The hand that hurts is the hand that helps

My immune system seems to be more vulnerable than normal.  If I catch something going around, it hits me harder and lasts longer.  This has become the norm for me, and it’s something I’m working to change.

Stress is harmful to the immune system.  Abuse causes stress.  Emotional pain causes stress.  I’m caught in a vicious cycle in this sense.  I caught whatever respiratory bug is going around, and it hit me harder than anyone else in the house.  I try not to complain about the impact on my sleep, because my husband then instantly complains about the impact on my sleep impacting his sleep.  Whatever (whenever) anything is wrong or a problem for me, he immediately talks about something being worse for him.  Sometimes I’ll look at him when he does this and say, “Let’s talk about you,” and every now and then he’ll stare at me kind of funny (or just get angry).

He hasn’t appeared to even think about apologizing for his behavior that hurt me the other night.  Pretty sure he still feels victimized.  It’s not a battle I’m choosing, so I let it go.  I’m focused on kicking this respiratory bug and getting well.  I remind myself to drink extra water, and try to remain stress free.  (I watched the movie without him that night.)

Whenever my husband has recently behaved poorly, I think it bothers him tremendously because it seems to ripple the self-image he nurtures of himself.  When I’ve asked him, he denies that he sees himself as a nice guy, and at those times he’ll tell me he’s aware of his mistakes and faults and wrongdoings.  The catch is that his behavior doesn’t reflect that of a repentant person.  His ‘sorry’ doesn’t last long.  What he will do, however, is typically work harder and notch up good behaviors.  The Obviously and Irrefutably Bad turns into Super Nice Dad Husband.  I’d like to think of them as amends efforts, but I’ve learned the hard way (repeatedly) that it’s more about repairing and nurturing his own self-image.  The benefit of his good behavior is being taken care of when I’m sick, or him doing something helpful to me.

The downside is that I quietly factor that it will probably be thrown up in a future conversation if I dare call him out for any abusive behavior.  It will be fired as an accusation of my not appreciating him or what he does.  I quietly factor in that there’s probably a price, some unspoken expectations that I’ll fail to perceive and will then be held against me.  Even when I’ve jumped to meet those expectations, he quickly finds another grievance.  And another.  And another.

I slept in this morning.  When I came out, it was to a kitchen that he’d just cleaned up, and he had chicken soup ingredients in the big stock pot ready to simmer for the day.  He made breakfast for me.  He was pleasant, and he made me laugh.

This is part of the insanity of passive aggressive abuse.  It means the same hand (metaphorically) that hurts you, will be the hand to comfort and help you through the impact of the hurt.  It means abusive men are not abusive 24/7.  It means an abusive man is capable of kindness, sweetness, humor, and helping.  It’s also called trauma bonding, and even with awareness, I fight not to be bound by its hidden tendrils.

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11 Responses to The hand that hurts is the hand that helps

  1. Abuse can cause cancer. I know because I had it and I am convinced that my relationship caused it. My body is so broken. Now that I am out, I feel a lot better. He’s not “apologizing”, he’s telling you he knows he’s broken. People in this position are aware that they are empty and they’re glad you are a codependent. He’s saying to you “I know my faults, I know there is something wrong with me but I know you will just keep taking it so I can keep doing it”, he’s not saying he’s going to change it because he can’t. It’s permanent. The only way he stops his pain is by hurting you. You will always be his easy target because you are nice. Abusive men are actually abusive 24/7 because he’s pretending to be nice to you, it’s not real humor or sweetness and that hurts (and it hurts bad). You are loveable, just not by your husband. Keep striving, keep trying to break the cycle until you get there=) You are stuck in the loop. Fight, good, go back, fight good go back. The goal is to break step three. Fight, good, enough! Make a post or two JUST about you and not about him. His control is that you talk and think about him ALL day. Take back your power a bit at a time. Talk to the child you used to be who had dreams and goals, write those dreams down. Remember when you were 12 and you didn’t have a man in life and you were okay. That’s how the change begins. Keep going and maybe put a nice dress and get your hair done on instead of those pajamas=)

    Liked by 2 people

    • paescapee says:

      Absolutely, definitely. Oddly, I feel that its not the constant abuse that is difficult to cope with, its the constantly changing environment. So they keep us imprisoned by the fact that we are incessantly trying to pre-guess and preempt what tomorrow will bring. I agree completely that the way forward is to stop worrying about that- but I feel that we also ‘know’ on some unconscious level that if we remove our attention from them at all, then the bad behaviour will escalate. So we give them what they want to avoid being punished. Very good advice, thank you Light. I’m glad you’re better and healthier out of it- so am I.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous says:

        The Domestic Abuse Hotline helped me immensely. Once I was out I called them daily, sometimes several times a day. There are some people who are great and some who just aren’t so you take names of people and ask if they are available. One women in particular, Leila works some nights and is amazing. She has great insight.


