both you and your wife to have time apart sometime.
Still exhausted and not brilliantly well but I have got out and done my voluntary work and the training attached anyway. But I think the next rung of sorting life out is happening and I wish I did know how to sort it.
Seems like I can cope with Jake but now the anger is at my daughter. About time. I have found it difficult to be mad at her for what she did because of what she had been through. But now I am angry just like I was with Jake. I guess this would happen sooner or later and probably it has to. But it feels all wrong being angry with a child albeit a 16 year old. Gee whiz lady, will you let yourself feel what you feel! Don't censor your feelings; censor reactive behavior instead! For the first time I don't really want her around me. I have been through years of pain with her and the reward is the junk she put me through.
I guess I will get through this but it feels as if this is a whole new codependency issue and I can see I have been rescuing my daughter just like I did Jake. Nope. Same ol' same ol', just another manifestation, (layer). Of course Jake was the "bigger" layer. Now you've moved on to the next one. At least Jake didn't put me through what she did. Verbal and physical abuse by a child...yes. It happens. Nobody ever says it can be that way round and with me and my daughter it was. I guess in a way the stuff with Jake is easier to sort.
I feel mad at me also for having such weak boundaries and for not doing the impossible. I keep forgetting that a lot was completely outside my control. Yes. I also have to keep reminding myself I rejected my own mother at 16. I wasn't quite as bad but I was pretty awful at that age. (Giggle! Bet Jake thinks you still are!) Makes me wonder if we don't get a kind of lesson in how we treated others. We sure do! But I am still mad, I praised and didn't hit her and I think many parents might have and the end result is how she is. Stop. Life is not fair; it is what it is.
How dare she..... I genuinely think a lot of parents would have washed their hands of her.
Maybe I should calm down a little. Just now she is only sleeping with one guy (I could throttle him for that) and she is working and doing an NVQ, so it could be worse. She also sees Jake a lot, so one parent is keeping an eye on her. I have to say he does not give her money and he doesn't bail her out. He also tells me nothing.
On one hand I pray for the next crisis so she wants me and comes home (is this wrong thinking?) and on the other, just now I don't wish to see her. Guess victim rage has reared it's head again. All you have to worry about is letting yourself FEEL what you feel, don't judge it, don't do anything about it. Just SIT with it. Do not react; when in doubt, do nothing. You wait until you have it sorted out inside and the Self is guiding you. Then, when you do act, you act purposefully and with wisdom. Meanwhile, write down the thinking. Later you can look to see how rational it is and, most important, what specifically is it telling you about how whatever sits with you? Specific is important; global will get you into trubble and is simply not terribly Truthful. Example follows.
Truly awful but I would like to see her found out.
I really do not like me for thinking like this. I guess yet again it is about facing the issues instead of being in denial. Yes. OK to notice you don't like how you think. Do nothing about it. Be more specific. Notice the difference between "I do not like me for thinking like this" and "I do not like my thinking." Which is Truer in the Universal sense (vs. emotional sense)?
Perdida you are handling things great. Theressa I was going to reply to your email and thinking there were things to think about in it but can you post it again as I think I accidentally deleted it. Jay
You have found an apt title. Until we bury verbal abuse where it belongs, it will stink up our lives.
Glad I found you.
Survived. Kristina Thanks Kristina.
This one is for Special Kats and Kids. Giggle! Love, *Me*
Ps: My Special Troutless Cake Recipe is for sale. Send 5 lbs of Fresh Trout to Trubble, c/o Dr. Irene
Giggle.. Where is Fakemommy getting all those cakes from? Thanks for mine Trubble. I will forgo my vegetarian principles and eat that in cyberspace. I will also GET and keep taking the tablets.
I finally think I got it. It is ok to feel; not ok. It is ok to have negative feelings. It is not ok to act out of anger or distress. I am just going to sit with them and be specific.
Jake is being very rude today. I am calm and sure it is his problem. The house is great though as three of my son's friends are round and have spent the afternoon with their guitars and music. Giggle. One of them has a toy gun and for half a second I thought it was real.
Maybe I am a strange kind of parent but I love the loud music and the kids to chill out here. Just so pleased to hear the laughter in the house.
In fact this feels a good day. I went to a church that is predominantly, er, I am not sure. I seemed to be one of three white people and it was great. Very happy and just what I needed. Very relevant to me message too! God seems to be very good at getting us to the right place at the right time.
Some of the stuff I have been through also seemed not to go into a wrong perspective but possible to move on from. I haven't felt faith like that in several years. Perhaps I finally learnt whatever lesson God had to teach.
The anger is surprisingly less. I did sit with it and I didn't see my daughter today. It is half term and I will pop in in the week. Realised I have not to be feeling angry when I see her and that includes not stuffing feelings and pretending.
And I am making sure I get my friends round to the house too. Depression does this weird thing to you where you do acknowledge your friends and want them round but always another day. I am lucky as my friends have not given up on me.
That is a lot to be thankful for as I treated a few of them very badly when depressed. But I just don't think I will ever let myself get ill like that again. Now I am meeting people with real serious mental health issues it makes me realise I suffered very little in comparison. I can get back to a functioning life and they cannot. That is one huge thing to be grateful for.
And I realised I have an old familiar feeling I needed to get back. Despite all the traumas this week I did not sink into despair ,. I have had times when I feel like laughing. I have found myself smiling. And if there is anger, I have only wanted to (er, well done it ) vented it once and that was on my own. LOL I just realised that could be taken all ways. I just voiced it . well screamed it. But knowing I was in control...
To feel in control of oneself, that is a gift. Not to be "controlled by others or oneself. is really great. To know that you can deal with the bad part of your nature and still like yourself because you are sure of the good. That is progress. I DO like me! Oh well it took me 45 years to say that and mean it!
AH! I don't know what is wrong with me here. considering this is the 'catbox' I figure I can dump all this unwanted emotional baggage.. first of all, I'm only 18 years old. I grew up in with a very verbally abusive (at times physically abusive) father and a mother who, though she went through the same, sort of refused to recognize it had an effect on her daughter. until about a year ago when I realized I'm not dealing with life very effectively and not handling myself very well, and maybe there is a reason for that somewhere in my past? so I told her, and finally told my dad (who had been bipolar but is now on meds and since then the abuse has calmed a bit) and now I'm in therapy. I just started and have only had 2 sessions so I haven't gotten very far into it. I've had one serious relationship (lasting 2 1/2 years) with a very wonderful Christian guy...but ended up breaking it off, I got very bored, irritable, and basically put him through hell the last 3 months of our relationship. then, a month or so after I broke up with him, I met another guy: charming, intellectual, philosophical, self assured. very very confident. something that my ex was not, and I was drawn to that. warning signs though: he escalated our relationship very quickly, he told me he loved me within about a month, and that I was his dream; but that he didn't want to look too far past the dream, he wasn't ready to face the reality yet. ? I just sort of ignored that comment, he says stuff like that all the time. as the relationship has gone on (its about 3 months old now), we became sexual fairly quickly. this has added - on my part - an emotional attachment which makes things sort of hard to break away from. and I think I may need to break away from him. I read something called 'covert abuse' and he seems to fit this category. some instances: **very early on in the relationship, and still now, if I would make him mad or upset (and I never knew why or how), he'd say "bye" if we were on the phone (but not hang up) or sign off on the internet, or say that "maybe you shouldn't be here anymore"... **has told me to 'go to hell' .. to 'shut up' (usually in more explicit terms... flicked me off, whatever. this happens when we're in an argument, once again, I never know when I'm going to start one, He's very moody and touchy...which he admits but does not change... **in public, if I do not kiss or touch him when he wants me to (even in private) he gets sulky.. if we're in public though he saves his outburst for in private. he was angry because I was going to the prom with another guy. (strictly as friends, I had made arrangements before id met him). however I promised to come to his house after prom and we'd go out. I came over still dressed and he didn't say a word on how I looked. kind of a deliberate thing considering I was all dolled up. and I confronted him later, after he commented on how my friend looked nice...and he just said "well I always say you look beautiful, why did I have to say it tonight". and was in general very rude about it.. if I tell him he has hurt my feelings or is being disrespectful, he'll say things like "well, whoopee s*** or I don't care".... he gets pushy during sex.. he likes biting or other hurting things which I don't enjoy. even if I say 'ow' or 'that hurts' he'll say he's sorry for a second but continue the next time or later. he's pushy considering all types of physical things. he'll grab for my hand all the time to hold it, or if he wants his back massaged, or if he has an itch, or if he wants touched, no matter where; he'll pull me over onto him, or the opposite, especially when I'm just lying there, trying to relax or watch TV. and if I don't want to, he gets sulky...he'll turn his back. or sigh or whatever. has told me I 'don't know where my priorities are' if I tell him I cannot call off work to come see him. sometimes I feel jealous by the way he treats my best friend in front of me...he can be more understanding with her than with me. also, if my friend and I are joking around, he'll tell me to "be nice" or "quit acting like a bitch". he's also told me I'm 'neurotic' and a 'crazy bitch." not in an argumentative sense but when I question why, he says I just am, and not to question him. he has told me that he'll never leave unless I do and he'll never stop loving me unless I do. I told him that puts me in a bad position, meaning if I have to break it off, it'll be my fault. and he knows I base my decisions on feelings, so he knows how that'd make me feel. when I recently tried breaking it off, he threw it back into my face, saying "well I guess I'm just being dumped then"...among other things. it was pretty much impossible to break up with him. he almost wouldn't let me. (it was over the phone). he stated crying inconsolably...and asked me to come over and see him. which I did, and I couldn't break it off with him. I'm weak willed I suppose...
**tried breaking it off again...but what this guy says is amazing...i can't even begin to explain. im still with him though. no one who knows the extent of the situation can understand. i dont blame them, but i dont know how to get out really. he says he loves me, that he's going to change...and i want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
am i doing the right thing? more importantly, why did i jump from one extreme to another, and does that have anything to do with my dad? i mean, it was passive, non aggressive guy (who needed to be 'mothered' and 'taken care of') to this guy, who can be so charming and good but make me feel like such crap...
thanks, if you've listened this far. any comments would be appreciated.
