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#61162 - 07/20/04 12:41 PM why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Ok.. I am still baffled by my fiance's behaviour sometimes. Lately he's obviously been triggered by a lot of things - issues with his case against his perp going forward, unresolved issues with respect to the abuse, with respect to his perp, etc.

One of the biggest ongoing frustrations in my relationship is that my fiance seems to put a lot of control over his life on OUTSIDE sources - he gets so mad at his boss, his mom, at me for a lot of stuff, it gets him in a lot of trouble... instead of looking at his own life as something he can control he just sits back, takes little responsibility for it and gets mad at others when its not working out for him. Especially after being abused I am still curious why he hasn't reacted the opposite way - not letting ANYONE in and making sure to be in charge of everything - that's been my response - to be OVER responsible and OVER competent in many aspects of my personal life.

My fiance is currently miserable about his career progress, miserable about elements of his health, but then he wont go ahead and do anythig about it.. but instead is quick to haul me into the office of a couples therapist....

Its so weird because I know these two areas in particular are likely to have a major impact on one's personal happiness, and they are clearly NOT something that I can or should do ANYTHING about.

Its especially hard lately... on the weekend he stated that he is not overly happy with our relationship (even though we're going to get married on Sept 25) and that there are a "lot of my personality traits that he has a hard time accepting".. this came as a major shock to me. As I mentioned, he even has taken us to couples therapists (TWICE now) where the therapist has indicated that he feels that there is only so much we can do between us and that he himself has a lot of individual work to do.. the last guy we talked to even indicated that I was more advanced than him in the "individuation" part of the relationship and that my fiance was probably still struggling with enmeshment issues (i.e. not seeing where he leaves off and I begin - inappropriate boundaries, etc). And that comment alone triggered his insecurities and instead of going "oh wow maybe this is something that I need to work on and that this will help" he got upset and since that time has been beating himself up and shocked that he actually had something to work on.. when I am sure he thought he'd bring me into that office and "shape me up"... but when he received something he didnt want to hear, we went home and fought WORSE.

Has anyone been through this phase and come out the other side.. what was it that finally taught you that you were in fact an effective actor in your own life, and that a lot of what you needed to do move forward and heal was inside yourself, and that continually trying to control your environment/people around you was not going to work and was in fact, going to alienate and hurt the people that you need most?

I am getting so frustrated - I grew up in a home where my father was an abuse survivor and there were some pretty abusive/unrealistic controls put on all of us in that house. Now the same thing is starting to happen - I am starting to feel that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not ANYTHING enough when anyone on the outside can see that I am doing a DAMN good job at my life, bringing home a very substantial paycheque (I earn twice my partner's salary and I have 5 years more post secondary education) and I have an excellent career, I just bought us a house, I keep myself in shape, I go to therapy on my own, I am always working on myself, etc.. but I seem to NEVER be good enough (for my dad especially) and sometimes I am not good enough for my fiance.. there's always something that I could do better. Its especially hard as I get triggered by his negativity - it triggers all the bad "Tapes" that my dad has laid down inside me about not being good enough.. tapes that I battle every day. Its not hard for someone to tweak those insecurities of mine and spin me out into a serious anxiety wobble myself.

What will it take for him to see that a lot of the problem is within HIMSELF and the less insecure he feels about himself in the world the less angry and insecure he will feel and the less he will feel that he needs to control his environment and everyone in it? I have realized that a lot of my own deperession and anxiety problems are MY battles and the only way I can protect myself from the world is to arm myself internally - to do whatever I can to build myself up and NOT need that from someone else - to build my own individual internal support system and be less vulnerable to the big bad world. And when I started to master that my life and my career and everything in it took a major turn for the better (my salary quadrupled within 3 years and my job prospects skyrocketed). And I too have been through some pretty horrific abuse myself - not sexual but everything else (psychological, verbal, emotional, some physical).. and I have come to the realization that a lot of what my issues are are my OWN personal battle.. but I dont know how or when my fiance will learn this important information.... that he has to take the bull by the horns and JUST DO IT (sorry for the NIKE reference).

Aaguh.. any tips or advice or consolation greatly appreciated.

P


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#61163 - 07/20/04 06:30 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
PAS I think we are writing each others' posts again!

It is baffling to ME how the not-my-fault bug has anywhere to live in my boyfriend's brain amidst all the self-doubt and self-blame, let alone how they can co-exist. How can you think you are worthless and that you are the reason why everything goes wrong, and simultaneously think that it's everyone else's fault that you got a parking ticket?

