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I leave during arguments and its causing problems…

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  • #229453
    Tom
    Participant

    My girlfriend and I have been together for a year and two months.  Our arguments were hard for me because she was always aggressive and yelling at me.  It caused me to pretty much shut down when this was happening.  I was looking at her but I was just trying to not be there.  In one year I remember one argument where we were able to calmly talk our way through it and it was the only one that actually came to a good ending and a resolution.  I had a problem of leaving her house and going to mine when the arguments became too much for me.  This happened two times.  I went to my house and didn’t contact her for two days.  On the second day I always apologized and she told me that I have to stop doing that.  I need to let her know through text, or email, or phone call that I need space and that I am still willing to work on us.  I understood where she was coming from and vowed to try better.  We had another argument and I felt like I was being attacked again and instead of going home like I wanted to I went into the back bedroom and lied down next to her.  We took a nap and things calmed down.  I thought I did something good because we were calm when we woke up and we moved forward.  Later that day she told me how uncomfortable it was when I did that.  I didn’t understand and she didn’t elaborate, but I thought I did something good only to be told that it made her uncomfortable which I didn’t mean to do.  I think it may have been because she went to the bedroom for a place of space and I came into her space away from me.  That is only my guess.  I have told her that I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and screaming during arguments and I don’t do well with that type of argument.  She understood where I was coming from but was worried that she wouldn’t be able to change.  It was kind of like the “she is who she is concept.”  I do not set a lot of boundaries in our relationship but I think this may be the best thing for me.  Maybe when the next argument that happens I can just tell her that I will not listen to her yelling at me and if she wants to talk about things then I will be willing to listen as long as we are respectful to one another.  This is kind of what I was getting at by explaining my family history but I think I should try it by just setting a boundary.  Is anyone else as bothered as me when they are getting yelled at?  What do most people do when their partner is talking down to them or yelling at them during an argument?

    #229589
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    I would like to read and reply to your thread when I am back to the computer, which should be in about sixteen hours. I hope other members reply to you before I am  back.

    anita

    #229603
    Zoe
    Participant

    Hi Tom, I think I can relate to what you are going through. I also grew up in a family where there were a lot of arguments and my dad had a very scary explosive rage that I think I have been almost traumatised by. I also now struggle with a deep-seated fear of conflict and I will do anything to avoid it, including downplaying my own needs and not standing up for myself when I have been hurt. I can now see that my need to avoid conflict is really because I cannot accept the emotion of anger in myself. I became aware of this very recently, when I had very good reason to express anger at my ex and I could actually feel my body freezing up at the idea that I could express this anger spontaneously. I felt myself freeze until the anger subsided and then I was left with the feeling of being ‘in control’ again but not necessarily knowing how to respond anymore. I had reverted to just ‘thinking’ about what to do rather than just expressing naturally what I felt (and rightly so). And unfortunately the other side effect is that instead of acting decisively to get something off my chest and just deal with it, I hold back and then end up indecisive about what to do and lose all momentum. So perhaps that is what is happening with you too. When there is a conflict you feel that your own anger could emerge and that is such a scary thought that you retreat to a safe zone. What do you think?

    #229609
    Marnie
    Participant

    Tom,

    I was a person who avoid yelling and conflict too and I would leave when my husband would yell. We figured out how to deal with this by clearly setting boundaries and telling one another what we needed when there was an argument. I told my husband that yelling made me shut down and I need space when things begin to escalate. He agreed and we generally have much healthier disagreements and it doesn’t escalate as often.

    I think your idea of setting boundaries is a good one and it has worked for my relationships. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hiccups where you each fall into old routines, but boundaries make it happen less often. I wish you and your girlfriend all the best.

    Marnie

    #229623
    Tom
    Participant

    Zoe, thank you for responding.  What you wrote is a perfect description of what I go through.  I freeze up when the anger has gotten to its highest point.  I couldn’t say anything when this happened.  It was written all over my face that I was angry but I couldn’t say anything.  I couldn’t have written the way I feel better than you.  And even after the anger has subsided I go through the exact process that you mentioned where I lose momentum and go home to my safe zone.  It is painful to even think of how inept I am at being a regular person and dealing with issues like most people do.  I usually wait until I have calmed down and try and express my feelings and she always gets defensive and makes me feel like I don’t have a reason to be hurt.  I care about her feelings and show her respect when she is telling me something that is bothering her, but I don’t feel the same back to me.

    Marnie, thank you for responding also.  I will try to set boundaries like you suggested and see if that helps out.  I understand that it is not going to work perfect every time but I think it could help.

    #229633
    Tom
    Participant

    Anita….I found a writing from you a long time ago.  I hope you don’t mind if I share it.