Dear Catbox, Dr. Irene and Trubble the Baker,
I loved my cake! I ate every bite and there was not a calorie to be found. Each day I think my birthday is over and it keeps getting better!
Okay, Cats, I have to confess something. I have been (sort of) in another one of "these" relationships and it just blew up as they are wont to do. Excuse me, I got that word "wont" from "Wuthering Heights" so I guess I am being literary again. Anyway, my new friend had this bad but heretofore tolerable habit (since we were never lovers) of telling me what to wear. I am sure some of you are wondering what difference it makes whether we were lovers or not, but somehow I blow off a lot more from non-lovers than I do from lovers. As an aside, perhaps I should look at that?
Anyway, maybe you can see where this was going - a line with the clothing was crossed, I let it be known that the commentary made me uncomfortable - friend, miffed at being challenged which he never is, declared that he would never ask me to go anywhere with him again, and tonight he executed stated threat. A group of four friends was going, same ones who went out for my birthday, and I picked up a female friend who reported that this was the case, and I just dropped her off at the meeting place saying that if he wasn't going to invite me, I wasn't going to go. ( She had said that he said I could come along but that he was not going to invite me) I should add that the friend in question is in the power position of the inviter. It's hard to explain, but he is the leader of a social group and is used to being obeyed, at least until I the interesting researcher came along.
So I just wanted to share - I dropped her off and came back home, leaving her with the response to the message. I said in a previous post that I have been practically living at his house, but I think I will stay in my nice little house by myself for awhile.
I hope this isn't all too cryptic - without making everyone read my dissertation online on the Catbox, it's not easy to put all the details in!
Now I have another guy with my stuff at his house and I have to go pick it up. I'll just wait this one out, though, and go get my stuff just before I leave for the States. We have had some run-ins before and he does seem to learn. But the blow-up was kind of coming because I have been living there with no indication as to the nature of the relationship: friend, daughter, lover, wife? which was already hard to navigate, and I don't do well with people telling me how to dress. I guess I have to say that I am attracted to leaders. I wonder if leaders can be in relationship with strong people who don't want to be led ALL the time?
I feel like my ex is going to bend over backwards to pretend that he is the nice guy he would like everyone to think he is, so it might be safe to get my stuff after all.
Love, Perdida Lost the guys for a while and take up cats...
dear 18 year old with no name. Read back your post to yourself and ask "what would I say if a friend told me all this." Give yourself the advice you would give to a friend. I hope this would be RUN.
You do not need the manipulation or abuse this boy is giving you and if unlike a lot of us here you can get your boundaries straight at 18 your life will be one whole lot happier.
Whatever this guy decides to say/do when you break it off is his affair and not yours. He is treating you appallingly and abusively. he even extends that into the sexual realm. Biting? The rule of thumb with sex is that loving partners only do what is mutually ok. He is really disrespectful and rude and I think you need to get out now.
LOL Perdida, how many guys are there? I can't work out if it is 2 or 3. The ex you could send a friend to to pick your stuff up. You can do the same with the guy more of your stuff is with. I think you were right not to go out on the conditions described. I like Wuthering Heights and I like you being literary. Enjoy your house. jay
Thanks, Jay, for the kind and funny words - there were only 2 (and then there were none...). Even though my post was light, I was *really* sad last night. I'm still sad! But it had to happen and I knew it, and who knows what he will come up with today. Maybe he will realize that he is dealing with someone from a different cultural background and lighten up because this type of conflict comes with the territory. He DOES seem to learn. In any case, my job is to keep my distance if only because I like and respect him enough to not want to see him in agony over a woman who can't be controlled! Not to mention it isn't good for me either!! (note: the most important reason is the second one...)
Well, at least I learned something. I am attracted to strong personalities. Maybe to balance mine out. The only fly in the ointment with the strong personalities is that lately (or maybe with my heightened awareness) they also seem to be more controlling than the average Joe. I feel like I accept a certain amount of controlling behavior with even some amusement but it always gets to be too much in the end, and things implode.
Okay, so there is some insight at least. Let's see, now what do I do about it, if anything? Sitting with it to soak it in, first. My available choice of men just shrank again... a strong personality who is also willing to have a strong partner without needing to diminish her? Could it ever happen?
jay, thanks for the insight....heh i know that if i were to read that back my logical mind says "run..." and i know that if i set my boundaries now, it'll be so much easier later. gr. but that's so hard...it shouldn't be i know but it is. i kind of just wish he'd go away so i didn't have to, it'd be easier...*sigh*. anyways thank you. -h
back from a trip to France (don't be jealous Perdida, I'd love to go to Rio...) with C. and feeling smug and happy. I am not sure whether I can trust this state of mind, or whether I am in denial again. But I do think we did great. The trip was actually a present for my birthday (yes me too, the 20th of May.
Happy Birthday Perdida, Sharon and Theresa) and it was great. Blue skies, picnic, Cathedrals and French wine.... We did start of with a fight but it did not linger, of which I am very proud,( both for him as for myself). We had some trouble on the way, but it did not turn into a conflict and we could even laugh about it. C. had his new car (4.2 ltr 4 wheel drive) stuck in the mud and I had to explain in my best French to a ranger that no sir, we were not planning to go into the woods, we just wanted to have a picnic and then we slipped. He clearly did not believe us (and rightly so it turned out, cause C. had actually planned to go into the woods, but I did not know :-). We got the car out, he did not get angry or mad like he used to, and I did not get mad at his not looking beforehand and we still had a great picnic and a lot of fun about this big car not being able to get itself out of the ditch. There where more incidents like that and I did find myself waiting for the inevitable anger to come, but it did not come. We seem to be able to get mad, or frustrated without taking it out on each other, at least not as much as we used to do. We talked about the things we could do and decided what to do together and we both said I want this or that. I think it is hard for both of us to be truthful about what we want, cause we both are very afraid to get rejected and for the other to be angry. We are both fixers. But we can makes jokes now. F.i. he said at breakfast here, take another chocolate cake and I would say thanks no, and he started to say, please do, and then smiled and said, well, if you don't want it, that's your problem and ate it himself. I really loved that.
Also I found out he really actually does care what I feel and think, but I do need to make it very clear to him. I never did that, unless when I had had it. Now I do, or at least more often and I find he actually listens and cares. This is new to me, and I need time to trust this, but it feels good.
Asha, so glad, everything turned out ok. Jay and Theressa, I hope you two are doing better. Take care, all of you. And Trubble, the kitties all found a new home, so you do no have to worry anymore.
Love, AJ OK. Thanks AuntieAJ. (Whew...)
How is it you can feel ok and then walk straight into more junk? I really thought I was ok when I went to where my daughter works today just to say Hi. Unfortunately Jake and human katkid arrived at the same time. Than my daughter was just plain rude and I snapped and went to inform the manager that he was employing her underage. I know this wasn't right bur somehow the deed was done in a way that is not like me. I just kind of lost it and acted impulsively.
Stupid, stupid me and this time I think I should say it. Jake was awful as usual. He is still behaving very weirdly and I compounded things by getting into the weirdness and serving dinner in a different room. Poor HKK was a bit at a loss and I now feel really guilty. I also sounded off to my daughters boyfriend. He works in the same shop., Why oh Why? And they were not that bothered about the age bit so from now on I will discourage anyone I know from shopping in T...R ....Us.
Oh HELP! I know this is anger and I thought I had sat with it and now I feel back at square one, I am better now than a few hours ago, It just makes me sick to see how much revenge I want. Yet at the same time I am soooo mad at her. OK folks help me out of this.. please! Jay Shades of being back in the shrink's office! Interesting, TRU employs her (which is generally thought of as "good," and you are mad at them... Why aren't you mad instead at your daughter's rude behavior and what exactly does it mean to you anyway?
