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#57135 - 12/31/03 04:56 AM bad ways to break silence--long and bad
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
I feel like ever since I told my boyfriend that I wanted him to have his space to think and heal, that he's been taking advantage of that space. All of the sudden every single issue that I want to talk about is "too deep" and hard for him to think about. I have been taking this at face value because I understand that things have been hard for him lately. I have been giving him his space and I feel like I've been good about it. But I just don't see how talking about what I'm going to do after I finish the job I've got, or about a friend who's been spending a lot of late nights at our place, is a violation of his space, or too deep. It's not fair that I can't even ask to bring up things like this.

Meanwhile the past month hasn't been exactly easy for me either. Needless to say anything involving "my" stuff is "too deep." Up until ten days ago I had been waking up with the sun to commute to school and then staying up until 2 and 3 in the morning to get my own homework done. Because of school and a less-than-ideal child care situation, I took time off of my physically demanding job (working afternoons and weekends was what got me so that I had to pull all nighters in the first place). Although we could easily afford me missing a month of work, I never heard the end of stressed out it made him for me to stop working (this is a sore subject for other reasons too). And even though the semester is over, I still haven't heard the end of how unfair it was to him that I asked him to pitch in more than usual with housework and child care during my finals. And this whole time, I've also been trying to deal with his infidelity and disclosure of his SA, which I only found out about this summer and fall respectively, and some family issues of my own which are hitting the fan, including the rapidly deteriorating health of two people I care about very much. But the fact that I'm overwhelmed is okay, right? I'm like this all the time, right? I work best under pressure, don't I? And he's kind of fragile right now and I should be doing the right thing by him, shouldn't I?

I think everyone here can guess from experience how this story ends. Last night I got very angry with him, angrier probably than I've been since I found out about his affair.

I told him that if he was going to bring up the past 5 weeks that I've been somewhat needy then he should be prepared to hear some stuff that he wasn't going to like about the past 5 years. I told him that he needs to stop being so involved in how much he hurt and disgusted himself by cheating on me and start being a little bit involved in how hurt and disgusted I am since I'm the one he cheated on. (He always talks about his affair like it was something that just happened to him, and the very few times it's come up he stops the conversation and says that he's sickened by it and can't talk or think about it because he's so disgusted at himself. I HAVE NEVER ONCE CHALLENGED HIM ABOUT THIS EVEN THOUGH IT MEANS THAT HE HAS NOT APOLOGIZED. I HAVE NOT EVEN BROUGHT IT UP SINCE THE NIGHT HE TOLD ME ABOUT HIS SA.) I told him that he has all the time in the world to make himself better but maybe not all the time in the world to make our relationship better. And this is the worst one, I told him that I think that he only told me about his abuse to keep me from walking out the door after I found out about his affair, and that if I hadn't found out on my own I still wouldn't know about any of it. I don't even really believe that you guys! I think he was ready to talk about his SA no matter what, but that he probably wouldn't have told me about the girl. But that's not even the point.

After I was done saying all this (basically without interruption, not because I wanted to rant but because he wasn't talking) he just said to me, "I can't do this right now" and I started to cry like I have never cried before. Which of course made him all sad and instantly want to be next to me which I didn't really care about at that point since breathing with a faceful of snot was sort of occupying all my energy. I don't even know how long I cried, but I didn't stop until I was asleep and I gave him a hard time about wanting to lay down next to me.

I wanted us to talk but not like this! I feel terrible about dumping on him all at once like that, and guilty about throwing the almost-end of our relationship in his face, and sorry that he couldn't hear what I needed to say in a better way, and sorry that I couldn't let him care about me when he wanted to, and SO SO worried that this means that he's going to go back to keeping everything secret and quiet. He's not talking about any of his problems or abuse history with anyone except for me yet. He's afraid to go to therapy because of a prior bad experience. I am still here to support him, I do still respect and intend to honor his wishes for space and time, I am still committed to making our life work for as long as he's committed to it. I actually am willing to wait for answers even if it's hard to wait, as long as I feel like I'll get them eventually. Last night I was just so frustrated and afraid that he'd found a new plateau and that we were going to be stuck in "Everything's too deep except my problems with you" Land for the next 6 years. I apologized to him this morning but he just sort of said "okay" very fast like it was all fine and forgotten about.

