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#255991 - 10/18/08 09:30 AM Not getting provoked into being The Enemy
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi Olive! Hi Daisy!

I don't think I have ever really been successful in de-fanging one of the attacks. Sure - on a short-term basis, I've been able to preserve my fragile equanimity by just walking away (physically & emotionally). But long term? No way! I can think of several incidents where I've won the battle & lost the war - and maybe this is an important metaphor: until we both get on the same side, there is never going to be a healing.

It's a paradox & it's been said many times before, but the closer we are to our SO's, the more comfortable they feel showing us their Shadow Sides - they would NEVER want anyone with whom they have a superficial relationship to guess that they can be cold, indifferent, angry, self-absorbed, or uncaring or that they are capable of causing great pain to another human being without any clue they are doing it! But - because their relationship with us is more intimate, we are expected to absorb all those negative traits in the name of unconditional love.

So - the only way to defuse this in the long run is NOT to make our love conditional, but to give ourselves so much love, so much acceptance, & so much joy that we become impervious to the invalidating behavior. Sometimes, although not always, that could mean leaving the relationship. And then, there is another paradox: how do you "leave" a "relationship" that is even that much more powerful because so much of it actually exists only in your own head?????

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#256164 - 10/18/08 06:54 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: kolisha54]
cinaflower Offline


Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 14
Wow, son of a biscuit eater, that is exactly how I've felt over and over again for nearly 21 years.
<they can be cold, indifferent, angry, self-absorbed, or uncaring or that they are capable of causing great pain to another human being without any clue they are doing it! But - because their relationship with us is more intimate, we are expected to absorb all those negative traits in the name of unconditional love.>
The above is exactly what my spouse expects me to do- he continually tries to make me feel like something is wrong with me because I can't just love him the way he is- faults and all. All the complaints or issues we have are twisted around by him to make me feel like I want too much out of life, my expectations for life and marriage are too extravagant and needy, and that all the things I see- I'm not really seeing it. He constantly tells me, "I'm sorry you see it that way, I'm sorry you feel that way." not with compassion but he's recognizing my feelings and is sorry I'm wrong for feeling that way. He wants me to float down the river de-nial with him and take whatever I am lucky enough to get from him and to appreciate it and act like it's awesome and pat him on the head like a little child when I get a drop of affection, cooperation, engagement, attention, rationality, or energy from him. He wants me to just live with what is, without complaint, without questioning, without wanting more, without asking him to do anything or change anything or deal with anything. I don't know if I CAN do that forever and stay sane.
I was just today thinking about what I'm going to have to do- for myself to make myself happy because I don't think that he's going to be able to change enough to deal with his issues enough to make a big difference in his interpretation of his life. I just don't know if I'm strong enough to carry it all for us- the whole family and everything we have to do- He's worn me all the way out so many times I can't even count and still I give him chances over and over again because one day he'll make me laugh, one day he'll do something sweet, one day he says something to me that only he and I would know, one day our kids do something that would only touch our hearts and I look at him and he smiles and I love him and I can't stop even when he's driving me nuts.


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#256275 - 10/19/08 11:05 AM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: cinaflower]
Niels Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 196
kolisha54: You sound really bitter and use agressive words like provoked, ENEMY, WAR, BATTLE, ATTACKS, DEFANGING and you imply that your relationship only exist in your own head. I hear a lot of passive aggression - you even write that you walk away - physically and emotionally.

You may not realize this but you have already left the relationship with the man you call: cold, indifferent, uncaring,
angry, selfabsorbed, clueless about the pain he causes you.

I do not hear one word implying that you are trying to understand him - and you communicate by witdrawing physically and emotionally -instead of telling him how his behavior makes you feel, you just suck it up and have become bitter and passive agressive. It takes 2 to communicate - I bet he has already gotten that you just want to leave - so why are you staying? What prevents you from leaving this cold ,indifferent, angry, uncaring selfabsorbed man that causes you so much pain and whom you feel so resentful towards?


_________________________
I live in my own little world - but that is OK! - They know me here.

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#256286 - 10/19/08 12:16 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: Niels]
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks, Niels - I really really really appreciate your very candid feedback! But, here I have to say.... the loving words, the invitations, the attempts to meet halfway don't appear here: "here" is where partners or former partners come to vent safely all those negative-sounding emotions that sometimes threaten to boil over. In our non-virtual lives, there usually isn't anyone we can talk to about these issues, so it helps us to say here at F&F all those things we have no outlet for in "real life." We come here to hear ourselves think & to work out our conflicting feelings of love and frustration.

