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#66244 - 10/26/06 09:44 PM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
I think it's worth remembering that the mind will do all sorts of things to protect itself, emotionally and mentally as well as physically. The physical part we have no trouble with because we can see it: an object is flying towards us and the brain signals the arm to rise to knock the object away. That's a clear defensive action and we have no difficulty understanding it.

It's the mental and emotional stuff that bothers us, because we can't see it phsyically and it doesn't yield to our usual sense of logic. It's often difficult to figure how any of it could make sense. One case I remember from last year involved a survivor who as a child was regularly beaten by his father up to the age of six. He has NO memories of his mother up to that age. Why not? Maybe he resented the fact that she wasn't able to protect him; perhaps he couldn't bear to think of the possibility that she thought he deserved the beatings or just didn't care - so he "erases" her for all that period. Who knows. But still, there we are - he doesn't remember.

The point to bear in mind here is that the survivor doesn't have any control over these things. That is, he doesn't choose to forget his wedding day, or to forget about his mother, or to harbor a ton of bad feelings about himself. These are all part of the false lessons he learned as an abused boy, or else they are defensive reactions to abuse that reverberate with him even today because they are unresolved issues.

These problems can be dealt with in therapy, but it's rough. Take trust, for example. I am told by my T that I should not trust all those bad feelings I have about being Larry. Fine. But if all that, which I have been carrying around for decades and always assumed it to be true, turns out to be wrong, then on what basis do I trust ANYTHING about myself? How do I trust my ability to tell safe people from enemies and predators? How do I trust the T who is trying to help me work through my problems with trust? And so on.

Again, no excuses on offer here. But this is how it looks from the survivor's perspective. It's very confusing and intimidating, and so often I asked myself that classic question, "Why am I so fucked up?" It was like a breath of fresh air through the dungeon when I began to hear - and believe - the real answer: It wasn't me who was fucked up; it was what was done to me that was fucked up. Yes, it was up to me to address these issues myself, but I needed to do so without adding the extra burden of guilt that was never mine in the first place.

Sigh. Another rambling post. Okay, here it is anyway. ;\)

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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#66245 - 10/27/06 12:16 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Brokenhearted Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/06
Posts: 644
Loc: TX
WHEN my husband returns Sunday night (I thought he was returning sooner but I was wrong), I feel like I want to tell him how traumatized he has been, that that is why he has forgotten so much and so on, but I know - don't I? - that he may not be able to grasp that yet. So even if I want to help him know just how much damage was done to him, I have to keep my mouth shut? It will be hard. I know I can at least let him know how unknowing I've been all this time of his distress, but now have educated myself even further while he was away and now understand at least better what he's been through.

Does a survivor typically have to go through therapy for a pretty long time in order to "get" just how much damage was done to him?

_________________________
Brokenhearted

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luke 17:2

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#66246 - 10/27/06 12:32 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

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

I am learning so much from you as we talk about the situation you have with your husband. It's giving me such a useful and vivid insight into how things look from the partner's perspective. In this case here, I can see how much of a conflict the partner finds herself in as she tries to decide how she should proceed: what to say, what to do, how to try to help, and on and on.

On your specific question I can just speak for myself and say that as I started to recover I was constantly gutted by the repeated proofs I was getting that showed the vast scope of the damage that was done to me by the abuser. I really had no idea, and discovering this was pretty rough.

I wouldn't say I had to go through a lot of therapy to "get it", but yes, it took awhile to gain some idea of what I could do with all this huge mess. There really are three issues here. One is discovering how catastrophically you have been hurt, the second is getting past the feeling that the damage can never be repaired, and the third is getting down to the hard work of healing.

A supportive loving partner can make all the difference in the world, but at the end of the day it's the survivor himself who has to acknowledge what has happened to him, work through his anger, pain, shame and other emotions, convince himself he can "do it", and then commit to the work that is required. Even when we have great support there is only a certain amount others can do for us - after that we're on our own.

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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#66247 - 10/27/06 12:39 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

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

The hardest thing for us to do once we learn is keep our knowledge to ourselves and simply use it as OUR tool to understand, both our husbands/bfs and how to maintain our own sanity. What's more natural than wanting so badly to tell our loved ones, I understand and I know how to fix it! I know why things are so messed up and all you have to do is A, B & C and it'll all be OK. You're so excited to suddenly have this wealth of knowledge that all the good people here so willingly provide. Sadly, that's probably one of the worst things we can do.