So now I am sick with myself and worried and afraid and he doesn't want to talk about it. Again. And even though I think that what I said was wrong, I don't think that what I'm feeling--the hurt, the anger about getting no apologies, the frustration with his refusal to listen to everyday stuff, any of it--is wrong. I am a "deep" person. I like depressing poetry and deconstructionism and arty films and I like talking about how I feel much better than I like letting it eat my brain. I've been trying to put all of this on hold just to deal with my hectic life and his difficulties. I don't think I've been dealing with the last six months in a negative or unsupportive way. I just want to be listened to already. I don't think I got listened to and I don't feel better. I am determined not to make this behavior a pattern. I'm kind of at a loss though. I'm going to stop this now.

Sar


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#57136 - 12/31/03 06:15 AM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
blue Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/26/03
Posts: 11
Wow!
This sounds like an overwhelming time in your life.

When my husband responds to everything with: it's "too deep" and hard to think about, I feel like he isn't investing in our relationship. I feel like everything becomes my responsibility to deal with. I have to fix all the problems. Or, if I can't fix them, I have to learn to adjust to them being there and learn to live with them, because he isn't available to be my partner and participate in our lives.

He isn't investing in us.

That sucks.

We all have times when we aren't available to our partners. We're humans, darn it.

The question for me is, how long is it healthy to allow that to go on? If I allow him to not show up and continue to offer my support and fix all the problems, when does that become enabling? Is it a few weeks, months or years?

When I continue to invest everything I can in the relationship and allow him to invest very little of himself, isn't like I am saying that I do not believe he is capable of participating in a healthy relationship?

I raise these questions as I am dealing with them myself. I think the answers are dependent on the individuals in the relationship and the boundaries and needs of both. I have not found my own answers yet, but hopefully sharing the questions will help.

Being overwhelmed is exhausting. You can't continue to be overwhelmed indefinitely. It isn't healthy for you emotionally and physically, your body won't allow it to go on forever.

he just said to me, "I can't do this right now"-

It seems to me that in this encounter you gave him the opportunity to invest in you and to invest in your relationship. He either wasn't able or chose not to do that.

"I started to cry like I have never cried before. Which of course made him all sad and instantly want to be next to me which I didn't really care about at that point since breathing with a faceful of snot was sort of occupying all my energy. I don't even know how long I cried, but I didn't stop until I was asleep and I gave him a hard time about wanting to lay down next to me. "


I am sorry for your pain. It seems to me that your response to his lack of giving is quite understandable. Whether his lack of giving is by choice or because he can't give what he doesnt have, I dont know. I do know that it is OK for you to expect him to show up and act like a partner. At least some of the time! Maybe I am off base here. I am certainly no expert.

I do know from experience that when you carry most of responsibility in the relationship over an extended period of time, it gets overwhelming. Once overwhelmed, if help isn't offered or available, it is appropriate to be angry about that.

One other thing I noticed is that, even now, you are more concerned about how your crying affects (effects?) him. That says to me that you love him very much. That love is a precious thing for him and you. It is beautiful.

The only problem with that focus though, is that the situation that caused you to be overwhelmed hasn't changed.

Obviously, you need it to change. You owe it to yourself to not continue in a situation that is overwhelming. Are there some other ways to change the situation? Are there some things that he is able and willing to do to invest in the relationship more? What do you need to get from him to stop being overwhelmed? Are there things that you are doing now that you could just stop or at least simplify?

Again, I am hoping just asking the questions will be a help. I don't expect you to share your answers with me; I am just posing the questions.

SO SO worried that this means that he's going to go back to keeping everything secret and quiet

I understand your concern. You have worked hard to be a safe person for him and it sounds like you feel like you have taken some of his sense of safety in your relationship away. That is a valid concern, but you can only verify it or disgard it by talking to him. If he isnt talking, there is nothing you can do.

Again, you're focusing on what he will do with what happened. You are so concerned about how everything effects him. What he decides to do with his experiences are his business.

Your business is to take care of yourself. Your needs are important too. I am not saying that you should ignore his needs, but if your needs are ignored for a long time, you will no longer be able to tend to his either.

You matter. Treat yourself that way. Please.

_________________________
The opposite of fear is faith. Faith is necessary to love. Move away from the fear toward the love.

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#57137 - 12/31/03 10:48 AM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
phoster Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/21/03
Posts: 758
Loc: ohio
Look, mature partners grow to understand that a relationship is a two-way street. Being a survivor doesnít pardon you from that. I understand that my wife has needs that are every bit as important as my own, and it sounds like your partner has managed to overlook this. Clearly, this only reached this point because your needs were not being addressed, and it built into resentment and anger. It is all a breakdown in communication, which he compounded by continually saying he was not ready to address the issues. Donít saddle yourself with this great burden, as it sounds you have. Never forget, it takes two to tango.

