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#13 As sick as your secrets

**Continuing on from my last post (here) ***

Number 9 Sign

Number 9 Sign (Photo credit: tedeytan)

In order for this to make as much sense as possible, its probably a good idea to read back (if you haven’t already) about our rating scale technique – posted here.

After telling me how he knows he can trust me and explaining that its hard to tell me the things he WANTS to tell me let alone the things he’s not ready to talk about yet…he then said something which made my heart stop.

“I’m really tempted to tell you my 10…but I don’t feel like it’s right yet…

so are you ready for a 9?”

Of course I wont go into detail of it here but that 9 of his was shocking…and not in the way you would assume. what took me by surprise was how NORMAL his 9 was…this massive secret which he was too scared to say to anyone for his entire life…this 9 out of 10 on the scale of difficulty…was something so…common that had I not known it was a ‘9’ for him i probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if he told me.

I’ll give you what I think would be a (fictional of course) comparison of this ‘9’ of his…

  • ‘I wet the bed till I was 11’
  • ‘I still cry at Disney films’
  • ‘I’m afraid of the dark’

Of course the content was a relief…you would assume something as hard to disclose as that would automatically mean it’s something bad but -like she said before- it’s not always the content that is hard to tell…it’s just that its something of his. What has blown my mind repeatedly in all of this is how little he has ‘Googled’ about this stuff…because if he had then he may have worked out by now that he is not weird…or that other people go through this stuff too. Regardless, because I knew how hard it was to tell me- BEFORE he told me, I was able to react in an encouraging way. Instead of shrugging it off i thanked him for letting me in, instead of giggling or making an inappropriate joke i was able to take it seriously and actually listen to what he was telling me but most importantly i was able to reassure him that he is not a freak…that he shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed and that this thing is more common than he realises…I was able to put his mind at ease -so in that sense the rating scale saved the day as without it i probably wouldn’t have reacted – or appreciated it – the same way.

His therapist had explained to me how he should be telling himself ‘its ok…nothing bad happened’ at any times when he does something which he sees as a ‘fuck up’ – for example spilling a drink like I explained in the post about the oxygen mask…OR when he tells me something of his. So again I was able to remind him of that once he told me his 9- literally by telling him ‘see…nothing bad has happened…its ok’ and then physically by keeping my body language the same, by kissing him etc -My health and social care teacher would be proud lol…those A levels are really paying off now ha ha.

He allowed me to ask questions so I started slow and eventually (a handful of questions later) we got to a point where he didn’t want to talk about it anymore so I let it go and we carried on as normal (see…nothing happened!) I thought it only fair to share one of my higher numbers with him to even the score but again, seeing as I’m probably a bit too open all i could find was a 5/6…that being a poem I had written on the Community Storyboard about cuddling him in bed (here) The reason that was a 5/6 was because its my true feelings about us and its MY blog but I shared that with him (whilst hiding behind a pillow) and he liked it so I think we both felt a little lighter after that- and closer to each other too.

For me to find a 5/6 is pretty rare…there’s not a lot that i wouldn’t tell him or share with him…or not much that i would find difficult anyway… but there was ONE other 5 that I let him into and that was meeting BeetleyPete a few weeks ago. For me meeting Pete (and Mrs Pete) was important to ME. It involved going somewhere I usually go by myself…one of my happy places I suppose (which I don’t have many of now I live here) and introducing my husband to THE blogging legend himself. It was something I was looking forward to and I was almost a little bit protective of…something I didn’t want to be tainted by anything or anyone…something for me…which I allowed him into…something I shared with him. THAT was hard for me to do…but I did it…and nothing bad happened 🙂

Another thing his therapist had explained during that session was what he would feel like after divulging something of his; and so with this information and knowing how big this secret was for him I was prepared for what happened next. I knew how shit he would be feeling…and it was obvious that he was; He said he felt physically sick and that night he asked me NOT to cuddle him in bed (and apologised for asking lol) But i understood why he was being that way so did whatever I could to make him see that no matter what I was still here for him and that this secret had not and would not change anything. For the next few days he was a little bit ‘off’ but I was able to let him ride the wave without giving him too much shit for being in a mood and keep reassuring him without actually making a big deal out of it.

Its been a while since his 9…and he’s back to normal as far as the aftermath of it goes but he’s still not ready for his 10…and I am not pushing for it. Its good to know he felt safe enough to open up to me – and that I knew how to handle it once he did; I think – for us- this was a major breakthrough, I feel closer to him – almost smug actually lol- and I hope he feels closer to me too…but most importantly I hope I have shown him that it IS ok to let me in…because nothing bad happens when he does 🙂

xBx

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Deep Breath

Deep Breath (Photo credit: kagey_b)

So having had a few weeks of “should I stay or go?” I was no closer to a decision. I had felt bad for even thinking about leaving… Not just bad for him but bad for us… For how we could be and for considering throwing in the towel when really – like my counsellor had pointed out- we WERE still moving forward. I think it was panic mode resurfacing, can I do this? Am I strong enough? Will things ever get better… CAN WE EVER BE NORMAL??