Maybe these things are connected and the lack of responsibility is really a fear to look at himself as a cause or agent of anything? I know that my boyfriend doesn't take much responsibility for what he does right, either... maybe the whole issue of credit/responsibility/fault is just too entangled for him.

You guys are going through SOOO much transition right now--house, wedding, now this hearing. All that stuff creates stress, no matter how "good" it is. A lot of people tend to "take stock" of things as they approach milestones or big events, is it possible that this was what motivated his thing about your personality? I know I went through something like this when I was pregnant--my fears and stress about the baby and being a mom came out as anxiety over all the aspects of parenting where my boyfriend and I might not see eye to eye.

Back to responsibility... if good and bad are all connected, maybe it will help him take charge of his whole life if he can start with the good... find some positive things he's done that he can't give anyone else credit for, and let him see that it's not all bad to be in charge of things?

SAR


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#61164 - 07/20/04 09:45 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5779
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
PAS:
Sounds like you have an uphill battle going on with your fiancee.
Quote:
anyone on the outside can see that I am doing a DAMN good job at my life, bringing home a very substantial paycheque (I earn twice my partner's salary and I have 5 years more post secondary education) and I have an excellent career, I just bought us a house, I keep myself in shape, I go to therapy on my own, I am always working on myself, etc.. but I seem to NEVER be good enough (for my dad especially) and sometimes I am not good enough for my fiance.. there's always something that I could do better. Its especially hard as I get triggered by his negativity - it triggers all the bad "Tapes" that my dad has laid down inside me about not being good enough.. tapes that I battle every day
From his perspective, you are all that he is not. The answer is not to become a failure so that he can feel superior. He needs to feel adequate. Unless he can see that he is projecting his feelings and sense of inadequacy on you, he will continue to find outside sources for his sense of failure.

The therapy issue for you may be to "not marry your father". Interestingly how he and your father have so many similarities. Who knows how love works, but you are not the first and will not be the last person who is marrying a dysfunctional "parent", maybe in the hopes of changing the outcome.

He needs to work on his individual issues and you probably need to figure out how to deal with him in a way that won't leave the two of you frustrated or angry with each other.

Ken


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#61165 - 07/20/04 11:18 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Anybody here remember the Borg from Star Trek??? Sometimes the similarities between us are SOOOOOO intense that I wonder if I/we aren't part of some mental "collective:"
YIKES!

One of the things that clued me into the connection with N & my dear old Dad was when I ended up imagining that it was my DAD up there on stage playing N's instruments: WHOA!!!! Pre-ty scary!

BUT - to the best of my knowledge, my Dad was NEVER abused & came from a very loving, close family. So, his emotional distance & "absence" had nothing whatsoever to do with abuse, sexual or otherwise.

That's an important lesson: sometimes the behaviors that cause us so much pain & distraction don't actually come from our partner's SA. Yeah, it's REAL hard to tell the difference, but we need to be careful not to attribute EVERYTHING that goes awry to the abuse...

_________________________
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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#61166 - 07/21/04 10:56 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>From his perspective, you are all that he is not. The answer is not to become a failure so that he can feel superior.

Augh! we have had this conversation already.. he often goes to me "do you think you're better than me".. when I am just being me.. being where I am in life.

>>>He needs to feel adequate. Unless he can see that he is projecting his feelings and sense of inadequacy on you, he will continue to find outside sources for his sense of failure.

Yeah - he DOES need to feel adequate, but the problem is right now he doesn't, and there's NOTHING that I can do to help him on this.. I can try, but its mainly his battle. And even though I do want to help him feel adequate, I can't just let him do things to me that are inappropriate or hurtful, so there are going ot be some times in ANY relationship where one partner or the other will have to say "ok please dont do that I dont like it, it hurts" and the other partner HAS to respect that, even if they dont understand or agree....

Unfortunately, my fiance at times does not feel adequate and is still madly, from time to time, scrambling to find ways to feel adequate - it used to be through drugs, alcohol and sexual acting out, now its more angry/rage acting-out, and and emotional acting-in (last week he was so angry he threw some plastic bowls and broke them, a few months ago he smashed the cordless phone to bits)....

As far as the most damaging thing for our relationship (besides the trashing of our stuff), and my self esteem its the whole projection thing that is so frustrating.. but the big question is how do you point this out to someone who has a propensity for self-blame and is really insecure?

