I know you know I know…

03 May
crossed wires

crossed wires (Photo credit: art crimes)

It turns out (I think) that we (my husband and I) had our wires crossed (possibly)… it’s all very confusing.
There IS no big reveal (as far as he is aware) with regards to WHY he is the way he is or thinks the way he thinks – although there’s still the surprise of the fantasy/intrusive thing to come.

As far as he knows (or can remember as he’s blocked most of his childhood out) I know as much as he does about what happened to him. However, when he told me he had been lying to his therapist and trying to throw her off it was in response to a question about whether he had any idea why he is in the “Critical Parent” category of the ego states more than the others. He told her no… But he has made links between that and the little he does remember from his past.

So I don’t know how much she knows – or doesn’t know- but apparently I know the basics, I know the main bits just not the details of the intrusive thoughts or fantasies.
(Does ANY of that make sense to you because I was -and still am- so confused when he tried to clarify…and therefore UNcross our wires.)

Until this…uncrossing…he had not mentioned the phrase ‘critical parent’ to me before…so of course I Googled it…

According to Transactional Analysis (TA), we communicate via three different Ego States (parts of ourselves):
(P)aren’t (Language of values and morals)
(A)dult (Language of logic and rationality)
(C)hild (Language of emotions…my husband is missing this one)
Every person has a trio of P-A-C, and we constantly shift back and forth between them in our interactions (a.k.a. transactions) with others.
The Parent ego state is a set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that we learn from our parents (or caretakers). It’s almost like we unconsciously mimic them, incorporating their values, morals, and core beliefs into our outer communication. We express these ideals by being either critical or nurturing.
The Nurturing Parent is soft, loving, and quick to give permission. The Critical Parent is the other side of the coin. When in this state, a person will react as they imagined their parent might have reacted, or they act toward others the way their parents acted toward them. It’s uncanny, but we might use some of the exact same phrases we head from our parents, or strike the same postures, use the same mannerisms or gestures…we become our parents.
The Parent ego state is like a tape recorder full of pre- judged, prejudiced, pre-programmed statements. These “taped” statements can get activated while we are in our Adult or Child and then we can actually hear them as “voices in our heads.” The Parental tapes can feel good or bad depending on which Parent makes them. In other personality theories, the harmful Critical Parent voices are known as the harsh super-ego, negative self-talk, cognitive traps, low self-esteem, punitive protector or catastrophic expectations.

I realise all of the above is based on a theory etc but don’t you agree that its a pretty bloody good one? Its actually quite relieving to read it and ‘get it’ a little more…to understand a little bit about my husbands frame of mind. Of course whatever he talks about during therapy and passes on (in dribs and drabs) to me is what he has understood based on what she (the therapist) has said to him…based on what he has told her… so whatever she has told him about it is obviously going to be focused on what she DOES know about him. (Still with me?)


parent-adult-child (Photo credit: paloetic)

Looking at this as a wife… as someone who recognises parts of him that he doesn’t recognise himself…albeit someone who was ‘tricked’ for the past year…things that (to him) wouldn’t seem important enough to tell her are actually so relevant and it does make more sense and I must say I agree with it. He is negative about himself, he does use the critical parent tone more often than not in some aspects, he does have low self esteem and I guess he understands where he gets it from…and while he doesnt show any abusive traits, anything which reflects the things that happened to him…im pretty sure he thinks them – about himself. Perhaps he is haunted by things his abuser said, he has their critical ‘tapes’ recorded and rather than showing them outwardly he replays them to himself and tortures himself daily.

As his wife, as someone who observes him more than ever these days then that would make sense and IF I am right then i really do feel for him. It must be horrible…but I could be wrong…I probably am wrong…there is no doubt that there is more to it than that but for now the critical parent theory makes sense, I believe it and I agree with it. I don’t know whether thats because it gives me hope and therefore I want to believe/agree with it or because it makes sense but either way its another small piece of a very large puzzle that I am happy to have.

