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#203706 - 02/05/08 04:49 PM new to group
LJA Offline
Guest

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 35
Hi,
I just joined today and have spent ...dunno how long reading. Unfortunately, I haven't found what I was looking for, which is hope for my situation. Maybe I just haven't read long enough, but I decided to post instead.
I have been married to a survivor for 20years. I found out about his abuse about 14 years ago. At the time, I mistakenly thought that him remembering his past and informing me of it was enough to let us lead a happy life together. Over the years he did not choose to share much info about his abuse with me. I never pushed him to share because it wasn't my place to do so. But every few years the loneliness of our marriage, with almost no physical or emotional intimacy, became too much to bare and I pushed him to do 'something".
He would respond with something like going away and thinking about it, a small amount of reading, and once he saw a therapist for a few months. The bottom line
from my perspective is that very little ever changed. We had a fabulous platonic
relationship. With trust, respect and enormous amounts of love.
I have told him all along that I'm not happy and that I am not going to wait for him to change forever. As our 20 yr wedding anniversary approached, he had a meltdown. He couldn't deal with facing his demons so he had to get away from me.
He also refused to admit to either of us that he was running from his past.
I could probably write a book about his exit from the relationship. Basically he spent three months destroying what we had had for 20 years. I literally mourned the death of my husband while living with a new monster who hated everything about me. By the time I couldn't fight for us any more, I was suicidal for the first time in my life. I spent many months in therapy trying to recover from PTSD.
Then, one day I went over to his apartment and ran into his girlfriend (the affair was his final ticket out of our marriage). I took the opportunity to get a few things off my chest ;\) During the tirade, my husband's meltdown officially ended as he saw her (the epitomy of denial and manipulation) side by side with me (honesty and love?). He says I rescued him that day. He never saw her again and we started working to put our lives back together.
Sounds like a happy ending, no? I thought it was. I thought it would take time and hard work, but that this marked the beginning of the end of the death hold CSA has had on our relationship.
My husband has now been back home for almost a year. good things have happened. he has shared his story with me. He feels like a weight was lifted off because of this, and his recovery has definitely moved forward. I have read about SA almost constantly, so I feel fairly well informed. But there has been almost no movement on the intimacy front. Only now, when I bring it up, he very often becomes verbally and emotionally abusive. I am now becoming scared to have a conversation with him.
So, what about me? I feel like a shit for asking. What he is battling is so ugly and unfair, and my woes are so small in comparison. But when do I get to count? When do my needs get to even register? When do I get to have a life? I have now spent 23 years being patient, loving and giving. When does me being noble and loving turn into me being stupid and naive? I have held on for so long because a. I really love him and want to be with him, and b. I had always seen reason for hope.
I am not seeing any hope anymore. if him trashing our lives and then being given another chance isn't motivation enough for him to work through his shit , it seems that nothing will be.
If anyone out there has any info, good or bad, about long term relationships and the possibility of recovering to the point of having intimacy (emotional and physical) I would love to hear it.

Thanks,
LJA


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#203766 - 02/05/08 08:56 PM Re: new to group [Re: LJA]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
LJA,

Originally Posted By: LJA
So, what about me? ... But when do I get to count? When do my needs get to even register? When do I get to have a life? I have now spent 23 years being patient, loving and giving. When does me being noble and loving turn into me being stupid and naive? I have held on for so long because a. I really love him and want to be with him, and b. I had always seen reason for hope.


As a survivor I have been through all these questions with my own wife in some form or another, and I can tell you that you have every right to ask them and get the answers.

The abuse of a boy or teenager is a horrific thing, yes, but that doesn't mean that when he grows to adulthood and becomes a man, his continuing issues and problems get to cancel the value and validity of his partner's needs in the relationship and her dreams for her own life. It just ain't so.

When we love someone very much it's tempting to tell ourselves that we will do anything, sacrifice anything for him or her. But does it work that way? What is the value of a relationship in which one partner is routinely disrespected and emotionally abused? What is the goal behind this devotion? What does the survivor's partner think she is achieving? At what point does a partner have to say enough is enough?

In my own case it actually helped me when my wife drew her line in the sand and made it clear where her boundaries were. She didn't give me ultimatums, but she made it clear that she expected to see me making a real effort and taking therapy seriously. If I could not do that and make progress, she was going to call it quits herself.

By being strong for herself first she actually gave me something to hold on to. I knew she would recognize it when I was making progress and let me know when I was slipping. In the middle of the storm of my early recovery I had a rock I could count on. If she had told me that she would be there for me no matter what, how would that have helped me? In my own case I think it would have worked against me, in that I would not have made her feelings and needs a priority, simply because she herself was telling me those feelings and needs really didn't matter. They could wait.

