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#208966 - 03/05/08 11:58 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Scoutvictim Offline
Guest

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 434
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Dan,

You do DESERVE to be happy.

It's your LIFE, you can live it for yourself.

Take CONTROL back.

Just a few things you need to keep repeating in your head.

Try it, it can come true!

Luv ya,
Carl



_________________________
Shawn and Ben will always be in my heart....

Happiness is like peeing your pants; Everyone can see it, but only YOU feel the warmth.

Peebles, Ohio WOR alumni, Oct. 2007

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#208975 - 03/05/08 01:14 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Dan,
We have a lot in common with all this. I've learned to recognize and ignore that sense of being selfish. I comes from growing up in a family where you couldn't talk about yourself without being blamed, shamed, criticized or ignored. But just like you seem to want S to be more authentic and not orchestrate things for you, you can be "selfish" and find that people will like you for expressing that special "YOU". That's not selfish at all. It's your gift to everyone. It won't cut you off from people, it will actually draw you closer to people. And you will feel so much better!

You're going great as I see it...

_________________________
Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer
Liberté

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
Freedom

Paul Eluard

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#209282 - 03/07/08 10:00 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: LandOfShadow]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Thanks again for the encouragement.

Last night's joint session was unexpectedly awesome.

It didn't start out well at first. S started complaining about how he has gotten no sense that I am invested in this process, that I only take the easy way out of anything and that I am going to do whatever I want regardless of how it hurts other people.

I sat and listened because the T let him have the floor and I just started to boil. When I pointed out to him that if I was only interested in taking the easy way out and was only going to do whatever I wanted, I wouldn't be sitting in that room -- I'd have left a long time ago.

He then dismissed me, saying that starting this couples therapy wasn't any big milestone and was not a major accomplishment: I've been in therapy before -- what's the big deal?

Then I lost it. David (MemoryVault) knows how difficult it was and how much emotional energy it took for me to get to this place and to have that so devalued and dismissed just infuriated me. I shouted at him to go f*&k himself and said basically what I've just said here.

That didn't phase him at first, but the T took over and started to engage him about his attitude of dismissal and devaluing anything that comes out of me, the imbalance of power and control, and the way he automatically assumes ulterior motives nad malicious intentions in me and interprets all of my actions and words as revealing serious character defects.

I responded how much that offends and hurts me and reference an issue we brought up at the last joint session about privacy. Before going to the T, he said he wanted to pay a bill online. But then he went to the bathroom. I thought he was still in the bathroom and was surprised to see him down at the computer when I went to my computer to check on my bank balance. He became angry, thinking that once again I was denying him his privacy and dismissing my explanation that I legitimately thought he was still in the bathroom.

At the same time, the T pointed out there was not a sense of parity and equality in the relationship and that he referred to me in terms a (rather abusive) father would refer to a child. He protested that he had gone out of his way to include me, and once again brought up how 7 years ago I said that none of my possessions were visible in the apartment and it didn't seem like my home. He then graciously put out some of my things, even though he "didn't particularly care for them as things he'd want in his home" and displayed my "toys" and hung up that "hobby-horse thing" that I brought home (he'd conflated me moving in with me bringing childhood heirlooms home last year after my father died).

The T called him on his tone and word choice, how he was dismissing my possessions and speaking of them in a very derogatory and elitist fashion -- (she especially picked up on how my 54mm Napoleonic military miniatures are "toys" and how he didn't "care for" my things but grudgingly put them out). She then also got him to acknowledge how I could have been hurt by him assuming I was deliberately violating his privacy when coming to the computer room when he wanted to be alone.

Then something astonishing happened: he started to cry. In 8 years I've only seen him cry once, and that was when one of our dogs died 7 years ago. He said he realized what a jerk he was and how much of an asshole he was. And he confessed that he felt awful because with him everything is black and white -- either he is innocent and I am to blame for everything, or he is a monster.

