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#204828 - 02/12/08 07:08 AM Couples counseling tonight
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Tonight at 8:30 PM my partner and I have our first session with a couples counselor. I'm terrified.

I feel like I'm a little kid again, and that I don't have any right to be unhappy. I hear the little voices in my head reminding me that everything wrong in the relationship is MY fault and that I need to accept the blame and I need to fix everything and that I am a horrible, evil, little child to whom life has been much too good. I hear the universe saying that I've gotten too big for my britches and that I need to be knocked down a few notches (just like my dad used to say).

I have no idea what I'm going to do or say or what issues I'm going raise. It's got me paralyzed. I should be getting ready for work now, but here I am in my bathrobe posting online.

I'm going to get up now and get ready, but I just need some comfort and reassurance. Thanks.

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

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#204835 - 02/12/08 08:52 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
(((VLinvictus)))

You're not in this alone!!!

David


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#204836 - 02/12/08 09:16 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Scoutvictim Offline
Guest

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

I know it's nerve racking, but it's the beginning of you taking back your life. I'm not trying to say this will be easy, but work on the issues that most concern you. Let the counselor lead the conversation. Try and go slow. Your partner has to also participate, let him express his concerns, and try and learn from what he says.

It is a big step and I really hope you're going into it with the idea of trying to improve your life. Be open to the counselor, and give the relationship a chance. It is your life, and you do need to do what's best for you. If things don't seem to be improving, then don't be affraid to stand up for your needs.

Every relationship should be a give and take, you and your partner need to work together to make it better. If you don't see him working to improve, then you may have to consider working to end the pain. If that is the outcome, you have to look back and see it as a learning experience.

Take care of yourself, and be strong for yourself.

Good luck,
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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#204845 - 02/12/08 10:20 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight *DELETED* [Re: VLinvictus]
awakening Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 342
Post deleted by awakening


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#204901 - 02/12/08 03:17 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: awakening]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Thanks for the words of encouragement and support, guys. I managed to get up and out this morning, althought I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been vegetating at the office today.

I'm afraid of two things, one more so than the other. I'm afraid that the counselor is going to call us both on our bullshit and is going to make us openly and honestly communicate with each other about what we want and what we feel. Of course, that's the whole point, but it's not going to be easy or fun. It's going to be much to real and I'm scared.

What I'm more scared of, though, is that she's not going to call me on the bullshit and is going to let me slip back into my old childhood>
_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#204972 - 02/13/08 08:35 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
Vlin, I hope everything went well and you feel relieved. Your expectations for your first meeting were pretty high. I'd be willing to bet that you hardly scratched the surface, got acquainted and maybe got some homework. So I hope you are relaxed, because now the fun stuff begins.

I'm curious about what you call 'bullshit'. I know we all can be full of bullshit once in awhile, but you refer to 'our' bullshit and 'my' bullshit. How much bullshit do you have in your life?

I second your Thanks to Mom and Dad!

Lazarus

P.S. can I also ask where you got your screen name? Is it a combination of names, or is Linvictus your surname, or...? You don't have to go into detail, I was just curious. As for me, Lazarus was a character in a series of SciFi novels back in the 70's and 80's. Lazarus is also a fairly major character in the Bible, but I have no particular afinity for that one.

Sincerely,

Lazarus Woodrow Wilson Libby Long Smith, Esq.

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#204978 - 02/13/08 09:42 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Lazarus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
The session went very well, and I'll write more on it later when I can get my thoughts settled.

As for my name, about 6-7 years ago I was involved in the "Rate President Bush" and "Creation vs. Evolution" discussion forums on Netscape. There was this horribly obnoxious poster who obsessively accused everyone who said anything that disagreed with his view of reality of lying. A pretentious twit, he also like to bandy about Latin phrases like "quod erat demonstrandum."

Sick of being called a liar, I changed my user name on that site to "VeritatisLocutor" (Latin for "truth teller"). We had an over eager moderator at one point who banned me from the forum (and didn't unban me when s/he herself was banned). So, I logged back on as "VLprohibitus" (VL the banned) When Netscape apologized for the incident, I changed my name a third time to "VLinvictus" (VL the unconquered). I liked the sound of it, so I've used it off an on since.