I don't think anyone can tell another how to deal with a relationship that's in trouble. Only you can decide where your boundaries are and what your absolute demands are. He needs to have some idea of your thinking on these matters, and as I said, I would avoid ultimatums. They're too rigid and counter-productive. But he does need to know you insist that you count too. He needs to know that how he relates to you is also an abuse issue, one as important as any other.

One of the worst aspects of recovery is the confusion we encounter when so many feelings hit us all at once. We often don't realize how our problems are impacting on our partners. I know I sure didn't. What helped me was talking to partners here and then listening - really listening - to what my wife had been telling me all along. It does make a difference, however, when the message you hear is a clear one.

Unfortunately it often happens that the crimes of our abusers claim a new victim in adulthood - our partner. It's important that you not allow that to happen. Sadly, there are times when nothing will help and the partner has to make decisions for her own welfare. But there also cases where a partner takes a strong position for herself and that gives the survivor the wake-up call he needs. I certainly hope that's the way it works out for you.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#203856 - 02/06/08 01:01 PM Re: new to group [Re: roadrunner]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2575
My wife has been strong, but she's been struggling as well. I've been emotionally distant and keeping her at a "safe" distance since we got married. Then this past month when things began to disintegrate for me, she did much like Larry's wife. She drew a line in the sand. She made it clear that she loved me, she didn't want to leave or abandon me, but she needed to do what was best for her and our children. She basically told me that I needed to do something, and make progress. She couldn't stay if things remained as they were. Those things made me angry at the time. I felt anger toward her and felt like she didn't care about what I was going through. I even thought that she was being selfish. Looking back, I know that I was the one not caring about what she was going through, I was the one being selfish. It's a hard miry pit to be stuck in.

At that time I was completely isolating myself. I'd come home, eat the wonderful meal she had prepared, and then I'd go off to sit in front of my computer or tv. The words she used to describe it was that I was physically there, but mentally and emotionally somewhere else. I guess my major breakthrough at that time was after a long long many hour nasty fight we had into the wee hours of the morning. I had told her many times that she didn't love me. It was how I felt, but was not at all reality. Towards the end of the fight, the realization hit me that I didn't know how to love her, and didn't know how to be loved. I said that to her, and then broke down into a sobbing little boy. It was a few days later that I took the mental effort to begin to break down the barrier I had put between us, and tried to begin to let her in.

I say we're closer now than ever before. She doesn't agree, as she's been able to let me in and love me since we got married, I'm just figuring that all out. She says I'm just now on our honeymoon. I love her. Very deeply, which is one of the reasons I'm doing what I can to be there for her, even at times when I just want to slip back into those old habits and just turn my mind off.

I hope something in my story helps you. I really do. I know your husbands feelings and the turmoil he's feeling, I just wish I had a formula or action plan I could give you that would just work and make it all better.


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#203861 - 02/06/08 01:39 PM Re: new to group [Re: roadrunner]
LJA Offline
Guest

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 35
Hi Larry,

I really appreciate you taking the time the reply to my post. It is good to hear that different outcomes are available and it makes me happy to hear that you and your wife are on the right path.

The advise you shared is excellent advise, and it makes me feel a lot less crazy (stupid?) that following the guidelines you described has worked for someone. I feel I have been following them. I have made it very clear to my husband what I need to be happy and he's agreed they my needs are reasonable. I have told him I wont wait forever, but that I know recovery takes time. I haven't given any ultimatums. Up until his meltdown I basically said as long as he was moving forward, I would wait.

Unfortunately, he was lying to both of us about how he was doing... After he came back, I said I needed to see the progress. Now, a year after his return things have come to a head because I have refused to back down about getting a need of mine addressed (I wanted to discuss how his ignoring our lack of physical intimacy impacts me). There have been many times when I thought the penny had finally dropped for him and he was finally going to 'look it in the eye' so that we could have what we have both agreed we want. But even though I think his intentions are always good, they dont last more than a few days.

