Friday, 29 April 2011

Email from A

No sooner do I post up my previous blog entry than I find the following email in my inbox:

I have been thinking since our last discussion constantly about us/me/you. I have been planning to write a lengthy email to try to put my points of view across, but with all the romance and festivities of today feel it not appropriate and that there is so much more to put ones energy into. I love you B and not one moment goes by without me knowing that we are in this position because of me.
Your 'dealbreakers' are things that I agree with, but i still do feel that you were not acting either appropriatly or as a reaction to me in respect to allowing me time away from the family/you. I think that there were many times when i overstepped the mark and should have respected you and your wishes. I feel that as time went on that yes you were reacting to my behaviour.
I dont want to dwell on the past. I want to look forward to a future where we are together.
You are so beautiful

Why can't he....

I'm going through another yearning/grief-y sort of phase again, unfortunately.  It's one up from feeling sad and miserable as per last week, but I can't wait for the next positive, cheery, happy phase to start!

I so wish that he would suddenly realise how wrong he's been, how much he loves me, what a nice and loving person I am, how he'd never again want to do anything to hurt me, that he wants nothing more than me and our family together.  I wish he could just realise that he's abusive and wrong and change it.

Why can't he just do that?  Is it really so much better and more satisfying to have this alternative?  Us not together, no family life, seeing the children less often etc?  Well, it must be because that is what he is choosing.

I'm not surprised.  He has told me he enjoys his freedom, having his own place, not having to 'answer to me'.  And, unfortunately I suppose, these things are actually worth more to him than I or our family are.  Maybe there is another woman on the scene - that would explain a lot of things.

Of course, none of this *should* matter to me.  For some reason, right now, it does.

Because unfortunately right now I can't help yearning for what I've never had but always hoped for.  A loving, respectful, joyful and lifelong relationship with A.  That's all I've ever wanted.  I've never had it, but I've worked bloody hard to try to make it happen.  I now realise, of course, that it won't ever happen.  He can't be those things because he is abusive.  I'm grieving the loss of something I've spent 15 years hoping for.  Nothing more tangible than that.

So, pulling myself up by my non-existent boot straps and trying to boost myself over this down and into the nearby up.  I know it's coming and I know it'll be great and will last a good few weeks.  I've booked a haircut tomorrow, I've decided to give myself some money to spend on clothes and shoes and books, and I'm going to go for coffee and to the cinema.  That should give me a lovely boost and hopefully I'll be super cheerful by tomorrow evening!

Monday, 25 April 2011

I thought...

You were the one
You loved me
You'd never cheat
We'd grow old together
We liked each other
You liked me
We were meant to be together
I'd laugh more than cry
My dreams might come true
Our children would have married parents
Our children would have a secure home
It would be different for us
We were it

What a fucking idiot I am

Unfortunately I sent this to my husband last night.  I was pre-menstrual and feeling very emotional and full of sadness and grief.  Even while I was feeling this I knew that it was totally hormone-related and that I should wait for it to pass.  But I couldn't stop myself, literally the hormonal feelings were overwhelming and I sent the first email in 3 weeks to him. 

Of course, I woke up this morning and am feeling back to normal but so cross with myself for opening up this line of communication.

He has already replied:
I hope you can still have those thoughts about me
I mean, this just baffles me.  After everything that's happened recently...?  Really?

I am trying to objectively observe my feelings and emotions now.  I am feeling back on an even keel and not full of sadness or grief like yesterday (thanks, hormones!) but I am having various feelings as a direct result of this email exchange.

Yes!  I can't believe this!  I am feeling the familiar stirrings of a tendril of hope.  Sometimes I despair of myself!  What on earth will it take to stamp this stupid hope out?  I have 15 years of experience to know that this hope is utterly in vain.  I was expecting him to respond along the lines of 'yes, I thought that too' but instead he responded as above and I start thinking ... 'maybe...'. 

I have been content and happy with no longer communicating about the relationship, us, the abuse etc etc.  But not communicating raises my anxiety levels slightly.  So, a tiny bit of me feels relieved to have started to communicate again.  I know that this (and 'hope') are a result of the process of traumatic bonding.  But it doesn't stop how real that it is.