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

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#204985 - 02/13/08 10:21 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Now that my boss is gone and I can think, this is how it went down.

First, the omens were not good. My partner, S, was sick all day yesterday. Then, we got hit with a nasty snowstorm that made the roads in our hilly suburban town treacherous. Then, our complex's asshole contractor parked his truck too close to our parking space and we bumped into him when backing out -- which tore the entire front bumper off our car.

Yet, the session went very well. The counselor's office seemed a safe and cozy place and she seemed nice, but also the kind of hardnosed lesbian who is not going to take any crap from us. We were able to talk and share our our feelings without feeling threatened, and that was refreshing.

What I meant by "bullshit" was a combination of factors. One, I wanted to smugly display all of the insight and understanding and maturity I've gained in the course of therapy and 12-step programs, to show off how together I am (which is an act because I'm really a mess). She didn't let me do that. Two, I was afraid that I would slip back into the old pattern of saying and doing whatever is necessary to make everyone happy so we can all return to normal. She wouldn't let me do that, either.

She seems like she's going to be compassionate and empathetic, but tough -- which is a good thing. After the session, although I felt a sense of relief and refreshment, I also felt uneasy. She didn't let me sit there in the cat-bird seat but challenged me and knocked me off my high horse.

It's not going to be fun, but I feel very good about it. S approves of her, too. So, we see her again next Tuesday.

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

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#205001 - 02/13/08 01:54 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
The winner and still champeen - VL: Still Unconquered! Damn the torpedoes, right? Sorry about your car, but so glad that you feel good about your T and your first session.

I think I know just the kind of person you're talking about your T being. A couple of years ago I crewed on a huge sailing yacht for Antiqua Race Week, and the crew boss was a wonderfully hard-nosed and very efficient lesbian named Anne. For the races we had a crew of about 40 (ten times the usual crew for this yacht) and she is the one I credit with our victory on the racecourse. She didn't let anybody get away with shit, her directions were concise and accurate and polite as a direct order can be and she had us sailing that yacht like a well oiled machine in no time. Everybody loved to hate Anne when she was all business, and I think everybody was genuinely fond of her in port. I never had so much fun in my life! Anne would have made an excellent therapist, too.

Congrats on taking this step. It may be more fun than you think, if you let it be a learning experience and not a battle.

Lazarus

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#206112 - 02/19/08 10:20 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Lazarus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So, here we are a few hours away from our next session with the T, and I'm scared all over again.

Last week, one of things that came up -- albeit briefly -- was my fear of articulating my own wants and needs for fear of hurting or upsetting other people (which I explored in my poem on the Poetry thread).

In the heat of a fight, I have told my partner that I don't think we're a good match and we shouldn't be a couple (and believe me, I had to have been really mad to contemplate saying something so daring). But to look at him calmly straight in the eye and say that -- it scares me. I'm afraid his feelings will be hurt, and I'm afraid of what that will mean about me (that I'm a horrible, selfish, evil little brat).

But this needs to be said. There is no sense in going along pretending everything is OK -- he himself has said worse things to me. And if I can't say this in the safe enviroment of the T's office, where can I say it?

All I can say right now is thank God for my anti-anxiety meds...

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

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#206373 - 02/20/08 01:04 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So, all in all it was another good session.

I allowed myself to express my feelings, including my anger and resentment and my feeling that I haven't been part of a couple for years. I was so afraid that I would hurt his feelings by doing so, but it had to come out.

We both admitted that if it were not for the mortgage and the dogs, we would have split up a long time ago. I hope he actually listened to himself, because he said a lot of very important things. For example, the thing that most attracted him to me (at the age of 20) was my naivete and my teachability -- and when I was no longer receptive to being "taught" he lost a lot of that attraction.

Well, sorry, but I was a kid and kids grow up.

He complained that I never offered any feedback to him and never criticized him for things that I didn't like about him. I told him that he had created such a climate of fear that I didn't feel like I had the right to criticize him, and that his criticism of me hurt so badly that I didn't want to inflict the same on him.