I felt even more guilty for thinking all of that without telling him any of it. Usually I would say SOMETHING but every time I was close he would surprise me with a new insight or a positive move so I kept it to myself for weeks. BUT the revelation of keeping his eyes open and banishing demons (posted here) gave us the positive boost we needed- it gave me more hope… A massive point to add to the list of pros and cons building in my mind. I felt good… WE felt good.

However, I had noticed that he has stopped doing things, he doesn’t speak to anyone apart from me really, he doesn’t socialise much. I realise that this seems like a random tangent but trust me…it will make sense shortly…anyway- Last week he came home and told me about a game of paintball with some workmates but he immediately said he didn’t want to go, I questioned it, telling him it sounded fun, he should have some time off doing something fun… That I didn’t mind and would enjoy some me time etc but still he said no. I asked if he had noticed that he had stopped going out and he said he hadn’t until I pointed it out and agreed that maybe he should do something. I went shopping over the weekend and suggested he and a friend did something… He was up for that but on the day didn’t see any plans through. He never used to be like this and I’ve recognised the signs from experience- depression, lack of interest, almost hibernating because its easier.

A few days later came back from his next solo therapy session and I casually asked how it went. He was vague and didn’t really say much other than that they spoke about some “stuff” we had all talked about. I let it slide figuring he would tell me more when he was ready and when had got his head around it -like usual- but later he showed no signs of opening up. So I asked if they had spoken about the masturbating/porn. I knew they had because it was the first she had heard about any of it when I went so it was bound to have been a main topic.

stress

stress (Photo credit: bottled_void)

He eyed me suspiciously and asked how I knew so I told him the above. He then said that they had talked about it but I wouldn’t like it so…. This got my back up. I don’t like it when people assume I can’t handle something and more importantly it winds me up that something crucial for us has been discussed without giving me any insight. Obviously I know it’s his session etc but if SHE had an insight which could have helped me understand it better… then I don’t understand why she didn’t bring it up there and then -when I told her in our session. Plus this is exactly what HE does… Tell me bits which make it sound terrible and then I worry and eventually I find out that it wasn’t that bad… It drags it out, it stresses me out, it prolongs the agony.

I didn’t push him for it because … Well it’s not right to do that but I got angry (inside) and that massive pro quickly dissolved (and then some) tipping the scales back the other way and making me wonder what the fucking point was. Later still he asked if I really wanted to know (erm duh) and so he told me…

“Ok… She told me to masturbate – without you- and I said no. She asked why and I said that I didn’t need or want to because what we do works, that you wouldn’t be ok with that… and i wouldn’t either. She pushed me and tried to persuade me but I still said no and told her we would have to think of something else… She said I should because its something for me… For myself and that I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing something for me”

*Deep breath…Adopt calm voice and…*

“Firstly thank you for telling me and thank you for saying no. she’s right – you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing something for yourself but you but it’s more about the lying about it, hiding it and affecting others in such a negative way that is not ok. Also for her to suggest that makes me doubt that the extent of you doing it was discussed between you truthfully as I don’t think she would suggest that if she knew… So what happens now? Is this you telling me that someone else has suggested it so now you’re considering it or…?

He said no, he wasn’t going to do it and he had told her about the paintball etc he hugged me tight and asked what I thought about it all. Reluctant to say anything damaging I mulled it over and considered her point. Yes it’s good for him to do things for himself but ultimately it’s  his actions before now that have added to the issue surrounding it. Now she’s suggested it its added the paranoia that had faded drastically back into the mix, it actually makes me feel sick thinking about going against everything I feel is right and crushing myself further for the sake of a quick release… If I were to consider her point about the oxygen mask (posted here) then saying that any of this was ok would be the opposite of what she had suggested. Is this what he needs? Am I wrong to be so against it? Am I preventing him from getting better? Am I fuck!

And so I told him

“Again, it’s good that you said no but do you agree with it? Do you think it would help? (No) Honestly i don’t know if i can do this… do you know I’ve been thinking about leaving? (no…for how long?) for a few weeks now but every time I’ve been on the edge something good has happened and we have moved forward. The other night I turned you down because I couldn’t take it anymore, because all this shit about sex and wanking makes me feel sick and I don’t have the mental energy to pretend I’m ok with it every time but then we had a breakthrough and it felt great but now it’s back to square one.

What she has suggested puts the paranoia back because you’ve been given the go ahead by one person so surely that plants that fucking seed again? We had been making progress in the bedroom and it was working for us but now I’m going to be worried about saying no again in case you do it yourself out of spite (I wouldn’t do that… Is that what you think?) yes! And now even more so. I mean am I supposed to sit downstairs and be ok with it? (No because its not going to happen) you already get to do that for you the difference is that I’m with you… you’re still the one doing it! that’s a compromise we have established and i thought that was good for both if us (it is… i like that you’re with me) It’s already enough that we have to do that together – me being there is the only way I can get intimacy from it and I’m sorry but there are others things to do for you… You could go out, you can do what you want (i know and that’s what i told her) I don’t turn you down and then go and have a wank to suit myself.