So, in a bid to not be 'sucked in' I am taking to trying to just observe and then release these feelings rather than internalise or act upon them.  I am going to continue with 'no contact' and not reply to this email.

This is what Lundy Bancroft says on the topic of Traumatic Bonding:

"Almost no abuser is mean or frightening all the time. At least occasionally, he is loving, gentle, and humorous and perhaps even capable of compassion and empathy. This intermittent, and usually unpredictable, kindness is critical to forming traumatic attachments. When a person, male or female, has suffered harsh, painful treatment over an extended period of time, he or she naturally feels a flood of love and gratitude toward anyone who brings relief, like the surge of affection one might feel for the hand that offers a glass of water on a scorching day. But in situations of abuse, the rescuer and the tormentor are the very same person. When a man stops screaming at his partner and calling her a "useless piece of *(%@" and instead offers to take her on a vacation, the typical emotional response is to feel grateful to him. When he keeps her awake badgering her for sex in the middle of the night and then finally quiets down and allows her to get some of the sleep that she so desperately craves, she feels a soothing peace from the relief of being left alone.

Your abusive partner's cycles of moving in and out of periods of cruelty can cause you to feel very close to him during those times when he is finally kind and loving. You can end up feeling that the nightmare of his abusiveness is an experience the two of you have shared and are escaping from together, a dangerous illusion that trauma can cause. I commonly hear an abused woman say about her partner, 'He really knows me,' or 'No one understands me the way he does.' This may be true, but the reason he seems to undersand you well is that he has studied ways to manipulate your emotions and control your reactions. At times he may seem to grasp how badly he has hurt you, which can make you feel close to him, but it's another illusion; if he could really be empathetic about the pain he has caused, he would stop abusing you for good."

Friday, 22 April 2011

Notes from counselling session no.2

You’ve been doing well in thinking about “could haves” rather than “should haves”.  You know that you would never have deliberately chosen the crap option.  You said that it doesn’t feel like you and DD1 have a bad relationship – indeed, when we reframe that, it turns out that you and she have a positive relationship.  Which of course not only sounds a lot better, but is the truth!

Of course, we can always improve things, be they relationships or anything else, and you are going to continue to be more open to DD1, spending more time with her, now that you are no longer distracted by the difficulties with A.

Speaking of A, you’d only talked to him regarding the children in the previous week.  You’d been engaged in a long email argument, with him using Control and Manipulation Ploy 3.2, i.e. accusing you of being abusive.  So you have stopped communication.  Well done.   We thought it might be a good wheeze not to bother reading any more of his emails – what would be the point of putting yourself through any more unpleasantness?

It really doesn’t matter if he thinks he has “won” the email argument: you know that’s not the case, you know you have taken control, and he can think what he likes.  It doesn’t matter anymore, because you are no longer trying to influence how he thinks in order to save the relationship.

I know this may seem a difficult concept, to be secure in what you are thinking and not worry about what he may or may not feel.  This is his problem.  He will stay stuck in a bad place unless he decides to get out of it.  It doesn’t any longer need to affect you.

You know that, whatever you had done or said, it would never have been good enough.  Because of how A is.  Not because of any lack in you.

We spent some time talking about the possible physical risk, and I suggested that you contact your local Women’s Aid and the Police Community Safety Unit for advice.  You can get the front door sorted quickly and need some professional advice for the patio doors.  I suggested that you might get a new mobile which you can keep with you (bearing in mind that he can cut off your current mobile as it’s in his name).  If he did try to get in the house, remember to not mention that it is your estranged husband when you dial 999 – and, if needs be, you can run into the street shouting “fire” – that gets people’s attention.  And/or you could get a large, scary-looking (but obviously soft) dog!

You mentioned that you have the eternal optimist problem (which I share – although I think it is preferable to be optimistic and disappointed sometimes than pessimistic and occasionally pleasantly surprised!) but you are now moving away from thinking “I can make him understand” (which clearly is impossible) to thinking he’s (and I quote!) a tosser!

