Hate that question

This virus is kicking my booty, but I’m crawling to recovery.  A couple of healthy young people I know got over the same thing in about a third of the time it’s taking with me.  This reminds me of various visits to doctors over my adult (married) lifetime.  I remember the first time when I got some kind of rash after my first baby was born.  The doctor was relatively unconcerned about it, but he asked, “Do you have a lot of stress in your life?”

The first time I was asked that question, I was dumbfounded.  I didn’t know how to answer.  I thought… doesn’t everyone?  Did I?  Was it something unusual?  Over the next few decades, I continued to hear doctors ask that question again.  One of them casually commented about my seeming to have no immune system, and then asked the stress question.  Finally, a dentist asked me if I drank a lot of soda pop.  No, I don’t drink it at all ever.  Do I eat a lot of candy?  No, I rarely eat sugar in any form.  The dentist stared at me, and then asked, “Do you have a lot of stress in your life?”

My passive aggressive husband is trying really hard to be nice while I’m sick.  But maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to relax.  Because I know he’s trying.  It’s something he has to work at.  He has to think about it, then work at it.  I’m finding it very difficult to relax deeply on the inside.  It’s hard to explain, but I can see or sense flickerings of his resentments or his self-pity, and then his resultant inner battle to not give in to it.  I’ve told him before to at least try to ‘fake it till you make it’ when it comes to his behaviors.  I see him trying so hard.  Shouldn’t that make me much happier?  It doesn’t.

It’s that despite his efforts and deeds, I still can’t feel or sense any innate pity or compassion from him, the kind of caring that springs from affective empathy.  He’s using cognitive empathy and doing the good deeds, in fact he’s almost like a super dad this last week, but I don’t feel deeply cared about.  I think he feels good about trying harder.  He even said he loved me last night before we fell asleep, instead of the typical empty silence.  Maybe it’s all in my dysfunctional head.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s much easier to be sick when the dishes are getting done and towels are being washed by someone other than me.   I appreciate each and every helpful thing he does, and thank him for it.   Then I get a sweater or blanket and visualize myself getting well and joining a gym.

Posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, health, immune system, passive aggressive abuse, recovery from abuse, stress | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

To Leave or Not to Leave? That is the question

WritesinPJ's:

This is possibly the best article I’ve ever read on the age old question of whether to stay or leave.

Originally posted on Abuse ends when you love yourself:

Happiness-is-not It has to be said that the jury is still out on whether leaving or staying is the answer and it is likely to stay out. Many women regret wasting a lifetime in what has felt like a corrosive marriage. I know one women whose husband died and when she was asked if she would like to marry again her answer was – “no thank you. My days of slavery are done”. Other women like Anna are pleased that she chose to stay and believes that for her this was the right option. Herein lies the profound truth. One woman’s meat is another woman’s poison. There is no answer that applies across the board.

However there are guidelines that do apply across the board.

  • You cannot live with one foot on either side of the fence.

If you have not left and are uncertain as to whether or not you should…

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The flip sides of being sick

It occurred to me that I’ve had a sort of mini vacation by being sick since last Saturday.  I’ve had fever, sore throat, coughing and that not only has put me out of commission, but people were agreeable about my not handling food, dishes, laundry etc.  Ha ha, guess no one wanted my germs!  Kind of a stinky way to get a break, but once my fever turned to intermittent low grade and I started breaking it with sweating, I was rather relieved to be uninvolved with the usual day to day chores.  I’m not entirely better, so I plan to stay under the blanket for another day or two.

Before I got sick, my husband was into the passive aggressive silent mode at bedtime each night for several days running.  It was so pronounced (extreme silence once he’d come in the bedroom) that it was affecting my sleeping.  I think the insomnia probably bit a chunk out of my immune system.  He also made a ‘mistake’ that authorized probably close to a thousand unnecessary dollars of expenditure.  It was a mistake he’d made in the past, that we’d had intense conflict over, and that he’d promised not to repeat.  I think that stress also took a bite on my immune system.  However it happened, I did get sicker than I’ve been in a long time. I forgot how awful it can feel to be that sick, and I’m glad it’s mostly behind me now.

In the past, my husband wasn’t always very nice or helpful when I was sick.   When I started to get sick this time, I asked him to sit down, and then I told him that it was very important that he at least try to use his cognitive empathy.  I asked him to please try hard to understand what I was going through, and that when I expressed needs, to do his best to act caring and not resentful or neglectful.  He stared at me so funny, and said that he would.  And he has.  He’s tried very hard, and been pretty decent.

