Monday, October 17, 2005

Warning, veeeeeery long post.

I struggle with the impact living in this environment must have on Em every day. It's gut-wrenching and abusive, and it's just as much my fault as it is his, maybe more so. I say that because I can at least recognize that this is unacceptable, whereas he sees nothing abnormal about it whatsoever. It's not fair to her, she didn't choose this, and she is helpless against it. She also knows that not all daddies act like hers, in fact we talk a lot about the stuff that goes on here. She's asked me why he is the way he is, and why other daddies aren't this way. But you know what she's never asked me? Why do I put up with it, or why do I stay married to him. She doesn't ask this because, bottom line, he's her daddy and she loves him from the bottom of her heart. And the thought of us getting divorced scares the shit out of her. She would be completely devastated without him. You have to keep in mind, he isn't constantly like this. When he makes a point to spend time with her, and he's in a good mood, he's actually the "fun" one. In fact, she'd much rather do stuff with daddy because he overindulges her, whereas I'm usually the heavy. He uses toys, junk food, and extravagant outings in an effort to make up for his own meager upbringing, I'm sure, but to her it's fantastic, I mean what more could a girl ask for, ya know? I also just want to clarify that it isn't always like this, there are many good, or at least more normal times. Yes, we may walk on eggshells around him, and that's no way to live, but he and I do get along about a lot of different subjects, and can talk openly as long as it's not about anything really important. We do have fun as a family and I have to give him credit for being a fiercely loyal and devoted husband and father. I have never once questioned his fidelity or his desire to provide for us and keep our family unite strong and intact. Those are, without question, his biggest priorities, and I believe his heart and intentions are in the right place, however misguided they might be. I can see how horribly unbearable my living situation must surely appear because, until now, it has been completely one-sided. Simply because I don't typically feel compelled to write about the "good" or "normal" times. It's the bad days that require this outlet to vent my anger and frustrations. So, of course, it must seem like I live with a tyrant 24/7. And as much as I hate to admit it, that's really just not the case. Of course, I also don't want to appear as though I'm defending his behavior, or trying to make the way he treats us sound okay because that wouldn't be the truth either. It is unacceptable, but it is certainly not constant.

I truly am sorry for having unrealistic expectations of trying to carry out my private struggles in a public forum without having to face the inevitable questions and differing opinions of my actions. As I've said, perceived criticism is very difficult for me to face, and I tend to avoid it at all cost. I guess that's one of the major reasons why I never divulge the truth about m life in the "real world". I just can't handle other's reactions to what, in all honesty, could be a completely changeable situation. But, as I've said before, I have my reasons for staying, and whether they are good ones or not, they are real and binding to me. And for now I must continue to stand by my decisions. I don't know yet what the future may hold, but I am hopeful that my situation will change in a way that will allow me find happiness and be content, whether it's in this marriage or on our own. For now this is the only decision I can, and am willing to make, and this is how it has to be. I know Bub well enough to know that his reaction to a separation/divorce would be more detrimental to us than simply trying to cope with or improve our current situation. It may not be fair, but that's just the man he is, and I have to take that into account. If or when the circumstances change, and other actions may be taken, I will gladly welcome the opportunity. I know a lot of people may not understand my decisions, but I suspect that quite a few of you, who've been stuck in similar situations, can probably totally relate. I don't for a second think I'm completely alone in this, or that others wouldn't or haven't had to make the same kind of shameful, heart-wrenching choices. It's sad, but I suspect so many more women live like this than we're willing to let on about. I do wish this wasn't my life, but I got myself in this situation, and wishing it away isn't going to make a bit of difference. For now, I must deal with it in the best way I know how, so that's what I will continue to do. And in doing so, I will continue to protect Em and "save her from him" to the absolute best of my ability, given the less than optimal circumstances. She knows she is loved, she knows she is safe, and she knows she must tread lightly around her father, and she accepts that.