He also confessed to being resentful that we don't have much in common in terms of interests, and that I am interested in many things that simply don't include him. Well, I can't help that. He's interested in many things that I'm not interested, too.

I stood up for myself, and there was no reprisal. The counselor told us not to talk about it outside the room but to let the room be our safe space and continue the discussion next week.

She asked us to think about what it is we want -- not to answer now but think about it for the next session. He blurted out that he would like to rehabilitate the relationship, but he's resentful because he thinks I have checked out.

I said nothing, following the counselor's guidelines. But inside, I do not see any real hope or desire for "rehabilitation." The relationship has been broken and dead for years and it cannot be restored. Things have changed and we have to acknowledge and embrace the change.

I know we're not going anywhere because of the mortgage and the dogs, but the counselor did say if we are going to live peaceably together there needs to be compromise. Specifically, he needs to cede a lot of ground and I have to have the strength to take more ground. I'm not sure I have that strength, though, but at least things are moving.

Dan

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

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#206374 - 02/20/08 01:07 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Quote:
I'm not sure I have that strength, though, but at least things are moving.


You do, my friend, and they are.

(((VLI)))


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#206377 - 02/20/08 01:21 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: MemoryVault]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
I agree. You sound like you have a lot of strength. And yes, things are moving a lot.

I don't know where you got this fear of expressing [i]YOU[\i] from. But you mean more, and give more, to everyone when you do.

_________________________
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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#206408 - 02/20/08 05:58 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
Dan the Invincible,

I'm glad that your therapy session was productive. If I may play armchair therapist tho, I'd like to bring up a few points.

Originally Posted By: VLinvictus
I allowed myself to express my feelings...


That is a good sign. You mentioned earlier that you kept most of your feeling to yourself, for a lot of reasons. Honest communication is the key to a successful relationship, even if it is painful at times. I know you want to protect your partner, but you have to also protect yourself. I'm glad that you feel comfortable doing that at last.


Originally Posted By: VLinvictus
For example, the thing that most attracted him to me (at the age of 20) was my naivete and my teachability -- and when I was no longer receptive to being "taught" he lost a lot of that attraction. Well, sorry, but I was a kid and kids grow up.


Isn't it odd that many survivors say the exact same thing about their abusers? Perps like kids because they can be 'groomed', and when they grow up and begin to assert themselves, the abusers lose interest in them. I'm not saying your partner is a child molester (and I'm not saying that he's not) but what I am saying is that you started this relationship on unequal ground. Now that you are your own person, and not his toy, I'm not surprised that you two are having problems.

Originally Posted By: VLinvictus
He also confessed to being resentful that we don't have much in common in terms of interests, and that I am interested in many things that simply don't include him.


It is not only common but healthy that you two have interests that are not shared; things you do by and for yourself. God forbid that me and my husband did EVERYTHING together! LOL... However, the fact that he resents your other interests tells me that what he really resents is losing control over you. That's not a good sign.

Originally Posted By: VLinvictus
I do not see any real hope or desire for "rehabilitation." The relationship has been broken and dead for years and it cannot be restored.


I'm reading that YOU do not see any hope or desire for rehabilitation of your relationship. Your partner longs for the little boy he once knew, and could control (under the guise of 'teaching'). I am very glad that you are asserting your independence. The mortgage and dogs be damned (figuratively speaking, of course; married people split up such community property quite often) they are not an issue. The real issue is that you guys have grown apart, and if there is no reconcilliation then your next best option is to negotiate an amicable split. If the only reason you are in therapy is to affirm this, you are wasting your time. You need legal counsel, not therapy.

I know this is a challenge for you, Dan, but I am confident that you have not only the strength but the maturity to do what's right for you. It's time you started looking out for Dan's best interests. Sure, you don't want to hurt anyone unnecessarily, but you are being hurt by this relationship. A peaceful coexistance is not in your best interests. You deserve a fulfilling relationship where you are an equal partner and you find joy and happiness... not just a truce.