How do you tell someone something that they really really NEED to hear when they aren't able to hear it? I'm not proposing to hit them with the verbal equivalent of a two-by-four with it - I try to use the utmost tact, respect, and compassion, but even when I try to do that I get blasted for "not being direct" so then I try to be more direct and I get blasted for being "too critical and thinking too highly of myself".

How do you explain stuff like this to someone who has a propensity to either spin it into an accusation "youre criticising and blaming me" or who uses it as another excuse to beat up on himself and reinforce the "I'm a piece of crap" belief... but sooner or later he HAS to somehow hear this from SOMEONE and STOP this insanity. Its a key element in his own healing as well as a key step that HE has to take responsibility for in our relationship. The projection is just keeping him stuck and really alienating and hurting me.

Its so frustrating.. I even recall conversations when he goes "I can see you're not happy where your life and your career is going" and I think to myself "WHAAT the HELL????? I am totally happy with that!! Its YOU who has a problem with that in your own life!! Not me!!"

>>>The therapy issue for you may be to "not marry your father". Interestingly how he and your father have so many similarities. Who knows how love works, but you are not the first and will not be the last person who is marrying a dysfunctional "parent", maybe in the hopes of changing the outcome.

Its tough... because I do love him and we are old old friends with a lot in common, and I am full aware there are no perfect relationships out there.. I spent a LONG time when I first became aware of his past wondering if this was a good match, knowing all the issues I'd be up against, and he totaly reassured me he was "moving forward"... and was NOT like my dad... I needed a LOT of reassurance about his past to make sure I was making a good choice.

Re: trying to fix him - I make a major point of AVOIDING trying to fix him - I tried that with a few ex boyfriends and wound up dumped. I am full aware of trying to preserve his ego and his self esteem as much as possible and NOT picking at every problem or every issue - I make a point of choosing my battles very carefully. I am also with someone where trying to fix him is like awakening a bear with a sharp stick - I know better than to even TRY to even remotely sound like I am even barely hinting at trying to "fix" him.

>>>>He needs to work on his individual issues and you probably need to figure out how to deal with him in a way that won't leave the two of you frustrated or angry with each other.

Yes - Its hard because I know these things take time, and he IS working hard on them - he's active in a SA support group, active in his own therapy, has a daily meditation practice, daily journal, etc. But I know it takes time.. and sometimes I wonder if too much damage to the relationship and my enthusiasm for it will be done before things change. Its hard - there is already some kind of a buildup of resentment already... and a big feeling of growing hopelessness in my heart. I did express that to him on the weekend.. that I feel hopeless.. that this doesnt ever seem to change, that I feel misunderstood, that a lot of stuff I say is twisted around by him to sound like I'm miserable, like I'm complaining, criticizing, etc, and deep down that is NOT who I am!! I"m NOT like that - but if someone is hell-bent on MAKING me sound that way, hell you can make even the biggest optimist sound like a total pessimist if you are able to twist their words enough in your own mind.

Sorry again but half of this post is probably a vent.. It does sound pretty negative... but I"m just pretty pent up with a lot of the fighting we've had over the past week. Its been pretty tough. I never thought that going to see a couples therapist would backfire so badly for him and cause so many problems. I suppose that hearing and update on his case against his perp was another trigger for the past weekend..its been tough. I am getting SO tired!

P


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#61167 - 07/21/04 11:08 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>It is baffling to ME how the not-my-fault bug has anywhere to live in my boyfriend's brain amidst all the self-doubt and self-blame, let alone how they can co-exist. How can you think you are worthless and that you are the reason why everything goes wrong, and simultaneously think that it's everyone else's fault that you got a parking ticket?

OHMIGAWD I wonder that too!!! It makes absolutely no sense!!!!!!!!!!!!! I drive myself insane with that lack-of-logic-thought-process. "If he believes A.. and A is the opposite of B.. then how can A and B coexist simultaneously in the same congnitive environment".. (Ok I"m a legislative/policy analyst by trade.. my mind just thinks this way)

>>>Maybe these things are connected and the lack of responsibility is really a fear to look at himself as a cause or agent of anything? I know that my boyfriend doesn't take much responsibility for what he does right, either... maybe the whole issue of credit/responsibility/fault is just too entangled for him.

