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#59249 - 12/20/05 05:13 PM Tough love v compassion
TRACYUK Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 178
I hope noone minds me starting afresh from Trish's initial thread about survivors and marriage and subsequent posts including one from shadowkid (adam). I may has misnamed it but I hope you get the gist.

I find myself eternally torn and trying to strike a balance between being understanding, compassionate and patient and keeping honesty at the forefront of living with and loving a survivor. Its been touched on before when Larry (roadrunner) talked about his wifes needs being trumped by his own.

I know on occasions I've lost my cool and said things as I really see them. An example would be the silence which descended when my family were nice to him, including the lack of a thankyou when he's given food, drinks, gifts. They interpreted him as rude, I'm embarressed and he wants to be understood that his fear of intimacy extends to my folks and he feels frozen wishing fervently he was invisible.

Where does understanding drift into enabling, as Shadowkid highlighted.

I totally understand when Trish talks about being so pleased when a survivor loved one feels safe enough to lean, if only a little, when they may NEVER have leaned before.

Recognising healthy leaning and seperating it from codependant leaning is a hard one for me. I fear I err on the tough love side sometimes and I think thats from being fearful that I'll facilitate his helplessness otherwise.

I'd be really interested in understanding more about what survivors wnat from us SO's. Do you ever wish for someone to keep it real even if that does come hand in hand with "tough love".

Can I agree with Trish that Adam, you are so not stupid. It was very thought provoking for me to read your post.

Cheers all

Tracy


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#59250 - 12/20/05 05:22 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
TRACYUK Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 178
I just wanted to add that our couples councellor is blunt to the point of brutal sometimes. This came as a huge shock to both of us I can tell you.

When my partner has sat talking about what a crap partner he is and he's amazed I stick with him, she holds no barrs in telling him how she sees it, ie, that she's sees a great bloke. She usually throws in a few of my faults and asks how he deals with them in our relationship. It is she and she alone that has made me accept that actually I might be just as lucky to have him on many levels.

It makes me think a bit more about the forcing honesty into the equation..


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#59251 - 12/20/05 08:44 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
Born to Resist Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/30/05
Posts: 269
Loc: Southern California, USA
Tracy,

For me, it would be important to focus on making progress on meeting the needs of my significant other. I would slowly edge closer to what they need from me. What would be scary is asking them what is it that they want me to work on first. Then make progress or achieve it and then ask what's next on the list.

Does he know what he should be working on to meet your needs? You have every right to ask "here is what I need you to work on for us to be closer and for me to be more happy" just be specific and have it be one doable thing. Start with something easy. Of course this doesn't mean he should be putting you in harms way or breaking your trust in a major way like having sex with other people.

Part of healing is trying to meet our loved one's needs without them taking advantage us or breaking our trust. We need to learn that its okay to meet loved one's needs who won't harm us. Never easy, but we need to relearn slowly. Hopefully he'll get to the place of regularly asking you or briging it up as part of conversations.

Courage-Wisdom-Spirituality


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#59252 - 12/20/05 10:06 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
AuthenticMe Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/10/05
Posts: 287
Tracy,

I'll give you my 30,000 feet view and then throw in some practical advice. I hope it helps.

I think that the most important thing that partners of survivors can do is to hold a really safe, loving space for the survivor to experience anything that arises. Be really present, attentive, non-judgemental. When my recovery started in earnest, my level of awareness was at an all time low - my inner child saw danger everywhere. Good therapists do two things - they hold a space for the client/patient to experience whatever they need to experience, and they help the client/patient peel away the layers of emotion until the truth is revealed. That's how we heal.

Now for the more practical advice. I believe that you should be as honest as possible with your significant other about what's going on, with the one caveat that you need to be honest with yourself about what's going on. Are you mad at him for not acknowledging your family because of what he did, or is this the straw that broke the camel's back? Recovery for him is a great way for you to learn about how you work, too, it's just that he probably doesn't have the same capability to be present with you as you do with him.