    “The scientific explanation would be that when you are traumatized in childhood, when you are really, really scared and there is nobody to comfort you, and maybe you are scared a lot of the time, that fear STICKS to your brain in the form of connections between brain cells, neurons. That fear is activated during your life even though you are not in the childhood situation any more. It gets activated AS IF the danger still exists, seeing danger where there is not, and seeing way more danger in situations that are not very dangerous. Someone getting angry at you seems dangerous but it is often not dangerous, for example.

    This kind of activation and reactivity is what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The trauma of the past keeps getting re-activated, somehow, through healing, you relax those pathways and remove the trauma from the present
    to the past.  Once the memories of the trauma, the emotional memory of the trauma moves locations in the brain, from the Present to the Past, you stop being afraid in the present for what happened in the past.”

    I don’t know how old I was at the time, I feel like I was 5 or 6.  My dad had come home and I was in trouble for something.  I knew he was coming for me so I ran to my room and hid under my bed.  I remember trying to be quiet and his legs and shoes is all I could see.  He was very mad at the time.  I could feel his anger in the room.  I had a large toy on the ground and he kicked it and it flew against the wall.  I don’t remember being caught or dragged out after that.  I do remember times where I was in trouble and he had a beat red face and would lower himself to get in my face and start jabbing his finger into my chest.  I remember seeing the anger in his eyes.  It scared me when I was a kid.

    I don’t know if this could be causing me problems in the present but I do know that when I was young I was scared of my dad’s anger.  The change of his complexion, the look in his eyes, everything about it scared me.

    #229735
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    “I have told her that I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and screaming during arguments and I don’t do well with that type of argument”- no human does well with this type of argument. All humans (no exception) are scared of aggression regardless of their childhood. As a matter of fact, all animals are afraid of aggression.

    “Is anyone else as bothered as me when they are getting yelled at?”- it is difficult to compare subjective experiences, but I assure you, unless a person is on heavy duty tranquilizers (maybe), everyone is very bothered being yelled at.

    “What do most people do when their partner is talking down to them or yelling at them during an argument?- some leave for a while, some leave for a  long time, others never return. Some zone out best they can, trying hard to not hear the words, repeating words or a song in their head so to not hear the put downs (I did), others yell in return, put down the other. Some hit. Others get drunk. There are probably reactions I didn’t think of at the moment.

    Your experience with your father, that may have caused you to believe that you deserve aggression and that may be why you stay with your girlfriend. It may have made you believe that there is nothing you can do and you have to be there (your really did have to be there as a child). This may be why you stay with your girlfriend.

    There is no possible way for you to.. adjust healthily to her yelling, put down and any other aggressive behavior on her part. It is impossible. The good news is that you don’t have to  be there.

    At the most, state to her that if she yells at you one more time, or puts you down one more time (be specific about the aggressive behaviors you list to her), then you will end the relationship with her and not go back. This is the most I would do in trying to continue the relationship with her.

    It is possible for an abusive person to immediately stop abusing another.

    Then if it happens one more time, you end the relationship and you  don’t go back.

    anita

    #229859
    Tom
    Participant

    Anita, thank you for taking the time to write this.  That is interesting what you mentioned about feeling like I have to stay with my girlfriend because I deserve aggression.  That thought had never crossed my mind.  I was just looking at why I would leave when I was getting yelled at, but I failed to look at why I was returning in the first place.  I had accepted the idea that the yelling was just a part of the relationship.  I had spoken to a girlfriend of mine and she said that when things start getting heated her and her husband just take a break and come back to it when they are calm.  I can handle calm arguments where you discuss your viewpoint on a certain situation and figure out a solution.   Yelling at me never brings a solution.  I do feel a better knowing how you explained it that no one does well under these circumstances.  I will have to tell her that I will not tolerate being yelled at again and tell her that I will leave if it happens again.  I am definitely willing to tell her this, but I worry how she is going to take it.  I hope it is enough to cause her to control her anger more.  Thank you again!

    #229891
    HoneyBlossom
    Participant

    Dear Tom,

    I too grew up in a family where there was a lot of yelling.  As an adult,  I really dislike being around yelling. Whilst there may be somr situations occasionally such as work,  I choose not to have aggressive people in my life.

     

    I have had volatile partners of varying degrees in my life,  and I have turned my back on all of that.  My current love interest is a quiet man who says he does not like drama.  He too does not like yelling.

     

    He is the quitest,  calmest man I have been with so far,  and that is the biggest attraction for me.  He says he is attracted to my kindness. There are other attractions between us,  and Im hoping this is going to be long-term.  It is so much nicer to be with a person like that.

     

    Life is short.  We should spend our time with people who ee can dhare peace and happiness with.

    #229915
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    You are welcome. “I will have to tell her that I will not tolerate being yelled at again and tell her that I will leave if it happens again”- good plan.

    “I worry how she is going to take it”- how do you think she may take it/ what is it that you are afraid that will happen if you tell her the above?

    anita

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