May 28, 2001
I just recently came across your website and found it very comforting. I am a licensed therapist and I have just driven 9 hours to get away from my husband and stay with my parents for a few weeks. I am 28 years old, married for nearly 3 years to a man I was best friends with prior to marrying him, with no children (thank God). We have been together since 1993 and as the years go by the verbal abuse gets more constant and intense. I was looking forward to a lovely holiday weekend with my in-laws coming to stay at our home (which is a whole other story, but for those of you who see the pattern in your husband's/wife's family of origin probably know it by heart). Sunday, as we are giving them a tour of the town we live in, my husband showed them where he works. He tells his father that he has a reserved parking space (probably looking for approval and pride of his success from his father) and I simply asked, "Why do they not post the names of the employees on the signs, so they know whose is whose?" In response to my innocent question, my husband states, "Why do you have to argue everything, you stupid, f&*%ing bitch!!" (please pardon my candidness) So, I turned on my heel, got back in the car and did not speak. We returned home and I went across the street to a good friend's house and cried my eyes out not knowing what to do. Twenty minutes after leaving church and with his parents present really sent home to me how abusive and degrading this man is to me with no concern!! Well, I left her house feeling strong and knowing what I needed to do for my husband and myself. Knowing all about Codependency and abusive partners, I informed him that he needed to get help and that the ball is in his court to make a decision. So, I packed up the car and drove to New Orleans to my parents. Of course, now I have the guilt and feeling irresponsible for leaving my job, my clients (which I schedule 50/week) which will need to be rescheduled for at least the next two weeks. God, I hope I made the right choice, but I realized it was the only one I had left!!! Now what......? Yours, Anne
Hi, I suppose that my story is like most, too long and involved to post in its entirety so I will try to condense it without missing key points or trivializing anything. I have been married for 13 years and have 6 wonderful kids but it seems that all that is at an end. Several months ago my wife announced that she no longer wants to be married. I have read through this sites articles and posts and I am probably more confused as ever. I thought I was the "abuser" as I do make bad choices in how I react when "all the buttons are pushed" but now I am unsure as to whether that is my diagnosis or if I am an enabler, codependent or what. I love my wife very much and I do not want to lose her but it seems that from the start of this situation that she has had her mind made up and nothing I do to try and change and improve is met with approval let alone belief that it is sincere. She now insists that it isn't even me anymore, she just wants to " find herself, find happiness and have freedom". I think that we could still have a chance if she would give it a chance but she will not try and says she can not take the "risk" of it not working and me falling back into my verbally abusive ways. I know I can do little or nothing to change her attitude or thinking, I can only change or modify how I think, react and feel but It seems little consolation when faced with the prospect of losing everything I hold dear. We both have a "distorted" sense of perspective, fault and issues in this situation and that does not help. I not only want to forgive but be forgiven and work at what I believe should be saved but as I said she sees no hope and has no desire to try and has "talked herself into believing" that there is no hope and that she can not forgive or forget and has even exaggerated or entirely made up circumstances that "led" her to want to leave. She says that she still loves me and I believe that and I also believe that it is enough foundation to have a viable attempt at reconciliation, I just can not seem to get her to let down her prevailing attitude of negativity long enough to give it a chance. We did go to counseling for a while together (she goes alone now) but through all that time she was not sincere about the effort. She developed a very very close relationship with my brother and he has been her sounding board, her shoulder and her, well everything. It got to the point that she actually fell in love with him as was clearly evident by not only oodles of "circumstantial" evidence but concrete evidence like her user names on the computer espousing her love for him. She denies that it reached that point and I do not believe there was ever any physical relationship but she has detached so thoroughly from me and bonded so completely with him on an emotional level that fixing our problems is almost a moot point. I am not sure, after all of my rambling, what I am asking for here, but I do believe that we still can be good for each other and love each other and not only make our marriage work again but use this crisis to make it better than ever. I just need to somehow get through long enough to get a chance, a real, honest chance. I am trying to do my part by working on ME but I can not do it alone. Where do I start? How can I get my foot in the door so to speak? I would appreciate any insights and will furnish more information if needed but I do not want to lose another day in "our" lives living in limbo with confusion, resentment and pain. Thank you, Kelly
Dear Dr. Irene,
You're absolutely right. Those particular buttons on me do have weak springs. That's for the same reason that anybody else suffers from the same condition: because thousands of people have pushed them far too often for many years.
Yet this leaves me in a dilemma. Suppose some individual happens to push one of our buttons during a conversation. The chances are it's a purely personal issue, and anyway we can probably just disengage from that individual. If the same thing keeps happening in a partnership, if it's just personal again, we may be able to ignore it, or we can take the issue up face to face with our partner and perhaps come to some agreement about it. Or if there's so much of this button-pushing that it amounts to abuse, we can in the end disengage from the entire relationship. You don't understand the word "disengage." It does not mean "stuff" or "overlook." It means clear out your own stuff/ bias /etc. so that - there is no more button to push!
What we can't do is disengage from *society*. Not unless we want to live like hermits, that is! :) Within society at large, a few people spouting this anti-male stuff wouldn't matter. There was nothing anti-male here. Fact is most abusive types are men, not all. This is mentioned somewhere on the site. People have all kinds of opinions on all kinds of subjects. Neither would it matter so much if there was a balance, with an equal number of people publicly shooting it down. But there has been so much of it, for so many years, and so one-sided, that it has distorted many people's view of reality: some only subtly, but some seriously.
Why this aberration should happen at this point in history is something I won't theorize about here; I'll just say that in my opinion the only thing men did to bring all this on their heads was to invent modern technology, especially communications technology: another example of "no good deed going unpunished." At any rate, it leaves the average person like me only two choices: to confront this stuff when I see notable examples of it, or to shut up. And experience has taught that when we fail to oppose something, all we get is more of it.
You're off and running Gordon. I'm not going here. This place is not about sociological issues. Just fixing the only person you have control over: you, internally. Putting the male viewpoint aside, what about the victims, female in this case, who are presumably supposed to be helped by this information? This is precisely the problem: that while this "men are aggressors, women are victims" nonsense pervades society, it almost invariably turns up in force at some place designed to help those victims, whether it's a women's shelter or some site similar to this one for their education. So when I see it popping up here as well, it sets big red lights flashing saying "Warning: Enemy Invasion," and "Stand By To Repel Boarders." (So I stump out on my wooden leg and draw my cutlass.) Anyway, what would we want to tell women who are chronic victims of domestic violence? Apart from everything else they need to know, I'm sure we'd want to tell them they're not alone. That much is a comfort. But there's a huge difference between telling them that and suggesting to them (or even at times explicitly *teaching* them) that men *at large* are their oppressors.
Insofar as they're bound to be angry, wouldn't we want them to *focus* their anger on their ex-abuser (along with some others, no doubt), until they finally got over it, let go, and hopefully moved out of the subculture of abuse into the larger world of normal people where they might in time form a new and healthier partnership? Instead, this teaches them to generalize their anger and keeps them stuck in it, because it suggests that their abusers are everywhere and are never going to go away.
As with anger, so with fear; and with PTSD fear must be the larger issue. If someone is suffering from this kind of shock, they have plenty of reason to fear their ex-abuser; but the first thing I'd want to reassure them of is "It's all right; you're safe *now*." Instead, ideas like "men batter whenever they can get away with it" teach them again that "abusers are everywhere; you have everything to be frightened of." That was a point on which I agreed with Mel: that too much generalized fearmongering is practiced on women today.
What's more, isn't a victim's major handicap typically the belief that "abuse is normal"? If we believe that, then we might as well marry an abusive partner, because one's no worse than any other. Either that, or stay away from marriage altogether. Wouldn't we want to change that belief, to tell them "No, abuse is *not* normal; it's *abnormal*, and there's a larger and generally healthier world out there that you can join, where if you look hard enough, you can hope to find the kind of partner you deserve"? Instead, this teaches them that "you were right all the time; abuse is normal, if not universal." So they might as well give up.
One root of the problem as I see it is that victims naturally tend to generalize their feelings anyway. If it's a woman, anger at *an* important man or men in her experience is likely to manifest itself in anger at men generally. Fear of a man or some men tends to turn into fear of men generally. Wouldn't we want to correct this tendency, to point out that there's no need to generalize these attitudes? Instead, some of the messages going around make the tendency worse still.
This is why I'm critical of a lot of "feeling stuff" that becomes overgeneralized or at least is interpreted in a sloppy way. It's fine to tell someone to "listen to their feelings" if they've been stuffing feelings of hurt because they're being abused. But we talk about "validating" feelings; and what do people read into messages like "Trust your feelings"? To me, "validating" feelings like those above should only mean reassuring someone that "It's perfectly normal to *feel* the way you do at the moment, given the circumstances." Instead, I'm sure it's often taken to mean "What you feel is an accurate reflection of *external* reality"--which is often far from the truth.
A group of victims getting together in isolation from the world outside are likely only to reinforce these misperceptions for one another, instead of correcting them. This was my other largest point of disagreement with Dr. Ochberg's introduction: his proposition that ex-victims are "the hope for a sea-change in spousal relations."
To start with, I'm not sure what "sea-change" he's talking about. About half of all marriages still survive for life. Vast numbers of people still have satisfying marriages, so these don't need any changing at all. Too many other marriages fail today, and most of these could use fixing or maintaining better: improved attitudes, improved communication, reeducation for life. If that's a "sea-change," then fine, we desperately need it. Then there's a minority of abusive marriages that typically can't be fixed. Regrettably, there's nothing to do there but pick up the broken pieces and the broken people and try to get as many as possible fixed individually. But that's not a *change* in spousal relations; that's a salvage job, as vital as it is. This brings to mind a debate I saw between a man and a woman who was trying to claim that when there are children, "divorce doesn't 'break up' a marriage; it only 'restructures' it." He responded "Yes it does, in exactly the same way that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was 'restructured.'"
I'm sure that *ex*-victims, if they're fully recovered, are every bit as capable as anyone else of making better "spousal relations." Some might even be more so, if their experience has led them to study more closely than the average person what makes a bad marriage different from a good one. Just the same, I think the real hope for this effort must come from those who know what *good* spousal relations are like, who therefore have something to teach. The large majority of these are bound to come from a healthier culture, and statistically the number of ex-victims among them will be relatively small. I myself would label these people "victors" as opposed to "victims," though Dr. Ochberg doesn't seem to like that word either. My bottom line is that better spousal relations call for a net flow of information from the healthy community into the abuse subculture.
What is it that Dr. Ochberg thinks *escapers* and *survivors* (not necessarily *recovered* victims) know that would lead to his "sea-change"? "[H]ow paralyzing the fear of the family tyrant can be... how difficult and dangerous the path to freedom can be... how frustrating it is to debate those who perpetuate the status quo" (whoever they are). The first two items of knowledge are certainly true; but how can they themselves lead to some "sea-change"? At best they're a problem still looking for a solution. In and of itself, it seems to me that this knowledge could only discourage people and keep them stuck--or drive people to *break* spousal relations, or deter people from forming them in the first place. There is no instruction here for *improving* spousal relations--apart from "Stop being a tyrant," which no abuser is going to listen to anyway.
It may sound as if I'm being picky, or taking him too literally, but I don't think so. Because Dr. Ochberg's idea of what (unrecovered) victims have to teach roughly matches mine. It's all about *bad* spousal relations. Yet the blind can't lead the blind, and shouldn't be leading the sighted. It's important to teach people that bad spousal relations exist, and why; but not to spread the negative beliefs that go along with them, and cause them too, as if those beliefs were true. We don't need a net flow of that "information" from the abuse subculture into the healthy community.
Still, I believe that's a significant part of what's been happening in recent decades--a net flow not just from victims, but from abusers in sheep's clothing as well--which already helped to lead to a "sea-change in spousal relations": the breaking of too many marriages that could have been saved. That was a "sea-change" we sure didn't need.
