Menu

Husband’s interactions with online female friend

HomeForumsRelationshipsHusband’s interactions with online female friend

New Reply
Viewing 7 posts - 31 through 37 (of 37 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #408897
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Sadlyconfused:

    I re-read my reply of 4 days ago and I want to add to it. “It’s the fear of the unpleasant sensations of anxiety and shame that I fear more than the actual situation“-

    The only things we (humans and other animals) fear is painful/ very distressing emotions. All actual situations (objective reality) are translated into emotion (subjective reality). When facing a predator in the woods, a potential prey will run away- not because of the mere sight/ sound/ smell of the predator (the sensed objective reality), but because the resulting fear is so intense, so distressing, that the animal is very highly motivated to get rid of that intense fear, and the way to get rid of it the quickest is to immediately run away to safety and as quickly possible.

    Shame is a combination of a very painful emotion and thoughts, it is a bit more complex than fear, but still: what we fear is not the objective reality but the emotion of shame. We do what we do to get rid of shame as quickly as possible. A very important part of healing is to distinguish between actual situations that present us with real, clear-and-present-danger, and situations that are not dangerous, yet they activate intense fear in us as if they were dangerous. Same thing with shame: to distinguish between situations where we really wronged others and situations where … we didn’t but we feel as if we did.

    As far as the painful mental-emotional habit of feeling shame when not doing wrong to others (or feeling intense shame for small wrongdoings, or for normal mistakes and/ or feeling intense shame regardless and long after we apologized and made amends), it is important to go back in time and figuratively hand that shame back to the shaming authority figure (usually a parent) where the shame belongs. In my case, I went back in time and handed my mother the shame that belongs to her. It is not a one-time visualization, but a repeated one. I am doing it again right now, as I type these words: in my mind’s eye, I see my mother and I say to her: This is your shame… not mine. I mistakenly carried your shame on my shoulders all these years… but it was never mine! I then place that package of shame by her feet and I walk away, leaving her and her shame behind me.

    anita

     

    #408923
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Sadlyconfused,

    you are very welcome. I’ve been meaning to write to you earlier, but had to attend to some things this week and didn’t have that much time.

    Yeah, my husband is kind, affectionate and dependable so I do feel safe with him. I know it is generally said that daughters of abusive fathers will often pick spouses who have the same traits. I think I turned it on its head a little bit in that I didn’t follow this pattern, however subconsciously I kind of expected more of the same.

    I was pleased to hear that your husband is very different from your late father! In the beginning I was concerned that your husband might have some similarity with your father and not respect you enough. This was for the exact same reason that you mentioned: that we often choose partners who remind us of our parents. But it’s not the rule, because sometimes we seek partners who are the opposite of our parents, who can give us what our parents couldn’t… anyway, I am glad that you chose well!

    My father passed away back in August and we hadn’t spoken for years.

    I can imagine that you were relieved when your father passed away. Even if you weren’t on speaking terms for years prior to his death, you never knew what to to expect from him, because he was capable of doing nasty things, such as popping up at your office and making a scene. And so you were in a constant state of stress…

    He wouldn’t take ownership of his behaviour or try to change it for the better, so sadly there was no way of having any meaningful relationship with him.

    I know what you mean, because my mother is similar – she also doesn’t believe she did anything wrong in the way she raised me. In her mind, she is the victim and I am the villain, so there isn’t much base for an honest relationship. We do have a superficial contact, we see each other once or twice per year (I live in another country), and that’s it. Nothing deeper is possible, because she would immediately start blaming me. So unfortunately I need to keep my guard up, and our relationship is very very limited.

    When I learned he was ill I was considering the possibility of reconnecting with him in a way that would have been surface level and required lots of boundaries, but he passed away very suddenly. Honestly, now he’s gone it’s been easier to grieve for the lack of relationship fully and to be kinder to myself about how everything went down. For years I felt a lot of shame and blamed myself for it all but I now see that I was between a rock and hard place when it came to him.

    I totally understand you when you say you could have only reconnected on the surface level, and with lots of boundaries – that’s exactly how my relationship is with my mother in the past 3-4 years. Because I’ve realized there cannot be anything deeper.