Fights happen. Stop and think of the good that comes of it. Your inner feelings came out, you are hurt that you havenít been validated and heard in all of this, and you are demanding he finally steps up and gives you something in return. You cannot always be giving and never receiving. It will destroy your relationship. No one can carry a relationship solely on their shoulders.

If he is so committed to healing, he needs to step up, and do his part. He cannot keep excusing himself whenever something is uncomfortable. Hell, life is uncomfortable sometimes! It isnít easy by any means, but if he is committed to making this work, he should now rise to the challenge. If he fails, I would begin to question his true feelings. It isnít enough to want a better marriage, you have to earn a better marriage. Sometimes the work involved isnít fun, but it is important. It is high time you called him on that, in my opinion.

_________________________
compassion is a light even to the darkest soul

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#57138 - 12/31/03 01:17 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2259
Loc: Maryland USA
Sar,

Only you and he know how things stand in your relationship. Probably only he knows where he stands in his healing.

There's a lot of good advice in the replies above. I would like to add that healing is itself an uncomfortable process, because it means giving up old behaviors for healthier (but unfamiliar) ones.

Why does he want to heal? To escape symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks? Or to enjoy a better life, complete with healthy emotions and a nuturing partnership? (These are not mutually exclusive reasons, nor is one necessarily "better" than the other.)

Your feelings are real, and they built up to the point that they did over time. If things do not change for the better, they will build up again. I hope the two of you can devise some more equitable way to share your lives and build your relationship. It will take two to tango.

Joe

_________________________
"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbrokenÖ"óThe Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#57139 - 01/01/04 12:27 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Joe, once again you hit a nail on the head -

Quote:
I would like to add that healing is itself an uncomfortable process, because it means giving up old behaviors for healthier (but unfamiliar) ones.
We know our pasts and our present, and despite all the crap in them we've found our survival tools and comforts. And it doesn't matter how disfunctional it makes us, it's what we know and to a degree trust.
Mine kept me alive.

The future however scares the crap out of us.
When we start recovery, even in an entirely volunatary manner - not pushed into it - the chances are we don't have a clue what lies ahead.
Do we have role models ? very unlikely, we usually don't even trust ourselves to come in out of the rain !
So who tells us which way to go, or if we're doing the 'right' things ? Or more to the point, who's in a position to tell us that ? The only person is ourselves.
Partners, friends, family and therapists can point out 'if' whichever path we choose is working or not based on the results they see. And that's the backbone of support.

If my wife asks how I'm doing and I say "Not good, I'm having a hard time with ...." and her response was "what you should do is ......" I'd react against it, maybe that's just me and my rebellious way ? But if she said "any ideas about what you can do about it ?" the ball's back in my court and I'll discuss it.


I'm not suggesting that SAR is 'pushing' at all, not deliberately anyway, but maybe he 'feels' pushed ?
My wife teases information out of me, I rarely start talking about my healing, she asks some simple question that leads me to talking.

I also think it's important to be as sure as possible that talking is done without any chance of interruption. I just hate being stopped mid flow, and will not restart. I know that's hard with kids and family about, but someplace where you can turn off the cell phone and just sit and talk is ideal.

We're not easy, and I think it takes a while for us to realise that, and I know I have been a complete pig in the past. I still have my moments for sure.
How did I get here ? I was supported - on the face of it. But I was also led and encoureged - without me really knowing it was happening ( at the time ).

SAR, you don't desrve to live in silence and feeling left out, that's just not fair in any relationship. And nobody should suffer because of another person for whatever reasons, hell - that's why we're here anyway.
But sometimes a bit of lateral thinking helps, especially when the straightforward thinking isn't working.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#57140 - 01/01/04 02:38 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
I don't even know what to say.

I was seriously expecting to come back and check out this thread and find a lot of replies that said, yes, sar, you really were kind of a jerk, you shouldn't have said that stuff, give him his time and space.

I still kind of feel that way. I really wish he would let me apologize.


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#57141 - 01/02/04 05:07 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
crisispoint Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 2154
Loc: Massachusetts
Sar,

know that i'm a survivor (and probably not supposed to comment here, but I'm a bad boy anyway), but your thread rang true to me anyway, because my (sometime) boyfriend e-mailed me back today, saying that he didn't understand why I was angray at HIM!

regardless that he hadn't even CALLED me recently to see how I was doing with my whole father thing, I lashed out at him and it probably wasn't fair to him. People do that when they are angry and hurt.

it wasn't the right thing to do, but I did it. people do. whe're human.

now I have to figure out a way to apologize to him while getting to the heart of our issue. should I do both at the same time? don't know, but we do have to TALK. that's where the problem lies, you see.

