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:

My overall view of have you been abusive hasnt really changed, I dont think you are an abusive person but have used abusive ways to try to control me. I understand that it wont be helpful for you to discuss it so I will try to bring things up in the group and think about them myself.

I am not sure whether you still feel that apart from the abusiveness you contributed to 50/50 of our 'general relationship' problems, in my mind I cannot think of a single problem that was not related directly to abuse so can only see that whatever negative things you put on our relationship were also abuse. Maybe these are the things that you call idiotic and stupid?
You have said before that any negative things you did were all as a reaction to me, is this what you mean?
I would like you to clarify how you see things as i am very unsure of where you stand.
 When you first challeged me with the abusive stuff i felt you were putting everything, literally everything on my doorstep. Then you said about 50/50 and  i felt you had the opinion that I have been physically and emotionally abusive, and that you had used emotional abuse in the past but it was fairly non existant now and so not a current problem. This is how i see it at the moment. which isnt obviously how you see it.
Because this is how i look back on what has happened I feel that I can move forward without dragging up the past, but if we dont agree on what happened then I have to look back. As i cannot understand your stance of non-comprehension of how i was, as i feel you did the same sort of things. So now I dont understand what these 'other non abusive' problems were that you take responsiblity for.

I took a long time thinking over this answer.  I'm so tired of the same conversation being had in different ways.  He's so desperate to blame me for as much as possible and won't be happy til he can feel it's not his fault again.


I am just flicking through the book. 
"How do I know when my partner is being abusive?.. how do I know the difference between a bad day when (s)he's just being a jerk and a pattern that adds up to something more serious?  It's true that almost everyone does yell at one point or another, and most people, male or female, call their partners a name, interrupt, or act selfish or insensitive.  These behaviours are hurtful and worthy of criticism, but they aren't all abuse, and they don't all have the same psychological effects that abuse does.  At the same time, all of these behaviours are abusive when they are part of a pattern of abuse." 
"The term abuse is about power; it means that a person is taking advantage of a power imbalance.  Thus the defining point of abuse is when the man (or woman) starts to exercise power over the woman (or man?) in a way that causes harm and creates a privileged status for him (her)" 
"Is the way he is treating me abuse?
  • (S)he retaliates against your for complaining about his behaviour.
  • (S)he tells you that your objections to his mistreatment are your own problem.
  • (S)he gives apologies that sound insincere or angry, and demands that you accept them.
  • (S)he blames you for the impact of his behaviour.
  • It's never the right time, or the right way to bring things up.
  • (S)he undermines your progress in life.
  • (S)he denies what he did.
  • (S)he justifies his hurtful or frightening acts.
  • (S)he touches you in anger or puts you in fear in other ways.
  • (S)he coerces you into having sex or sexually assaults you.
  • His controlling, disrespectful or degrading behaviour is a pattern.
  • You show signs of being abused."
I have obviously read the Bancroft book a zillion times now.  (well you know what I mean) and although  I did see the odd thing that I had done - that is the point- odd things are just 'behaving like a jerk' it's the pattern and escalation of behaviour, the driving force being the values and feelings of entitlement and 'being' superior, taking advantage of a power imbalance that make it into being emotionally abused  - not even a series of isolated incidents that haven't occurred for years and years.  That's not emotional abuse.  As he says, he has never come across someone who has stopped being emotionally abusive without years of group work/intensive therapy and being forced to.  So, what - am I some miracle?  Someone who just suddenly stopped being emotionally abusive?
So, how I see it is that I know I have done some things that I wouldn't do now, and many (not all) were as a direct or indirect reaction to how I was being treated by you.  Others were probably unreasonable and if there was no abusive background, would have been hopefully resolved through discussion or relate or whatever.  I am not emotionally or in any other way abusive.  
When I talk about the fact that the abuse issue is all yours, (which you have agreed to - but obviously you now think I'm abusive too) and that 'the rest' of our issues would have been 50/50, these 'issues' would have been general disagreements that couples have in any relationship that have to be discussed and compromised on.  Disagreements on jobs/where to live/ houses/ how to spend money/decorating/ raising kids etc etc.  You are right - every problem we have had has been altered and shaped beyond 'normal' by your abusiveness.
So, do you think I need to go on an abuser programme?  If I am an emotionally abusive person (because from everything I've read, you are not emotionally abusive one minute and then stop the next - it's all about your inherent value system which is extremely difficult to change) then maybe you think I do?
I have written a list of all incidents I can remember (you've added a few more over the last few weeks though) and all patterns of behaviour and abusiveness that I recognise in you - I sent it to you ages ago.  Maybe you can do the same for me so that I can see where you are coming from?
I honestly think that you have had such a high feeling of entitlement and justification that lots of my normal reactions and behaviour have appeared as abusive to you (now) but I was just trying to get you to stop mistreating me - to start treating me respectfully and as an equal.  But trying to put these boundaries around your unacceptable behaviour has been viewed by you as 'controlling'.  That seems to be textbook abuser stuff from everything I've read.
I have to ask myself, yet again.... Why Am I Doing This!!??  What am I getting out of this?  I keep hoping that he'll start changing and understanding what's gone on.  I keep reminding myself that he's only 6 or 7 weeks into a 27 week programme.... but at what point will this internal value system change?  The only thing I can deduce at this point is: never.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate all your comments, advice and support.