    Your father sounds like he was even more toxic than my mother. And so it’s totally understandable that you cut contact completely in the years prior to his death. Because you needed to protect yourself. Because each contact meant exposing yourself to more “poison”, and you didn’t want that.

    So please don’t blame yourself for cutting contact – it’s was a self-protection measure. You did the right thing. If he had truly changed and wanted to repair the relationship before his death, he would have reached out to you. But he didn’t… It is sad, but if the parent is so blind and their heart so closed, there is nothing we can do.

    One thing I’ve struggled with ever since I was a child is the feeling of unworthiness when I fear something innocuous, like a conversation with what I perceive to be an authority figure (for example, a GP), and the panic symptoms start to arise. I’ve only recently started to understand that there are probably little nuances to tone of voice or the setting that my brain links back to previous trauma (probably involving either my father or old school teachers), then when the physical sensations happen (flushed face, trembling voice) it turns into panic and shame over having such an ‘over the top’ reaction. It’s hard because I think people genuinely are confused by it, or take it personally, and I end up feeling ashamed of it.

    Flushed face was my constant companion too, ever since primary school! I was sooo embarrassed of it, it made me feel like a freak, because it sometimes happened without any reason, when I wasn’t in a triggering situation at all. Like during class in secondary school – I was just sitting in my chair, listening to the teacher, and I felt my cheeks burning, and it was soooo uncomfortable.

    I hated myself for having so reactive skin because in my mind, it revealed my shame and anxiety to everyone. I couldn’t fake it, I couldn’t pretend I was fine – because it was visible on my face that I wasn’t fine at all!

    Later I’ve realized that I was so deeply ashamed of myself (due to my mother’s years of heavy criticism) that this shame became a key part of my personality. As John Bradshaw said, I was a person based on toxic shame. I was ashamed of even taking up space and walking this earth. Really. My “being” – simply sitting in the classroom, listening to the teacher – was interlaced with shame. And this shame produced a stress reaction in me, which in turned caused my cheeks to flush. This only reinforced the shame because now I had one more reason to be ashamed of myself!

    Come to think about it, I was in a constant state of stress, because I believed there was something “terribly wrong” with me. And flushed cheeks only confirmed it. I was trapped in a vicious circle!

    In reality, there was nothing wrong with me. I was lovable and worthy, but I didn’t know it, because my mother told me differently. I was ashamed of myself because my mother told me I should be ashamed of myself. Probably it was similar with your father. He was shaming you left and right, and you absorbed that message!

    When I started working on myself, slowly healing the shame, realizing that I was lovable and there is nothing wrong with me… my cheeks also became less reactive. I wasn’t flushing so easily any more. I wasn’t anxious all the time when among people. I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking in front of many people, but at least I am comfortable in my own skin, being myself. And even when I need to express myself in a group, it’s fine. I can do it without freaking out because I know that I am fine and that there is nothing wrong with me.

    So I believe that as you work on healing your shame, as you accept yourself more and more, your physical symptoms will lessen too. Because they are the consequence of the toxic shame that your father instilled in you… Once that is gone, the symptoms will be much less intense. And even if they appear, those symptoms will be less disturbing for you, because you’ll have greater compassion for yourself. You won’t hate yourself for your flushed cheeks and your trembling voice, but you’ll have compassion for yourself…

    In fact, you may try it even now: before going into a triggering situation, where you know you’ll experience those physical sensations, try to talk to yourself with compassion and understanding. Perhaps you can talk to yourself like you would talk to a child: “It’s okay, dear. You are fine. I love you very much. And I accept you completely. Every bit of you, including your flushed cheeks and your trembling voice. You are perfect to me. And you are doing great! ”

    Try experimenting with that, and see how it feels in your body….

