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Healing but still afraid

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #267115

    Howard
    Participant

    This could be a very long post but I’ll summarize.  (It’ll be medium long.)

    I’m in my 50s now, had a great early childhood until things happened over the span of age 9 – 14:

    – I was serially molested by a male family friend until I stopped it myself by cutting contact with the man

    – I found out that my father mother and her father had been taking hardcore pictures of each other (yes, incestuous as well) years before

    – I found out that my father had been cheating on my mother with a few co-workers

    – and they got divorced, started a long run of bitter years of being the pawn/messenger when the lawyers couldn’t get them to talk

    Unsurprisingly, I’ve had two major relationships fail utterly before meeting my wife, mostly because of my inability to speak up for myself or really care more deeply than just day to day whatever.

    We’ve known each other for 22 years now, lived together for 18, married for 16.  And until very recently I’ve been the same way… unable to speak up for myself, hiding problems, lying even though she’s said over and over that lying to her is the one thing that hurts the most.

    Been in serious counseling since February.  Had a few sessions where I hit an emotional block, and EMDR has helped clean out the cobwebs more than anything else. The last one revealed the self-hate I held in from my molester never getting punished (longer story of course).  That has given me more self-confidence than I’ve had in decades, I now realize.

    So the kicker is that I’m still afraid of the impact of the last 18 years of hurting her, and being spineless, even though I’m healing.  She’s admitted that over the past few years she’s let me get into money and other bad situations just so she could have the thin satisfaction of watching me squirm.

    I want to get our relationship back to whatever best it can be, but I’m afraid she might not be able to let go of the hurt/disappointment/regrets/financial costs and this might all spiral down anyway.

    Not sure where to turn next to navigate this part of things.

    #267125

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Howard:

    I didn’t understand the  following sentence: “She’s admitted that over the past few years she’s  let me  get into money and other bad situations just so she  could have  the  thin satisfaction of watching me squirm”- can you give a couple of examples?

    I understand that you are still seeing a therapist (?) and that you have made lots of progress.  I wonder  if the  therapist suggested having your wife participate in a few sessions, conducting couple therapy, and if such was suggested to her, what  was  her response.

    You want your relationship with your wife to heal and I hope it does, I hope the two of you heal/continue  to  heal and to learn, changing behaviors that need to be changed, employing what my  therapist taught me as the principle of EAR in the  communication between the two of you: Empathy, Assertiveness, Respect.

    I hope to read more from you when I am back to the computer in about fifteen hours.

    anita

    #267137

    Howard
    Participant

    Anita,

    That was a bit vague…

    She and I have been in sessions mostly together, a few individual sessions along the way, just about weekly.

    The last session together last week she admitted that over the last few years she has known that I was getting into financial / hiding mistakes kinds of trouble, and didn’t say anything until the situations couldn’t be lied about anymore and deliberately laid on the anger and scorn just so she could get some satisfaction out of the new broken stuff.

    Yes, still seeing the therapist, even scheduled extra appointments this past week and next.

    It seems like I make my biggest strides in solo sessions with lots of EMDR.  (Otherwise I fall back in the ‘I’ll do anything we need love, I will!” pattern.)

    Of your EAR< I think it’s her R that needs the next attention, but that’s still conditional waiting on me to behave differently and consistently.

    Kind of hating being stuck in the middle, between the years of pain on one side and a much more positive outlook looking forward.  That’s my sticking point now.

    #267245

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Howard:

    By “I was getting into financial/ hiding mistakes kinds of trouble”, you mean that you are unethical in the work place or in conducting  financial transactions?

    I wonder if that is what she is waiting  on you for (“I think it’s her R that  needs the next attention, but that’s still conditional waiting on me to  behave differently and  consistently“)?

    anita

    #267727

    Howard
    Participant

    Anita,

    I’ve been  responsible for multiple situations where I spent bill money on more immediate “this will keep her happy, yes, hon we can do that” spending, even to the point of being in danger of foreclosure twice.

    Sunday she brought up a small thing I hadn’t done (a battery to replace) and the sharp tightness in my chest of a panic reaction made me realize I have a deep seated fear that all the EMDR hasn’t touched yet.

    I’ve realized ( put the most of it together very recently) that I’m the toxic side of our codependent spiral. Been reading like crazy to find advice on how to get out of my being the toxic one… but almost all of the advice around is how to break things off from us toxic people and not be the codependent anymore.  Found some things, but I’ve got a lot to ask my therapist about tomorrow morning.