I've been where you are, Dan. My wife and I went through counselling three times, and the second one is the one who said, "You guys don't belong together. Face it and move on." Unfortunately, I didn't listen to her advice, because of the kids (a bit different than dogs), but she was right and if we had listened to her then, we could have saved ourselves another 10 years of shit. From what you've said, you deserve more than a 'peaceful coexistance'. You deserve a loving, fulfilling and joyous relationship. You'll never find it with your current partner. He's using you in soooo many different ways...

Man, I am sorry to say all this; I wish I could spout sweetness and optimism, but I just don't see it. I wish you weren't in this position, but since you are, my best advice to you is to cut your losses and get on with your life.

As always, this is just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

Wishing you the best,

Lazarus

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#206496 - 02/20/08 11:02 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Lazarus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Thank you so much, Lazarus! Your posts have all been amazingly helpful to me.

And thanks too for the support, MV and Land of Shadow. \:\)

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

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#207730 - 02/27/08 10:09 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Last night's session was pretty raw, but while I'm sad I think it was very important.

Lazarus, you're right that if we were clear about splitting up then therapy would be useless. But the problem is that we are not and never have been clear. We weren't clear on the terms and boundaries of the relationship when we got together and years of negativity and mistrust have made it practically impossible for us to have a conversation on such a topic ourselves. The purpose of the counselor, IMO, is to facilitate and arbitrate communication -- to give us a safe space to talk about our feelings and wants and needs and a safe channel to do so.

So, last night. I started out reticent and reserved as in the previous sessions, afraid to give voice to my feelings for fear of hurting him. But I did finally say many things that needed to be said: that I love him but do not think we are a good couple, that I feel trapped and confined and wish I had my own space, that I'm not happy or fulfilled in the relationship as a whole despite the fact that we've had a lot of good times. That I wish we had never bought the house. I gave voice to a lot of the feelings I've expressed in the two poems I've posted on the "Poetry" board.

It felt good to say them, but then once they were out of my mouth I felt guilty and ashamed, because I could tell he was hurt. But the T said "So what? He has the right to his feelings. You're not responsible for them."

She also called him on his controlling behavior and his criticism. It was very striking how we viewed the past weekend differently. We had a nice time, going on a little road trip and shopping and eating out a new restaurant. I thought the day seemed natural and spontaneous and I enjoyed his company. He said, though, that he had deliberately "orchestrated" the day to include things that he thought I would like. My initial reaction, though, was resentment: why do you need to be like a dad? Why would you need to "orchestrate" anythning?

It was also telling how I spoke about persons. I said that I care about him and love but I don't think we mesh well as a couple. He spoke more about abstracts, how he wants a partner that he can build a future and life together with and have goals and things in common -- IOW, he was dealing with abstracts. That's what he wants, and whether he has that with me or someone else seems interchangeable. Another point of that is that we are in two very different places in our lives -- we do not and cannot possibly have the same "goals" and "future."

I shared how reading a graphic novel about the lives of young gay men in California depressed me, because it depicted a world of young people living on their own, exploring life, dating, exploring sex and relationships -- and that is not a part of life I ever had. S had that kind of life, and I've heard his stories, but I've always felt like I want "more" out of life -- and I shared how I feel guilty wanting more.

So, he has been sad and silent since we got back last night and I've tried to respect his space and feelings while reassuring him with my empathy, love, and compassion, but I still feel sad because he's sad.

It's like I'm the starship Enterprise and I've got my shields up against the Borg, but they keep on attacking and it requires ever greater energy to keep the shields up. The Borg's phasers are my partner's feelings and the shield is that which let's me keep his feelings as his and mine as mine and not be "assimilated" into his feelings by codependency. I don't know how long the shields can hold out, though.

I will be meeting with the counselor 1-on-1 next Tuesday and we will meet with her together on Thursday, then he will meet with her 1-on-1 the next Tuesday.

To be continued...

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

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#208829 - 03/04/08 01:45 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So, now I'm 6 hours away from my solo session with the counselor.