     

    #409066
    Sadlyconfused
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you very much for both your responses. I really appreciate you continuing to take the time out to respond to me!

    imagine that you have a child whose face is flushed and voice trembles.. you wouldn’t shame the child for these things, saying something like: what is wrong with you?! Why is your face flushed?! etc. Instead, you’d express empathy for the anxious child (and the child will calm down as a result). Next time your face flushes etc., try to peel off the shame about the symptoms from the fear that caused the symptoms, so that what remains is the fear itself. You can deal with the fear better without the shame getting stuck to it like hair on soap!

    Yeah, I wouldn’t dream of shaming a child for being so blatantly afraid. My father mocked me for it in front of other people (even into adulthood), so I think there’s a secondary shame attached in that my own parent rejected me for who I was. I was fortunate in having a generally well-meaning mother, but even she pushed me to achieve constantly and didn’t seem able to just accept me simply for who I was at my core. I like your advice about separating the shame about the symptoms from the fear that caused the symptoms. I think I’ll probably journal about this and see what comes up!

    Shame is a combination of a very painful emotion and thoughts, it is a bit more complex than fear, but still: what we fear is not the objective reality but the emotion of shame. We do what we do to get rid of shame as quickly as possible. A very important part of healing is to distinguish between actual situations that present us with real, clear-and-present-danger, and situations that are not dangerous, yet they activate intense fear in us as if they were dangerous. Same thing with shame: to distinguish between situations where we really wronged others and situations where … we didn’t but we feel as if we did.

    Thank you so much for breaking all this down, it’s really helpful. Yes, working out where exactly my responsiblity lies in how I’ve treated others is a big one for me. An example of this is a former work friend who I’ve lost touch with and who I’ve been thinking probably thinks I’m not a nice person for not putting more effort in, but the reality is that for a number of years messages back and forth naturally became increasingly sparse on both sides as we went different ways in life and developed different priorities. My default reaction is to feel shame whenever I think about it, but when this happens I’m trying to be a bit more balanced about it rather than blaming myself entirely. I think it’s probably natural to feel some guilt over my lack of contact, but my shame reaction and over-responsibility are trauma based and not in keeping with the facts of the situation. I’m trying to be a bit more sympathetic towards myself in scenarios such as that as I have a tendency to take far too much responsibility.

    As far as the painful mental-emotional habit of feeling shame when not doing wrong to others (or feeling intense shame for small wrongdoings, or for normal mistakes and/ or feeling intense shame regardless and long after we apologized and made amends), it is important to go back in time and figuratively hand that shame back to the shaming authority figure (usually a parent) where the shame belongs. In my case, I went back in time and handed my mother the shame that belongs to her. It is not a one-time visualization, but a repeated one. I am doing it again right now, as I type these words: in my mind’s eye, I see my mother and I say to her: This is your shame… not mine. I mistakenly carried your shame on my shoulders all these years… but it was never mine! I then place that package of shame by her feet and I walk away, leaving her and her shame behind me.

    I love that you handed the shame back to your mother and were able to place it back exactly where it belonged! To do this and truly start to believe it must be really empowering. Over time and with repetition does the message in this visualization become more automatic? Currently I get caught up in analysing things and looking for evidence of where I might have been the problem.

    This all feels a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion. I’ve been thinking about my core wound a lot and I think it’s very much a childlike “I’m bad” or “I’m going to get into trouble”. It’s based on a time when I genuinely probably would have been getting into trouble all the time, merely for being a child and existing. I had never actually done anything very wrong, so I assumed I was terribly flawed. Added to that is the secondary shame of having been bullied for my shame reactions by my father, sibling, people at school and a particularly nasty teacher. Then on top of that there’s been my own rejection of myself as an adult, wondering why I have such extreme reactions and why I’m so weird, then becoming hyper-focused on how I act around people for fear of being rejected.

    Sorry if writing all this out is a lot, I’m having quite a few realisations and lightbulb moments just lately but don’t want to trauma dump or have anyone feel obliged to respond if any of it’s a bit much! Thank you once again for sharing your insights.

    #409067
    Sadlyconfused
    Participant

    Hi Tee,

    That’s ok and understandable, thank you for your post!