I can see your point, though, and in an odd way, it gives me some comfort - because it tells me that I am not, in fact, in this alone. However - how much rejection can one person absorb? That is exactly WHY I am not "staying:" because of the pain & my own self-respect. When I withdraw, I do so in order to protect myself AND I always let him know that.

What does not come through here is that this same person has been THE most positive force in my life in many other ways and we have had truly deep and profound moments of connection with each other that the CSA always robs us of just as we are getting closer.

I am sorry you misunderstood my references to warfare and feel that I am being passive aggressive... For better or worse, that is not the case. It's just that the loving communications that I have sent his way are confidences to him and me & although I come to F&F to help with my own pain, I would never want to compromise his privacy, so I prefer not to give too many details.

You know - anger can be such a complex emotion, especially when the anger is aroused by someone we love. But ultimately, self-love has to come first. If I feel any bitterness, it isn't toward him, it's toward the circumstances that bring us together & then hack us apart over & over again.

Thanks, Niels, for listening! I am humbled by your response.

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#256546 - 10/20/08 02:51 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: kolisha54]
Olive Offline
New Here

Registered: 01/01/08
Posts: 16
Loc: New Jersey
Hey kolisha54!

Neils, In my case, any expression of my feelings or the feelings of the kids, while my H is angry, escalates the situation. I have yet to find a successful way to calm him down and get even a shred of understanding how his behavior is making everyone else feel. I have found that in retreating, and not allowing myself to be subjected to insults and rage, I can find a tiny bit of peace.

I do understand this anger is misplaced.
I do understand this is not healthy for the kids and they
aren't here at this time.
I will stand by him while he learns to redirect his anger
where it belongs.
I won't risk the entire family falling apart if he decides
not to.
I see him as beautiful, loving, intelligent, handsome, strong,
and capable, even if he doesn't.
I do love this man with all my heart.

And yes, these outbursts are very much attacks, and less battles
these days if I retreat and don't fight back.

What I'm wondering is if anyone has had success handling these unprovoked outbursts? I have failed at every attempt I've made.

Olive


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#256567 - 10/20/08 05:29 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: Olive]
NY Daisy Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 183
Not all men are as evolved as you are Niels. When the man in your life is not really open to the fact that this affects him and his family more than he believes it gets harder and harder to just not personalize the digs and attacks.

My H can be a wonderful guy. He can also turn on a dime. It leaves a spouse confused at every turn. I have been dealing with this for 14 years. He went to therapy for a year and half, without my knowledge before he disclosed to me. For 2 years prior to that, he was distant, cold, heartless, cruel. I was preparing to go, leave. Then he told me. I was relieved. I knew something wasn't right. I stood by him,while his beloved family ALL TURNED THEIR BACKS ON HIM.
14 years later, this is now the third time my H has changed into a different man. In between, he is a wonderful man. I get lulled into the false sense of security that the last time was THE LAST TIME, all for it to come crashing around me. I find that with each time, he gets less and less remorseful of his actions.

He has made it perfectly clear that he did not tell me because our relationship was at risk, it was for his sister's. So in that time period before he told me, and was seeing a T not once did he even think about what his actions were doing to his young family. I cried everyday during that period, and at T a couple of months ago, he restated that if he could have told his family without ever telling me he would have. When I tried to explain that telling kept me there, he turned and said " what are you talking about? Where were you going?" The T asked him what he meant by that, and his reply was" He never had to worry about me, he knew I would just be there, and what was my problem, it's not like you lost everything that ever meant anything to you like I did." The T again, asked him what he meant, and he said he lost his family, and they meant everything to him. This was not the family we made together.

Through it all, I still try to hold out hope that one day it will all click. A few weeks ago he restated that he wishes I never found out, and as of yesterday I wish it too! His birthday was yesterday, and I busted my butt, making his favorite meal and cake, took him for his first tattoos as a birthday surprise, and to thank me, he lied to my face. I asked him something, and he looked me right in the eye, and lied. later when it was obvious, he blamed me. This left me empty,numb, just void. I seriously believe I am having PTSD from dealing with it for so long. I tried to talk to him about how I was feeling and his response was "WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE ABOUT YOU?" I'm still waiting for anything to be about me.

So you really hit a sore spot for me when it is implied from my point of view, that we should not take offense of anything that our men do, we should just blindly adore them, and be thankful of the tiny nibble of feeling they might throw our way, when for the most part we are just an afterthought in their lives.

So this is were we to come to vent our unspoken feelings, and get the support we are most definitely do not get at home. I am really mad right now, so sorry if I am being harsh.

