The same man

It’s hard to build and contribute your own part of even one good evening together when you have to combat not only painful memories, but in-the-moment triggers.

I almost wanted to scream when I started reading this post from another blogger.  It’s all familiar somehow, and made my stomach clench. He ‘tries’ and I struggle to let go and try also, and bam, there’s some trigger that I wonder if he was that obtuse about. I would never consider any kind of meal near my dog’s grave in the back woods. Crying, yes. Meal, no.

I think it’s a tough one with the P.A. husbands and fathers because they can have that childlike obtuse, sweet, charming side that is part of the whole equation. They have the times of acting like a decent, normal, and good man, and it’s just so darn inconsistent that you can feel constantly off kilter. And guilty somehow. Look at the poor guy trying so hard and being unappreciated. Heaven knows that I’ve had that message cycled into my head too many times to count!

Right now my husband is doing dishes because I said I wouldn’t spend the hours chopping and cooking stuff for tomorrow unless I started in a clean kitchen.  He’s whistling and humming, and being pretty cheerful this morning.  But he isn’t always, and he doesn’t always do something because I ask or need it. (I can hear behind me that he’s started helping our daughter make pancakes.) 

He’s the same person capable of barely or not acknowledging his finding me in tears or emotional or physical pain.  Even when he wasn’t the cause of it! I actually spent years of almost no tears. In the early years of our marriage, my tears would either make him angry or be completely ignored.  Not crying became much safer.   In recent years, I’ve started to cry again.  I hope it’s a sign of getting healthier, but I get downright weepy at times.

He’s being so darn nice about cleaning up the kitchen, and I know he said he plans to go out and work in the garden after that.  So I feel guilty for not feeling better about all that. I try to just go with the flow, or my inability to do so becomes the obvious and scapegoat reason and problem here.  Plus, I just want the peace and productivity.

I have to remind myself that he’s the same man that lies to me, and the same man who ‘forgets’ me on my birthdays, mother’s days, anniversaries, Christmas etc. for over three decades. 

The same man capable of standing and shouting at me as I stand there with a 104 degree fever right after coming home from the emergency room only a couple days after the birth of our youngest child. 

The same man that built a beautiful box for my dog when I had to put her to sleep, and the same man that buried her for me. 

The same man that fixed the roof in the middle of the night one Christmas Eve because it was dripping through the dining room ceiling, while I sat there eight months pregnant hoping he wouldn’t slip off in the torrential winds and rain that night. 

The same man that helped clean up after sick kids and pets, and slept on the floor to watch out for our daughter when she had intestinal flu and wanted him near by. 

The same man that intentionally fed me something three days in a row that made me sick and caused physical pain that left me in tears, then lied about it and shouted at me when I asked if he had.

The same man that helped rescue a woman just robbed, even though a gun got pointed at him. 

The same man that refused to come to the hospital and help me after I lost so much blood from a hemorrhage. 

The same man that halfway driving to my father’s funeral, called me and said he was tired and might not come, but instead stop and have a visit with a cousin enroute.   Because two of our sons, only six and eight at the time, got so upset with him and insisted they get to their grandfather’s funeral, he came.  He walked in literally the minute it was starting. 

The same man that cried when our cow (that he sang to when milking) had to be put down. 

The same man that would stay up almost every Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for the kids. 

The same man that has withheld intimacy more than he’s shared it.  That has been one of the most devastating repetitive wounds of all over the years.

For so long, I wanted him to be consistent.  It was my oldest daughter that once said, “Mom, Dad is consistent!  He’s consistently inconsistent.” 

One of my support friends wisely said to remember it’s a package deal.  It’s the same man.  And that is crazymaking.

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7 Responses to The same man

  1. choosetobehappy says:

    You are so accurate it’s uncanny. All these men have the same pattern, the inconsistency of the whole behaviour of PA / CA is both endearing and terrible at the same time, keeping us all in a state of confused mess or surprised elation depending on the day or situation. Try to explain to them why you are the way you are (ambivalent, confused, weepy, mad, sad, etc) is like trying to have a conversation with a 5 year old who’s only goal is to get that candy they’ve been eyeing in a convenience store. Some days I’m so jaded that I almost prefer being in that state than hoping for better. I don’t believe after all these years that a real bonafide change is possible for mine, I think I would be fooling myself even if I could try to believe.

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  2. Exodus says:

    Although I know that I can’t depend on my husband, especially during the most critical times of need, his lack of emotional investment in anything pertaining to me always causes me to wonder if he’s got brain damage or if he’s just evil or both. In those moments, I force myself to look at my notes/journal and remind myself that my husband is perfectly capable of showing others that he cares about them- even if it’s just superficial. He invests more time and thought into making everyone else happy and has always been this way. He always put me at the bottom of his list of priorities- if he puts me on his list at all. Like Choosetobehappy, I’m jaded and I don’t believe my husband will ever change. He will always be this way with anyone that he depends on.