Over the years, I have tried everything I can think of to help him and us. I have passed every single one of his tests. You asked about what I think I am achieving being this devoted. I think I have always been able to see past the injuries inflicted upon him by his family, to the person inside. That's kind of a funny thing for me to type if you know him because he is so high functioning with respect to almost everything else (including parenting). I have never questioned if it was possible for him to heal and for us to have what we want. He has worked so hard in other aspects of his life and I know he loves me as much as I love him, I guess I have assumed one day we will get there. Its just too goddamn cruel for us not to.
It also makes no sense to me that he doesn't do this. Believe me, I am not trying to minimize how awful the path I am asking him to go down is. No one should have to deal with what he has to deal with. BUT, if he doesn't do this he'll never have the life he deserves. Not with me, not with anyone. The only way out is through, right?
For him to choose not to come out doesn't make any sense to me. Other people have done it so I know he can do it too. I still dont question if he can, now I question if he will. So maybe the answer to your question is that I had faulty fairytale thinking ie I assumed if I was loving enough, patient enough, trustworthy enough, he would eventually decide to pursue his recovery and we could start living 'happily ever after'.

I guess I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that it's looking like I might be in the "sadly...nothing will help" category.

LJA


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#203868 - 02/06/08 02:30 PM Re: new to group [Re: LJA]
LJA Offline
Guest

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 35
Hi Justscott,
Thank you for your reply. A lot about your story sounded familiar to me. I think my husband and I have touched on the idea of him not knowing how to love me or be loved by me. But maybe that is something I could try to pursue with him further. Considering his background, it would make perfect sense that he didn't learn this.
I know he would say many of the same things as you, he feels closer to me than ever before, he has worked hard to dismantle the walls between us...and has had some success. We also suffer from his pull to lead a hum drum life of eating and TV watching. And I know he would say that the progress he has made he has been able to make because of my support and his great love for me.
In our case though, progress always stalls when anything to do with me comes up. He is now able to share his pain with me, (which I understand is a huge development) but he can't hear about my pain. He will let me in to his heart, but he wont come in to mine with a ten foot barge pole. This is extremely confusing to me. When he shared details of his story with me, we both thought we could see a rainbow in the distance. We thought he had just done the hardest thing in his recovery. But we have now spent almost a year of him trying to hear anything about me and he can't do it. Plus, as I said earlier, he is becoming abusive in his desperation to shut me up.
Anyway, thanks for understanding. It is good to hear that we aren't alone in our struggles.

LJA


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#203928 - 02/06/08 09:48 PM Re: new to group [Re: LJA]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
LJA,

I truly don't know what to say. 20 plus years of a marriage but still a basically platonic relationship is, well, beyond my understanding. But the reality of it is that he's only dealt with what happened to him as a child in the last year. I don't know how old he was when he was s/a. For argument's sake, let's say 10. So this 10 year old now has his life wrecked, his emotional growth stunted and his ability to trust destroyed. Somehow though, he grows up and finds you, a wonderful, caring woman who loves him; he can't figure out why or how, but you do. So he continues doing whatever he's been doing 'cause it seems to be OK, even if maybe you're not completely happy 100% of the time. For the most part, he's pulling it off right? Well the answer to that is really no, but he doesn't know how to fix it and doesn't even try until the fact that you might leave him is right there in his face. That was one year ago. So now he's what? 45? 50? So for 35+ years he's operated at the emotional level of a 10 year old. For 35 years! Is one year enough to fix that? Not likely.

All that being said, do you deserve everything you expected to have when you married? Of course you do! You didn't sign on for a fixer-upper, but that's exactly what you got. From everything you write, your husband sounds like a great guy, except for the fact that his ability to be intimate with you isn't there. That's so hard to deal with. You are deprived of your ability to share your love with him in a sexual manner, and youíre deprived of your own need for human contact with the one man you so want it from.

Youíre husbandís inability to be intimate with you is also a very weird testament to how much you do mean to him. He had an affair while your were separated, so he's able to express himself sexually, but not with you, the woman he loves and trusts the most because you have the ability to hurt him. Thatís a giant hurdle that he has to work his way through. I canít imagine that such a thing would be easy for you or me or any partner to really grasp after such a long period of time together, but I strongly believe that itís what your husband is dealing with.

I guess the real question is are you prepared by wait even longer than you already have? Itís a brutally difficult question and I donít envy your position at all.

ROCK ON...........Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#203980 - 02/07/08 09:42 AM Re: new to group [Re: Trish4850]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2575
Trish you just sparked a thought in me that I'm just beginning to understand in myself. I have this tendency, during physical intimacy with my wife to mentally shut off. I've heard others express similar feelings, and others have flat out said that during any kind of sexual activity, they feel like they are either back there being abused all over, or that they are abusing the one they are with.

The other night I found myself mentally shut off again, I was just going through the motions. My wife asked me what was wrong, it brought be back to the here and now, and I realized that is what I always did. Mentally shut down and just went through the motions while my mind was somewhere off in a void somewhere.