Dear Dr Irene, Why aren't I mad at my daughter's rude behaviour. I was. That is what sparked it all off. The issue for me is my daughter yet again gets to do exactly what she wants and by passes the law. It Is NOT good they employed her without checking. She had an apprenticeship with a hairdresser and walked out on it. THAT was ok as it was a means of furthering her education. That was agreed. This is a shop blatantly not getting references or checking a young employees age. I also don't think they should put her in a position where she is fitting baby car seats.....or advising parents. It is irresponsible. I would actually not let my daughter babysit as I don't think she would be able to keep controlled if the kids play up.
Actually I think that the stuffed anger spilled out. I was so tired of her getting away with lies...I don't think I acted right though. But if anyone else was in my situation I think they may have snapped too.
I think I am just tired of her getting away with stuff. Maybe it is also significant her friends have their exams just now and her boyfriend also works in the shop. Maybe I was thrown by Jake being there and it HURT she was all over him and rude to me. Aha...
Yep I have said it. I feel HURT. I am hurting over this. I haven't read the other posts yet. Just need to take a little down time to get balanced again. I am also tired still and maybe that affected my judgment. That said my daughter seems to be getting away with the most appalling behaviour and nobody but me ever calls her on it. Guess as a mum I don't think I should let her get away with this. Yes... Trubble is, you have no control anymore...
I will just carry on with the sane option of living my life and trying to get it so that I have plenty else to think about. HKK has taken to filling the house with friends and they are so lovely. I am telling him that I will arrange a party for him if he wants. he has another gig on Friday so that is good. He doesn't want me there this time. That is fine. All part of being a little more grown up. Giggle. when do they start washing and do they always eat so much? jay
p.s In other words I didn't censor reactive behaviour. I am soo mad at me for not doing that. jay
Dear Dr. Irene,
Then we simply disagree. It was useful to have this clarification, because I've seen conflicting statements in various places on this site. But I do not buy as fact the notion that "most" abusive types are men, *especially* when all types of abuse and manipulative behaviors are taken into account--though on physical abuse alone, I know you've seen the Sewells' web site at least. Rather, what all the evidence shows to me is that those who are drawn to the attention of other people are mostly men. And I'd say the fundamental reasons for that are that *men don't talk*, and that far too often *men don't understand*--when they're being abused, that is--just as some women don't either. The effect of that may be sociological, though I see one of the root causes as psychological. But if you don't want sociological issues discussed here, I'll leave it at that. OK.
P.S. I guess we also disagree about what constitutes "anti-male." Among other things, to me it's "anti-male" for a writer to go on and on cataloguing all the things women have suffered (from disenfranchisement all the way to mutilation and slavery), while conspicuously acting as if men hadn't suffered all the same things, and usually worse. Gordon, I think you are hiding your own issues in sociological stuff. Check it out...
Dear Gordon, When about a year ago signs of serious stress started to show I reacted to this by trying even harder, working even longer and went into denial. I wouldn't rest. The doctor offered a couple of weeks off and I didn't take them. I thought things would fall apart without me and then II fell apart and ended up very briefly in hospital. I was so into 'saving; others I couldn't even see how bad my own situation was! If anyone had told me about verbal abuse then I would probably have thought that it was not my problem and that my husband wasn't abusive. Each time he abused me by his withdrawal, withholding and lack of communication I rationalised it.
Had I had the opportunity, I would have written reams supporting others, questioning others etc. On several occasions at work I could see that things were wrong and completely missed that others saw it too. I did not need for example to be the one who made about fifty separate objections to a piece of research someone was doing badly. All the points were agreed on but I just had to be in there as the concerned party. On another piece of research I could see that the way it was done wasn't in a very long time ever going to yield statistically significant results and I got more and more critical...I was sooo concerned.
I didn't realise it at the time, but although I had hit on a truth. The research was faulty, I didn't need to be concerned . Others would have handled it. What it was really about was that all the while I worried about the research I could conveniently forget the need to deal with me. Bingo!
One of the things said to me on the day I had to be signed off sick for six months was 'you covered it up so well." It was easy to do so. Be over involved in something else and then people won't notice...Only in the end they do....
Gordon, just now I feel it is a bit like this for you. You write so much about "others' but I don't get the sense you are acknowledging the needs of the Self.
I found myself wondering after your post above, 'why does he need to go on so much about whether men or women are abusers?' and then "Is it because he is not able to admit he feels abused in some way?" I also thought: "Is he like me in not finding it easy to admit he is not ok and ask for help?
Dear Gordon, I don't know what is showing just now, but something is. Please do take some time to look at your own needs and admit to them. I would hate to see you go down the route I did. I think I am seeing it happen.
Forgive me if I AM wrong, but I don't think so. The catbox lot are brilliant at being non judgmental and will root for you. Thanks Jay. Gordon, for your own sake, please drop the defense and just listen to this...
oops and how am I? Actually I am a lot, lot better today. I just had a good friend round and she reminded me of all the good parenting and grounding I put into my daughter. This friend often saw me at my worst! Our daughters were really close for most of their childhood.
I am going to grab hold of faith. A lovely friend on GHU posted something really relevant to me and I suddenly saw how little I had. I checked about my daughter and the NSPCC were concerned as I was about her fitting car safety seats. She cannot be trained to do this in the short time she has worked for the toy shop and was alone with parents of a small baby in the parking lot doing this. Now, that's worth asking them about...
So maybe even if my reaction was wrong I also was acting out of concern I don't want my daughter centre of a lawsuit and also I don't think it unreasonable as a mum to be worried about a daughter who has had pregnancy scares working in a baby department. My daughter may not like it, but I think I was acting out of a kind of 'mother cat ' instinct. I do think I acted wrongly and in haste: but I was concerned still for my daughter.
Kind of a life lesson. Also I know from experience if I wait a few weeks I will be welcome by her again. Just have to let go again and pray.
So I feel sad but better. I can identify, Perdida, We feel sad because of what life throws up but can still function and have a sense of humour. I think that that is a gift. I have one friend who has really suffered and she can still joke and laugh: but it doesn't diminish the suffering, it speaks of survival.
I have been wondering, "who does take care of me?" Well me if I think to. But I do have a friend who often rings to see how I am and if I really had needed to be in hospital she would have been there for me. Two friends like that in fact. It is my fault if I don't let them know how I am. My parents can't be there but I do think my mum tries even if ineffectually and it isn't the ineffectiveness that is a problem. I don't et help as I am too concerned with trying to look as if I cope....still (oops and after my post to Gordon! Guess life's lessons come in stages.
I think for me the catbox is a good place to practice saying "help." It is good for recovery too. But first you need to say help.
AJ I am glad you are back as I have missed you. Even better, that you have had a good time with C.
Gordon, I agree with you that a lot of men don't realize they are being abused. It is a well known fact that women are more verbal than men and I have seen many relationships which I now recognize as abusive, where the woman is actually the abuser. The men take it in stride and don't seem too bothered by it, but I have to wonder just how much of it is being bottled up. Even at work I find the men have far more respect for others than the women do. Women tend to talk behind each others backs, criticize people, and everywhere I go women are putting men down. I also agree that it is psychological as well as a social issue. When this same behavior is practiced by men, they are slammed for it. They lose everything while the woman gets away with it. How many women claim to be verbally abused when they themselves may have unknowingly beaten their men down to begin with. I truly believe that they can dish it out but they can't take it. And in the end they walk away with the house, the kids, the money, because they are better at verbally bashing and blaming the man. I really question how much is victim rage vs anger when they can no longer get away with such behavior. No, I won't give up trying to get my point across because like you say Gordon if we don't stick up for what we believe in we just get more of it. Women have fought for equality, but what they are doing now is actually trying to have power over men, and men being less verbal are at a loss as to how to compete and unfortunately many use physical force because it is what they are better at. Both are wrong, both disgust me. I am losing respect for many women because they ARE more verbally abusive than men, overtly and covertly, and they justify their behavior by calling themselves victims. Yuk! Mel
Just a quick note - I have spent most of this weekend re-reading "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood. I don't remember if I've seen it plugged on this site, but I find I need to read it, along with "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" at least once every six months to help keep me centered. It's very hard to read, because my mother, father, myself and every relationship I've ever had are written about in detail on nearly every page. The harder something is to read, the truer it is. If you haven't read it - men, as well as women, please do...
Dear all, Sharon here,
Yep!! Its been awhile!! Well? Happily, I have no news on the Dr. Psycho homefront. I have a new name for him "Dr. Wizard." The reason for that is because he was a fraud. Since I told him almost 2 weeks ago "no more contact" I've been able to see how fraudulent this relationship really was. He has the reputation of hating his friends and was dubbed "Mr. No Show" because he would make plans and/or promises and then change his mind. In the last 2 years of knowing him he was unable to deliver what he promised - whether it was his old computer that he wanted to sell me - or a night on the town - he was whimsical and fickle. My birthday incident was the last straw with him. Mutual friends are now "not shy" about giving me the lo-down on this jerk and the bottom line is that he HATES women. He even loathes his guy friends by having them gang up on each other. He talks bad about his friends and then everybody is at odds. So, no, I have lost NO sleep not having him in my life. I'm living a more healthier life these days by finally making this decision (though hard as it was) by cutting ALL ties with him. And I am glad that it was me doing it, because my self-esteem is intact (though barely due to the long term abuse). I know I have a ways to go, but standing by myself and knowing that I had the strength to be a stand alone and standing up to him and saying *no more*, was worth it. He is a jerk. Giggle. No, really he was. A man with lots of broken toys! And a misognist at that! Dr. do you have any info on misognists? I have read the one book - "Men who hate women, and the women who loved them". Good book. Hit home to a "tee". My anger is propelling me to "move forward" and reading does help. Do you or anyone else have any other book referrals? Thanks.
Gordon and Dr. Irene
Dr. I - I know that the catbox isn't about sociological issues, but I can't resist offering my point of view, so I hope you don't mind. Some of the societal issues have impacted me personally, and I must say that your website offered a different "take" than what is out there in the rest of the literature and media, and it is largely because of that different outlook that I was able to work effectively on my own healing.