  2. DaMama7 says:

    During a counseling session with my pastor and his wife, my pastor asked what I thought a good marriage was. He wanted to know what I thought a good husband or wife looked like. He asked me what I wanted from my husband exactly. I couldn’t answer any of those questions right then. They asked me to go home a think about it and we would cover it the next time we met. I came home to think and pray. What did a whole and healthy relationship look like? Was I wanting something that was just a fairy tale? What made me a “good wife” and what what did I think made my husband a “bad” husband? When I went back to meet with them before we delved into the homework questions, he asked how my week was going. I told him that my husband was helping out more around the house (for the time being) I didn’t say that last part because I didn’t want to sound ungrateful. He said that must be nice and make me feel pretty good. Then I decided not to care if I sounded ungrateful. I said yes, that was nice but it didn’t make me feel “better.” My husband can turn on whatever behaviors he needs to if he feels I am close to losing it or right after I have lost it. It is temporary and that stinks. I then said I had decided what made a good husband or a good wife. I had decided what I wanted from my marriage. It was not more help around the house, or more quality time, (my husband works from home we have too much time together!) or more non-sexual touch, or for him to be more romantic. I wanted to feel goodwill from my husband towards me. He could do things or behave in a certain way but with no goodwill behind it, it didn’t make me feel better. It made we feel wary and sad and on guard and uncomfortable. Goodwill. That is what I wanted. I looked it up in the dictionary. Another word: solicitous. It means having care and concern for the health and happiness of another person. I have those feelings for my husband. Beyond my feelings, I have made conscious decisions to choose to love and care for him in those ways. He both cannot and chooses, I believe, not to have those feelings or make the decision to treat me with goodwill. On a different note, my husband does the exact same thing to me when I used to say out loud how I felt. If I had a headache then dog-on-it, he did too! If my back was sore, come to think of it, his was too!! If my 4th rib on my left side caught a stitch, son-of-a-gun, his 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th did as well. I used to say, “hey, can it just be me for a minute?” Now I just don’t say anything out loud to him if I can help it and remember!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope you are doing well PJ’s. I keep checking for a post. I have been feeling so sad lately. My 4 older kids have talked with me about their father and how they wished he treated me better. They each said it in their own way and point of view. When they were little I always made sure they saw their dad in the best light. Now they are all older and can see things for themselves. If I tried to paint a different picture for them they would see the lies; not that I was lying when they were younger but I wanted them to have a good relationship with him. If I now deny how things really are then I would be gas lighting them! My husband has been out of town for some of last week, this week, and will be next week as well. That is a nice thing because it gives me a break. I can just enjoy my home and kids. Relax while taking care of 7 kids 😉 While out of town either last week or a week or two before I found out my husband went to Twin Peaks. if you don’t know what that is it is a restaurant like Hooter’s. I know it sounds crazy but I do not think he is a cheater. I never worry about him sleeping with someone. But I felt betrayed when I found this out. I saw a text in his phone about meeting a guy he works with there. I was upset but now I think I just don’t care. I keep hoping I will mean something to him. I know he could be worse. He could be an addict of some sort. He could be a womanizer or a “looker.” When he is home or around our kids he never has checked other women out or makes inappropriate comments or anything like that. I am really thankful for that. He could be abusive in many other ways. This was of course a resturant that anyone of any age could go into. It just hurt. He has gone to Hooter’s before, twice, and knew I did t like it. It was about 10 years ago when I had more fight in me so there was no mistaking it!! He went to a strip club once. Again, knew it was definitely not ok.😡 Someone from his work sent him a picture of a naked woman with beer taps on her boobs. He responded to the text by saying she just needed her twin sister to stand beside her holding a tv and he would be set. In 20 years those are not very many “infractions” I don’t guess. Each one of them hurt though. There are more I don’t know about more then likely . In a regular marriage these could probably be taken care of very easily or maybe never even happen or maybe happen and I wouldn’t care. I don’t know. I just don’t know how to react. I hurt. He will be coming home this evening. I did confront him about going to twin peaks. Of course we did not resolve anything. The last thing he said to me while we were talking was “haven’t you ever done anything that would hurt me?” I said I wasn’t answering his attempt to deflect back to me and that I knew what he was doing. Conversation ended. The next morning we woke up and he has been acting like everything is fine. I know this is your blog PJ. 😌 you are a great writer and express things like thoughts and emotions so well. I don’t want or think I could handle my own blog but I am so thankful for yours. Thank you for allowing me to take up space in your space. Again, I hope you are well! Happy Friday ☺️


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      Oh, Damama7, you are just responding normally to hurtful behavior. I can’t say I’ve found a photo like that on my husband’s phone, but I can relate to the inappropriate response.
      There are times that my husband just says things or behaves in a way that goes beyond foolish; it goes to a place of a kind of pain in my spirit for the wrongness of it.
      That said, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that my very next thoughts would sound like, “Yeah… but what about the time you did/said X,Y, or Z, PJ?”

      Damama7, I’ve been struggling here too. There was a response from a reader that made me question why I was writing this blog, and what it should be about.
      My intention was to give myself a place to vent that was healthy for me, and to have a place where I tried to record the negatives that so easily slip away in a fog of forgetfulness (which is probably a sort of survival dynamic).
      If in the process, my mistakes, weaknesses, fears, mishaps, or small victories, served to enlighten someone trying to understand passive aggressive abuse, or even encourage someone trying to live with it or escape from it, all the better.

      I read your post with sadness for your hurts, and gladness that someone out there ‘gets’ me, and missed me.
      I thank you for that!



      • wornout says:

        Pjs, keep writing! You are amazing and so missed! I check your blog like 3 times a day every day to see if you’ve updated.:) I appreciate so much all the time you have taken to share your thoughts and experiences, it’s invaluable to me and i’m sure so many others. The way you say things is right on, you always nail it. Thank you!!


  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why that was anonymous but it is me, DaMama7 😅


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