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!!!!
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]