    I can imagine that you were relieved when your father passed away. Even if you weren’t on speaking terms for years prior to his death, you never knew what to to expect from him, because he was capable of doing nasty things, such as popping up at your office and making a scene. And so you were in a constant state of stress…

    Absolutely, I was always safe enough physically but I’m only just starting to see now that I’m mentally and spiritually safe too. No-one’s out there spreading untrue rumours or leaving guilt trips for me anymore (he loved dumping old childhood schoolwork and photo albums on my doorstep). I’m now feeling the physical impact of having been so on edge constantly, but it’s so good to be able to truly aim to relax now.

    I know what you mean, because my mother is similar – she also doesn’t believe she did anything wrong in the way she raised me. In her mind, she is the victim and I am the villain, so there isn’t much base for an honest relationship. We do have a superficial contact, we see each other once or twice per year (I live in another country), and that’s it. Nothing deeper is possible, because she would immediately start blaming me. So unfortunately I need to keep my guard up, and our relationship is very very limited.

    Yeah, I don’t blame you for keeping your guard up and I completely understand what you must go through with your mother. You try to come up with so many ways to try to make the relationship workable and ultimately the only thing you can do is distance yourself in order to have some kind of peace. I think if I had had greater distance from my father then I would have done the same but because he lived so close he would have just amped up the random visits to home and workplace.

    Your father sounds like he was even more toxic than my mother. And so it’s totally understandable that you cut contact completely in the years prior to his death. Because you needed to protect yourself. Because each contact meant exposing yourself to more “poison”, and you didn’t want that.

    So please don’t blame yourself for cutting contact – it’s was a self-protection measure. You did the right thing. If he had truly changed and wanted to repair the relationship before his death, he would have reached out to you. But he didn’t… It is sad, but if the parent is so blind and their heart so closed, there is nothing we can do.

    Thank you for this, in the later years I became more accepting of the situation but for the first three years or so I felt awful. You’re exactly right, I recognised that I needed time and space to heal a lot of wounds but I just couldn’t do this when he was reopening them constantly (and seeming to take delight in doing so…I think that’s ultimately how I mustered up enough self protective anger to distance myself).

    I hated myself for having so reactive skin because in my mind, it revealed my shame and anxiety to everyone. I couldn’t fake it, I couldn’t pretend I was fine – because it was visible on my face that I wasn’t fine at all!

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve (or rather, your face!) and having no control over it. It leaves you feeling so vulnerable and exposed around people who aren’t always very kind about it.

    Later I’ve realized that I was so deeply ashamed of myself (due to my mother’s years of heavy criticism) that this shame became a key part of my personality. As John Bradshaw said, I was a person based on toxic shame. I was ashamed of even taking up space and walking this earth. Really. My “being” – simply sitting in the classroom, listening to the teacher – was interlaced with shame. And this shame produced a stress reaction in me, which in turned caused my cheeks to flush. This only reinforced the shame because now I had one more reason to be ashamed of myself!

    Come to think about it, I was in a constant state of stress, because I believed there was something “terribly wrong” with me. And flushed cheeks only confirmed it. I was trapped in a vicious circle!

    That hit home. I had both adults and other pupils be cruel about it when I was at school, then at home some of my family would mock me for it too. It wasn’t constant but I think it happened enough on separate occasions to leave a lasting impact. The kids I can forgive because they were insecure bullies, but the fact that there wasn’t a single, empathetic adult to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with me meant that it became more of a complex than it should have done. I feel so angry at them as a I recall it, which is probably a healthy reaction!

    In reality, there was nothing wrong with me. I was lovable and worthy, but I didn’t know it, because my mother told me differently. I was ashamed of myself because my mother told me I should be ashamed of myself. Probably it was similar with your father. He was shaming you left and right, and you absorbed that message!

    When I started working on myself, slowly healing the shame, realizing that I was lovable and there is nothing wrong with me… my cheeks also became less reactive. I wasn’t flushing so easily any more. I wasn’t anxious all the time when among people. I still don’t feel completely comfortable talking in front of many people, but at least I am comfortable in my own skin, being myself. And even when I need to express myself in a group, it’s fine. I can do it without freaking out because I know that I am fine and that there is nothing wrong with me.