I had a hard time believing that when I first came here, but I was smart enough - most of the time - to listen to what others told me. I'm glad I did. The few times that I decided to find out for myself and "tell" my b/f the very simple things he needed to do, it was a dismal failure and did nothing but make him upset and withdrawn from me. There's nothing simple about it. I still trip over my own tongue every now and again even though I really try to think through my words before they leave my mouth, I'm human after all, but the reaction I get shuts me up immediately, not in a bad way, but I learn every day.

You're smart too BH. I've know it. You're also in a much different place than I. My b/f is well aware, you're husband is not, or at least he isn't prepared to admit it if he is.

As for whether or not a survivor needs therapy to show him how F'd up things are? I don't think so. Therapy will bring out things that he never thought of or tried really hard not to think of, but I think it's safe to say that he absolutely knows the devastation of his life long before therapy comes into play.

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

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

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#66248 - 10/27/06 12:47 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
One more thing. Once your guy starts talking, the best thing you can do is listen. I always thought I was a good listener, but thinking back, I was usually pretty quick to offer my own opinion on the subject - before I was asked. I don't do that anymore, with anyone. I've been told here and recently in my "real" life that having someone near to just listen and accept is priceless. I'm finding that to be very true.

ROCK ON.......Trish

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

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#66249 - 10/27/06 03:48 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Brokenhearted Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/06
Posts: 644
Loc: TX
I am so glad I have you all to ck my feelings/thoughts against. I will certainly be a better listener myself.

I think my #1 fear is that he will decide he is gay or something *before* deciding to get therapy....possibly just giving up before even trying to get help....and then I would feel compelled to force him to talk to someone so he could find out that maybe he is NOT gay because I don't want to lose him!!!!

I know I'm jumping way ahead and stressing out. I HAVE emailed him some threads about sexual i.d. from this site before; now, whether or not he actually read them is unknown, but at least there's a chance that that could help him see that his feelings of sex. i.d.confusion are normal/common and do not necessarily mean he is definitely gay.

I just don't want to lose him/our life/our marriage/our family so I'm extra fearful.

_________________________
Brokenhearted

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luke 17:2

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#66250 - 10/27/06 10:43 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
beccy Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england
BH,

I can see how much you're hurting/scared right now. It is so hard to be in that place. My bf told me he thought he was gay when I found out i was pregnant with our first child. Obviously it wasn't in the context of all this CSA awareness, so there was no perspective on it, but I did spend 3 years trying to be the perfect partner/mum/everything for fear of him leaving me. It makes me so sad to think of how this has affected the time that should have been full of joy with my children.

I'm sorry, I know this doesn't help. I don't know what would. Just take good care of yourself. Try and be kind to yourself.

peace
Beccy


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#66251 - 10/27/06 04:54 PM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
honey girl Offline
Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 245
Loc: Midwest US
Dear BH,

I absolutely second the encouragement that Larry and Trish have sent about listening. The process of healing is ultimately the survivor's. This healing might be helped by having sympathetic listeners, but no one else can assume that burden, or enjoy that relief, as fully.
I have a hard time with that sometimes myself, because as a survivor of csa I think I have some insight. But that's all it is, insight: it's not a remedy.

Early on in my relationship with my bf, I had very strong inklings that he had a history of abuse, though he had not mentioned anything of the kind. I went so far as to write him a letter--which I never delivered--in which I told him that I suspected something had happened and that I would support him in whatever he needed to do to work it out.

I am very relieved that I had enough good sense not to send it. My "fix-it" urges were eventually countered by my recollection of how much I had hated the idea that my injuries were so obvious. Yuck! I remembered how much effort I put into trying to pass as "normal" and undamaged; it was one of the hardest things for me to cope with in therapy, that feeling of having my defenses seen through. I felt ashamed enough about what had happened to me, to have it recognized somehow would have been really painful. So to have announced my suspicions based on what I perceived as his “symptoms” would have been extremely counter-productive, I am sure. And, you know, when he did disclose what he has--it was the fact of his disclosure that mattered then. Because he had to choose his time for sharing it with me, admitting to me that these things had happened to him, and facing his dread of what my reaction would be.