Gordon - I like that you expressed your feelings about that article and because I have no idea of your tone of voice, anger level (or lack of one) I don't know for sure if it was a "button" of yours or a desire to talk about the "missing parts" of that article.
Maybe the problem is in defining what a "button" is. For our purposes, let's assume it's anything that creates an emotional pressure inside you that could lead you to react, think, or feel in ways you might not otherwise. During some of my own self exploration I've come to think that an angry reaction is okay, Yep. if I am aware of it. That is, I feel the anger, I acknowledge it, I even express it (if I feel that it's productive to do so), but I try not to "act out" on it. Excellent. When I do "act out" I do think that I have let a button be pushed. When I don't, (act out I mean) I'm not sure whether you would say my button was pushed, but in any case I don't think the acknowledgement and even expression of that anger is necessarily a bad thing. Not at all.
This is an interesting topic (the button pushing one) and it's something that Steve and I have talked about frequently. I think Steve believes (and I may be wrong here) that the ultimate goal is not to feel angry. No, though I can understand why he would think that and to experience less anger certainly is a goal of his - since he inadvertently creates so much of it. I, however, feel that anger is a gift that the universe or God gave us so that we know when something is wrong. Yes. I think that first if we can become aware of the anger, by acknowledging it (i.e. thank-you anger for letting me know something is wrong), look within to see the "real" source of it, then we can finally choose how to effectively *do* something about the real problem. That's Steve's goal too, though before he can get there, he has to stop creating so much of it (If his acting out is anger-based, his goal is to lessen anger so that he finally can use anger as the signal that it is.)
When I read "Fact is most abusive types are men, not all" my feeling (button? I don't know), whether true or not, is that many women will interpret that as "I'm innocent. I'm not the abuser. I'm the "victim". (which is why I hate those terms) It's *his* "fault", not mine", thus taking no responsibility for their own part in the dysfunction. Look at it this way: I don't remember the stats off the top of my head, but we do know that men are more likely to be diagnosed with a narcissistic-type disorder than are women. Since the cornerstone of abuse is narcissism (usually, but not always), what conclusion do you reach? It is also my clinical experience and that of Evans according to her book (though she's talking about "abusers" not "narcissists"). I get concerned about certain groups of women who seem to think that women are just plain superior to men Sad., and I think men and women are really polarized in today's society. Also sad. I do think that women and men have different cultural experiences which lead to different types of dysfunctions. Oh, but they do! Women are taught it's OK to cry and to feel much more so than men. For the most part, our world has roots in patriarchy. As a result, women tend to be "emotionally stronger" while men tend to be stronger physically. We are not equal, though it's not PC to say so these days. This is just reality. Can you argue my position? Of course. And, I'll make it real easy for you since I don't have the time to do my homework right now on this.
I think what is also important is that abuse is perpetuated by victims and all abusers *were* victims. Yes. Whether we are male or female, if we are an abuser or a victim we are perpetuating cycles of dysfunctional behavior by participating in the cycle (I'm not talking about victims of rape or those who physically have no choice - I mean those who stay in relationships where they remain "victim".) Or those who are upset with themselves for treating their partner as they do. Without awareness and healthy tools, all of us are victims of the unhealthy patterns we learn as children. Yep.
What I see on t.v., read in books etc. is similar to what Gordon mentioned - a lot of "aren't those abusive men jerks - lock 'em up forever, there's no hope for them" Ugh. Silly-think. mentality which I don't think is a healing element in our culture.
While a "victim" can't fix an "abuser", they can make healthy choices that make it more difficult for abusers to abuse. Right.
I agree with Gordon that we need to teach women (and men) that men are not the oppressors Right. and that an empowered person doesn't allow themselves to be oppressed. Right, under ordinary circumstances. Bear in mind that the research shows (Some of it at least was Lenore Walker's) that abused women tend to stay for financial reasons. You could make a case here for less income being related to dependent personality, the cornerstone of the victim, etc., but that's neither here nor there. (As Dr. I says, why give anyone that power?) What I think is one of the biggest problems for victims, is an inability to forgive (but that doesn't mean tolerating poor behavior!) That and a self-righteous indignation about what was "done" to them, not unlike the indignation of the abuser.
You see, in the end, it really doesn't matter. Both are dysfunctional... Both need help. I hate to see this stuff turned into male/female, victim/abuser issues. They're not. As a clinical psychologist, sociology and the behavior of groups is outside of my expertise. Not that it's not a reality; it's just not what I do or what this site is about. See here for a related discussion.
Okay, I'll get down from my soapbox - I couldn't resist!
take care and thanks Dr. I for posting that article anyways, because it did get me thinking. Thank you.
Asha here - an additional p.s. after reading some of the other posts.
There *are* people out there (abusers, I guess you would say) who believe they are the victims when in actual fact they are the ones doling out abuse (I don't mean you Gordon). They *are* victims, but not in the way they think they are - they are victims of faulty thinking patterns learned in childhood. Yep.
The answer is, IMHO, not to feel sorry for them, but to empower yourself so that there are less victims to prey on. Yep.
And Jay I agree that focusing inside is important and that there are people who divert from that focus by looking on the outside rather than within; letting outside things "control" them rather than choosing to control themselves. That wasn't the sense I got from Gordon though. Not that I can't be wrong, but it was the sense I got. I think Gordon's buttons got pushed. So what does that mean? That Gordon can decide whether or not his emotional upset at this type of thing warrants his taking a look at it.
Unfortunately the things I said in my earlier post can be used to defend misbehavior.. which is a shame.
And thank you Asha.
You did the right thing. Your clients will survive. Remember you look after the Self first.
i think you should read Bridget Jones diary and for get all about Dr Psycho. All the while you are analyzing the relationship it will be hard to move on. jay
Thanks very much for your concern. I can appreciate what you're saying--and for that matter, I've seen something myself of that "withholding" type of treatment from someone I dated a long time ago. It really did get me scratching my head trying to figure out "what on earth is going on here?" And "shouldn't I be doing more?" So it can be extremely difficult to put our finger on--until we "get it."
I should say though that this is not where I'm coming from. Part of where I'm coming from is that there's a whole big world out here where abuse in relationships is the exception rather than the rule. I referred to that in my previous, longer post. But in this world also, anger is normal, just as love is normal. Well put. We may be angry at all kinds of things--at taxes going up, at the neighbor's dog, or because we just hit the nail on the thumb. :) That doesn't mean we have to do anything crazy, but reasonable anger is normal. Yep.
In this world too, there's a great deal of vigorous debate. Sometimes it gets *very* verbally abusive, if you've ever spent time anywhere like Usenet!--though I don't think that method gets people very far. But that in its way is "normal" too. I used to be on a private BBS that I shared with people I mostly knew personally. You should have seen the fur fly there! Yet afterwards, we were all the best of friends. Anger doesn't necessarily mean we have a "problem." It only *might* mean that. *Reasonable* anger isn't a "red flag."
I hear what you're saying about the Self, but does anything in my posts give the impression that I don't take care of mySelf? It's true that we *may* run to take care of others as a substitute for taking care of ourSelves. Yet it's just as true that we can *only* afford to take of others if we do take care of ourSelves. Dr. Irene takes care of others. Do you think she takes care of herSelf? Does one have to exclude the other? Absolutely not. I reacted to your post because you launched into a lengthy spiel about societal issues, etc., which are outside the scope of this forum. You were on a roll kiddo! Did you do something awful? No. Did you hurt anybody? Well, besides, in my opinion misunderstand the tone and intent of Dr. Ochburg's contribution, no. Is that a horrible crime? Of course not. But, you know what this site is about. So, you got called on it. Whether or not you want to do anything about it is your choice.
Misunderstanding and laying into one of my contributors is no crime, especially since you expressed yourself appropriately. But, do expect me to call this type of stuff when I see it. Not only does it affect you, but you create an alarmist coat rack, so to speak. This is exactly the hook the many who populate this site with nowhere to hang their hidden, displaced anger (Like yours, I suspect - yep. I do.) need. This leads to chaos on the lists, the boards, etc. And, while chaos is part of the lesson the many on this site need to learn to negotiate, it's my job to help people get a better handle on what is and is not important. Plus, too much chaos becomes my headache! (And yes, I do take very good care of me, thank you.)
So Gordon, you didn't do anything "wrong." You are human and I'm calling you on what I see as a place I think you have a button. Do with it what you want.
To your questions though, "why do I talk about whether men or women are abusers?" This is not a game of "neener-neener-neener, who's doing the most, I win by 51 to 49." I think that's pointless. But to "do I feel abused?" the answer is Yes. Yet I explained why that was in my first post, and in the last, very short one. I hope it was clear enough. If it wasn't, there's not much sense in my going on about it, because I can't get through. You've been here long enough to know my ideal: you're job is to become Buddha. My question to you is, "Why take this stuff personally?"
But if this helps, I would say that with a few exceptions, abuse isn't really abuse unless it's part of a pattern. If our partner snaps at us now and again, that's not "abuse," and there's probably a good reason for it, even if it wasn't our fault. If she or he does it all the time, it may well be abuse. Whatever it is, it doesn't feel too good to the abusee and does nothing to help the abuser take charge of his or her life. I wasn't angry for the sake of being angry, or because of something else going on in my personal life. I was angry in response to something that my attention had just been drawn to. And to me, it was crystal-clear that what I saw was part of a pattern, one I recognized all too well: the *one-sided* blaming of men for abuse. However much of it was true in and of itself, it was largely the conspicuous omission of the other side that made it so totally biased. You have a point. Way, way too often the victims get together and abusively bash men. It happens all the time on this site. It's not OK. But, again Gordon, what do you care? If there is no button, why would you even give a passing thought to the fact that some women are so hurt, so burnt, so fed up, that they bash men?
Buttons get pressed because buttons are really mutual. Those ladies who bash men for the sake of being men or for imagined "wrongs," - whatever - are here because they are fighting their way through that awful, angry maze they're in. Anger and all, God bless them for being here (hear that Mel?) - since they're here because somewhere deep down, they know the problem is more complex than they can understand alone.