    I’ve moved into my office now. I am currently sleeping on the floor using the outdoor lounge cushion but I’m going to purchase a small mattress or some type of bedding that I can roll up. Can anyone recommend a descent brand or type of bedding that would work well in a small office that I can pack away during the day?

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    • RockyRoad says:

      What about an air bed? We use them for company and they inflate pretty fast with an electric air pump, but I think there are some with a built in pump to inflate. They fold up nicely to store out of the way.

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      • Exodus says:

        Yes, I considered an air bed but I was worried that it might be too much of a hassle. I’ll take a look on amazon today and see if I can find something. Right now I am just sleeping on top of several wool blankets and it’s not comfy at all.

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  3. Exodus says:

    PJ’s, just received this article on PA relationships from the Daily Om website. Wasn’t sure where to post it.

    May 27, 2014
    Layers of Feeling
    Coping with Passive Aggression
    by Madisyn Taylor

    Passive aggression is most often wielded by those who feel powerless and want to avoid their own true feelings.

    Many people are taught from a young age to suppress feelings commonly regarded as negative, such as anger, resentment, fear, and sorrow. Those who cannot or will not express these emotions tend to engage in passive-aggressive behaviors that provide them with a means of redirecting their feelings. Passive aggression can take many forms: People who feel guilty saying “no” may continually break their promises because they couldn’t say no when they meant it. Others will substitute snide praise for a slur to distance themselves from the intense emotions they feel. More often than not, such behavior is a cry for help uttered by those in need of compassion and gentle guidance.

    When we recognize passive-aggressive patterns in the behavior of others, we should never allow ourselves to be drawn into a struggle for power. Passive aggression is most often wielded by those who feel powerless in the face of what they perceive as negative emotions because they hope to avoid confronting their true feelings. They feel they are in control because they do not display overt emotion and often cannot understand how they have alienated their peers. If someone close to us shows signs of frustration or annoyance but claims nothing is amiss, we can point out that their tone of voice or gestures are communicating a different message and invite them to confide in us. When we feel slighted by a backhanded compliment, it is important that we calmly explain how the jibe made us feel and why. And when an individual continually breaks their promises, we can help them understand that they are free to say no if they are unwilling to be of service.

    As you learn to detect passive aggression, you may be surprised to see a hint of it in yourself. Coping with the natural human tendency to veil intense emotions can be as simple as reminding yourself that expressing your true feelings is healthy. The emotions typically regarded as negative will frequently be those that inspire you to change yourself and your life for the better, whereas passive-aggressive behavior is a means of avoiding change. When you deal constructively with your feelings, you can put them behind you and move forward unencumbered by unexplored emotion.
    ________________________________________

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  4. lonelywife07 says:

    Thank you PJs…THANK YOU!!
    This….THIS perfectly describes what has me in such an up and down, back and forth, going round and round, never knowing which way to turn, frame of mind!! YES!
    This describes life with PA Man to a T!!
    I feel soooo guilty at times, because why can’t I just be HAPPY with him?? Why do I feel so unsettled….he just brought home flowers for me, how sweet….or we went out to dinner and a movie, and I chose the movie, a sappy romance, and he was good with it….or I had to go to a meeting after dinner, and I came home to a clean kitchen…he does do these things….and it throws me into major guilt!
    BUT…is that his plan? To show me what a GREAT guy he really is….a great guy that I don’t appreciate?? Those are the thoughts that go through my head….I’m ALWAYS looking for his angle….ALWAYS!

    Passive Aggressiveness HAS to be a mental disorder….they all have the same “symptoms!”

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    • Exodus says:

      Lonely, our husbands throw us a crumb every so often to keep us wondering and hoping. Besides, no one is bad all the time. Hitler had a sensitive side – he was an artist too! Ted Bundy was quite a charming and compassionate man who volunteered at a crisis center when he wasn’t in serial killer mode and he had a very nice girlfriend that he treated very well and she even defended him in court. 😦

      I don’t feel guilty if and when my husband does anything nice for me because I know there is always some hidden agenda whether it’s to confuse me or whether it’s because he needs to fortify his stock of ammunition. They do run low on ammo from time to time.

      PA as a mental disorder? I agree that it is and it burns me that the APA doesn’t recognize it as such. I think it’s not only behavioral but neurological or physiological (damage to the frontal lobe for example).

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