I'm not nervous and scared like I have been before the joint sessions, because S won't be there. However, this isn't going to be a "confidential" session -- everything I say can and will be used against me in the joint session -- but its for her to get to know me and hear my story without interruption or fear of having him in the room (he'll get his shot next Tuesday).

I'm starting to feel exhausted. I feel like throwing in the towel. What's the point? I'm not happy in the relationship and I don't see any immediate and easy way out of the relationship, each time we have a nice day or he says or does something thoughtful or sweet I feel guilty and ashamed of myself -- for being "selfish."

Wouldn't it be better to just go back, pretend that everything is OK on the surface and suffer in silence inside? I mean, that's one of the ways I survived growing up.

It left me emotionally scarred and crippled, but at least I survived. \:\(

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

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#208830 - 03/04/08 02:09 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
well. there is that. God knows I have thought of that too.


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#208838 - 03/04/08 02:50 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Freedom49]
Scoutvictim Offline
Guest

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

No!!!!! Living in silence causes other parts of us to scream louder. (read: act out with others, allowing ourselves to be victims again, self destructive behaviors, alcohol, drugs, and the spiraling loss of our self estem!)

Stand up and be proud that you are trying to work on these issues with S. Try and realize it is your life, and if the best thing is to end this relationship, then that maybe what you have to do.

I know it won't be easy, but if things can't be worked out, then you have to watch out for your own health. (Both mental and physical)

Be strong and be good to yourself.

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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#208959 - 03/05/08 11:28 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Scoutvictim]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

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

Last night was pretty awesome. While she can't take sides, she at least seemed to be very understanding and supportive of me and she shared my confusion regarding him -- she can't figure out what he wants or what he's thinking. She also picked up on the fact that he doesn't seem clear what exactly it is that he wants in the relationship, and she also thought the whole thing about how much he liked to "teach" me and "orchestrate" things was a bit disturbing.

So, we see her together on Thursday. I'm annoyed by that because of cash flow and I'm apprehensive about the dynamic of having him in the room, but now that I feel like the counselor fully understanding and supportive of me and understanding of where I'm coming from and affirming of my wants and needs.

That last bit -- that she agrees that I deserve to have my needs met and that I have the right to pursue them -- is a very new thing for me to experience. It's strange, but refreshing.

Dan

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

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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

Top
#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

Top
#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
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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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#218515 - 04/16/08 10:06 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: MemoryVault]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
I haven't posted on this thread in a while, largely because recent events have been hard to put into words. In the past couple of sessions, it's not that we've had any tremendous breakthroughs, but still progress is being made.

Last week, we got closer to S understanding that I am not his fantasy ideal partner and that I never will be and I was able to express my feelings that I care about him deeply but do not want to be in a committed monogamous relationship with him. A potential solution to some of the living arrangement problems was advanced surprisingly by S who suggested he could take the 3rd floor bedroom and I could have the ground floor den and we'd share the common areas -- this showed he was thinking about practical solutions.

A telling moment arose when I was able to state clearly and concretely what I like about him -- his caring nature, his sense of humor, his handiness with tools and fixing things and practical common sense -- but he was unable to say what it was uniquely about me as a person that he values and cherishes. He also seems to be making a great deal of progress in adjusting to the idea that life doesn't have to be black and white -- that the choice is not limited to turning back the clock or leaving and never looking back. He's also warming to the notion that we're not talking about changing the relationship: we're talking about acknowledging a change that has already occurred.

Last night was more nebulous as it focused largely on me and my warped inner dialogues -- the "little kid in trouble" programming that interprets everything out of order as evidence that something is wrong and its my fault and its my responsibility to fix it, and how I must suppress my feelings to make everyone else happy. I am conscious that sometimes, I will interpret his words or actions erroneously because they will trigger feelings of being attacked and ridiculed from the past. This does not let him off the hook, though, because if he hadn't ever lashed out at me in his scortched-earth-must-invade-Poland kind of way, I wouldn't have learned these responses in the first place.

What the T wants us to do -- as a necessary part of our living together whatever the makeup of our relationship -- is to express our feelings openly and honestly regardless of what they may be -- and especially regardless of how the other person may react. The flip side is that we also have to allow the other person to have their feelings, even if we don't like them.