Same with you Gordon. If there was no button, you likely would not have reacted at all...
Also, as I mentioned in that first post--something I learned from Dr. Irene, even if I was jocular about it--it's far harder for us to recognize abuse if we were raised with it; because then, abuse seems "normal." Now I was lucky; that's part of where I'm coming from. I wasn't raised with abuse. My parents were caring to one another, and to me. That's just luck, nothing else--though I do like to say that "good-enough parenting" is the rule, not the exception. If we had damaged parents, that wasn't our fault. Many victims are the product of loving parents with few conflicts - whose ways do not prepare them for the realities of the world or who teach them to give, give, give in a world that often takes, takes, takes. Don't you think these people have problems with anger too? These people often learned that to cope means to deny. These people tend to approach the harsh realities of life by taking it and taking it and stuffing it. Well, "it" eventually goes somewhere... "It" is at high risk of being displaced onto whatever "hook" gets dumped on...
The same applies to this man-blaming. I come from a world where that verbal abuse didn't exist either. Nobody denies that there was always a "battle of the sexes," but the honors were even on both sides. If there were "men jokes," there were "mother-in-law" jokes as well. There might be better and worse people, but there wasn't a better and a worse sex. So no matter what anyone says, I *know* abuse when I see it. And it's largely people who were raised with this stuff, some of whom swallowed it whole without realizing it, who don't see it. I'm sorry that happened, and I'm sure many men and women today are less *happy* because of it. I'm also sorry that Dr. Irene didn't acknowledge the effects of this sex war that men didn't start (and women *as a whole* didn't either), but that's OK, I can live without it. Oh, but I have... In not so many words, put these together: VictimThink and Why a Woman Authors a Man's Page. Elsewhere too, but (again) I'm typing off the cuff without doing my homework...
Finally, Jay, some of the stuff I write about--history, mythology, World Wars, mathematics, "literary escapades," humor--that's me taking care of mySelf. I like to write. It not only gets my thoughts together, but many other people enjoy it too. Yes. And, you have tons of good stuff to say. Not everybody; I appreciate that. I'm sorry if we can't please everybody at once. But it's a big old world out here, as I said. It's full of things we can use to take care of ourSelves; things we can learn from too.
Take care, Jay! :) And I hope you get all your stuff worked out. I promise you I won't go down the route you did, and I'll be glad whenever we can help one another out if we can.
I'm truly grateful for your support, and I agree particularly with your first paragraph. I only wish you'd left it at that, because I'm going to bet I was lucky to catch your post at all. Please don't start a fight with Dr. Irene that you're not going to win, OK? I can't agree with the extremism that followed, and it is Dr. Irene's site. I'd like others to be able to read your first paragraph, but the post is at serious risk of disappearing. The rest of it went "blip!"
By the way, I have no reason at all to suppose that Dr. Irene is biased in her view of people who come for help. But I am biased Gordon. I won't work with people who are more interested in head games than recovery. I'm sure that more women victims than men choose to show up, just as they do on the board, for the reasons I've stated. Similarly with couples, it's more often the woman who will see therapy as a solution. It's just that when we need to find out who's doing how much of what, we can't rely on spontaneous self-reports. We have to go out and survey carefully, the way Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz did.
Anyway, Mel, it's very important to choose our fights. If we know we're going to lose, it's best not to start them. If we're not getting any further with them ourselves, it's best to call it a draw and move on to something else. But thanks once again. I'll send you mail when I get a moment.
I do agree with so many of your views. If you read my post to Jay, you'll have seen me saying exactly the same thing. Anger is normal. Anger doesn't have to mean we have a "problem." It's what we do with our anger that counts.
Just as one example, when I drive, some drivers irritate me in minor ways. So occasionally I'll mutter things under my breath like "Why didn't you *signal*, you dumb ****!" :) This bleeds out little bits of anger all the time. Mind you, I wouldn't say the same thing to the person's face. That wouldn't be productive. Anyway, it means I don't have to go around sticking my middle finger up at people, or far worse, *behaving* dangerously, cutting them off as "punishment" or whatever. The highway is a microcosm of life. I think my father taught me that, though he never said it that way. He just acted it. One thing he said was "I don't go out driving *assuming* that I might have an accident." I'm not sure why that's important, apart from keeping us happier. We all have to watch out for accidents in the making and try to avoid them. I think what's behind my dad's remark is that if we have no real fear, then we have nothing to be truly angry about either.
Dr. Irene's site certainly does offer a different "take" than much of the media especially. The media are hopelessly biased today with this "victim" thing, "women as victims" especially. As for the literature, that depends where we look. The problem is, we have to pick and choose. There are good books recommended here. Among others, I enjoyed reading the old TA stuff from Thomas Harris (*I'm OK, You're OK*) and Eric Berne. Put the "Adult" in charge of our lives! That was back in the 70s, though the writing dated from the 60s, before the sex-war and victimology poison spread like a cancer. Then I like Alice Miller. She echoes exactly what you're saying about the cycles of dysfunctional behavior, how the child who has experienced cruelty cannot express it, but must demonstrate cruelty instead. And she had some subtle things to say about emotional abuse in *The Drama of the Gifted Child*. Patricia Evans is valuable for her descriptions of verbal abuse; but here we have to pick and choose from among different parts of the book to see what's useful and what isn't. And that's just the trouble, because anyone who's confused can't know what to pick and choose to begin with.
There's Debbie Tannen too, on the different ways men and women communicate, especially in *You Just Don't Understand*. But we can never tell what goes on in some people's heads. Neil Lyndon, who writes (or used to) for the London *Times*, wrote a book called *No More Sex War*, bashing feminism. It was a bit crude, though I agreed with much of it; but halfway through, he bashed Debbie Tannen as well for her assertion that women and men communicate as if they come from different cultures. I still haven't figured out where he was coming from. Here's a woman offering him a partial explanation (at least) of what's going on, and he turns her down? Seems pretty dense to me! Of course, he could be a genuine misogynist. I'd never claim they don't exist! :)
Getting back to anger though, what kind of message has Steve swallowed? We can't "not feel" anger. Anger is natural. He can't wish it away; and if he tries to stuff it, it will only come out some other way. A Real Man doesn't "not feel." A Real Man just behaves well--or does his best to, in spite of the mistakes we all make. We must distinguish between feelings and behavior. When our anger has a cause we can do something about, we can, as you say, Asha, use that anger as a source of energy to do something about the problem. As long as we do it effectively, not ineffectually or counterproductively. And if there's not much to be done, we can still explain our anger--to ourselves, to others if they will listen. That's how we learn to understand ourselves, and one another.
Finally, you're right. If I was ticked off at part of that article that Dr. Irene posted, *at least* it was an opportunity for thought and conversation. Gordon, we all know bias exists. That's a given. It's easy to discuss bias, and there are many forums for that. Few forums however direct you inside. That's why I pushed you in the direction of looking inside; it's where I want to keep this site's focus. Think of this as a sort of therapy group where the focus is on you, not things outside the Self.
I'll give you a soapbox any time. Take care! :)
Dear Anne, I was thinking a bit about you last night and wanted to add to my previous post. I think that one of the hardest things when you are in a therapeutic role is that you know that the clients do get to rely on you. It can make taking time out difficult. I had to learn that actually things do go on. They do cope and there is always someone to pick up the pieces. there is actually quite a relief in learning you are not indispensable. jay
Dear Mel and Gordon,
I think it would be helpful for your understanding if GENDER was removed from your discussion. This site has more women participants getting away from abusers because there are simply more men abusing women than there are women abusing men. This is a social fact supported by research. Thank you, although the argument can be made that the woman victim is simply more easily identified, so that's why "she's" the victim. The site is simply a reflection of that ratio. Yes! This is NOT a man-bashing site. This is a site for recovery. I think that all of us on this site are here to make ourselves and subsequently our relationships more healthy, and it seems like the majority of us are in relationships with men.
The theme in Evans that abuse awareness is a result of society's turning away from patriarchy is very important, and perhaps you haven't read the book or didn't understand that point. The eradication of abusive treatment is nothing less than a call to change social patterns that have been around since cavemen - er, cavepeople. Calling abusers, women AND men, on their behavior is not tantamount to the condemnation of an entire gender. Well put. I think there are other sites for men who want to complain about women, but this isn't one of them.
So what happened after you blew the whistle on your daughter working underage? I re-read your story after I read your post, and I think you are holding it together pretty darn well. I don't know if I could still be a mother after what you went through. You have so much strength, Jay. Don't jump all over yourself for being angry - I think your anger is totally natural. I would be angry too. Yep. Some of you will recall I "predicted" Jay's rage on this topic some time ago... Normal. Yeah, maybe that wasn't the most adult way of expressing it, but you're human! And you didn't lie!
Where does one put anger?
Where is Theressa, by the way? THERESSA! WHERE ARE YOU? B TOO! WHERE ARE YOU?
AJ, I was really happy to hear you had such a great time! Sharon, hang in there! The guy sounds seriously deranged - keep reminding yourself. It's not possible to be in any kind of relationship with someone who is disturbed and not getting help.
I am kind of deadlocked with my friend, although he has been calling every day. I'm finding myself making some allowances for the fact that he is from a different culture. Translation: making excuses for (Giggle!) Some women I've talked to here think that my friend's telling me how to dress is a flattering marker of how much he cares about me. There's a lot about Brazilian culture that Americans and Europeans would find unacceptable and even abusive. I would like to mend the fences with my friend but I am not sure how - it seems that just going back to the house would set it up for the same stuff to happen again, and this is not a culture in which women talk freely about how they like to be treated - in fact, men sometimes find that insulting. Which is part of the problem here. I guess I keep my distance until I figure out what to do!