You’d been thinking about telling A that it’s all over, and we decided it would be better to wait until any potential new relationship has blossomed sufficiently.  Or, if there is indeed no relationship, it would still be better for you to wait until he’s got more used to you being apart.  You can draw a line under the past very effectively without him necessarily knowing that you have, particularly bearing in mind his potential aggression.

You are going to email the CORE evaluation to me, and I believe you are going to do a little work on the Culture Web if you have time. 

You told me that you were having two major flashbacks and I think we will deal with those next time, when we do some relaxation and guided imagery.  In the meantime, I asked you to practice constructing (a bit like one of the Sim games) a special place to go to in your mind, and you are going to send me a photo of the beach you have in mind.

Monday, 18 April 2011

A good week

I've had a great week.

It's around two weeks since I saw clearly that my husband hasn't and won't change to a level that I'm happy with and want to welcome back into my life.  And also, I decided that I've put my life and soul into this man for nearly fifteen years and I no longer want to do that in the hope that it will support him and he will change and become the loving, caring man that I hoped he would.  I know he'll never be that.  It will always be a struggle.  And I am no longer up for that struggle.

Since then I've been feeling so positive.  So happy and content.  I know that this is the right path for everybody involved, including all of my children.  Growing up in an environment that is joyous, fun, happy and relaxing as opposed to tense and anticipatory - that is what will give my children the best start possible!

I have been attending some work-related workshops, which have been a lot of fun and very creative.  I've been so enjoying my autonomy.  Unless you've ever lost your autonomy, you won't know the magnificence of it!  I am reveling in it right now :-D

Last night I had a dream about my husband that involved a large and dangerous looking climb with only a thin cushion in case you fell.  People around were convincing me that I'd be OK and should make the climb, but I stood firm and said no because it was dangerous and I might die.  I really felt that this represented my relationship.  I know what is the best for me and my children (people were convincing me to take my kids on the climb, that they'd be fine and I should stop being silly as it wasn't dangerous).

Then I woke up and my fingers were swollen and really hurting, and I had to get my wedding rings off.  They were swollen so it was difficult to get them off, but finally I managed it (with sore knuckles!) and then my fingers went back to there normal size.  This has never happened before so I was surprised, but now the wedding rings are off, I'm actually intending them to stay off because it feels right.

So, great leaps and bounds forward for me.  My husband left three months ago tomorrow.  The last three months have been absolutely tumultuous.  The mix of emotions and ups and downs I have been through have been extreme and difficult at many times.  But, my god, it's been worth it and I am so thankful that this happened and I've had the strength to see it through!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

My art

As part of my counselling session last week my counsellor asked me to complete two pictures.  One to illustrate my emotions now:

and my emotions as I want them to be after the counselling:

The first one represents the 'light at the end of the tunnel' and the swirling emotions that are going on most of the time.

The second one is showing how I hope that life will be mainly peaceful, light and happy but obviously still some emotions here and there.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

First therapy session

This was on Wednesday and was totally positive and altogether brilliant.  I like the therapist a lot, she is completely human, encouraging, empathetic and talks almost as much as I do!  It was practical which is the kind of therapy I find useful, rather than the talking-endlessly-and-raking-over-the-past therapy which leaves me wishing I had never started.

The therapist has a lot of experience with domestic violence, and knew her stuff about emotional abuse which was a real relief!

Anyway, she has written up and sent me the notes, so there is no need for me to repeat everything.