If you come to the conclusion that you are a tough love person by nature (and not being a tough love person because you feel like it's the best thing to do), then be you.

Perhpas my individual thoughts on your couples counselor's approach will be revealing: I would never be with a T who had a tough love approach. I want honesty, yes, but it's everybody else's job to be hard on me. I've been hard on myself for too long and I certainly wouldn't pay anyone to do anything that would make me feel more shame than I've already experienced.

Hope this helps. I think you're a wonderful woman for being here and seeking the best ways to be supportive. Keep it up. On behalf of male survivors everywhere, thank you!

_________________________
I am a Man.

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#59253 - 12/20/05 11:59 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

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

I will only add briefly to what other have said. The bottom line is that none of us are interchangeable items out of a box. We are individuals full of little quirks and greater and lesser flaws. Love isn't about finding someone who is "perfect for me"; it's about two people finding their own fulfillment in life with each other.

That requires lots of things, not least of all honesty.

I know a lot of things about my "survivorhood" jag my wife no end. Maybe I am right on this or that occasion, and other times she is right. But you know what? It isn't about "winning" the argument. It's about solving problems.

For that I need to hear how she feels, and she needs to say it. Once it's on the table, okay, it may not be so easy to deal with, but THERE IT IS! This is how we feel. This is where we have to start.

If we can't face admitting what the situation really is, how can we ever hope to resolve our problems and find a path of happiness for ourselves?

Much love,
Larry

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

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#59254 - 12/21/05 12:14 AM Re: Tough love v compassion
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Tracy
I think it all comes back to the issue of 'trust'.

He doesn't trust himself to share his true feelings, such as showing genuine gratitude to those who are kind to him, because he doesn't trust other people motives.

The chances are that he recieved some sort of kindness or favours from his abuser, that's how they get to keep abusing us. The one off rapist can be brutal because they aren't bothered about continuing the abuse.

So we gave sex for whatever it was we got from them, a bad deal as it turns out.
And one that has a very strong hold on us, I can't think of any survivor I know that hasn't felt that if someone's being nice to us then they want something in return.
It takes a lot of getting over.

That issue of trust also plays an important part in the 'Tough love v compassion' that you ask about.
We, as survivors, learn to trust when we see that the truth can't hurt us. If my wife is honest with me and tells me things I would rather not hear then I have to either reject them or deal with them. Experience however, tells me that she tells the truth.

It's often painful for me, but then I figure out that the trust we have makes the unpalatable truth I'm hearing something other than bald criticism, it's actually constructive criticism.

Where the balance lies only you know, and if it goes wrong sometimes then so what? Move on and encourage ways of getting over it.
Personally I don't think that wrapping survivors in cotton wool does any good at all, yes, be sensitive to our feelings, but don't be frightened of them.
We're already doing that!
:rolleyes:

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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#59255 - 12/21/05 07:22 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
shadowkid Offline
WARNING from ModTeam, September 2013: user "Shadowkid" was exposed as a hoaxer. His entire online persona and stories of sexual abuse were fiction. We encourage you not to become emotionally concerned by anything you see in any of his posts. Thank you
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 2437
while i ain't in any shape to tell anyone anything ,as i said before where do you draw the line between support and enabling? if you offered to carry me for the rest of my life i would never walk again ,no one should have to carry our abuse or our pain ,pity is a very comfortable place to live ,but it's a trap ,sooner or later we have to walk on our own .we have to find a way to walk beside you .not be carried on your backs .

_________________________
its not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball - damien rice

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#59256 - 12/21/05 08:00 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
I'm having a tough time with this issue today. My b/f and I don't fight. We may disagree at times, but we don't fight until we speak of the abuse he suffered.

He's still in that horrible place where he says that what happened to him wasn't really that bad; it happens to alot of kids; it's no big deal; he was bad kid so shit happened; if he were my kid, I couldn't have handled him either, blah, blah, blah and on and on with things that infuriate me.