I immediately felt horrible that he was crying and started to cry myself because I had caused his feelings. The T told me to stop and reminded me that he is entitled to his feelings and that I am not responsible for them.

She continued to talk to S about the emotional environment that he had created for me and I think this is the first time he has truly understood just how I have felt this past 8 years. It was totally unexpected and I, while I empathized with his pain I also felt vindicated.

It seems like we are making some progress. He wasn't able last night to conceive of anything between the two extremes of going back to the fictional relationship of the past and totally going our separate ways and cutting off all contact -- my goal would be a return to the friendship we had before we became a couple, very close friends who share living space for the life of the dogs and the depression of the housing market -- but it seems like the ground has been broken and the possibility of future progress is open the way it has not yet been before.

Thanks again for all the support, guys,

Dan

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#210053 - 03/11/08 10:44 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So, I get a week off tonight. S will see the counselor one-on-one just as I did last week and our next session will be next Tuesday. My emotions and my checkbook are happy for the breather.

I hope this will be a positive experience for him and give him a chance to open up and express what he wants and also give the counselor the insight she needs to negotiate between us.

Good luck to her, though. It seems like the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and even the Israelis and the Palestinians have had an easier time of arranging a settlement.

Dan

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#210063 - 03/11/08 11:18 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Quote:
Good luck to her, though. It seems like the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and even the Israelis and the Palestinians have had an easier time of arranging a settlement.


I always see it as a sign that a personal relationship is in big trouble when I start describing it with the language of geopolitics. Even in high school, I noticed that I was thinking in terms of my parents having summit meetings and holding cease fire negotiations. My family and the Cold War--the goal when hostilities flared up was to try to return to detente...containment. Bleah. Like my childhood was>

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#210068 - 03/11/08 11:22 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Scoutvictim Offline
Guest

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 434
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Dan,

Make tonight a "date night" for yourself. You have the evening off, go out and have a treat, like a big piece of cheesecake or a huge icecream sundae.

Don't think about anything important, just find a nice place and enjoy the quiet.

Have fun.

Luv ya,
Carl

_________________________
Shawn and Ben will always be in my heart....

Happiness is like peeing your pants; Everyone can see it, but only YOU feel the warmth.

Peebles, Ohio WOR alumni, Oct. 2007

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#210137 - 03/11/08 05:28 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Scoutvictim]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Carl,

That's a great idea! You've taken an evening of apprehension and given me something to look forward to!

David,

Your love and support as always is more precious to me than I can express.

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#211547 - 03/18/08 07:24 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So I'd been steeling myself for the unknown tonight, not knowing what to expect in the wake of S's one-on-one session last week and the emotional events of the week before.

However, I got a voicemail that the counselor has a personal emergency tonight and has to cancel our session.

OTOH, it's a relief; OTOH, it means a further delay in progress and an evening alone with the ball-and-chain.

*sigh*

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#213243 - 03/26/08 01:11 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Last night's session has left me really upset.

I finally said out loud, calmly and clearly, that I do not want to be in a relationship. I do not want to be a partner. I wanted to be able to express my feelings about being in a relationship without hurting S's feelings nad making him think I was making a negative judgment against him, but I failed.

He was hurt by my statement, and I feel guilty for that. I know I shouldn't feel guilty about expressing my feelings in the context of this counseling. It wasn't said out of anger or cruelty, and if I had felt safe enough to share my feelings earlier a lot of grief could have been spared. Keeping this in is not healthy or helpful.

The trouble is, I had a very hard time explaining why I didn't want to be in a relationship without sounding like a selfish prick. I want my own space. I want to be able to be alone. After a long day socializing at work, I want to be able to come home to an empty house where I can decompress. I don't want to be held accountable to another person. I don't want to be judged by another person. If I want to clean the house, I want to do it because I want to do it, not because I feel obligated. If I want to vegetate in front of the TV or computer, I want to do it without having anyone judging or scolding me for it. If I want to stay out all night partying, I want to do it without feeling like I have to be home at a certain time. In short, I want to be a young, independent, gay man. I don't want to be middle-aged before my time, trapped in a relationship with my future planned out for me for the next 30-40 years.