As for my letter to Bub, I hadn't been able to work on it all weekend because... well, because life gets in the way on the weekends, but it had gotten off to a fairly good start. I have to admit though, I'd lost some of the initial oomph that drove me so fiercely in the beginning, and I'd started to fear that I may be chickening out all together. It's almost as if I needed to experience another "episode" in order to re-focus my attention on it. Which, I think is due in part to my acute denial of my overall living situation. When an episode is all over I tend to try to put it behind me as quickly as possible and pretend everything is fine again. It's hard for me to work up the emotion it takes for me to be brave and pour my heart out to him unless I'm still caught up in the moment. I guess I just don't like to go to such a painfully raw and shameful place if I don't absolutely have to, which, of course, is only natural. But then something interesting happened. He started in again last (Sunday) night about something, IMO, totally pointless, and just another example of his unreasonable expectations and demeaning behavior, but this time I saw something else, I saw the frustration he was having at trying to get a point across to me that he's brought up over and over again. His basic argument was that he was asking my (literal, as in he genuinely wanted to know) opinion about what we needed to do with the kittens as they are now too big to keep cooped up in a confined area. He gave his suggestion and wanted to know if it was fine with me, and then, naturally expected me to offer up my own suggestions if it wasn't fine with me. Remember, this man is a very cut and dry, logical, analytically thinking individual; he says what he means and means what he says, no playing games. I, of course, am not, so in my mind I'm thinking this is obviously what he wants to do, and from past experience I seem to be totally incapable of winning a debate if my opinion differs. So instead of even considering what I truly want, and in an effort to please him as always, I automatically start asking questions about how to go about implementing his suggestion as if I were actually interested in considering the idea, rather than just offering up my own opinions and ideas. So then, when I finally relinquish that I really don't want to do it his way, he gets pissed! Pissed for wasting his time, for once again not taking him at his word, for not doing what he was simply asking (giving my opinion) and for filtering it into what I think he wants from me. When all he freaking wanted was for me to say what I mean and mean what I say. Ah-ha! A little insight into the workings of a brain so totally foreign to me. So then he's off, he's mad, he's yelling and demeaning, sarcastic and disrespectful, and also, I notice, at a breaking point. He's upset and simply tired of butting his head into a wall with me, and he can't take it anymore. This is interesting, to say the least, to see the same kind of desperate frustration I feel with him, from his perspective. So, once he's calmed down a bit, we're able to talk, yes talk, meaning I actually spoke up and voiced some of my frustrations with the way he attempts to deal with me, and to clarify how I define respect, which, of course, is completely different for him. What I feel is harsh, demeaning, shameful, and ultimately not being good enough, is simply his practical way of getting his point across about things he doesn't like. He actually didn't realize that in doing so, he was evoking these kinds of feelings in me. In fact, he said he's been purposefully pointing things out and nit picking as a practical way to make me aware of the things I'm saying and doing. He thought it was being helpful because surely I must want to know every single little thing I'm doing wrong, right?! But that's the way he thinks of it because that's the logical thing to do to better yourself. OMG! He's a freak of nature! It's like his emotions very rarely play into his thinking, and I'm the complete opposite. Almost every thing I do is emotion driven. He also gave a lot of examples (of course, being the skilled debater he is) of how we've been perceiving things differently. Like when I feel like he's criticizing my driving, he's actually asking me why I do this or that because that's not the way he would have done it and he genuinely wants to know why I do, in an effort to understand how I work more efficiently. So, when he asks why I chose to go this way instead of that, I can say because I prefer to, and give my reason. Then if he doesn't agree, it doesn't really matter because it's just his opinion, and I'm not expected to automatically go the way he wants, or even to do it that way next time, which is how I've always felt was expected in the past. I think one of the problems is that I've been busy reading much more into him than there really is. All along I've been trying to figure out what he really wants, when the fact is, he freaking said what he really wants to begin with! I can see now, why he always says I'm not listening. I've been filtering what he says and does to fit into the way I think, and there's no way that can possibly work! DUH! Anyway, we talked for a veeeeery long time, and even though I still don't like him, as a person, and generally wouldn't choose to spend my time with him if I didn't have to, at least I think we understand each other a little bit better now. And I think he may actually realize how demeaning his approach has been making me feel, although not to it's fullest extent; I don't think he'll ever be able to totally get that, but at least it's something. So now my goal will be to stop filtering what he says and does, and try to take him at his literal word, 'cause that's all he really wants or expects anyways. This is going to be enormously difficult for me since the concept is so totally foreign, but I have to try. And, by no means am I saying that all is hunky dory now, most certainly not. These wounds run long a deep, and encompass so much more than some basic personality conflicts. But I guess I can honestly say that this has been an eye opening experience, and that, perhaps, there is some hope that I can come to tolerate him in a way I've never thought possible. It definitely is not the most optimal outcome, but given the fact that leaving is not an option for me, then at least it's something to hold on to. The fact is, I'm not gonna get a do over, much as I wish I could. So I've got to make the best out of what I've got, and I think this has definitely been a step in the right direction. We shall see...