It was a pleasure to talk with you on the 6th and I am sure we can work effectively and speedily together to achieve your aims. 
I forgot to ask if you would mind completing an evaluation sheet and I am attaching it now, if you could manage to think back to how you were feeling the week before we spoke and then you can give me your scores next time.  
I would like to begin by commending you on your determination and courage in pursuing the Open University degree despite your husband’s disapproval.  And of course, it almost goes without saying, your strength and bravery in separating from A.   
It seems that he may be genuine about changing, although you are not really kept up-to-date by the support worker, and you do have some suspicions that he was angling to leave for several weeks prior to you asking him to, for some unknown reason. 
It is unfortunate to say the least that your childhood pattern of being abused and criticised was reinforced by A’s behaviour.  And you have done extremely well in keeping and nurturing a kernel of self-belief and self-worth, despite your childhood and the almost constant drip-drip of A’s criticism and disapproval. 
Of course, this old pattern will have bolstered your self-criticism and it was clear that you have been very hard on yourself.  Let’s take *eldest daughter*, who herself said you are a great Mum.  You absolutely did your best with the skills/knowledge that you had and under the circumstances (becoming and then being a victim of marital abuse) in which you inadvertently found yourself.  Not to mention that A proved to be quite a good father to her until his “own” children were born, when he seems to have gone slightly peculiar, to say the least!  There is absolutely no evidence that *eldest daughter* has been damaged, which goes to your own parenting, as well as the relationship she has with her Dad – for which you must also take some credit for nurturing.  So, this may be the time to start to put away that old myth. 
It is clear that you are highly motivated with all your children. 
I would like to remind you that “repeat victim syndrome” is an explanation of the past, not a foretelling of the future.  You have made significant changes and I see absolutely no reason to imagine that you have not broken already out of that syndrome. 
I am attaching a copy of Mind Your Language which will remind you of some of “the rules”, e.g. no tries, no should or should haves, as well as the Culture Web of which you may find it helpful to complete some of the sections.  (a Mind Mapping exercise)
I also asked you to draw a couple of sketches – how you feel now and how you will feel when we have dealt with the issues. 
In our next session, or possibly the subsequent one, depending on how we go, we will get rid of the flashbacks you have had to the childhood abuse, so that they don’t bother you anymore.
So, I have some homework to do before the second session this week.  

Since the last email exchange with dh, I have cut off communication beyond anything about the children.  He was almost successful in distracting me off the issue of his abuse by talking about the so-called abuse I inflicted on him during our relationship.  I am too easily led down these ridiculous paths, so I'm just putting a halt to that.

I have to say that I've spent almost a week now absolutely certain that we are not going to get back together - that I don't want to.  I can't think of him without thinking what an arsehole he has been, and by all accounts still is!  Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

How I was emotionally abusive to him.

Continuing on from the emails in the previous post, my husband today replied with his information about how I was emotionally abusive to him during our 15 year relationship:

I dont think i will be telling you anything i havent said before but the things i am having difficulty in distinguishing between abuse and whatever you want to call it are:

15 yrs of being made to feel guilty if i have gone out. When i gave the example of playing football I was trying to justify for you why you should have acted so negatively about me just playing football. I can understand with the P (ex -girlfriend that he still took out when we were living together) thing why you would feel anxious about me doing anything with R (P's brother), but apart from that i can only  think of 1 thing i have done to make you 'react' in an abusive way (regarding me socialising). The other is maintaining a friendship with E (a female friend that was in love with him)  for longer than i should, from my point of view I really liked her as a friend and thought that if i broke up our friendship because i had a girlfriend it would belittle the friendship we had and suggest there was more than friendship, from her side there was and you helped me see that it was therefor inappropriate to continue a friendship with her. I dont think you have reacted or been abusive regarding this though.

Right from the beginning of our relationship you didnt like to be left at home, not that we never went out together but yes sometimes once or twice a week i would go to pub with R (his best friend) and get drunk. I dont think it was as infrequent as i would like to remember, neither was it as frequent as you would. But it was normal for a 19 - 30 yr old to do. Should i have been more understanding that you sometimes couldnt go out because of A (my eldest daughter from a previous marriage)? If I had been every other night out on the town then yes, but the frequency i was going out no, not at all. Yes when we had E  then F (two of our children) there probably were times that I should have not gone out, so when you reacted to this i put it down to your nature of wanting to control my limited social life.
This did not suddenly just stop, over the years we have both matured and that sort of thing isnt as much of an issue, R (his best friend) wedding year was pretty heavy granted.