So Mel and Gordon, you see I don't bash this guy! I really like him a lot. Maybe I am even in love with him. But the fact is, his social education makes him treat me in a certain way that makes me uncomfortable. His socialization makes him believe that I should act a certain way, and accept his behavior. So there is a dissonance here. It's a historical dissonance that has echoes in all cultures and the sad thing for women is that we WANT to be with these men but the behavior is no longer acceptable. Women don't need men for economic or social protection anymore, and we have no longer any reason to put up with bad behavior.
Gee, it's late - good night all! Enough soapboxing for this early am.
More early am musings -
at least I am sad and lonely because I value myself! Sad and lonely feels better than controlled! and definitely better than abused!
It's getting light outside - maybe my friend will think of making allowances for my foreign-ness on his own... if I hang in there...
Must be 8 am in England! Good morning!
Hi all I'm new here, after a huge fight w/ hubby last night, because when he woke up from his 6 hr. nap ( must be nice) his food was NOT ready!!!!!!! It is MY job to see to it his food is ready, and when it is not, he has a right to yell and scream...been married for 8 years, I literally cannot stand my husband...he is a miserable 43 y/o man...HELP! Read Asha's post above.
Hi All, OK Dr. Irene, I can understand you want to keep the focus on the self. I thought about Gordon's advice and have decided that it doesn't matter who's perspective is right, the point is, it is your site and if I want to continue reading, learning and maybe even helping, than I should just drop the issue. Continuing to try forcing my perspective would just go nowhere except maybe cause more hard feelings which is not what I want. So I will keep the focus on the self and the discussions in progress. I'm sorry for offending you, I know that when I feel strongly about something I tend to want to debate it to death. You go beyond debate Dear Mel. You slam and vilify. I'm still learning when the time is right to drop things and just agree to disagree. That would be good. But, how are you going to do that without getting hold of the *Rage*? My partner has said the same thing although I feel he gets angry just for my disagreeing with him in the first place. But I'm doing much better at not letting that anger push my buttons. I've realized that much of my problem in relationships is not allowing or letting my partner feel comfortable getting angry. Yep. Next time, practice doing nothing and notice your feelings. Your goal is to better understand and handle your anger. I guess maybe that is an emotion that scares me and I want to try and stop it but just ended up making things worse. So now, I let my partner be angry and it happens less frequently and blows over quicker and he apologizes even though he is usually not disrespectful toward me. And it is not so scary after all. I still worry from time to time that it might escalate anyway, into something more violent as it did in the past, but so far, so good and I believe that is a good sign. It would have happened by now I think since I know I have pushed some of the more serious buttons and he handled it very well. OOOps, I'm gonna be late for work. take care everyone, Mel
Dear all, Sharon here,
No real news on the Dr. Psycho homefront. Last night's therapy session was fun. In group, there were 7 of us who meet weekly - since it had been 10 days for me to have no contact with Dr. Psycho, I brought in cookies with happy/smiley faces on them. Everybody loved it!!!! They cheered me on in group! Go Sharon! It was really neat. All of us in group have been verbally and/or either physically or sexually abused and we all have our stories. We are in a 12-week group and then on to individual. This group has been very good for me. Last night's topic was 'emotional abuse'. Very moving. We all had a lot to contribute. I told them about this website.
Anyway, thought I'd check in! Moving, moving, moving onward!!!
Perdida (and group)
I'll come visit you in Brazil! - kay? Trubble can come with me. Yippeee! Actually I think you are really brave to live there! Do you speak portuguese (is that the language there)?
I've lived in Latin America before and some of the men in the community where I lived seriously believed that women were less intelligent than men. So I think I know where you are coming from. I also noted that *women* gave other women who didn't follow the cultural norm a really hard time (but that didn't stop them from complaining about their victimhood)! The family I lived with, a widow and other female relatives (no men) had a curfew in place for me. They worried so much about what others would think if they didn't do what was expected! They were lovely, warm people, but I realized that in that culture it wasn't just men dominating women, it was also women making it difficult for other women to step out of the "norm". Do you notice that?
Also, I really don't know the facts about who abuses more, men or women. And really, who cares - lets just stop abusing each other and being perpetual victims! Yeah!
I think there *is* a gender emphasis, and I do think that can be a problem (except where it provides answers to dysfunctional behavior). I also wish that men would speak up a lot more because I think that's part of the dysfunction. It seems like, in general, women are a lot more likely to reach out for help. But, don't forget, women are taught to cry... Not so for most men...
On the bravenet discussion board I've noted a lot of hostility and suspicion towards some of the men who post. I think this is a shame because it probably promotes an "all woman" environment there. I understand people not wanting abusive types to destroy the healing atmosphere, but I think that the healing atmosphere can also be destroyed by anger and suspicion. Just my opinion. I don't post there much because I find the catbox "safer" with Dr. Irene lurking. ;) There's been an ongoing problem with the numbers ganging up on the minorities. I guess this is just a microcosm. I don't like it. Would intervene on all of it if I had the time...
have a great day everyone.
Dear all, Sharon here,
Hi Jay!! Hope you are feeling better. Yes, I just wish I could get him out of my system ----- however, I am still sooo very angry --- at times at myself and at times at Dr. Psycho --- for even staying as long as I did in such a sick relationship. That anger comes through in my postings -- but it helps to *vent*. However, the difference for me at this very moment is that I am NOT thinking about how I can keep the ball rolling with him so to speak. I cut him off --- by saying *no more* and that is the difference for me NOW is that I finally had the *guts* and most importantly --- THE COURAGE to finally emotionally and spiritually and physically cut all ties. Was it hard for me? Yes, very. Was it something I wanted to do? Not really. But I knew he and I could not keep up in a current state of *relationship* with only one of us seeking mutuality. He was not willing to take ANY responsibility for his sick behavior....but I'd still try and stay in there -- hoping for change, etc. These past few weeks I now know in my bones that he is NOT ever, ever, ever going to change. My courageous feat here is that I am staying AWAY from him and holding my own. Reading helps as it propels me into understanding where I have been. And knowledge is power. I am staying AWAY FROM HIM and that is the only thing that matters. I HAVE REMOVED MYSELF FROM HIS IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT. And I now have the courage to live without him. He is a confirmed verbal abuser.
Perdida, Thanks Pity we can't win a lottery and all have a party in Brazil. I teach a Brazilian boy with (supposedly) ADHD although I think his problems really stem from poor control in the classroom and language difficulties.
well I have had a weird day and it has made me relieved and nervous. i talked to a DV officer this morning and they are going to talk to me and Jake together about what abuse is and call him on the emotional stuff. Wow! My guess is they will be pretty even handed so it won't be a wonderful time. But at last someone is listening and looking after me... Hey, I though Jay was looking after you! What I do know is they won't accept Jake's denial. It may do no good but at least every resort will have been tried. I am also supposed to document even the lunatic stuff he does. You've certainly been having your trials and tribulations lately. Working it through...
He was just so horrible this morning that I had to do something; So even if it is awful, I will know I have done what I can. Maybe it will stop some of the behaviour and at least now I have a doctor as well who believes me. And *Me*! Don't forget the cat!
My daughter is no longer employed by TRU. I don't need to feel bad as it would have been the same story in a few days when they looked at her documents. Mummy Knows Best! Jake is going to support her; he says and this will mean she will get on with her NVQ. That will give her really good employment and probably pretty quickly and all legal. I will be so glad when all this is over. i think I will feel better in the summer when loads of kids will leave school and home anyway. I won't feel so odd. Not that it makes any difference really but it means it won't sound odd she is not home.
Theressa where are you? I am missing you! I need your Monday lecture for me!!!!Are you Ok?
Dear Dr. Irene,
Would you please post an article on depression and abuse?
Thank you for this wonderful site.
I have known for some time that I'm in an abusive relationship. But for too many reasons have not been able to end it. We have been together for 4 years. Not married, but own a house and by our state law, are probably considered married by common law. I have a 13 y/o son from my previous marriage.
I'm ready to get out. He is abusive - verbally and emotionally (one and the same?). He is mean. He is manipulative. The silent treatment, won't talk about what's wrong, insulting, picks on me & Ben (my son), emotionally & physically withholding (no sex), controls everything at home with an iron fist. Drinks way too much. Suffers from depression. There is a lot more, but I'm sure you all have heard it/lived it before.
I'm 40, smart, great job, great friends. But I don't know how to leave. I don't know if I need an attorney or not. I don't know if I am entitled to the house if Ben & I move out. I don't know what to do next!
My therapist says to be prepared to pack up & go. My son is scared to death to move out of the house (he & I picked it out & lived there for 4 months before Ken moved in with us). We have a great dog. (Ken has a dog too but he won't care for it - it's very sick and has bitten. I'm scared of it, but he won't put it to sleep).
But, how do I do that? Just pack up and go? I don't know if I have any rights. I don't know if I can afford an attorney - or even need one (Ken will probably do mediation - he's a perfect angel in front of everyone but us). Where do I start????
Hello all. I made it through the weekend while my wife was gone. However, it appears that my worst fear is actually coming true. No, she didn't cheat on me, she wants to leave. Not because of how I am now, but because the way I once was. See, I learned alot about loving her and respecting her over the last month. We don't argue anymore, we express our feelings and we are opening up to each other. She feels that the one thing we never had was a great friendship, something she now wants from me. However, that in mind, she doesn't feel the "click" between us. As if we can't be ourselves around each other. She is going to stay until we sell our house, and we have agreed to just be ourselves during that time.
We've agreed to talk about everything on our minds when it is there. We have opened up to each other alot. I feel that in the period which it takes sell the house there is a possibility she may find that "click" with me again. I saw it for the first time in a long time today, she came and took me to lunch and we went shopping for clothes for our son. We went as friends would go and now that I look at it, I saw it. The pointing at the same things, taking each other's words right of our mouths. The happiness that friends have. I feel that is what we need to make this work and if we don't find it, I will support her decision as it will make her happy. If only I had started therapy while she still had hope and desire......... Computer Nerd But you didn't. But, you spent a good day together! Friends! That's what it's all about...