I can tell that being good has been kind of wearing on him though.  In predictable fashion, he got cranky with kids instead today, and then I had to get out from under the blanket and deal with the fallout.  When that happens, I view it almost as though he needed to have some kind of passive aggressive built up emotional vomit/purge, and then he seems to get relief.

Yesterday, I realized something kind of weird.  It had been a few days of good behavior, and it felt like much longer.  It felt like he’d been good for few weeks instead of a few days.

I’ve expressed my gratitude for his help and care (he even made homemade soup for me), and I’ve tried not to worry about when the other shoe might drop.  I want to stay focused on just getting back on track, and that includes checking in with all of you!  Thanks for listening :)

Posted in abusive marriage, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Arachnophobia

Spiders … eww!!!  One of my sons was bitten by a hobo spider.  This at least prompted a cleaning campaign in the man cave shared by brothers, and the fervor was increased when one of them killed a black widow under a bed that hadn’t been moved or dusted under for months.

It was a wet bite (injected venom), big and nasty looking, so we had him seen by the family doctor (who recommended immediate antibiotics and predicted a long haul with necrosis etc.)  My son decided to try an alternative, and once the bite indeed erupted (gross factor high), started applying a poultice of boiled clay and activated charcoal.  (If anyone wants specific details on treatment, just let me know)

It’s working so far!  The early necrosis stopped, and in the last 24 hours you can see a noticeable reduction of the oozing gross stuff.  Basically, it’s in a holding pattern, instead of the worsening and infection the doctor talked about.  He already had a bad cold when this happened, and so with the added load of eliminating the toxic venom, I decided to to help finish painting the loft bed he built.  In my bare feet (which is typical for me).  In October.

Even though my feet didn’t feel cold, it wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done (except the bed looks good).  I haven’t been sleeping well, and of course I woke in the night a few times imagining a nasty spider was crawling on me.  I added insult to injury by eating a scone (I normally don’t eat sugar at all, and I think it tipped the balance with my immune system fighting it off), and the last few days since then, I’ve been down and out with a fever and cold.

The first thing I plan to do is start catching up on the blogs many of the readers here have, and then try to update more on me.

Predictably, even during the not bad windows, there were passive aggressive incidents.  The positive is that I still feel determined to exercise my choices to  change myself to change my life.

By the way, I finally came to terms with liking daddy long leg spiders after I read they’re a natural enemy of the spiders I don’t want around.  We bought some spider traps for hobo spiders at Home Depot, and I’ll report back if they actually catch any.  Meanwhile, be careful when reaching into dark or dusty places!  Back under the blanket for me until tomorrow.

Posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, hobo spider, immune system, passive aggressive, spider bite, venom | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Knowing how to live

In a recent email conversation with a friend, she asked me about what I’ve been doing.  The typical simple question that’s phrased in various ways, and yet often so difficult to answer.

How are you?
What are you up to?
What’s new?

You know those questions, right?  How about when you’re checking out at a grocery store, and the checker cheerily asks, “How are you today?”

What a loaded question.  Naturally, I don’t want to burden a stranger who’s dealing with the public and standing on their feet for hours on end with the whole truth.  Do you solemnly  swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…? (probably not!)

I’m so sad today.
I’ve been crying a lot.
I’m not really looking forward to the holiday, because I feel anxiety from bad memories.
It feels like this whole store is full of normal people, except for me.

I tell a selective truth based on what I choose to think about.  It’s fairly easy to choose a thankful thought, and respond in a positive way.

The friend that wrote and asked the simple, loaded question recently has been going through her own challenging times.  She used to be married to a passive aggressive man.  He was the (false) image of respectability, moderation, devoted father, and to the outward appearance, a good husband.  Except my friend did not feel loved by him.

There’s a simple reason for that, and most of the readers here know the reason.  He didn’t deeply love her, if in fact he loved her at all.  He withheld love and nurturing the way that passive aggressive men do, until their partners can be grabbing reactively for shreds of relationship, connection, and intimacy, like an oxygen starved creature can gasp for air.  Periodically, he’d behave in loving ways, have a window of intimacy, and then yank the rug out from under again.  Familiar stuff.
(His subsequent behaviors reflected the truth of not loving her, and not loving their kids very much.)

Many years with this man took its toll on my friend.  For the last five years since he left, she’s been trying to recover.  As I wrote back and gave specific responses to what I’m doing, what my personal goals are, what’s been reached, and where I’m hopeful or greatly struggling, she answered by saying this: “You’re so wise to start building your life now.  I didn’t have that or do that, so I’ve been somewhat lost.  But I’ve never known how to live, so I am not blaming him.”