I said that I don't know what he wants in a relationship, and he seemed shocked by this. He said he wants companionship and support. Fine, I can give him that. He wants someone who, when they go out shopping for themselves, will bring home little treats for him, too. That's a bit odd and it's a bit alien to me, but I could do that. Then he wants someone that he can build a future with, someone he can goals to work on for the future with, someone with whom he can look off to the horizon with.

I confess that I don't have a single f&$*ing clue what that is supposed to mean.

I also notice that none of that really applies to me as a person: it seems he'd be just as happy if I were replaced with anyone else who provided those things to him.

He dismissed my feelings as selfishness. He even said it was peer-pressure: because my single friends go off and have wild sexual adventures, he thinks I want to, too, and that's what all of this is based on. He doesn't seem to admit that I might have needs and wants of my own that he just doesn't meet and cannot meet.

He complained that my interests and hobbies exclude him because their are solitary or weird things that he has no interest in. What am I supposed to do? Give up things that I enjoy and that are meaningful to me -- including my religion! -- just because he feels excluded? It's not as if he has any hobbies or interests I can enjoy. His hobbies seem limited to shopping and going to Home Depot and doing house chores. Not much to get thrilled about. I can enjoy going shopping with him. I can enjoy going to cultural festivals and restaurants and movies with him. But that's not much to base a relationship on.

He has said for years that we have nothing in common. He's absolutely right. We don't. I can't relate to him about practically anything that goes on in my life except on the most mundane level. Conversation with him is painful.

I feel trapped again. I feel like no progress is being made. I'm afraid that I started this counseling prematurely, because there's nothing that we can do about our relationship at this time with the dogs still alive and the housing market in the toilet. Maybe I should have waited until those conditions improve? Maybe I should just go back and toe the line and play the game, pretending to be a good little partner and say and do what he wants to hear and see while trying to find whatever peace or escape I can elsewhere -- like I've been doing for 7 years. Maybe I should just accept the fact that I'm never going to be happy and that I'm never going to have the kind of life that I want.

And now he's sad. His feelings are hurt. And it's my fault. I know: I'm not a kid in trouble. I'm not a bad person. His feelings are his and he's entitled to them. His feelings are not my fault and his moods are not my responsibility -- but I still feel like crap. He's hurting and I'm the proximate cause.

I just don't know what to do.

Our homework for this week is to think of two possible goals: one being to rehabilitate our relationship into a functioning couple and one to find a way we can coexist in the same space as a non-couple. Then we are to think about all of the ways that the other person needs to change to make that happen. We'll give the list to the T next week and she'll read them and work with us from there.

Thank God we're not allowed to talk about this outside the room!

My boss is in Boston today so I can have some peace and quiet. I'm going to the gym at lunch time, and that usually helps my mood.

Thanks for reading.

Dan

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#213276 - 03/26/08 02:49 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Like I wuz sayin' ...

The new thing isn't being trapped--it's the moves you're making to not be trapped anymore. Congratulations for that! It seems as if your T is steering you both towards outcomes--ways to end the stalemate.

Quote:

Maybe I should just go back and toe the line and play the game, pretending to be a good little partner and say and do what he wants to hear and see while trying to find whatever peace or escape I can elsewhere -- like I've been doing for 7 years. Maybe I should just accept the fact that I'm never going to be happy and that I'm never going to have the kind of life that I want.


You're looking back through a door you've already passed through. That place was safe, known, but completely unsatisfying. What's ahead is unknown & scary, but you can't go back to that state of mind, and wouldn't even if you could.

Good luck, and again, congratulations for saying what you needed to say.

David


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