Thursday, 10 March 2011

How is all this change coming along?

After my blog post the other night I called my husband back and we had a long conversation.

It was the same old stuff, he was re-gurgitating the old 'housework' stuff and making out he couldn't understand when something was a simple request or abusive blah blah blah.  Really, he is just feeling exactly the same.  He played a couple of new cards in this conversation though, so must have been thinking about it all for a while.

The discussion was interrupted when my youngest woke up so was continued briefly by text.
Me: Hmmm. I feel a bit like we've done the same old, same old a bit there.  Discuss different times/ways I didn't live up to your expectations, then how I behaved the same as you did.  Do you honestly believe that to be true?  That I put the same level (or anywhere near it) of expectations, forced my opinions or general disappointment as you did me?
dh: No, I never felt physically intimidated as you probably did, and I know that when you wanted me home instead of work it was because you needed support/wanted your husband to be with you.  At the same time if you say you have never imposed your beliefs onto me then I don't agree and will give examples.  There are what I see as easy fixes (for my own abusiveness) like the physical abuse, I can identify and rectify and say I would never do that again.  But the belief part I am finding really difficult.
Me: I know.  I don't want to get sucked back into endlessly discussing the trivia which i believe strongly are not the problem.  I know you prefer single incidents to highlight things but in this situation it doesn't work (in my opinion) because it is the whole picture.  Yes, someone can say "what have you been doing all day?" but that action is not abusive, it's the pattern/underlying attitude that pervades every interaction and emotion that is the problem.  Saying for example that I did 'X' doesn't really help unless you are saying that to a)justify what you did or b) show that you were no worse than me.  If this is the case then what is the point?
dh:  I was using the work examples when you said you have never made me feel bad by imposing your beliefs onto me.  I cannot think of any other way to try and validate my point of view on that matter.  I know that re hashing the old arguments isn't constructive in itself, but like I said I know that imposing my beliefs on you is wrong, so why do I still feel there are certain things I am justified about?  I don't think you are 'beneath' me at all, I don't feel woman are subservient to men, but I still feel there were things I 'had a right' to feel justified about, and that is a fundamental problem and it manifests itself as domestic duties which is why it keeps coming up time and time again.  I am sure you feel exhausted going over the same stuff again.  The only things I need to clarify with you are what you feel actually happened and hopefully within the group I can discuss it an not make you feel worse or critisized.
Me: I never said "I have never made you feel bad by imposing my beliefs'.  This is where I see you changing what I said and what I meant to excuse/justify your own actions.  I asked you specifically how you would have felt if I had spent the last 14 years continually telling you or implying that you were not earning enough money to support the family and that if you were out working then I expect you to bring home a certain (unspecified) amount which you never quite managed.  Continuing the analogy I was using in the hope you might find it useful (clearly you didn't) would have been about how I would also disapprove of anything you did which wasn't getting the money - bar certain other activities that I defined as acceptable - and so on.  It was pointless really, as I should have known because yet again you changed what I was trying to show or what I said and took a few isolated incidents that were largely unrelated to 'prove your point'.
Oh, and I honestly think that over the years what I was doing was trying to support you in what I thought (because you said it) that you wanted - to be able to be working less.  Maybe I over-assumed that your priority would be spending time with the kids but most times I was talking about hours you were working in relation to showing you that you could work less to achieve what I thought you wanted.  Not what I believed you should want.  Obviously if you tell me that you never wanted to work less or be home more then I was incorrect in those assumptions.  That is totally different to the whole thing to do with you, me and my role as the perfect wife, mother, cleaner.
I can't believe the lengths of those texts!  He didn't reply to the above for some reason and I had a sleepless night.  Fell asleep after midnight, woke frequently and finally woke before 6am.

What I've decided to do is be true and honest to myself.  If I have anything I want to say to him, I'm just going to say it.  With that in mind the next day I wrote the following email:

Ok.  I had hardly a wink of sleep last night - don't know about you... 
So, you say that the only thing you need to clarify is what I think happened.  I don't know what you are referring to with regard to this...? 
Anyway, I felt like I needed to write an email because text is ridiculous for communicating anything. 
I couldn't believe the conversation last night.  Although you were saying that you understood that this thing of expectations (or entitlement) was wrong that you didn't yet believe it.  That's no surprise considering you are only on week 2, but so much of what you said last night was pure entitlement and justification.  Example - D (a good friend of mine)!!!  I couldn't believe that!  If I walk into D's house and say 'what the hell's going on, it's a tip' or vice versa it's not actually an accusation that I/she believes that she/I hasn't been doing what they should be doing, or what 'everyone else' ought to be doing.  I think maybe you should phone D to find out if she believes that there have been times when I've not done all I ought to have been doing in the house.  I'm sure she'll be honest  with you about what she thinks.  This is another example of storing away a comment or even 10 that D may have made and then using them to justify your own sense of entitlement!  For goodness sake!  I know that D thinks I have and always have had my work cut out, that I rarely get a minute to myself, that I do everything for or with the kids, most of all that I work hard.  I don't think she ever would say that I live a life of luxury, lounging around reading and having a self focussed lifestyle as you have attempted to assert for a long long time. 
Yet again, we are discussing this topic!!!  Will it ever pass???!  You using something else to 'prove' that really you were right, which is taken totally out of context and/or is totally irrelevant. 
You also mentioned your mum's opinion which made me smile and shake my head.  Your mum got the edited version of our life, one where you came home from work bringing shopping on the way, cooked meals, cleaned and tidied around, basically did stuff that was not your normal thing!  I always felt like I had a bit of a holiday when your mum came!  Was great!  But it was not how things normally were.  You may disagree and I won't be surprised if you do, but that is my opinion of the truth.  So any opinions your mum has formed are not really accurate, I feel.  Also, she has lived with an emotionally abusive man for a long time and probably thought what she saw of our family was loads better than hers, but 1. it was edited and 2. being a bit less shit than shit doesn't make it good.  Also, I've overheard your little comments to your mum and occasionally Abi, last time at Christmas when I walked in as you were saying you'd 'had enough of waiting on me' and implying I wasn't really very ill - what a joke!   
Anyway, here I am yet again arguing with you over this trivia.  Sigh. 
So, moving on.  What do I feel happened?  I'm not sure what you are referring to. 
I think this sums it up:
"The Demand Man is highly entitled.  He expects his partner's life to revolve around meeting his needs and is angry and blaming if anything gets in the way.... The partner of this man comes to feel that nothing she does is ever good enough, and that it is impossible to make him happy.  He criticizes her frequently, usually about things that he thinks she should have done - or done better - for him."   
"The abusive man's high entitlement leads him have unfair and unreasonable expectations, so that the relationship revolves around his demands.  His attitude is "You owe me".  For each ounce he gives, he wants a pound in return.  He wants his partner to devote herself fully to catering to him, even if it means that her own needs get neglected.  You can pour all your energy into keeping your partner content, but if he has this mind-set he'll never be satisfied for long.  And he will keep feeling that you are controlling him, because he doesn't believe that you should set any limits on his conduct or insist that he meet his responsibilities". 
"He exaggerates and overvalues his own contributions... He seems to keep a mental list of any favours or kindnesses he ever does.. He thinks you owe him tremendous gratitude for meeting the ordinary responsibilities of daily life - when he does - but takes your contributions for granted" 
In fact, as far as clarifying what's happened in our relationship from my point of view - the book pretty much spells it out perfectly.  Every problem or issue practically is discussed at length.  That's why I feel pretty confident now in my perceptions of what has happened.  You'll never be able to convince me, no matter what you pull out of the bag, that I have been self serving, lazy or lead a selfish lifestyle.  I always knew it was incorrect, because I lived my life and knew that your description of it was wrong, but now I can be confident that you are wrong and see clearly the reasons why you are still trying to explain how I was like that, and even how other non-abusive people saw me like that too (D).  I am so happy to be free from the questioning of myself that you used to impose on me! 
One thing I've noticed since you left is that my workload at home has not hardly increased at all.  I think maybe one or two extra dishwasher loads to empty/fill, take the bins out and maybe an extra wash load a week?  It's become so obvious to me that I was indeed doing 95% of everything to do with running the household (including bills/paperwork/food/clothes etc shopping).  I'm so happy to have that confirmed.  Another area of A*****-imposed self doubt slips away. 
 I'm not saying this because I want you to feel bad, and I'm sure you don't - you probably just disagree and think I've still got it all wrong - but I do want to be honest.  I don't want to keep quiet about what I feel and think any more. 
So, although I miss you and your company I don't miss most of the things that you brought with you.  I'm absolutely enjoying being my own person.  I can cook what I want, buy what I want, clean what and when I want, read if I want, watch what I want on the tv etc.  Nobody disapproving of me and my actions.  It's wonderful.  I finally feel that this is my home.  To live under watch is not a positive state. 
I mean most of this discussion is about one small area.  We've not touched on the jealousy, accusations that I've been unfaithful, and so on.  These are the things that I wonder about.
If we lived separately forever, but decided to be in a relationship then ?maybe the issue over whether I am good enough around the house wouldn't be an issue.  But what about the rest.  Even if we didn't live together wouldn't you still make snide comments to belittle me?  Would you believe I was unfaithful and accuse me?  Would your need to control me get even worse?  Would you be able to argue without twisting things round?  Would you ever be able to take responsibility for your actions instead of blaming me/anyone else?   
I suppose these are the issues that will hopefully be decided over the next 6 months - I hope.
So, this is what I think and how I'm feeling at the moment.  I do still feel I love you and want to be with you, but am wondering if I even know you?  The real you, under all this crap ... or is this crap the real you and there is nothing underneath?  If I knew 100% that we'd be able to have a happy, healthy, normal relationship I'd be back together in a heartbeat.  I don't know if I'll ever know that. 
None of these opinions or feelings or emotions are up for debate, or to being denied.
I didn't hear anything all day yesterday, and was slightly apprehensive.  I thought that the reply I got would tell me a lot about how things are going for him.  This was the reply he finally sent late last night:

As you say we have gone over this subject too many times, i think i understand the accepted view that it is not right to judge or expect others to do things to your own expectations. So when i ask about clarification it is because as i said yesterday are couples not allowed to request anything from the other incase it is seen as abuse. From what you said i understand it depends on whether one of the parties has had a long history of negative attitude and disapproval of the other, this then taints any 'reasonable' request. 
This is how i now understand it from speaking to you yesterday, so i look back to things i have requested from you that I feel are not overstepping the 'abuse boundary' such as asking you to sew my trousers. If you think this sort of thing in itself is abusive then i still dont understand, but if it is that on top of abusive beliefs and entitlement it is tainted then i do undertand that.

I refered to D as you give the impression that it was just me that thought the house used to be messy, and that even if it was then so what. I dont think it is wrong to want to live in a clean and tidy environment and I feel that people like D have the same opinion. I have not given any thought as to whether she feels you work hard, live a life of luxury, lounge around reading having a self focussed lifestyle. I know these are things i have rashly said before, but not regarding this. It sounds as if your friendship with D is a world away from that of a few months ago when you said you found it difficult to talk with her as you felt she was being 'indirectly critical of you in some way.

Yes i did mention my mum ,but then said for obvious reasons wont use her as an example. I was looking to use someone that you would feel comfortable with to say 'look its not just me that likes to live in a tidy house, 'normal' people like it also'.

When my mum was here yes i did sometimes get some shopping, cook meals, cleaned and tidied, basically did stuff that yes i did normally do, not the majority of the time but regularly (especially at weekends) so if she was here at those times she would witness that. But unless it was xmas the majority of the meals she ate were yours, you did most of the shopping and tidying. it sounds like your implying that i only ever did stuff when she was here?
I dont agree with a lot of my mums opinions regarding domestic stuff and  it gives good examples of how i am abusive with you.

Your workload; as far as stuff round the house i would agree that you did lions share, i would not question that at all. and you must be happy that the small increase in workload has meant the house is nice and tidy now.

The quotes from the book you used i understand and recognise in me. I struggle with the concept 'he doesnt believe that you should set any limits on his conduct or insist he meet his responsibilities' Is that not the conditioning that you as the woman are trying to escape? I understand that part as the man has should have no control over you (which i agree with) but the woman can have control over the man because we will substitute the word control with limits his conduct, and who is setting these responsiblities, you, me, lundy, society. that part to me seems like double standards, i dont get it.

I too share your feeling of freedom, it is nice and i am still getting used to it. I enjoy knowing that it is ok to go out and be tired/hungover the next day without being judged as a bad father.that if i have to work late on a job i have not failed as a husband.that if i spend money on tennis i have not taken it away from the family. Yesterday when you called and i was at M's i had a worried feeling that i was out late doing something i shouldnt, i am sure that will pass with time. I expect you will deny you ever treated me like that, maybe over the past few years, but over a decade of being made to feel guilty for going out kind of gets ingrained into you. 
I know that in the sexist world we live combined with my physical abusiveness and ongoing emotional abuse you have suffered more than me, but you have given me some crap as well.
So, I would be really interested to hear what other people make of this reply.  I just hear the same stuff and think nothing has changed at all!  I know he is only at the beginning of this so-called journey to change but even after reading the book, attending 3 individual sessions, 2 group sessions and us being separated... well, nothing seems to have changed.  

Most of what is in the email is just lies, or more accurately things that have happened but have been twisted around to try to blame me.

One good thing - I've decided to look for abuse counselling for me asap.

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I appreciate all your comments, advice and support.