    So I believe that as you work on healing your shame, as you accept yourself more and more, your physical symptoms will lessen too. Because they are the consequence of the toxic shame that your father instilled in you… Once that is gone, the symptoms will be much less intense. And even if they appear, those symptoms will be less disturbing for you, because you’ll have greater compassion for yourself. You won’t hate yourself for your flushed cheeks and your trembling voice, but you’ll have compassion for yourself…

    In fact, you may try it even now: before going into a triggering situation, where you know you’ll experience those physical sensations, try to talk to yourself with compassion and understanding. Perhaps you can talk to yourself like you would talk to a child: “It’s okay, dear. You are fine. I love you very much. And I accept you completely. Every bit of you, including your flushed cheeks and your trembling voice. You are perfect to me. And you are doing great! ”

    Try experimenting with that, and see how it feels in your body….

    Thank you so much for sharing your positive outcome with healing your shame, it’s so reassuring that your cheeks became less reactive as your self-compassion grew! I’ll aim to get into the habit of speaking to myself kindly before doing things I know are likely to trigger me. I think at the moment I get preoccupied with the discomfort of feeling panic and have been feeling that anything kind I try to tell myself will have no impact, so it helps to read that someone else has been through it and managed to make such inroads with healing. If you don’t mind me asking, how long do you think it took you to start noticing that your change in self-talk was having a positive impact? I can’t imagine being completely comfortable in my own skin; it feels so distant to me at the moment!

    #409069
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Sadlyconfused:

    You are very welcome. When I read this sentence “This all feels a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion“, and before I read the rest of your post, I had to tell you that this is what my last and best quality therapist (2011-13) used to say in regard to what therapy is about (except that he didn’t say “a bit”). I forgot that he said this, and remembered only when you brought up the same imagery. It took me back a decade.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t dream of shaming a child“- you can’t imagine choosing to shame a child, but shaming oneself is not a choice, not as long as it continues to be automatic, a business as usual, sort of thing… a habit.

    My shame reaction and over-responsibility are trauma based and not in keeping with the facts of the situation“- the trauma based emotional reactions are mental-emotional habits. These habits do not consider current situations if they are different from past, trauma-based situations. These habits persist simply because they exist.

    Newton’s first law of motion, paraphrased: a body remains at rest, or in motion (at a constant speed in a straight line), unless acted upon by a force. Newton’s first law expresses the principle of inertia: the tendency to remain unchanged. Same that applies to physics also applies to our thoughts, emotions and behaviors: unless a force interrupts our habitual thinking, feeling and behaving, these remain unchanged.

    I’m trying to be a bit more balanced about it rather than blaming myself entirely…  I’m trying to be a bit more sympathetic towards myself in scenarios such as that as I have a tendency to take far too much responsibility“-

    blaming yourself entirely and taking far too much responsibility are your mental habits. The forces acting on these habits (the forces you choose to make use of)  are balanced thinking and sympathy toward yourself.

    I love that you handed the shame back to your mother and were able to place it back exactly where it belonged!“- thank you. The visualization is a force acting on my mental habits. I am visualizing this again, right now: I placed the package of shame at her feet, I see her face looking down at the package, it is not blaming or hateful (I did not plan to visualize this part). She is looking down at the package. I don’t want her to look at me.. but here, she just looked at me and her hate returned. I can’t change her, can’t change her hate and I don’t want to ever hope for such change because that hope kept me stuck for too long. So, I place the package down, she looks at it with no emotion on her face other than a bit of curiosity. I turn my back to her and to the shame and I walk away in the opposite direction, never to go back:  not to her, not to the shame (the two are the same).

    “Over time and with repetition does the message in this visualization become more automatic?“- as you can see right above, the visualization does not remain static, it evolves: the message evolves.

    I’ve been thinking about my core wound a lot and I think it’s very much a childlike ‘I’m bad’ or ‘I’m going to get into trouble‘”- your mental habits were established in a child’s brain, based on the circumstances of there-and-then.