You and your boyfriend have to work out your issues. you were both very hurtful to each other and need time to deal with that too, but you need to talk it out. work it out, you see, because any relationship worth having is worht fighting for. and fighting involves risk, getting hurt, and hopefully healing stronger through the pain. nothing gets stronger without stress and healing. it's an old biological axiom.

i'm not making much sense now, but i hope i've gotten my point across.

be good to yourself, sar.

scot

_________________________
There are reasons I'm taking medication. They're called "other people." - Me, displaying my anti-social tendancies

fromacuriousmind.blogspot.com
malehurtandsurvive.blogspot.com

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#57142 - 01/02/04 07:12 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Scot, you make total sense.

Quote:
I have to figure out a way to apologize to him while getting to the heart of our issue. should I do both at the same time? don't know, but we do have to TALK
that's my problem too. I was wrong, and so was he, and he needs to know that I was wrong and I'm sorry but I also want him to know why I blew up like I did, and I don't really know how to put it in one conversation without making it sound like "I'm sorry that you're not being fair."

I forget that talking to me is hard for him. He's told me before that I seem so sure of my words and so able to identify my feelings that it is actually intimidating for him. Maybe I come off that way but it's not like it's easy or a sure thing. I'm just articulate and good at bluffing, one of those students who can make a 5 page paper into a 8 page paper without adding any information \:\)

I have a friend who just declared himself financially independent, took out his own student loans and is juggling bills, rent, school, work, etc. all by himself... I have been doing this or some version of it for the last five years. My friend wouldn't even talk to me about it, because he just assumed that since I've been doing it for so long, I had overcome all those feelings and hurdles and that it was like second nature to me. He felt that talking to me about it would sound babyish to me, I guess, or below me, or that I wouldn't understand how hard it was for him. Of course this isn't the case. I would love to talk him through these things. Work, school, rent, etc. all at once is hard for me too; for everyone, no matter how long you've been doing it. I know that I'll get through the semester and I've learned some tricks and stuff but that's the only difference between us. The point is, I think my boyfriend feels the same way talking about his feelings with me, like I'm an old pro and he's the rookie.


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#57143 - 01/02/04 09:42 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
It's easy to feel intimidated. I did.

I work as an engineering fitter doing maintainence on sewage plants. I work the spanners that repair the machines, and have done so for 25 years. It's as disgusting as it sounds at times as well !
My wife was a civil service manager in charge of a whole department of of about 60 people and earned twice my wages.
Add to that the abuse and all the feelings of being worthless etc, and I felt real intimidated.

It took a long while to realise that there wasn't any really significant difference between us.
And when she was doing management training courses I would read all the books and stuff, there was nothing special in them, I could have done 'mangement stuff'. I realised slowly.

In one book by one of the guru's who come and go, a guy called Peter Drucker, I saw this quote and liked it.
"Knowledge work knows no hierarchies, for there are no higher or lower knowledges."

And there's no good reason for feeling intimidated by another either. We just have to discover it for ourselves.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#57144 - 01/05/04 03:57 PM Re: bad ways to break silence--long and bad
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Personally I dont think you did anything wrong by saying what you said - just because you are ina relationship with someone who has abuse/recovery issues, does NOT mean you do not have needs, or that your needs are no less important!

However, the next time probably you need to come up with a plan to discuss things before they get so heated.

But never forget you DO have the right to state your needs and get your needs met too! You're not doing ANYONE any favours by sacrificing yourself - you're not helping yourself and although it is absolutely TERRIFYING to confront your partner about your needs, you are not helping him by allowing him to get away with stuff that he really should be facing.

You can only go "so far" in giving up yourself before you HAVE to say something.. and unfortunately, you do have to take the chance that this person may not like what you have to say.. that is what makes it so scary - is that there is a risk in standing up for yourself.

In an extreme case he may leave, he may fight you, he may do a lot of things to try and get you to change your mind.... but what good is it to "sacrifice yourself" for the sake of keeping someone around who does not respect or want to at least try to help fulfil your relationship needs?

There's a really good book on this type of relationship pattern - "the dance of anger" by Harriet Goldhor Lerner - really helpful!!!


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