NYDAISY


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#256578 - 10/20/08 06:55 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: NY Daisy]
dgoods Offline
Guest

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
Sorry for just jumping in here, but this thread has provoked some thoughts- one being that it seems to me like traditionally in our society, women have been assigned/taught the role of being expected to keep the family or household running smoothly, to absorb whatever shocks or blows that occur emotionally within that context, and present a bright and shiny appearance to the outside world regardless. As a survivor, I look back on the many women who had expressed happiness in getting to know me, in the sense of their feeling like "they could talk to me about anything"; how I was different from so many other guys they knew- I firmly believe that a large part of this has been due to my ability to instinctively understand how it feels to carry around a crushing burden with nowhere to put it, and feeling like the world's message is to "just suck it up, it's YOU with the problem, so shut up and deal." Long-term relationships always have a certain amount of dynamics and issues which fall under the "this-is-just-between-you-and-me" category, which in a positive sense can be wonderfully special and comforting, but in a negative sense can feel stifling and frustrating, at minimum. Again, from a survivor's perspective, I think we can have both a deep-seated need for, and a equally deep-rooted terror of, this "just-between-us" aspect of a relationship, and it's often the case that many couples/families, even ones without a survivor in them, are only able to see issues that stem from a public/private dichotomy in hindsight, or until an outside party's perpective is introduced. Some F&F might post because they're literally at their wits' end, and are looking for words of wisdom from others who've been there; others might be simply blowing off steam, or craving some validation they can trust as genuine; or any combination/variation thereof- but, to me, while it can be depressing at times to read example after example of pain and frustration in being in a relationship with a survivor, it all is welcome and necessary honesty, just as any post by a survivor is (and, of course, it's not always negative or heartbreaking- there's many positive posts on both sides, too). Whether a survivor or F&F (or both, as the case may be), for me it boils down to three major considerations: boundaries, self-honesty, and self-respect. These have just been my thoughts after following this thread for a bit, so take them as that- no more, no less. A better tomorrow for any of us is NOT impossible!

_________________________
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

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#256670 - 10/21/08 10:39 AM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: dgoods]
NY Daisy Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 183
dgoods, you are welcome to jump in at anytime. Thanks for your opinion. I really needed to vent. Until recently most of my posts have been positive. I really thought my H and I were working together towards healing our relationship. I have come to realize that our relationship means different things to us. I look at it like it is supposed to be romantic love, he and I are supposed to be "in love".

I think he is faking it. We went out to a work dinner with people he works with, and the subjectt of infidelity came up. He knows that I do not believe in it, I think it is direspectful to a relationship. I do believe he has cheated on me, last year with a man, but had no positive proof, just my gut to go on. Anyway, my H in front of 15 people says " I wouldn't care if my wife cheated on me." People just smiled and looked away.

We have sex regularly,so I was stumped. He says he loves me, and I do think this is true, I just think it is not in a romantic way.

My H is very needy on how desirable he is, I must constantly reassure him he is hot. I can not remember the last time he has told me I look good. We have sex, and I do not think he even looks at my body. He just noticed a beauty mark on my stomach that has been there the whole time, and is not in an out of the way spot. (and we never have sex in the dark. there is always mood lighting)

Sometimes I just think I am kidding myself. I need to get it out, and do not want to always tell my family to much, so it is nice to come here.

NYDAISY


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#256671 - 10/21/08 10:45 AM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: NY Daisy]
NY Daisy Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 183
Olive,

There is no successful way to handle the outbursts. It is a battle you will never win. The best I have found is to not feed into the outburst. He wants you to join in, so don't, he can't turn it on you if you do not let him.

NYDAISY


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#256973 - 10/22/08 12:43 PM Re: Not getting provoked into being The Enemy [Re: NY Daisy]
cinaflower Offline


Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 14
ny daisy, I feel like my husband is faking it too. We started counseling last week- finally got him to go, finally found someone he liked and he's been an ANGEL ever since. I feel like he's going to do everything he's supposed to do, act like he's all into it and we're going to leave there having accomplished nothing because he's going to fool the therapist into believing that it's all okay. I have gotten mixed advice about telling the therapist about his past- that he should do it himself when he's ready. He's not going to be ready- he doesn't think it's a big deal and doesn't think it's affecting our relationship in any significant way. We on here see and know what it is and how it works and how it affects our relationships and their lives and the way they conduct themselves- but it's so subtle and insidious in some instances it's hard to put a name on it, hard to talk about, hard to explain, definitely hard to solve.
Wish me luck! I'm afraid that if I can't get him to really deal with everything in this go around, I don't know where this is going. It's been 21 years, you think I'd had enough but I keep trying and hoping. I hope the hope doesn't run out!!!!


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