So, LJA, I don't know if this is what your husband is dealing with, but it's very possible that for him sex and abuse are very much still closely related in his mind, and his love for you might be the very thing keeping him from "abusing" you by engaging in what his mind still relates to abuse. I know for me for the longest time sex was the only way I felt close to my wife. So essentially I was using her to feel loved, of feel better. I have to be honest, looking back at it that ways makes me feel dirty. Recently though, as I've begun dealing with things, I've begun to see the difference, and try my best to avoid that mentality. My wife can even tell, and she'll let me know if she feels or thinks that is the reason for my desires at any given time. It's quite enlightening sometimes. Makes me stop and really look at what I'm feeling and dealing with at that moment.

Just a thought. I could be nuts. I feel like it most of the time.



Edited by JustScott (02/07/08 09:48 AM)

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#204003 - 02/07/08 01:34 PM Re: new to group [Re: JustScott]
LJA Offline
Guest

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 35
Hi Again,
Thanks for your great replies. Trish, I found your comments very helpful. Since my husband remembered his abuse 14 yrs ago I have been looking at the situation from the perspective of ...14 yrs gets us this far, even if I live to be 100, we aren't going to make it. The pace is just too slow. But I think there is a lot of truth to what you said about him only having really started to deal with it in the last year. He has moved forward in those 14 yrs, but he's always done just the bare minimum to keep me quiet (he agrees with this last statement btw).
You are right about his emotional age being young. And you are right that there's no way he can mature to his real age in a year. And when he came back I wasn't expecting him to be fixed in a year. I thought that maybe by the two year mark I would be able to see enough progress that I would have confidence we are eventually going to have an intimate relationship. But after a year things have gotten worse on this front.
I hate the role I find myself in, watching and judging if he's actually working and then calling him on it when I find he isn't. I REALLY hate the idea of judging him in any way. Who the hell am I to monitor his recovery? Only he knows how difficult it is for him. But, not judging has allowed 23 years of my life to get pissed away waiting.
JustScott, again your story sounds familiar to me. Early on in our marriage my husband would switch off during sex and would also try and get it over with asap. It made me feel really unloved and used. This was before he remembered his csa. When I complained, he wouldn't discuss it, we just stopped having sex... for 15 years. One of the steps forward he has taken over the years is to work through things enough that now sex is fabulous, everything i could want. So what's the problem??? this is yet another one of those things that appeared to be fixed but isn't. The frequency of sex has not really improved, ie its next to none. The big problem I have with this is, I know there are obviously more things that need to be worked through here... and they aren't being addressed. We cant even talk about them. Meanwhile I know he's just as frustrated as I am.
The lack of emotional intimacy is more of a concern for me because we dont seem to have made any progress there. Plus I guess I understand it less. Why is hearing about my perspective such a threat to his safety?
I guess reading through the replies and thinking about my reactions to them, I know I'm not ready to give up yet. It IS a brutally difficult decision and I feel I always make it based on what I want rather than on reality. Like I am doing now.

LJA


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#204048 - 02/07/08 08:08 PM Re: new to group [Re: LJA]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
LJA,

There's nothing wrong with wanting something, even if it appears to be out of reach - for the moment at least. Don't beat yourself up over that. If we didn't want things, we'd all be zombies just meandering around being useless.

Is your husband in counseling now? are you? how about both of you together? The lack of emotional intimacy could very well be a failure to communicate. You two have been together for so long that patterns may have developed that preclude you from reaching out to one another or being able to really hear what the other is saying, much less being able to meet each other's needs. You're both dealing with a whole new world with nothing but old behaviors and patterns to fall back on. That wouldn't make sense in technology for example, so why would it make sense when dealing with multi dimensional people whose wants and needs run the gammit, sometimes in a very short time span. Throw csa effects into the mix and you've got a god awful mess.

I didn't mean to imply by my little timeline that your husband would need time to heal equal to the time he was harmed or lived in denial. I just put it out there to give perspective. I don't believe you'll need to wait it out until you're 100.

I'm glad you're not ready to give up. I could see that in your first post.

ROCK ON.........Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#204052 - 02/07/08 09:04 PM Re: new to group [Re: Trish4850]
GateKPR4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Welcome LJA,
It took me a long time to face my demons of the past. It's different for everyone dealing with csa but the results are almost textbook, guilt shame, fear. For me it was a lot of emotional shutdown and pretending I was OK. It took 2 years of therapy before I finally spilled my guts to the therapist. I held nothing back and it changed my life. This place has been a great tool for support and to get others perspectives on situations. I wish you all the best.
Take care of yourself

_________________________
I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
Ricky
__m_ŰŅŰ_m__
|| || || || || || |

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