Last year when I went to 3 peaks my phone ran out of battery and you replied to the pictures i sent you from B's phone, You sent a message brimming with support and love, B read it out to everyone on the coach and it was really nice to hear such words of love that contrasted with everything else that you had sent to my phone and conversations we had had up until a few hours before that generally revolving around 'i dont know why you had to go up the day before/ this is just another excuse for a piss up/how much money have you spent blah blah blah. Being the abusive cynic i am i assume you wanted to portray some kind of loving and supportive wife wishing your husband well. maybe you just meant it as a joke, whatever motivated you to write that stuff it was really nice and would have been nicer if the only bit of moral support you sent was when other people werent watching. Why am i banging on about this and remebering such a small and insignificant detail that as usual i am sure you have forgot because you dont hang on to things like i do. Because i think it shows you know you behave inappropriatly but in front of people like to give a different more positive image. Is it reaction to how i am with you? i dont think so, it reminds me of someone who can scold someone then turn on a sugary smile for all to see, i wonder where i'm getting that reference from.
(reference to my mum)

So in general ,years of ongoing critisism of me going out, not a few isolated occassions but constantly and gradually subsiding as the years have gone on.

We have discussed this already many times and i asume your stance is still that I should have only gone out the number of times in a year that you find acceptable. This wasnt something that grew into a bigger problem as my abusiveness became more prevaillant but started right from the beginning. From when i went to that rave, we just remember from our own perspective. Looking back now i dont see why I should have gone with you, I never asked you to go, you hated the music, you hated the scene, i didnt want you there and assumed you would not want to be there. You had your own assumptions that i think were if A goes out then I go out with him.

I know it is futile and you see me as raking up the past, but when you tell me that you were not being at best clingy and at worst controlling, but reacting to my abusiveness, I do not think that that part was abusive, and it did affect our relationship right from the start for years and years.

Another part i hate thinking about is that i feel you bullied me into having kids. I dont think you can ever be ready to have a family, but you can be ready to want one. I wanted to wait. J (relate) counsellor brushed this aside when I brought it up, I will talk in [abuse programme] about it. I love my children with all my heart and i dont like to bring it up but i feel you bulldozed your agenda, and it was such a big thing.

Disagreements on jobs/where to live/ houses/ how to spend money/decorating/ raising kids etc etc.

When you said you feel you had contributed about 50/50 to our problems in the relationship I did get the wrong end of the stick. The things you have listed with the exception of money have been i think fairly healthy debates where you have had a point of view and we possibly argued and we have ended up doing what you suggested in the first place, and with hind sight your plans/objectives have served us well on those things and they were good decisions. 

I thought you may have been admitting to bringing some kind of negative feelings ( generally associated with abuse) like jealousy, control, blaming etc. All you have referenced are things that good and positive decisions have come out of. So the only things you feel you have contributed 50/50 on are positive things. You do not feel you have done anything detrimental in our relationship for the whole 15+ years except in reaction to me. Maybe you could clarify what you are thinking of when you say you have done 'stupid' and 'idiotic' things, or were you just saying that but not meaning anything at all?

This email irritated me so much, for so many reasons.  My reply:

Ok.  I have taken all the bumph out of my list and whittled it down to bullet points (as you know).  Then I've printed it out and kept it so I can remind myself of the abusive incidents and everything.  Maybe you'll find it helpful to do the same?
  • 15 yrs of being made to feel guilty if i have gone out.
  • you bullied me into having kids
I've read through a couple of times but I think that's the whole list?
Yes, I know I'm being flippant/sarcastic but the whole self-righteous tone of your email just brings it out.  When you compare how abusive you have been to these two points I don't know how you've got the front to harp on about this stuff.  I really don't.
I will say again.  In a relationship where I received snarky remarks and constant disapproval for doing *anything* that wasn't cleaning/cooking/with the kids (reading blogs, being online, reading a book etc) then in my opinion, it would be a natural reaction for *most* people to then be resentful when that same person goes off regularly (every 2-3 months would have been extremely frequent compared to how often I did) overnight or for longer. 
We 'remember that differently' re: you going off and leaving me.  I'm sure I said something like that I didn't have anywhere to go and maybe I could come along to see what kind of thing you like to go to, and you said 'whatever but you won't like it' kind of thing.  I reassured that I would.  I got ready, you told me the car was full and left.  So no, you didn't invite me and maybe I shouldn't have 'invited myself'?  Maybe I didn't trust you because you had sworn you weren't doing drugs any longer (which I insisted due to us moving in together with Alyssa), maybe that's why you didn't want me to come - as you said a couple of emails ago 'I didn't want you to see me off my face'.  So you obviously still were.
Again, with the four peaks.  I did ask you how come a 24 hour walk was turning into a 3-4 day jolly.  This was not me being unsupportive and not wanting you to go out anywhere as you say.  It was due to the fact that last year you were away for about 2 weeks altogether (not including the 4 peaks) without your family while we went nowhere.  So, I did think you had some front and not a lot of sensitivity to be then choosing to go off for another jolly, and yes that irritated me.  Again, most people would probably think that I reacted quite normally.  But my memory was that during the whole time you were away (while you had your phone battery on) I was supportive.  I was supportive before too and I was proud of you afterwards and think I showed it.  But it is again, the context of my reactions.  In the context of the times you went away last year and my total lack of freedom to do anything - it was actually probably quite restrained.  So, if you think I'm taking this 'you were totally unsupportive and then only nice in public' thing to heart you can think again.  Stop playing the Victim.
As far as forcing you to have kids.. I don't know what to say about that.  Yes, I did put a lot of pressure on you about this and I shouldn't have done that.  I think I've apologised in the past about that and can say 100% that I will never do that again.  Like you say, it's difficult to discuss because we both love our kids and are happy to have them.
I have to laugh when you imply that I bulldoze you into doing everything that I want.  I believe that is a totally unrealistic portrayal of our life together.  Totally.  There have been a few things that have been really important to me that I've not allowed you to bulldoze me on (specifically certain things to do with the kids, home ed, moving here to K). 
You ask what are the stupid and idiotic things that I was referring to and probably the only one is in the list at the top.  I shouldn't have been so insistent about having children and 'bulldozed' you as you say.
As far as my attitude to you going out, well - that was created in my opinion by the way you have treated me.
And so where does that leave the idea that I'm emotionally abusive?  All I see here are distractions away from the main issue (your abusiveness), trying to shift as much blame as possible from you to me, and attempts to justify your behaviour.  
I got a reply to my email pretty quickly and it was at this point that I decided to pull the plug on this ridiculous exchange that was certainly not good for my mental health or anything, really for that matter.  I know already that I can never present information or argument that would every change his mind, no matter what it is, so I may as well stand and bash my head against a brick wall than sit down and expend time and energy on this sort of exchange.  He doesn't want to, and never will, ever concede my point of view.