Blogger Another Crazy Girl said...

This sounds like an excellent starting point! There's nothing like those a-ha moments where you finally get some insight into another person's thoughts and then to be able to take that and find ways to make the situation and world work better for you is even more fantastic.

Keep us posted as you try different approaches to being more up front and when you figure out how to take him at face value and not read into his words and actions please let me know the trick :) That always gets me in trouble and I'm finally figuring out that boys are way different and they aren't really complex with their communication and thought processes. I don't mean that as an insult, just an insight.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Joc said...

Beverley, my husband sounds a lot like your husband. I am slowly learning not to filter the things he says, he is very black and white, he is always saying to me not to worry about what he "means", but to act on what he "says". Having grown up in a mostly female household that is really hard, as we nearly always did not say what we really meant, everything was about working out what the appropriate response was supposed to be.

Keep at working out where you need to be, and how you need to behave to make things work for you. Just make sure that you are looking after yourself and Em. I know people dont understand why you just dont leave, but I do, and I know that one day the time might me right for you. In the meantime do what makes life the easiest adn take care.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Dawnyal said...

Wow. Such a great post. And I say this all the time when people start bashing others at their blogs. This is YOUR blog and YOUR place to post YOUR thoughts, opinions, etc.

Until I walk a day in your shoes, I will truly never understand the life you lead and therefore have no right to criticize the way you live your life.
With that said, it does sound like you are heading in the right direction. Jeff and I have conversations like this as well and it's all in how we communicate with each other. That's what many of our arguments are over.

I think you are one strong woman to have the understanding of this magnitude of what is going on. Kudos to you.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Jilly said...

I am so very relieved to know the misery isn't unrelenting and that he does have some worthwhile qualities!

I hope your awakening to what he says he wants (i.e. your opinion or thoughts behind your actions) helps you in your communication with him. I hope moreso that when you attempt to give him what he asks for that he actually listens and absorbs what you say! In particular, I hope he makes a real effort to understand how his actions and reactions towards you are demeaning, unfair and disrespectful. It certainly sounds like you've made a start towards working together to improve this situation.

As far as the comments made by your readers, there's always going to be people who are quick to judge, but so far all I've seen here is support (some given gently and some perhaps in harsher terms). Given your intense dread of criticism and fear that people are disappointed with your decisions, I would think you'd find it comforting to see so little criticism or expressions of disappointment. While you shouldn't let the thoughts of others motivate you in any event, it has to be heartening to read how many people refer to you using such words as "strong" and "intelligent" :)

1:22 PM  
Blogger Luflic said...

Sounds like wonderful progress here! You state it is just as much my fault as his. Well I don't know about that but every story has more than one angle. It is great you are opening yourself up. Great that communication is happening. It is important to really listen to what is being said and not what we perceive is being said. I ditto kudos to you Beverly!

2:29 PM  

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