    I assumed I was terribly flawed. Added to that is the secondary shame of having been bullied for my shame reactions by my father, sibling, people at school and a particularly nasty teacher. Then on top of that there’s been my own rejection of myself..“- it’s like a ball of dirt (shame) rolling down a mountain, gathering more and more shame as it rolls down, becoming bigger and bigger.

    Sorry if writing all this out is a lot, I’m having quite a few realisations and lightbulb moments just lately, but don’t want to trauma dump or have anyone feel obliged to respond if any of it’s a bit much!“- you are so considerate, thank you. But no, your sharing has the opposite effect of trauma-dumping (a new term for me): it helps me remove more of that shame-dirt from that ball of dirt: it is as if together, we are pushing that ball up the mountain, and it gets smaller and smaller, thank you!

    anita

    #409151
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Sadlyconfused,

    you are very welcome!

    It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve (or rather, your face!) and having no control over it. It leaves you feeling so vulnerable and exposed around people who aren’t always very kind about it.

    Added to that is the secondary shame of having been bullied for my shame reactions by my father, sibling, people at school and a particularly nasty teacher.

    I had the luck that my mother (or my father) didn’t shame me for blushing. And neither did my teachers. I am not sure about my classmates, I don’t think they teased me for blushing either, since my blushing started mostly in secondary school, and they weren’t as cruel as some of my classmates in primary school. So I don’t recall having been teased for blushing (although I did believe that everybody thought of me as a freak because of that!)

    You unfortunately were shamed by your father, your sibling, a particularly nasty teacher and your classmates. That’s very very hard and I feel for you.

    The kids I can forgive because they were insecure bullies, but the fact that there wasn’t a single, empathetic adult to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with me meant that it became more of a complex than it should have done. I feel so angry at them as a I recall it, which is probably a healthy reaction!

    Definitely, it must have been devastating for you. Not just the children bullied you, but also the authorities figures, whom you admired and looked up to. In fact, this teacher should have been called to responsibility for his unprofessional behavior…  Your classmates were probably encouraged by his attitude, and therefore felt free to mock you even more.

    You said you had a well-meaning mother, but it seems that she didn’t protect you from this kind of shaming? Have you told her about this nasty teacher? What was her reaction?

    I feel so angry at them as a I recall it, which is probably a healthy reaction!

    And you should feel angry! This teacher should have lost his job! And your father – well, he really was a cruel, heartless man.  A sadistic man, I should say. I think it would be good if you could express your anger in a safe, therapeutic setting, because it will help you to build the capacity to say no, to set boundaries in the future. To not allow people to bully you and disrespect you.

    Thank you so much for sharing your positive outcome with healing your shame, it’s so reassuring that your cheeks became less reactive as your self-compassion grew! …If you don’t mind me asking, how long do you think it took you to start noticing that your change in self-talk was having a positive impact?

    You are very welcome. I think I took me a few years of intense work on myself. But I think the largest impact was when I started feeling compassion for my inner child – that’s when I could slowly let go of that core shame and of the core belief that “something’s terribly wrong with me”. When I no longer believed that I am defective at my core, I could relax more and it didn’t feel like torture to simply sit among people, or in a lecture, or at a public event.

    I’ll aim to get into the habit of speaking to myself kindly before doing things I know are likely to trigger me. I think at the moment I get preoccupied with the discomfort of feeling panic and have been feeling that anything kind I try to tell myself will have no impact, so it helps to read that someone else has been through it and managed to make such inroads with healing.

    Perhaps it would help you to do some EFT tapping (EFT – emotional freedom technique). I haven’t tried it personally because I didn’t know about it at the time, but apparently it helps to calm our nervous system.

    Dr Nicole Lepera, a clinical psychologist, has a youtube video about it, titled: “Emotional freedom technique (EFT)”. You tap on 9 meridian points, while telling yourself “Even though I am feeling anxious, I deeply love and accept myself.” Perhaps this method has a stronger effect than just speaking to yourself kindly, because it involves working on the nervous system too.

     

    #409893
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Sadlyconfused:

    I hope you are well, and no longer sadly confused. Are you?

    anita

Viewing 7 posts - 31 through 37 (of 37 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Please log in OR register.