    H

    #267733

    Lauren
    Participant

    First of all, how incredibly brave of you to even admit these things happen to you. It’s the first step.

    I’d say, step by step things can get better. It will be an ongoing process, but if you are both committed you can do it.

    One thing I do hear form your writing is how much you are angry with yourself for how the relationship has evolved. You’re taking responsibility for what happened and are taking steps to heal … the next step is to forgive yourself (IMHO).

     

    And … as is something I talk about a lot … try to make art around it? Even if you don’t share it with anyone. Writing, shooting some pictures or a video/vlog, might make you blow off some steam. I make comedy videos based on my sketch comedy characters and it’s helped me through a lot of healing!

    #267761

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Howard:

    You mean you tried hard  to make your wife happy by buying things for her or taking her out to expensive dinners  or vacations a and such but didn’t make enough money to afford it-

    Can you state exactly what it is that she  is angry with you about?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  anita.
    #267771

    Howard
    Participant

    Lauren,

    > … try to make art around it?

    LOL… one of the things my wife’s tried to get me to do over the past few months of counseling has been to “do something physical, something out of the usual, to show that I’m committed and serious”… paper crafts and other creative projects have been her strongest suggestions, and in the few spots when I can forget history, I’ve done some cool things, some lame things, and most often nothing as I get hopeless and afraid again.

    Just thinking about that track record has my hands shaking and heart beating… that’s what I need to undo (as the military would put it) NOW NOW NOW.

    Thanks for the long term advice though… adding healthier activities is going to help a lot.

     

    #267781

    Howard
    Participant

    Anita,

    Forget even vacations… I would spend bill money on dinner, groceries, evenings out or small presents (like we’d go to a craft fair and I’d buy her something she oo’ed over even though I knew the money should have gone to bills) and would be behind enough on bills over weeks or months that it would finally get out of my control and she’s had to use credit cards and loans to make up sometimes thousands in overdue payments… which I would never admit to or even mention until caught… and even then would claim I had a plan to catch things up even if it was obvious I couldn’t.  Like a part of my head was stuck having to say that I had everything covered, it was all going to be fine, even while we discussed how completely out of control I had gotten things.  I’ve been in full body sobbing tears swearing I would fix it even when I knew it wasn’t possible.

    Better than that now, but there’s still the core panic attack when “something serious” comes up, like Sunday.

    Her anger is mostly centered around how much time she’s lost going around this damage circle with me, the money we’ve had to waste fixing my blowouts, the lack of intimacy, respect, conversation, etc that has come about because of all this.

    #267807

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Howard:

    Reads to me that your wife left finances for you to take care of, that she did not deal  with that part and that  you were  overwhelmed with paying the bills as well as trying to please her with gifts and  such. I am not at all clear about the state of your relationship, the nature of the challenges there, but then, you may be clear about it yourself and if you are, you definitely don’t  need my clarity.

    The title of your thread has  the word Healing  in it, and  I am all for healing.  If there  is any particular input you would  like, please let me know what it  is.  I wish you Healing and courage to continue to heal.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  anita.
    #268195

    Lauren
    Participant

    Wait …. what do YOU want to do? It should really come from your own creative impulses. People can make suggestions but it’s really up to you. Take the bull by the horns and do it!!

    #268261

    Howard
    Participant

    Some extra history… over the prior months of therapy, we’ve identified that I have had what someone called the “never-angry” personality profile… I pathologically avoid confrontation, hide problems, present a shiny happy face until the festering issues blow up.

    So over the last three therapy sessions, I came to a huge (epiphany, I guess is the best word).  I finally said out loud “I’ve been completely spineless my whole life, and I don’t trust myself”

    Using EMDR, we got to the emotional root of those reactions, and a lot of self-hatred about the past abuse and abandonment was released, along with the physical panic/heart attack like symptoms that accompanied them.  Since Wednesday, I feel like I’ve dropped a thousand pounds of crap off of my soul, like I’m finally just me.

    Now it’s time to do that “being a real person with real feelings” thing, and work my way past the costs and fallout of my prior issues, and come out the other side into whatever real life I feel like.  (Plus or minus my medication side effects, her leftover anger, etc etc… but nothing insurmountable.