Possible. But the major key then is when things are happening in the relationship where you HAVE to say something because you are being hurt and the relationshp is being hurt, what do you say? How do you say it? You cant just sweep it under the rug or YOU will get miserable and it is really a kind of deception...

What will it take for him to realize that he has a responsibility here and ACT on it?

>>>>You guys are going through SOOO much transition right now--house, wedding, now this hearing. All that stuff creates stress, no matter how "good" it is. A lot of people tend to "take stock" of things as they approach milestones or big events, is it possible that this was what motivated his thing about your personality?

I dont know. I have a hunch that he was in a wobble - we went to see a T who told him some of these "things he needed to hear but didn't want to" as well he got an update on his case against his perp on Friday.. also we are getting down to the crunch with the wedding (9.5 weeks). He's been very resistant to being cooperative and helping with a lot of the wedding and I"m getting fed up with his resistance, especially as he was the one who wanted a big wedding and it has turned out that I have had to bear a lot of responsibilty for the planning and the financing of it.

>>>I know I went through something like this when I was pregnant--my fears and stress about the baby and being a mom came out as anxiety over all the aspects of parenting where my boyfriend and I might not see eye to eye.

I think that is part of it - maybe he's not fully in touch with how stressful the wedding is really on him.. he's made an art form out of denying his true feelings for so long.. maybe he's not even aware that he's under stress. He's also a total champion at hiding his stress.. he could be TOTALLY freaked out and still appear as cool as a cucumber.

>>>Back to responsibility... if good and bad are all connected, maybe it will help him take charge of his whole life if he can start with the good... find some positive things he's done that he can't give anyone else credit for, and let him see that it's not all bad to be in charge of things?

I dont know. He's deathly afraid of failure, deathly afraid of being responsible, but then on the other hand he's miserable with his career and his lot in life, and unfortunately he will only be able to "advance" when he is more able to deal with the fears of possible failure, to be able to handle "higher stakes" and more responsibility.

Last night he did indicate that he is aware at some level that he has to take more responsibilty for himself, its something that they DO talk about a lot in his group therapy (personal responsibility), but that it is just taking a lot of time to get from the "brain" to the "heart" in his case.. isn't that always the way? You are mentally aware of something but it takes you a LONG time to figure out what it means and how to put it into practice.

P


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#61168 - 07/21/04 04:32 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
PAS, I'm going to go look for a thread for you... some weeks back there was a pretty interesting discussion about turning points in survivors's lives.

I remember reading through that thread and thinking how interesting it was that so many of the "turning points" were basically internal. My boyfriend's told me about the day he looked at me and realized that he was being a shitty boyfriend and that maybe he ought to work a little harder at feeling like he deserved to be with me. You know what I did to make him realize that? I came home from work, said hi, and left him in front of the TV while I went into our bedroom, changed my clothes, and went to sleep. SAME THING I DO EVERY NIGHT! There was just something about that night, week, month.... for him, where he was in a place to see it. He doesn't know what it is either, but he thinks of it as a turning point.

Regarding hopelessness-- Here's the twist. If you'd asked me to guess the date of the "turning point" I'd guess somewhere about 8-10 months after it really happened. I don't know if that's because it took him that long to get it together and put it into practice, or because I had "given up" to such an extent already that I couldn't see the changes while they were happening. I think it's a bit of both. I'm just saying, especially for those of us who are already guarded and independent, hopelessness is dangerous. It's a terrific shield and hard to drop... even now sometimes I find myself angry or afraid when we have a really good time out or something, because I don't want to believe it's true, I'm scared to trust that he's changed. PAS I truly hope that you can keep an open heart.

Edited because here is the other thread:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/cgi-local/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=000657


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#61169 - 07/21/04 05:00 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
MikeNY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 927
Loc: NY
I haven't read all of the replies. I'm sure that this has been said in different ways.

All healthy relationships are two sided and meet in the middle. Each person needs to think about and take care of themselves first, then they will be able to SHARE with the other person. Anytime that this does not happen, an unhealthy relationship forms, usually a dependency or a codependency. Dependencies and codependencies spiral out of control in unhealthy ways. This does not mean that there aren't times when you can't or shouldn't think of the other person first. Everybody needs help sometimes. If you care about the person, you want to help them too. If or when it becomes a lifestyle instead of a brief period of helping someone who you care about, then you need to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective and see how much you are sacrificing of yourself. Once you lose yourself, you have nothing left to share.