This makes grad school look easy.

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

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#218775 - 04/17/08 04:16 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
Scoutvictim Offline
Guest

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

So, it sounds like a lot is being accomplished. I think I see a light at the end of your tunnel.

\:D

Well look at it this way, you'll have a Doctorate in relationships when you're done.

So... Dr. VLinvictus, keep us posted.

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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#219742 - 04/22/08 04:46 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: Scoutvictim]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

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

I really appreciate the encouragement. It means more to me than I can say.

Especially when I seem to be going one step forward and two steps back.

Passover was this weekend, so I went to my friend's apartment in Manhattan for the seder as I do every year. Since the seder wouldn't end until long past the last train back north to the godforesaken suburban wasteland I live in, I spent the the night and came back the next morning.

For some reason, S was talking on Saturday about a certain cruising place where guys go for anonymous sex. I somewhat jokingly said he should go, but he said "I can't: I'm in a committed monogamous relationship."

I wanted to say "With whom?" but kept my mouth shut.

Grr. Will this process ever end?

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

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#220376 - 04/25/08 09:50 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Despite my fever and headache, last night's session was pretty significant.

S said that he does not see us as a couple and does not see us having any future as a couple -- and he's OK with that.

He expressed the same kind of concerns I had about the cruise. At first, when I told him about it, he thought it would be as a couple, to rekindle things. But then he thought about it some more and realized that it would not be.

I'm really impressed with him. He seems to be making much more progress than I thought him capable of. He's sad, of course, and that hurts me. But now the T says I have to work on continuing to separate myself from his feelings. He has a right to be sad, and that doesn't mean that I'm a bad person. Indeed, S even said that I'm not a bad person and this isn't all my fault.

I'm a whore, he sad, but not a bad person. \:\)

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

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#220388 - 04/25/08 10:50 AM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: VLinvictus]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Wow, Dan --

Last week:
Quote:
S was talking on Saturday about a certain cruising place where guys go for anonymous sex. I somewhat jokingly said he should go, but he said "I can't: I'm in a committed monogamous relationship."


This week:
Quote:
S said that he does not see us as a couple and does not see us having any future as a couple -- and he's OK with that.


That's great. It's even more cool that you're getting what you need, or moving in the direction you need to go, without automatically feeling like a bad person. I remember your poem about wanting things--the voices from your past asking, "You want???"


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#221978 - 05/01/08 04:12 PM Re: Couples counseling tonight [Re: MemoryVault]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
So, Tuesday night -- wow. I'm still processing.

S said that he was resentful that it seemed like I rushed onto the bandwagon of separating rather than working on the relationship.

However, the T helped him realize that there is no relationship, really, to work on.

He admitted that that is the case and that he doesn't really find anything uniquely about me that he wants to be in a relationship with: he is just mourning the status of being in a relationship.

I've done my best to reiterate that I do love him even though I'm not in love with him, that I like him and enjoy his company, and that I'm committed to my obligations to the mortgage and the dogs.

So, we've got a lot of work to do and a lot of difficult discussions to have. Our home is to have a one-on-one conversation this week about the sleeping arrangements on the cruise -- whether to have the bed separate or together. I'm scared, and I made sure that there were rules that the conversation would not branch out beyond that. He agreed. We have yet to have the discussion.

We will then need to decide what to do about the sleeping arrangements at home, finances, etc. -- all conversations I really am not ready to have yet.

On the other hand, we are being more honest about the state of things.

However, he's not happy and I don't blame him. I think he's acting out passive-aggressively. I set my alarm for 6:15 AM this morning. When it went off, I thought that I could snooze till 6:30. Whether I screwed up setting the alarm or whether I unconsciously turned it off while sleeping, I don't know; but I woke up at 8:12, which meant I was an hour late for work when my boss had an early morning conference call from Israel I needed to coordinate.

This means, though, that he got up, got dressed, and went out the door without the slightest interest in waking me up. Now, it's my responsibility to make sure I get up and go to work on time, but one would think basic human decency would have demanded he at least nudge me awake.

\:\(

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

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