Tuesday, 5 April 2011

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

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I appreciate all your comments, advice and support.