Quote:
OHMIGAWD I wonder that too!!! It makes absolutely no sense!!!!!!!!!!!!! I drive myself insane with that lack-of-logic-thought-process. "If he believes A.. and A is the opposite of B.. then how can A and B coexist simultaneously in the same congnitive environment".. (Ok I"m a legislative/policy analyst by trade.. my mind just thinks this way)
I talked with Kolisha to a relatively great extent about how this works and why. I think that she can explain it. If not, I will try if you are truly interested.

_________________________
"Every child asks the questions which hold the answers to the secrets of the universe, WHAT?, and WHY?". --Me

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#61170 - 07/22/04 10:27 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
I'm scared to trust that he's changed. PAS I truly hope that you can keep an open heart.
That's a big part of what I think I'm up against.. I think that he is changing.. but there are still phases when he's back in his old ways and it reinforces the fear.

Like since our big fights last week, he's been super nice, super helpful, super engaged in the relationship.. and I"m just sitting waiting for it to end like it always does. I'm afraid this is just a honeymoon phase and it will end and go back to the way it always goes... and that the only reason we're in a honeymoon phase is because we had such a big fight. It seems it just takes such a big fight to get some change.. and I'm tired of fighting all the time.

Its like its a "block" change.. parts of the time he's better, part of the time he's not.. its not like a gradual proportion.. its an all or nothing thing part of the time on and part of the time off...

Trying to keep an open heart but its been stabbed so many times...


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#61171 - 07/27/04 11:38 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
reesersgrl Offline
Member

Registered: 07/08/04
Posts: 37
Loc: ny
Oh my gosh! I can relate to almost ALL of this. I don't know how you all have the patience to sit and write...I just am so overwhelmed by all of this, that if I start writing, I won't stop!!There's just so much. My b/f realized one year ago, that he was the victim of sa. Since that time, our lives have been complete hell. His mood and personality changes are frequent and severe. He has absolutely no self worth, can't see past today --i.e.--no hope for the future, he's cutting, quit his job and is receiving ssi, so he has nothing to do with his time during the day--which means I have to be accountable for every single minute of MY time or else "I'm not there for him" or "I'm doing something I should't be doing" . I could be stuck to him like glue for a week, but the ONE time he tries to call and I'm not home(even if I went out to get the mail) then "I'm NEVER there or him or I don't support him like his friends do". He doesn't take responsibility for any of his actions or his words. He was driving like a maniac and got pulled over and it was MY fault for not telling him what the speed limit was!! We were golfing and it was MY fault that his ball got lost. NOw, I'm not much of a golfer-is thAt one of the rules--the othEr person has to watch where YOUR baLL GOES? \:D iT'S ALL JUST SO DAMN CONFUSING. I WANT TO BE HERE FOR HIM, I'm just sick of taking the blame for his emotion problems, especially since I"M the one who has been there for him THROUGH EVERYTHING!!! Okay, I'm stopping now. Thanks for listening \:\)


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#61172 - 07/28/04 10:26 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Yeah this is a hard one.. I think part of what survivors do is they test test test test you.. and I also think there's a hefty dose of "projection" in there - what they are saying to you as a "you are this and you are that" statement is really more of an "I" statement in disguise (they are self blaming but putting it out there as if it was YOU.. weird I know but it happens) With my partner I also know he really confuses his mom and me when he gets into a trigger/anxiety/fear state.. he says that I'm not there for him but in fact it was his mom that wasn't there for him when he was being abused, etc.. she was pretty intrusive and controlling herself which didnt help. I also think there's a small part of him that still wants his mom to come in and rescue him from his abuser and to finally be "saved" and maybe he's still seeking that out from me.. that he still doesnt believe that he is strong enough to take care of himself.

Its tough when this happens.. you have to define your boundaries, state what you will and wont take, work hard at not getting what I call "mind fucked" which is when you lose your grip on reality and start believing that you actually ARE a bad and useless and unsupportive person.. I find after awhile I start to buy into his crap and start beleiving it and feeling SO bad about myself but once I step back from it and go "WAIT A MINUTE I"M NOT ALL THESE THINGS".. and give my head a shake it does help. Thats why you need outside support (girlfriends!) and "reality checks" when you are going through this with your partner.... so important!