What I most wanted to hear, when I was in early stages of recovery, was that *what happened to me* was wrong and bad, but *I* was not bad. That I was doing a good job of coping, the best job that I could. That confusion and upheaval were to be expected, but that they could be endured. (Oddly enough, the analogy that has always resonated for me was that of childbirth. Very sex-specific, I know, and not relevant to all women of course either. But that's another process that was, like therapy/recovery, completely unfamiliar and unprecedented to me, and one for which I dearly needed support and reassurance to get through.)

This is the strength that I can offer my bf now: the evidence that although all of this is very destabilizing--recovery too, sometimes, unfortunately--it is endurable. It can be gotten through. And this is what I think you as a loving partner can offer to your husband: that regardless of what happens to your marriage--because in truth neither one of you can say what will come, even setting aside the issue of abuse and recovery--the statement that you find him lovable and worthy of respect, no matter what. (Paradoxically, I suspect this is the best way to protect the continuity of your marriage, acknowledgement that it is always up for renegotiation on some level--but that's a philosophical discussion for another time.)

For what it’s worth, I have one more observation to offer. No one likes pity, and it's another pitfall that we must try to avoid. Are there ways in which you can sincerely affirm his competence and expertise? Can you focus on ways in which he is caring for himself and for you and your daughter? Genuine praise is so affirming, a true balm. (The same applies for you, of course, my dear. You ARE doing a great job in coping with some really, really difficult matters. It’s not fair or right that this has happened to any of us, and yet, it is heroic what we can do in response.) I can well imagine that you are juggling a tremendous amount of tasks and taking on much more than you had ever thought necessary. Yet, here you are, one more day farther along.

While my heart goes out to you both, I hope it doesn’t sound false for me to tell you that I find your story inspiring. You are right in there. You persevere. Even when you falter, you try again.

Peace,
Honey Girl

_________________________
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, a million miles away from home.

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#66252 - 10/28/06 12:16 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Can I remember my wedding day, no.

It was 2 days after my 21st birthday, so it was July 27th 1974. But that's just simple maths.

Details? no, nothing.

I dealt with stress by dissasociation, I'd take off into my own little world where it was warm and safe, and I'm afraid getting married was very stressful for me at that time. Sad, but true.

Do we need 'time'? probably.
I started therapy in 1999, and although I'm doing well at the moment I'm still learning and changeing every day.
A lot of that is down to me wanting to change from the wreck I was, and a big part is my long suffering wife encouraging my changes.
Therapy provided my tools, I provided the need and the will, and thankfully I still have both of those things driving me on.

Does that sound like some kind of 'superman'?
Well, I can promise you that I'm not, I'm a regular guy with all the usual faults. The only difference is that I didn't want to live my old life anymore, and I took the step to actually tell people that, especially the people I love and respect. And what do you know, they supported me 100%

Am I lucky? maybe so, if I am then so be it. But I will always be eternally grateful for the support, love and help I've recieved.

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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#66253 - 10/28/06 12:44 AM Re: Husband does not remember our wedding day
Brokenhearted Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/06
Posts: 644
Loc: TX
HG,

You said, "What I most wanted to hear, when I was in early stages of recovery, was that *what happened to me* was wrong and bad, but *I* was not bad. That I was doing a good job of coping, the best job that I could. That confusion and upheaval were to be expected, but that they could be endured." -- and this is priceless advice. I think I've let him know these things already but will continue to reiterate them so there's no doubt.

And Lloydy, thanks for your encouragement also. And my husband has 100% of my support and I don't care if his therapy takes up ten or more years. I don't care how much it costs. I don't care if we have to separate along the way (though I hope not). I am strong and will be strong for me and my daughter but prefer to live life with my dear husband and help him anyway I can. I feel I owe him that as his wife who was serious about her vows "for better, for worse, in sickness and in health." I meant every word. I know it is a HARD, LONNNNNNNNNNNG road, but would rather have a few good, close years at the so-called "end" of it with my husband than a lot of mediocre years with someone else. I love him that much. It is my hope that he will want to change also.

_________________________
Brokenhearted

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luke 17:2

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