I just cant wait for the day he is ready to talk about it…when all of this makes sense and all the questions are answered…but somehow I think i’ll be waiting a while longer for that and a part of me wonders whether understanding it is something I really WANT to be hoping for…be careful what you wish for and all that. Only time will tell




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18 responses to “I know you know I know…

  1. beetleypete

    May 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I’m beginning to think that you are being led astray now B. It is becoming far too convoluted, and subsequently unbelievably exaggerated. Time to draw a line in the sand honey, and give him a deadline for all this stuff. Really, it is all getting a bit too much to tolerate.
    As ever, Pete. X

    • Comfortably Numb

      May 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      I agree with you Pete, believe me I have told him i wont be here forever unless something changes. I have up and down days, some where im stronger than ever and others where im ready to throw in the towel BUT like my counsellor told me yesterday….if there is anything good i can take from my husbands actions right now…its that he IS getting help. He IS seeking help in the form of a professional and hes sticking with it. SOMETHING will change….good or bad and somethings will drag on but its the babysteps that need to be the focus WITHOUT losing sight of myself and my own needs. Thank you as always xB

  2. behindthemaskofabuse

    May 4, 2013 at 2:28 am

    I do understand, my therapist has explained some of this to me. xo

    • Comfortably Numb

      May 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      I think sometimes you do need another way of looking at it in order to understand it yourself (regardless of whether thats their job or not)

  3. WyndyDee

    May 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I get this…I live this critical parent mode, but I fight to not let my past dictate my future. Daily struggle…

    We got your back!

    • Comfortably Numb

      May 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you Wyndy; I never knew about the theories that come with it etc but reading it makes so much sense xB

  4. Charles Yallowitz

    May 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I try really hard not to go into Critical Parent mode, but I’m not always successful. As for the lying to the therapist, I’ve realized that people do that when they’re not comfortable or ready to talk about it. It’s a defense mechanism. My wife and I have been in marriage counseling since 2010 and she does this at times. If we’re talking about a fight, she throws in parts that never happened or omits the things that put her in the hot seat. It’s gotten much better and she hasn’t done it in a while because her trust in the therapist and comfort with her own issues has improved. Hopefully, the therapist has figured out that something is missing or off about what he says and is slowly working him toward the truth. That’s what happened with a few people I know in therapy.

    • Comfortably Numb

      May 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Thank you Charles (sorry its taken so long to reply) My counsellor said the same thing with regards to lying in therapy so i think most therapists expect it – especially in the early stages when the relationship isnt as secure xB

      • Charles Yallowitz

        May 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm

        Exactly. I did it my first time through therapy back in high school. Yeah, my family and I are therapy veterans. Not sure if I should be proud of that.

      • Comfortably Numb

        May 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        Ha ha why not? 😉

      • Charles Yallowitz

        May 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

        Just the stigma, but I’ve gotten over it.

      • Comfortably Numb

        May 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Look at it less as therapy and more of insight into the human mind…. 😉

      • Charles Yallowitz

        May 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        Good view. I’ll do that.

  5. HEAL & GROW

    May 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Hi CM, I’ve been reading some of the posts & comments. I’m so glad you have this outlet. Don’t know if you’ve attended, but Al-Anon (available on the phone too) would be an appropriate support system as well. Your husband is an ACoA (the last ‘A’ can be abusers, abandoners….) so you can talk about all these same issues there – as they affect you.

    It’s deeply saddening – but predictable – that we unconsciously pick friends & especially mates to act out our own abandonment history. It means your Wounded Inner Child picking your husband, because it felt familiar. We get to see in these people the scope of our own childhood drama, & then hopefully use the opportunity to outgrow it.

    Your loyalty to your husband is commendable, but it’s good to separate that out from the child’s attempt to ‘help’ him as a substitute for not being able to fix or connect with your family of origin.

    The amount of damage bad parenting causes if appalling. I’m sad for both of you for your pain & glad that there is help available AND being used.

    Thank you for including my posts re. the Adult Ego State.

    • Comfortably Numb

      May 9, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Thank you, I have heard of Al-Anon and went as far as looking up support groups nearby but had no luck. I didnt know they were available on the phone so it may be worth giving them a call (thank you) initially i wanted to go to a group as at the moment im dealing with all of this from one place so i think im starting to associate my house with tough discussions BUT if it will help then im sure i’ll find a way of getting over that. small sacrifices for big results and all that.

      Thank you for commenting, it is appalling; Ive always had my own ‘daddy issues’ after my parents split when i was younger etc and i genuinely believed most people had them but thinking back to my childhood…it was great compared to some! I wish i had known that back then. I cant believe the things some children go through, its heartbreaking :/


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