    #268357

    GL
    Participant

    I wonder if your wife wasn’t tire of pretending that everything was fine and dandy. I wonder if she wasn’t waiting for you to be open and honest with her about your financial issues, or any of your issues. I wonder how many times she wanted to start an argument just so she can see you finally be angry, or at least something other than yes or okay. I wonder how burdened she felt at times. But for whatever reason, you’re still together. And now that you’ve decided to confront your past demons, it’s time you sit down and talk with your wife, face to face. You’ve probably started to do so in your therapy sessions but that’s probably about your issues and her feelings about it. Hopefully, she has begin to aired her grievences and you acknowledging her struggles too. She’s mad? Okay, she has a lot of reason to be. Acknowledge that. Acknowledge your past actions and her reactions and go from there. That’s therapy, but for the last few years, how much have you two talked to each other? Other than trying to please her with material possessions, have you or her been asking each other simple questions like did you have an interesting dream last night, how was your day, what’s one thing you want to do before the year ends, etc.

    Right now, you can probably count this as a chapter in your life as the one where you acknowledge your childhood wounds, it’s a long process, and the focus will mostly be on you, but you can’t forget to acknowledge the role your wife has in this chapter. As with anything new, the water is murky and very deep in your case. So take this opportunity to thank your wife for going through it with you, regardless of the outcome. While also trying to give each other time, one of the most precious treasures because as I am typing this, everyone in this world is slowly dying, it’s just a matter of when. So give time, not possession, give attention, give words and make memories across or next to each other, you only have the now. You only have the now to acknowledge each other existence and time. Let her know, don’t hold back, not with everything you’ve went through. Talk, about anything and everything, what’s holding you or her back when it’s been so long already? Of course, she could cringe at whatever you’ve shared with her but it’s been 18 years between you two, what hasn’t she seen?

    P.s. could you not use the word pussy like that? Otherwise, I like to see males give birth through their anus.

    #268373

    anita
    Participant

    * Dear GL: I don’t see that word, the  p*&^, the word you asked the original poster to not use, I don’t see where  he  used it. The only place I see  this word on this thread is in your reply to him.

    Dear Howard:

    A summary of what  you shared: you are a man in your 50s. As a child, starting at the age  of nine, you were molested by a male  family friend. Your parents got divorced and used you as a pawn/ messenger in their long  bitter divorce process, maybe afterwards as well.

    You mentioned that you suffer from self hate as a result of the molestation and you have taken full responsibility for the failure of two major relationships before meeting your wife as well as the trouble in your current marriage (“I’m the toxic side… being the toxic one”). You list the following as your inadequacies: inability to  speak up for yourself, being spineless, is the word you used, hiding financial mistakes you made, hiding financial problems, lying that they  don’t exist. You made many of your financial mistakes, if I understand correctly, trying  to please your wife, “this will make her happy”, overspending to the point of sometimes thousands of bills not being paid and almost-foreclosure, twice.

    You wrote that you “pathologically avoid confrontation, hide problems, present  a shiny happy face until festering  issues blow up”.

    You’ve been in serious counseling since February, ten months now, many of the  sessions attended with your wife. Your wife is angry with you for lying to  you about financial matters, and in the past, knowing of the  lies, enjoyed your distress and got some satisfaction “watching me squirm” when confronted with  the  financial mistakes and problems. She doesn’t respect  you, and you believe that her respect will be conditional, “waiting on me to behave differently  and consistently”. You wrote that her anger is about the  money wasted and “the  lack of intimacy, respect, conversation, etc that has  come about because of all this”.

    My input: it is a good thing that you take responsibility for your contribution to the trouble in your marriage. Unless in your marriage you are indeed The Guilty One and she is The Innocent One, it  will be helpful if she takes  responsibility for  her wrongdoings in the marriage. Usually the two partners share  responsibility for the  success or the failure of a relationship.

    I hope  you do build trust in yourself to behave differently no matter how scared you feel, that your wife is willing and  somewhat empathetic to you, and so, when you feel scared and  you feel like lying to her and hiding matters, that you will share how you feel with her and the  two of you decide what to do together.

    I think that she has  to be  on top of financial matters in the marriage at this point, and not leave it up to you. Financial issues need to be arranged and  handled in such a way that  it is  impossible for you to  hide and lie.

    Hiring an attorney/accountant to manage your marital finances may be a very good idea.

    Healing from anxiety takes a long, long  time and a whole  lot of patience, no fast, easy and magical way  to do that. I hope you post again, anytime you’d like.

    anita

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