Your sarcastic comments you start with? would you find it more validating if i gave you more than 2 things i am not happy with? I dont see this as a contest of who can score more points against the other. I realise that the whole part of this discussion is sidetracking from looking at me as an abuser so have looked at things that I find particularly important to me, if that means there are only 2 points then that is that! Since looking at abuse as the problem I fairly quickly came to agree that yes i have been abusive on many different levels, I dont think you are an abusive person but i do think that the 2 points i have raised use abusive techniques.
Why are you not listening to what i am saying, is it because I then wouldnt fit into your pigeonholed profiling. I can understand over time how you would have started reacting to me being abusive which is why i am looking far back to the start when you were even more controlling, considering as time has gone on we have had kids and more responsiblities your controlling nature has mellowed rather than gotten worse.
You have any right to tell me how to live my life or spend my time, in any way
It would be totally hypocritical to treat me as you have over the years as well as expecting the above,  now you have become less controlling to non-existant and think you have always been like that? or that anything you have done is in reaction to me despite you being like that from the very start. you have the gaul to call me self righteous.
Your recollection of what happened when i went clubbing is wrong. It was about 2 weeks in to our relationship, you were still living at <ex-husband's>, at that time you made no demands regarding drugs. AS (friend) and her bloke were going into london and you had assumed we could both go with them or both go to a rave. I just wanted to go without you raving (sad i know) but its what i wanted. We discussed what to do, you tried to make me feel bad by saying stuff like 'when people are together they go clubbing together, thats what 'normal' couples do' and that 'i wouldnt like it if you wanted to go clubbing without me' and you were right i wouldnt have liked it, but that would have been my abusive side trying to stop you doing stuff. You will probably say i am harping on again, my main point is that this was 2 weeks into our relationship, very early, I would be open to the suggestion that you were 'reacting' to something I did, but you were speaking from your own beliefs, it happened to soon in our relationship for it to be reaction to me.
4 peaks stuff - while i was away we spoke and texted, you were frosty to the point of just pissed off with me, i accept it probably was partly in reaction to me. But the text to Bs phone was so contrasting that when i got my phone working I showed him the conversations we had been having, it made your nicey nicey one just laughable. If you dont want to look at why you would be like that then fine. Yes you emailed round to help get money and wished me well, but the text to Bs phone was from another person. If i am playing the victim so what if you cant look at yourself.
You misunderstand bulldozing, i was only talking about having kids.
Moving to <present house>? as soon as i saw the house i was signing on the dotted line. My only point was that it would drive us further into debt, which it did.
So just to confirm your 50/50  negative part you had in our entire 15yr plus relationship was bulldozing your wish to have kids? And that is it. I need to know for when i discuss in <abuser program>

<sigh> why do I let myself be drawn in?  Total waste of time and energy.  No longer - I will be strong!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My views and what I won't accept - email discussion

In response to an email/ text exchange last week I finally composed a reply and sent it to my husband.  I have had a very busy week, with family birthdays and a bereavement that means I haven't been able to reply until today.

This is what I wrote to him:

I don't think this discussion was really resolved.  I'm not sure it can be right now.  I want to talk a bit about some thoughts that arose out of this discussion (by email and text). 
The first thing, I mentioned to you on Friday.  Do you honestly believe that I have been "emotionally abusive for the majority of our relationship"?  Is this what you really think?   
Secondly, I don't want to be involved in dissecting the minutiae of our distant past relationship.  I can understand that this may be an important part of the process for you, but for me it isn't helpful at all - in fact it is detrimental.  I can only think that when you need to discuss things like this that you do it at your group and see if they can help you dissect and analyse your motives/feelings/actions back then (or mine).   
I am comfortable (at the moment) discussing things that arise from the group that you want to talk over in relation to our relationship now or going forward... ways of thinking you are not sure about or opinions you hold or values you hold and how I feel about them, all that stuff.  But I am choosing not to go over and over things that happened a long time ago.  You can still do that, but not with me.  I'm sorry if that makes anything difficult for you, but I have to do it. 
I will tell you this now - I was not emotionally abusive.  I might have done some idiotic, stupid things in the past but I am not an abusive person and I don't hold abusive values or attitudes.  This is a deal breaker for me.  I will not accept you telling me that I am or was.  If you believe this, and this belief can not change then that is something that will put an end to our relationship.   
In fact, it may help to know a few things that are deal breakers.  If any of these things continue to be part of your opinion and values then I am not going to continue the relationship.  If you continue to believe that:
  • I am an abusive person.
  • I am any of the things you have characterised me as: selfish, lazy, condescending, self centred, unfaithful
  • You have any right to tell me how to live my life or spend my time, in any way
I think those are the main things that I won't live with any longer.  I don't know if you want or have or can change your views on these things.  I'm sure more might come up and if so I will let you know.
Edited to add my husband's response:

Pre-therapy email to my new counsellor

She asked me to email her with information about what I am wanting to achieve through counselling, what I am going to counselling for.  I'd already emailed her some background information.  I struggled to figure this out, but had to email something so this is what I wrote:

The situation at the moment is that my husband and I have been separated for about two-and-a-half months.  We would have been together for fifteen years this year.  I would say that we are separated at the moment, but that no definite decision has been made (by me) about whether or not our relationship will continue.  I am waiting to see how things go on his abuser programme, and in the mean time I am trying to get on with my life.  I suppose this puts me slightly in limbo, in that it's not definitely finished or continuing, but as far as I can see this is for the best at the moment - for me. 
I feel like I've been through the shock and grief and sorrow during the first couple of months.  I honestly didn't know what was going on in our relationship - I knew we had major issues and problems that we could never get over, no matter what I did, but realising that *the* major issue was that my husband's behaviour was abusive was a big shock.  I felt a lot of anger, mixed in with pure sorrow and grief.  It might sound ridiculous that I wouldn't have known - especially considering there were 3 incidents of physical/sexual violence, but the vast majority of it was emotional abuse which was much more difficult to identify.   
So, I've been trying to unravel the truth I suppose.  One of the major problems was my husband's insistence that I was a person that I just didn't recognise as myself.  He said I was lazy, selfish, sarcastic, condescending etc and that I had some kind of 'warped' idea of myself as some kind of angel.  Obviously I just knew that what he said wasn't true.  Nobody else said those things and I have quite a lot of friends and acquaintances.  He said that they didn't live with me so didn't know the truth.  Combined with all the other crazy making stuff - him minimising things I felt, denying things he'd said or done, telling me I was misunderstanding things, re-defining my emotions and intentions into negative ones etc etc.  I was, during the last few years, struggling to understand whether my perceptions were just plain wrong.  I wondered how other people viewed me, because I obviously had such an incorrect picture of the kind of person that I was.   
However, through all this, there was a small part of me that just knew the truth and couldn't be persuaded.  He had even resorted to telling me that I hadn't 'gotten over' my childhood (pretty crap) and I just didn't know it.  That my childhood *was* what the problem was in our relationship.  That it had given me no idea of what a healthy relationship was.  He was telling me all the time that I was still effected by all this stuff and twisted around things I'd said to illustrate this fact.  I started to doubt myself and wonder if I just was majorly in denial and unable to recognise all these faults and issues in myself.  I almost had a breakdown about a year ago due to this.  I managed to pull myself back.  Obviously childhood issues can impact hugely, but I've talked and thought a lot about everything that happened during my childhood and I feel actually OK about it.  I can't change it and I don't feel like it's a big part of my life now - I have talked endlessly with my sister about everything and just feel OK.  I don't know how else to describe it, really.  I now believe this was another way my husband was trying to undermine my self-perception and ultimately blame me for everything wrong in our marriage. 
I suppose one thing stops me from just ending the relationship completely.  That is that my husband (and two of our children) have Asperger's Syndrome.  I know from experience how rigid this makes his thinking and how incredibly difficult it is for him to process new information and change his mind about something he has decided.  I know that his father was emotionally abusive, and his mother (with Asperger traits too) decided that some things (money, security) were more important than others (love, fidelity, honesty).  I honestly think that growing up with Asperger's Syndrome in this household that he became hard-wired to believe that this was a healthy and normal relationship.  I suppose in a way I can't blame him for his behaviour as much as I would someone without Asperger's?  Maybe that's a ridiculous thing to think... I don't know. 
Obviously I have to draw the line somewhere, and if it ends up that he just can't change his core values and attitudes then that will be the end because I don't want to repeat the same mistakes with our children. 
So, goals for counselling.  I suppose I want to get to a point where I believe my own perceptions, where I trust myself.  There is a small part of me that does, but a larger part that seeks approval and confirmation from those around me.  I was never like that before I was with my husband, and I want to get back to being the person I really am.  The confident, laid-back, fun person - yes, maybe with heaps of issues, but generally OK and happy.  I've lost that along the way.  I've become serious, anxious and doubtful.  My children don't know the real me really, because it's been covered for so long and that makes me feel incredibly sad. 
I would also like to be confident in my ability to be on my own, and to be able to provide for myself and my family and not to worry so much about that. 
I'm sure there are lots of other things, and apologies if I have rambled on for ages and not said much that is what you wanted or can be used! 
I look forward to talking to you tomorrow