He's sad when he tells me these things, but he refuses to let them go. I get irate. I tell him flat out that he's wrong, wrong, WRONG and that no child should suffer what he suffered. Then, he gets mad. This fight will not end until he changes what he believes; I'm right and he's wrong. There is no compromise, therefore, I feel like it's a lose - lose situation for me. As a woman who grew up in a loving family, the fact that he can even think these things blows my mind. That he continues to believe them is nothing short of horrifying to me.

Sorry, I'm having a bad day and this is just one of the issues that's stuck in my throat.

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

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

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#59257 - 12/21/05 08:18 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
TRACYUK Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 178
That is so helpful people' its highlighted a couple of things for me.

Firstly, BTR you said "it would be important to focus on making progress on meeting the needs of my significant other".

A lightbulb went off when I read that. Often he is calm, rational and we have constructive discussions. But when he's feeling low I realise that when I've talked about my needs sometimes he doesn't hear "I need you not to lie to me" He hears "You are an untrustworthy, lying piece of cr*p and you'd better change your ways entirely (or something equally vague) or I will leave you, attack you, etc etc ....."

So in his head all of a sudden theres an unattainable, indistinct set of issues and threats which he doesn't comprehend and feels incapable of achieving. His reaction can verge on the hysterical, I am cast in the role of evil woman and the eggshells start growing all around me.

Its a hard one because it feels quite unpredictable. We can have a really good discussion around a conflict one day and then a similar sort of issue becomes topic and he's frantic.
I think maybe I start to take his progress for granted and get more blunt, I can be tactless and have a bit of a mischevious sense of fun which often he enjoys hugely and sometimes...I don't know... maybe it triggers him.

As I type I'm thinking that actually he tends to do something which pisses me off when he's low (maybe when I'm low also, I'll watch for that). I wonder if actually thats not the right time to challenge it. Wait till he's feeling good, I'm nice and perky and bring it up then??? Thinking out loud here...

Dave you said...
"We, as survivors, learn to trust when we see that the truth can't hurt us".

Frankly what a quote. Sometimes he is very scared of the truth. Not always, but sometimes hugely. I think I pick up on this fear and then the eggshells breed.

You say don't be scared of his feelings.

I am laughing now at the irony of this but I am scared of his scaredness sometimes. Because sometimes where conflict is the issue it comes hand in hand with him being so very very upset, you'd have to be cruel to not want to stop and soothe him even when he's being an arse.

my lessons from this; maybe lessons for other SO's?

1. Don't tackle thorny issues to do with conflict and need when he or you are on a downer?
2. Hammer away at the simplicity and explicitness of what my need is so it is achievable to meet?
3. Keep asking the questions?
4.\ Try not to be scared.

You people are fab. Youre like a cross between a live lesson and a text book. Thankyou each and everyone for responding to this.

I' gonna tell him tonight when he gets home that I'm not scared of his feelings. See how that goes down. I feel perky and he sounded OK an hour ago.

Lots of love to you all

Tracy


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#59258 - 12/22/05 01:26 AM Re: Tough love v compassion
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

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

Just a brief thought that crossed my mind (that didn't take long!) as I reread this thread.

Tough love and honest talking require a lot of compassion.

Much (not so tough) love,
Larry

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

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#59259 - 12/23/05 12:18 AM Re: Tough love v compassion
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Tracy,

I identify with so much of what you're saying in this and the other thread.

It's been over two years since my boyfriend disclosed to me, and since I learned about his acting out and lies over the course of our relationship.

I think I spent the first 20 months of that time scared out of my mind. Every time he took a deep breath before he spoke, I went into panic mode-- Oh my god, there's something else.

And I said the same stuff I hear you saying to him-- "Just don't lie to me anymore. I can handle anything you have to say to me as long as you say it NOW, don't make me find out again, don't make me feel betrayed and untrustworthy again."

