In my prior post, I was expressing frustration about what seemed like (and surely felt like) some garden sabotage. Try as I might, I can’t come up with an explanation for his letting all my flowers die last year that doesn’t include a lack of love for me.
Your responses and feedback were funny and insightful. I have tried reverse psychology with mixed results in the past, but marsocmom still made me laugh to suggest it. “Tell him that sunflowers do best in the shade.”
The response by newshoes highlighted the difference between planned and ad hoc: “That’s just the way they are, they sabotage anything they can, from simple little request, to large scale projects just because. They start off with the mentality that they will fail anyway so they do. I’ve yet to meet a pah that was positive, or if they were, it was very rare. Adhoc stuff they can do well, taking care of a sick parent, picking a child from school, putting out the garbage at the last minute before the truck comes by, etc…. But if it’s planned, their negative energy will surely ruin something. I’ve learned not to plan too far ahead, just in case.”
This seems so true with my experiences with him.
Exodus replied to newshoes: “my therapist told me that they have negative personalities…always in a state of negative defense. You are also correct that the reverse psychology doesn’t always work. They know us very well and know exactly who we are and what we like and what we don’t… We can never plan ahead. Oh gosh, that is just asking for trouble…My husband only ‘performs’ well when he knows that others are watching…This is why PA abuse is so dangerous for the victims that have been isolated.”
Adhoc vs. Planned and Performing vs. Private
“They start off with the mentality that they will fail anyway so they do.” newshoes
Why? I know what it’s like to be the recipient of this behavior, unsure of when and how he might sabotage. I also know what it’s like to experience the perspective of personal anxiety from just traversing life in general, one where you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, and finding it difficult to feel safe or happy. Some of that is surely a result of being sabotaged and hurt by him, but it’s also been because of the kind of trauma that Life can just throw in your path (like your son getting hit by a car).
That’s just it. Life will always be unsure anyway. I even understand that I’ve done my share of self-sabotage over the years. Turning to an addictive behavior is a kind of self-soothing that is also a sabotage of my health and finances. I get that. I’ve also forgotten to plan for a friend’s birthday, or even disconnected from it because my life precluded the ability to do much about it. So maybe I can look at his never getting me anything for my birthday as part of that… maybe I can give him a get-out-of-jail-free pass because I know what learned helplessness feels like. I can give him the benefit of the doubt. But that doesn’t explain everything.
One time on a Mother’s Day, I offered an easy out right on ‘the day of’ because our (at the time very little) girls were expecting him to do something. To redeem himself as a caring person. He knew that. I made light of his zero thought and preparation and almost made it seem like going to the Safeway deli for Chinese take-out was what I wanted most of all. He was supposed to call me when he got there to tell me what the selections were. So far, so good. He called, I made my choice, and then asked him to please remember to get sweet and sour sauce, and please get soy sauce (because there was none at home). He didn’t really respond, and I thought he was distracted, so I asked again, and told him that I wouldn’t really enjoy the meal without those condiments.
You all already know that he ‘forgot’ sweet and sour sauce and soy sauce.
It doesn’t explain my planning to leave for a weekend to see our daughter, and finding out from him the night before (after my travel bag was packed) that he’d just paid some bills and there was no trip money left.
It doesn’t explain why after he repeatedly expressed concern of the effect of Rx sleeping pills on my mind and health, and after watching me grit it out for two excruciating weeks to go off them, that he secretly called in a refill, brought it home with our son’s inhaler, and then expressed astonishment that it was there in the pharmacy bag with the inhaler. Or why when I said he should return them, and that I wouldn’t take them, that he put them in the cupboard. Or why he chose that night to drop a financial bombshell on me and then stand and shout at me. Yes, I’m ashamed to tell you that I broke down when he left, went out to the cupboard, and started taking the Rx again. I’m happy to tell you that some months later, I planned to go through withdrawal and get off the sleeping pills, and I successfully did. That time I told him that he didn’t have to support me, but if he sabotaged me, either he or I would leave the house that same day.
But ad hoc, as newshoes observed, seems to be a different story. When he rises to the occasion, it’s often when I’m vulnerable. This means I’m feeling absurdly grateful when he’s good. It doesn’t always work out that way. These are also the times when I’ve felt the knife slide in my back as he’s holding me, and to my wide-eyed tormented plea he responds, “What knife?”