Its tough.. sometimes you have to endure a lot of loneliness and strike out on your own when he's being like that.. its hard enough when he's not able to be just your friend and your equal but when he's gone over the acceptable boundary into stuff thats pretty unacceptable, sometimes for me the only thing I can do during that time is keep my distance.. not good for the relationship I know it just makes me feel SO lonely and out of whack when I know I have to avoid my partner because he's in a mode where he is hurting me, but you can only hope that the distance is hurting him as much as it is you and that he will come back to you and realize he has to make some changes if he wants to feel closer and have a more intimate (emotional that is) relationship. I just had that talk with my partner a few weeks ago - I was wondering if he did all of this in a subconscious effort to push me away and if he was happy that he "got what he wanted" (distance) and he actually admitted that the distance hurt him as much as it did me, and he wanted to make some changes but he wasn't quite sure how or what to do yet. That was pretty uplifting for me to learn that he wasn't all about just seekign distance.. that there was some reward for HIM as well to break down the intimacy barriers.

Keep building your support networks outside of your relationship for times like these.. keep your reality checks in place, dont get sucked in to believing all kinds of nasty things about yourself.. if you start that "i'm going crazy" feeling then its time for a reality check because you are starting to lose sight of reality....

If your partner is intent on and motivated towards healing then things will improve and they will get better.. they wont always be the way they are today... thats what I keep telling myself anyway!!

P


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#61173 - 07/28/04 03:40 PM Re: why the focus on the partner???
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
PAS

Quote:
it was his mom that wasn't there for him when he was being abused, etc.. she was pretty intrusive and controlling herself which didnt help. I also think there's a small part of him that still wants his mom to come in and rescue him from his abuser and to finally be "saved"
I think my boyfriend just figured out a month or two ago that his mom is never coming to save him... and around the same time he figured out that what she calls "loving" is in fact intrusive and controlling. He's suddenly angry at her, like Years Of Angry at her, and it's weird because out of all the years of our relationship this is the time that he has the least immediate cause to be angry at her.

I asked him why he's been so angry at his mom and he said, "I don't have to go to her house for dinner. I can tell her we'd like to eat dinner at home. I don't have to tell her all of my business. It's okay for me to tell her that something doesn't concern her." It would be funny if he were kidding even a little bit... I mean OF COURSE grown people are allowed to say that they'll come over for dinner next week... but he really didn't know that before.

It seems that the acceptance of these two ideas is linked... he is allowed to keep a part of himself separate from her knowledge and control, AND he is allowed to start accepting that she failed to protect him as a kid, and feel everything (anger etc.) that is associated with that.

I obviously think that this kicks ass, except I have to deal with the fallout of it right now because he has been avoiding her... and since I see her at least once or twice a week I have to keep dodging her questions about it.


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#61174 - 07/29/04 11:18 AM Re: why the focus on the partner???
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Originally posted by SAR:

>>>I think my boyfriend just figured out a month or two ago that his mom is never coming to save him... and around the same time he figured out that what she calls "loving" is in fact intrusive and controlling. He's suddenly angry at her, like Years Of Angry at her, and it's weird because out of all the years of our relationship this is the time that he has the least immediate cause to be angry at her.

I like that: "Years of Angry" (YOA). Good code phrase!

Oh.. this sounds really familiar to me. Are you sure you're not living my parallel universe? Same situation for me. We have just moved in together, we are getting married in 2 months, we have just bought a house.. he is in a position where he has the MOST freedom from her EVER, and he gets SO angry at her.. and she is barely even in his life. But then again he really had NOT even considered his mom as a factor in why he had so many issues.. he focussed completely on the man who molested him and didnt see the entire picture until recently... that he probably woudl not have been the vulnerable, needy child who needed to turn to someone, who was so vulberable because of SOMETHING that he was sniffed out by a pedophile. He has to look at the whole experience as a system.. that it wasn't just one person who set this whole thing up.. there were many other factors that led to what happened to him... and it must be really hard to look at the fact that his mother in many cases, DID fail to protect him. She does not know that he was molested, but in a sense, I do put some responsibility on her because she certainly did not do a lot to build up her son's self esteem.. allowing him to be so vulnerable to a predator.

Early on in my own recovery from my abusive, alcoholic home I read the book "the dance of anger" by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. I read in that book that sometimes people "bond" through anger when they feel that their relationship is slipping away or changing. i.e. a mother and daughter locked in an emotional "death grip" of picking, reacting, criticizing, feeling "put upon".. I've seen it many times and some theories are that this is a way that people deal with the loss of their relationship with their children. I sometimes wonder if this is also part of my fiance's weird anger relationship with his mom - that he is having a hard time accepting that he is growing up and moving away from her.. that time is passing and he's entering a new phase of life. There's always some excitement in moving forward but also a loss.. I can totally understand not wanting to let go sometimes. Its all natural of course, part of the natural order of things, but it is sad. and I wonder if part of him just doesnt want to let her go.. so he stays emoionally locked to her in anger. Just a theory of course....