I replied that I don’t feel particularly wise (quite the opposite), and my attempts to build myself and my life feel much more like crawling rather than walking, but the whole conversation has left me reflecting.

My friend was able to get counseling.  Lots of it.  I’ve barely been able to afford counseling over the years, and often wondered if it would have made a great difference.  Her comment on counseling was: “I’ve gone to so much counseling over the last many years and it is fairly useless.  Honestly.

I feel a little bit like I’m trying to use a teaspoon to fill a house sized hole.  I wonder now how much I’ve ever known how to live.  I grew up in dysfunction, and married into dysfunction.  Is there a song about that?  What does it feel like to be healthy (inside and out)?  What does a health relationship feel like?  Would I know it if it grabbed me by the nose?  What does a healthy life look and feel like?

Have I ever known how to live?  Just a simple and complicated question that I’ll be thinking about.

Posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, healthy life, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband, recovery from abuse | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Trauma bonding stinks

I just reblogged a post about trauma bonding, but wanted to add a separate post with a few thoughts.   Understanding trauma bonding (Stockholm Syndrome) is critical to understanding abuse with an intimate partner.

I’ve no doubt that trauma bonding is present in my life and the dynamics of my marriage.  It’s next to impossible to sort through and know definitively what I feel at times because of trauma bonding.

When you’ve been wounded on the inside, where the bruises and cuts and loss of emotional blood don’t show on the outside, acts of normal kindness and affection from the one who hurt you can feel almost euphorically drug like, as though you’ve been going through some kind of horrific withdrawal, and then relief shoots throughout your entire being.

I’m experiencing days of relative peace here right now.  Well, as peaceful as it can be with a large family and all the territory that can cover.  What I’m really talking about is relative peace with my passive aggressive husband.   Issues and incidents have come up and when I speak up about it, he’s pausing and stepping back, then making efforts to behave differently instead of the usual accusations and withdrawal.

I wouldn’t jump in and say he’s changed.  I won’t say that he isn’t trying to change either.  I just know that my rational mind recognizes that he’s seeing me change, and he’s realizing that if his behaviors don’t change, our marital status probably will.

Does that make me happy?  Not really.  I don’t want someone behaving well to ‘keep’ me.  I want someone behaving in ways that are choices made within his own soul because they align with his own character and ethics and conscience.  That’s an entirely different thing.  I’m not expecting perfection, because heaven knows how often I blunder and choose stupidly and wrongly, even against my own conscience.  I’m wanting his battle to be one he fights for his own growth, for the sake of what’s true and right.  Not for the purpose of me staying with him.

I want him to treat me well because he loves me.  Not because if he doesn’t, he’ll lose me.

What does this have to do with trauma bonding?  It’s because trauma bonding can make me feel ridiculously relieved at the peaceful status quo, and so many days of relative peace lead me to taking sips of hope.  Misplaced hope can lead me to unwarranted vulnerability, which leads to being hurt, which leads to new trauma, which leads to the desire for relief in the form of acts of kindness and affection.   What a cycle.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to take advantage of the peaceful lull, but after so many years, I’m not relaxed, but waiting for the shoe to drop.  It’s almost like I have to take my own hands and put them on my own face, and turn my eyes purposefully to stare at objective knowledge and history.  Look… look, and be wisely wary.

Posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband, stockholm syndrome, trauma bonding | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Signs You Might Be a Trauma-Bonded Co-Dependent (and what to do about it)

WritesinPJ's:

Trauma bonding creates an ongoing mishmash between my mind and my emotions. Trauma bonding is worse than super glue. I know it’s present in my life, but it can feel almost impossible to sort out which is what in my feelings because of its convoluted dynamics.

Excellent post from a great blogger, and I hope you find it as worthwhile as I did!

Originally posted on Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed:

balloons-beach-beauty-freedom-happiness-favim-com-268585-1

One of the most difficult challenges in working with victims of Narcissistic abuse is helping them see that they are not responsible for their abuser’s actions, behaviors, cruelty, or consequences that arise out of said partner’s bad choices.  The next most common occurrence is victims not being able to decide if their partner is a Narcissist, or just a jerk.

With rare exception, those who reach out for help in escaping their abusive partner feel responsible for every bad thing that ever transpired in the toxic relationship.  They doubt themselves, they continually wonder if there’s something they could have done differently, and they come to me with unbearable feelings of guilt, humiliation, and shame.  This is all due to the Narcissist projecting their shame onto the victim, as well as having been the target of abusive, exploitative conditioning.

When something goes wrong in the Narcissist’s life, or he or she…

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