I had to say that TWICE in the first year. \:\(

Quote:
But when he's feeling low I realise that when I've talked about my needs sometimes he doesn't hear "I need you not to lie to me" He hears "You are an untrustworthy, lying piece of cr*p and you'd better change your ways entirely (or something equally vague) or I will leave you, attack you, etc etc ....."
This is just my opinion, but to answer your original question, I think that support becomes enabling when you stop communicating your needs, or sticking to your boundaries, because of what he may hear.

He needs to know what is going on with you. He needs to recognize that there is always a gap between what a speaker means and what a listener hears, and not make you responsible for the things that you're not saying.

My boyfriend needed to know that I wasn't calling him a lying anything-- I was telling him that I was insecure--and I'm sure he felt some guilt/shame/etc. about that-- but not telling him at all just makes us both victims.

There is a difference between fault and responsibility. At my boyfriend's job, if a delivery doesn't come in on time-- that's not his fault-- however, it's his responsibility to deal with the consequences-- is he just going to sit back and tell his boss, Oh, well, the delivery didn't come so I couldn't do anything-- or is he going to make some phone calls, try to find what he needs somewhere else, talk to customers about the problem?

Our relationship was very messed up for a while. It didn't have to be his fault, or mine-- but now we were the ones who needed to fix it-- and honestly I wouldn't have stuck around with someone who couldn't be responsible for doing his share of the repairs. I don't think that makes me less compassionate.

SAR


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#59260 - 12/23/05 02:29 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
TRACYUK Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 178
Trish

Thats hard that your BF doesn't think what happened to him was that bad. I'm not sure how I'd deal with that. I think it would make me really angry because it validates abuse. At least you know that he's in denial as a self protection mechanism. Thinking of you. You'll get there.

Sar

I got a bit of a tear of relief reading your reply. I realise its still such early days for us and I think I'm guilty of wanting too much to fast and sometimes seeing it as if we are a hopeless case.

You say;
"Doing his share of repairs" Thats it! This is where he is at, learning about his share of repairs. I really think this ties in with lack of awareness of his personal power. He is discovering this, slowly but surely and I think its this step that needs to happen in parallel to him realising that yes things are sticky at home but wow! he can chnage them and have an impact/make a difference. He's felt insignificant for so long its a slow process of building that self esteem and sense of personal power. He's hidden behind bluster for years when actually he felt powerless. Thanka for sharing about your situation with these two things. I feel a bit renewed in stepping back and leaving him to it. I need to concentrate on what my needs are and articulating clearly them without fear. I'm working at it.


Thanks again and merry xmas.

ps. For you Americans, Is it true that in NewYork the break is called Happy holidays not happy christmas so as to be politically correct?

T


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#59261 - 12/23/05 02:45 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

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

So much in this thread that I haven't felt able to respond to - it all hits so close to home and I can't deal with alot of it right now. I read what you and SAR have gone through and are going through and hang onto that. Thanks.

As for Happy Holidays. Yes, it's true. I say Merry Christmas to those who I know celebrate it and Happy Chanukah to my jewish friends. This seems normal to me.

Some people get downright offended if you wish them happiness for the wrong holiday so strangers get happy holidays. But really, can you imagine being offended by someone wishing you happiness for ANY reason?! Being PC has been taken way too far for the sake of dummies who can't or won't recognize that a good thought is a good thought and should be accepted as such. Just my opinion.

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

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

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#59262 - 12/23/05 05:20 PM Re: Tough love v compassion
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
OH, "holidays." I live in an area which is very religiously diverse and I grew up in an interfaith family. Our public schools call it "Winter Break"-- they also close on Jewish holidays. In five Decembers of working in restaurants, I have never had anyone get offended because I said "Merry Christmas" to someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas. I HAVE had Christians get nasty with me for saying something other than "Merry Christmas."

I don't say "Have a happy holiday" or anything like because I'm scared of offending-- it is just a way to recognize and respect that my tradition might not be everyone's tradition... the same way that I would greet someone in their native language, even if it was the only thing I knew how to say. This can be a lonely time not to celebrate Christmas, especially for kids.


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