And all theories aside, of course I, like you are also dealing with the fallout of this. It is really hard.

Its so hard sometimes.. Last night C met me after my soccer game and the girls were heading out for drinks, which we spontaneiously do from time to time if there is enough interest. C showed up to pick me up and I asked him at that point if it was ok if I went out with them or if he really wanted me to come with him. Seeing as I asked him to pick me up if he had said that he wanted to spend time with me I would have gone with him.. I would certainly have given him first priority. But he indicated he didnt care and I went with the girls. But MAN OH MAN did I get it when I got home!!! He was pretty angry that I did that.... I just am getting relaly sick of the passive aggressive thing.. that he is still afraid to be assertive at the time when I can still do something about addressing his needs (which last night I would have.. as I did ask him to pick me up so to be fair if he wanted me to come with him I woudl have gone.. it was only fair).. but its IMPOSSIBLE for me to do something about it afterwards like he said to me... he wanted me to "be sure to plan ahead" the next time so he "wouldnt miss out".. but how the hell can you plan for something that's spontaneous?

After some arguing, and defensiveness on my part, we boiled it down to the fact that a) he felt I was making him "second choice" and b) he didnt feel safe to state his needs at the time when I asked becuse others were around. But what the hell can I do about making a decision with less than full information? Had he told me that he really wanted me to come with him, then I would have!!! But I dont frigging have E.S.P.!!

I am still pretty saddened by this. I mean, what does he think I think about him? Is he so insecure that he really believes that I would ever treat him as "second choice"? That my decision indicated some deep resentment or dislike for him? If I choose to do things independent of him, as all healthy, well rounded people must do from time to time (our lives must be MORE than our partners and our relationships in order to be whole) is he using it as a way to confirm his inner insecurities? Is it my responsibility to behave in such a way to ensure that he always feels "first choice".. and at what cost to me? Who's responsibility is it to improve his self esteem? Mine or his? Big questions eh?

If he is so insecure that this is his default, then I cannot EVER be perfect enough to stop that insecurity.. and is it really my responsibility in the first place? I think not. I dont have the right to treat him like crap, and I do have a primary responsibility to him, he does deserve to be treated with respect and like the person I choose above all others to spend the rest of my life with, etc. etc.. and I really DO love him.. but man.. it really hurts me when I see him doubting what I think of him.. how I feel about him. I'm not in this relationship to screw him over, and sometimes I think I'm fighting that assumption on his part. I'm getting realy worn out that I am constantly having to prove myself, to defend my love to him. This constant testing is getting exhausting. And as we have discussed on here many times, I do think there really is an element of "setting me up to fail" - if you really want to find fault with someone, no matter how good or competent they are, you can ALWAYS find a way to take them down if you are that determined and that insecure. Its a no win situation. It happens all the time here at work and it sickens and saddens me.


>>>>I asked him why he's been so angry at his mom and he said, "I don't have to go to her house for dinner. I can tell her we'd like to eat dinner at home. I don't have to tell her all of my business. It's okay for me to tell her that something doesn't concern her." It would be funny if he were kidding even a little bit... I mean OF COURSE grown people are allowed to say that they'll come over for dinner next week... but he really didn't know that before.

I think this is all wrapped up in what happens to ppl. when they are traumatized - there's something that lays down in the brain that is so firmly etched in there that you fully believe that you really have NO power to say NO.. that you are in a one-down position with respect to most people out there. Because in one or several KEY pivotal moments in their lives, they really DIDNT have the ability to say NO and be in control of their lives and their bodies.. they really WERE in a one-down situation, and they were violated badly. I think this is a real burden to get over for the rest of your life for MANY of us.. as kids we truly were dependent on our parents.. and its a hard mental shift to start to realize that we are NOT dependent anymore.. and it is extra hard for those who come from abusive pasts.