I am new here. I wanted to offer some advice that I found helpful. I went to a battered women's shelter. They have all kinds of information to help you get out on your own. They had support groups for validation, parenting classes, classes for the kids, education guidance, attorneys that worked free or pro-bono, and all kinds of pamphlets. I have met the most wonderful people.
You do not have to be physically battered to obtain information, advice, and or support. There are counselors available to answer questions and guide you at any stage of domestic violence. No women should ever feel "stuck". You should feel safe in your own home. If you do not then it's time to start taking the steps to help you feel safe. It has helped my self-esteem just starting the process. It could go either way right now. My husband could get the counseling he needs to change, or he could choose "status quo" irregardless I am making plans for my future for my protection. I am responsible for the safety of my children also.
In fact, I am paying for an attorney. He charged me $185. and answered most of my questions in the first meeting. It was the best $185 I have spent. There are some attorneys that offer free upfront consultation for an hour. Check you yellow pages.
I have hired an attorney but I am self-employed (babysit 1 daycare child) and a stay at home mom that has low income. My husband cut me off financially. He pays our bills but I have no extra income. I have enough to pay for my phone bill, internet bill, gas, and toiletries. Which he refuses to pay for. My attorney advised me when I run out of my $2K retainer if I don't have the money then the free pro-bono attorney at the shelter will take it over from there but at least he can start it. He is very good but expensive. I am hoping that my husband avoids dragging it out. I have research all the laws in my state. Doing your homework at the library or on the internet saves you lots of money. I have saved money doing my owns research to eliminate asking my attorney questions, and letter writing. I found do-it-yourself guides etc. My sister said that she would recommend having an attorney present in court because she made this mistake and it cost her more in the long run. But, again support groups are a wealth of information. The women in your area can tell you who they have used, how much it cost them, what happened, etc.
It's never easy to make a big change but absolutely necessary to protect yourself and your child from abuse. I am making that similar decision now. I am in limbo to see if I get the house. I may lose a really nice home and the ability to stay home with my kids. They are not safe in this environment. I have to do what it takes to provide them with a safe home, period. I hope I get awarded the home. If I don't then I have to find a way to provide a home for my children. I have a safety plan in place incase my husband does flip out due to being ordered out of the house. It helps to ease anxiety to have a safety plan in place.
Just do your homework. Reach out for help. It's there.
LisaMM Thank you LisaMM.
I read that book "Women Who Love Too Much" in one day. It's great! Agreed.
Dear Dr. Irene,
My husband and I are both in counseling. He is still in denial. I was wondering if you could post an article about "mirroring" his accusations or questions that he is projecting on me. The reason I ask is that when I came out of denial and started realizing I was not worthless I was thanking my therapist. She says "Oh, I just held the mirror up to you, you did the work." I was wondering if it would be helpful to learn this? Should I leave it to the professionals? He actually feels entitled to his behavior and says I am generalizing. We just can not seem to talk because we are in two different stages of recovery and realities. I am in awareness and he is in denial. He really "believes" it's something I am doing that makes him behave this way. I am not buying it, I can see that he is manipulating. I just don't think he knows any other way. He seems to be taking everything his counselor says and turning it around to suit him. He never validates anything I say, period. I have noticed that my husband is "echoing" to me everything I say to him. Does he know he is doing this? What is an effective way of turning his accusations around so that he can hear how he sounds? This is what I suggest you do, here and here.
I don't want to "fix" him any more. I want to be able to communicate with him with out getting "hooked" back into his games, and diversions. I have had some luck with just asking him questions back like "Why do you think....?" Putting it back on him to explain. He wants to change my mind or make me see it his way when I do not agree or oppose his opinion. I feel like he lying! I have chosen to just not bother communicating with him until we are further along in our therapy. I tell him "I don't have to explain to you". He wants to meet my therapist. She does not want to meet with him because she wants me to have a safe place. He says, "I think it's odd you won't meet with me with a 3rd person." This is because is so much better at turning things around, diverting, and confusing me. I am still learning how to assert myself. I never made a point of collecting information because I did not realize I was in combat? He wants to "win" and I can't seem to protect myself from him at times verbally. Will he learn to stop this type of communication just by me disengaging? We have children and have to communicate to each other. It is not easy. I have resorted to making him write anything he says down because he lies so much. Since he filed for divorce and has done some pretty odd things to turn it around to be my fault that he was abusive. Including staging scenes and tape record me to prove I was "crazy" when I was in my rage and anger stage. So at times I bit the bait. I am getting better. It has since calmed down but we do not trust each other. He put pressure on both of us by filing for divorce. At the time it was to get me to back down. Now, he says that if I would just go with him so he can explain his side then he would be willing to drop the divorce. I have not attended hoping he would just "get it" on his own. I have confidence that his therapist is trained enough to help him see it if he wants to. His therapist is trained in batterer intervention / impulse control / addiction, etc. I know he sees him for who he is. So, I guess time will actually be on my side. My husbands attorney has advised him to stay in the counseling until we go to court. Meanwhile, I am left just doing the best I can.
I will tell him my perspective, he denies it, rationalizes it, and minimizes it as abusive. He will then say "Tell me how I was controlling your time, or telling you that you could not have money." It's so covert that it is hard to put my finger on an exact comment that he says? Is there any point in trying to tell him why I think he is abusive or explaining details of his actions when he has this irrational thinking?
When the abusers (or other victims of childhood) "wake-up" what is it that they realize? Do they go back and see the abuse for what it was? Do they just hear themselves suddenly?
When I came out of denial that I was in an abusive relationship and repeating a childhood pattern of co-dependence. I was obsessing over "Why did my mother allow or enable the abuse to me as a child?" I just could not get over the fact that they could stand by and watch this happen to me? Suddenly, bells and whistles went off after an E.M.D.R. session. My therapist had helped me realize my irrational thinking that I was powerless. I was afraid to turn around and hug the "monster". I even screamed out "OH, I am living with the monster!". I have since accepted that is why my mom allowed the abuse to happen. They felt powerless. I don't any longer. I don't recall ever being in denial about my abusive or destructive behaviors. I have been always aware when I do something that it is not healthy, destructive, or abusive to myself or others. I did not realize that trying and hoping he would just "get better" was effecting my children. I felt horrible to realize I had allowed them to be in an abusive or toxic environment. I immediately took action. Since he was physically abused and a narcissist is his layers of denial just thicker? Is it more scary for him to admit the truth or be wrong?
He just entered therapy 4 months ago which his therapist says was a big step in itself. I have been in therapy for over a year. I am guessing it's probably not fair of me to expect him "recover" or "get it" overnight. Atleast he is going, even though he claims he does not know why? Do you think part of him knows "something" is wrong?
Meanwhile, I am working on my "Inner Child" and Grieving Work. I am identifying my triggers. A biggie is validation. I am attending support groups for validation. My therapist says that once I "know" myself that I won't need validation from him. Meanwhile, I am not trying to "fix" him as much as learn how I can talk with him if he decides not to change. I swear I feel like I am arguing with a child at times. I would like to learn how to communicate so that he can trust me enough to be honest with me and himself. We are finally moving past the anger and to acceptance that this relationship is not working. We still blame each other point fingers on occasion. I know my part but don't tell him since he is just collecting information to use against me. I just keep trying to stay focused on me and not personalizing his actions. I keep thinking perhaps I could reflect back to him his irrational thinking? Keeping in mind that it is his job to see it. So any advice would be grateful.
Any suggestions from the catbox gang would be helpful too!
Thanks a million ;)
Hi Dr. Irene and All,
I posted a question previously asking if there was any way I could communicate with my husband who is in counseling using "mirroring" techniques or just asking him questions back. He is in denial. I forgot to mention that he is an alcoholic and smokes marijuana. He is a classic narcissist. He loves his children very much, and is a hard worker. Our home is beautiful and he thinks I have all I need. He devalues me and minimizes my feelings. He is attending therapy to get to the core of his anger and addiction to change his thinking pattern. I am not sure which one is better for him to fix first his irrational thinking or his addictions? Generally addictions are targeted first (just a form of acting out/ running), but each therapist will approach the issue their way. But, he's where he should be. He does a lot of his manipulating and rationalizing his behavior around his drinking and how he treats me to get to drink and do what he thinks he is entitled to because he does not think he has a problem. I can see we both have a problem but I don't want to be pulled into trying to "fix" him, and he wants to pull me in to "fix" me because he thinks that is his problem. Does this make sense? He sees me as the problem, not his drinking. I am not trying to manipulate him. I just want him to take responsibility for his "stuff". I will take responsibility for mine. I am using "I" statements and all he does is say what "I" say is wrong. Ugh...the only reason that I am concerned is because we have children. Believe me after what I have gone through lately, if these kids were not here. I would have been gone. I just have hit my limit. I am hoping that we will at least be able to salvage something for our kids, even if we do not ever see eye to eye.
I have been attending Al-Anon to get support and validation. What I am experiencing is real. I realize I can not change him, but I can change me. Right.
I just wanted to add that what I was looking for was a way to communicate with him that does not cause him to feel manipulated, attacked, and so he can hear how he sounds. I am not the enemy? I am just doing what it takes to protect me and my children. I am trying to get us all help so that we can all be healthy but he can't see it. He just sees me as the person that is preventing him from having his cake and eat it too? He does not want to be held accountable. He does not want to be responsible for his behaviors which he says do not bother him. His behaviors bother me and create tension in our family. He actually tries to tell me "You don't have it bad." Yet, I have lived in complete chaos for years.
So, any advice from you all would be greatly appreciated! I was wondering what a healthy way to communicate this to him would be? I ordered a copy of "Couple Skills" and communication skill books from the library.
Is the only way for a narcissistic alcoholic to "wake up" is to leave? I just work on self and leave him to figure it out, or not.
I have tons of stuff I am working on. I'll just keep dodging him and his "stuff" for now. Sometimes, it's funny. I think of that phrase "I am rubber, you are glue. What you say bounces off of me, and sticks to you." :)
Thanks again :)