I am also well aware that growing up with a very controlling parent you do sometimes have to work VERY hard at letting go of the "learned helplessness" that environment also etches in your brain. There's a lot of interesting psychological studies of animals who have been subjected to "learned helplessness" that shows what a powerful psychological reinforcement that experience is.. there's a study (I may have not re-told this story exactly correct but this is pretty close to the actual experiment, I am sure) where a dog was put in a room with a floor that was two colours - one side of the room was red and the other white. And when the dog was on the white side it received electric shocks, so it learned to go to the red side to be safe. After awhile the shocks switched - it received shocks on the red side and not on the white. So the dog learned to switch it up and go to the white side to be safe. After awhile the dog was subjected to shocks on BOTH the red and white sides of the room.. and the dog just laid down after awhile and took the shocks.. realizing there was NOWHERE he could go to be safe so he just sat there and took it as best he could.. probably adapting some pretty ineffective "coping" techniques in order to survive his ordeal. What was most interesting was that after the room went back to a "safe zone" and a "not safe zone" arrangement like before, the dog was no longer interested in finding that safe zone - that he just laid there in the unsafe zone and took the shocks and didnt bother anymore to find the safe zone.

I know we are not dogs but all animals, through our common evolutionary heritage (ok I studied some evolutionary biology in university) share the same type of brain and brain chemistry.. and that experiment is a powerful example of how massively powerful the concept of learned helplessness is and how difficult it is to get over once its etched deep into the core of your brain. We as humans have to tap into our highest level of CONSCIOUS existence in order to be aware of that in ourselves and CONSCIOUSLY tell ourselves that just because once in our lives we WERE in a completely dependent, helpless situation that did NOT serve us well, and we had to create these really powerful adaptive mechanisms (i.e. depersonalization, distancing (mental/emotional), fantasizing, etc). in order to SIMPLY SURVIVE, but we are NOT in that situation now and we DO have places we can go and we DO have things we can do to be safe.. and those adaptive behaviours are just NOT suiting us well anymore in our SAFE world.

I really think this is at the heart of this whole anger thing with my fiance - that he learned for a LONG time that it was completely useless to even TRY to be himself, that there was nowhere he could go to be safe from his mom, and then when he turned to an outside mentor some support at a critical time in his life, this man lured him in, turned on him and molested him. What more powerful reinforcement could you get that there is indeed, NOWHERE safe to be?

I guess, I can only hope that he keeps learning that he IS a strong and powerful adult MAN who has power over his own life, his own desires, he has the capability to meet his own needs, despite the lack of someone else being able to do that for him as a child, and despite the people who failed to do that for him as a child, despite the people who were so weak and so messed up they turned on and sexually abused an innocent teenage boy.

Indeed there are a scarce few of us walking this earth who had a blissfully perfect childhood, I think most of us, some of us more than others of course (abuse survivors like myself, the guys on here) have more gaps in our past that we have to grieve and wrestle with, but we all at some point have to start to BELIEVE that we are all strong, capable, smart and trustworthy for OURSELVES and we DO have the capability to create a meaningful existence for ourselves for the rest of our lives, despite what the crap of our past has erroneously reinforced in our psyches. We are NOT what our past has told us we are.

Now how's that for a pep talk? This was written as much for myself as for you guys.. things are pretty tough for me right now work-wise and on and off relationship wise (otherwise I wouldnt post here all the time).. and I cant allow that snake-pit of work stupidity and the insanity of my abusive past and my partner's abusive past to throw me off my centre. I swear right now I'm workign in a place that is literally "eating its young" and being one of those young.. its just pretty tough.. all the concepts of boundaries (inappropriate), support or lack thereof, being treated appropriately and respectfully, feelings safe, its all a big problem here.

I have spent too much time being depressed and miserable once I fall into that crap... and I"m trying ot keep my head above water and reinforce myself from the INSIDE until I can figure out my next move... as well as trying to manage this relationship, survive the inevitable stress of getting married. Good thing that what I learn about this relationship has MASSIVE applicability with respect to workplace dynamics..so I dont feel all that guilty for posting on here so often!!

So, in parting.. you, we are all BIG SUPERSTARS.. we are all OK. we are all awesome.. we are all where we need to be doing the things that we should be doing to heal and move forward... its all part of the Cosmic Plan.. we are all courageous and all STILL HERE and STILL GOING. We should get a lot of encouragement from the fact that despite what we have all been though we are STILL GOING!!!!

BRAVO!!

P


I obviously think that this kicks ass, except I have to deal with the fallout of it right now because he has been avoiding her... and since I see her at least once or twice a week I have to keep dodging her questions about it. [/QB][/QUOTE]


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