Aside from that she’s now made me think I’m wrong, its made me question whether or not i am actually helping or adding to all of this and its made me doubt my own morals. I’m sorry but I can’t go along with something that will make me feel even worse than I already do… So if YOU want to do it then do it… I will understand and i don’t want to be the one hindering your progress…But I will not be here anymore. THAT by the way was a 10 on the scale of difficulty”

WELCOME TO MY WORLD

WELCOME TO MY WORLD (Photo credit: FUNKYAH)

He kissed me and thanked me for my 10. He reassured me that I am NOT hindering anything, that he wasn’t going to do anything and that “if it wasn’t for you god knows where I would be right now… You’re the reason I’m trying to get better so I can be a better person for me and a better husband for you… Because I do not want to lose you” he told me I should talk to him when I feel like leaving and asked how to make it better. I told him I understood how hard it is for him and that I’m never going to force him to tell me anything – its not like j could if i wanted to!- but I just need to be let in and feel PART of his world … Just like I let him into mine…

And that’s when it happened…

To be continued

xBx

 
 

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For better or worse

Therapy in session through quilting

Therapy in session through quilting (Photo credit: fishin widow)

Apologies for being AWOL recently… to be honest I’m not in a great place :/ I have SO much going on in my head AND in reality (good AND bad) that its hard not to just shut down completely and hope that somehow everything will fit into place…well that hasn’t happened so I suppose its time to start writing them all down in some kind of order in an attempt to make it make sense or at least clear some head space.

A few weeks back I visited my husbands therapist (with him) for the first time. The first part is posted here. I said I would go into more detail for some parts so I could pour my heart out a little. Some of the information given that evening hurt to hear, it stung a bit and its probably a lot to do with how I’ve been feeling lately too, of it so…here it is.

When asked how my husbands actions affect me on a daily basis I struggled to find a place to begin.
Noting that we were limited on time I churned out the obvious – sex is an issue, the self esteem issues which comes from his lack of interest, the paranoia from the constant lies, the worry when it comes to leaving due to porn addiction… The gut wrench that comes from knowing my marriage up till now has been a sham… Shall I continue?

She stopped me and talked about the porn/sex/masturbation a bit more as this was the first time she had heard anything about it. She asked whether he watched porn because of the thrill of it, the release… And that annoyed me because it seemed like she was trying to put words in his mouth rather than asking open ended questions. I had gone here hoping that with the three of us more comfortable he would feel able to explain it – with her help NOT to be told the answers.

However to my surprise – and relief- he didn’t agree with her… Instead he shrugged. She asked if it was the fantasy side – no. Is it the release? -no. Is it X? Y?… Z?? – no. He said its nothing, it’s not important to him, it doesn’t do anything for him… He just does it.

*ouch*

I think I would have preferred it her way lol. To hear that cut deep for me, of all the times he’s sneaked off to watch it, lied about it… For all the issues it’s caused… The lack of trust… The lack of confidence… The lack of respect!!! And it means nothing to him?? He did all of the above for something that did nothing?? Despite my gut twisting I didn’t react, I just nodded and tried to let it sink in.

She asked whether the porn was encouraged and what my thoughts on it were … Yeah here we go again lol (if anyone DOESN’T know my thoughts then I suggest you read here lol also if you are lost by now it’s probably best to read up on the back story which starts here) I told her I had offered to watch it with him, been refused and then lied to, that for me porn is now the other woman- the one he wouldn’t or couldn’t stop seeing. I told her that masturbation – whilst understandable in his case… Well I don’t see the necessity when married especially with a wife whom is willing to experiment and who rarely isn’t up for it. I told her how he does masturbate – WITH me, that it hurts that I can’t satisfy him as it is and that the lies before now have made it an issue so the compromise is that he does himself and I’m there with him otherwise no progress will be made in the bedroom and no intimacy will be there for either of us.

Leave

Leave (Photo credit: inf3ktion)

She asked what would happen if he watched porn now…. I would leave. She looked shocked- as I assume many of you are reading that but its a fact. I have had enough of it, he has his boundaries and secrets and issues…I have learned to live with them, that is my one boundary. It doesn’t NEED to happen, its affected us too many times. its me or that basically, there’s only so much shit one person can take. That is my limit.

Then she asked about sex.
You don’t feel anything? -no
Nothing physical? -no
Nothing emotional? – no
You just do it for Beth? – yeah…

We talked more about WHY the frequency had changed since marriage and the answer gave me that twinge again… Basically whenever he would visit me pre marriage it was usually for one weekend every other week and unbeknownst to me he was acting 100% during those visits -or in his words ‘it was a massive effort to do it that often every time I saw her…but I knew that once that weekend was over I would have the next 2 weeks to be myself…by myself…but once you’re LIVING together…well that means forcing it 100% of the time, there’s no end to it and its exhausting having to pretend to that extent’ – Just writing that made me feel sick. I cant explain it really…I suppose aside from the obvious feelings i.e. stupid…naive…I also feel… used, fooled and like I was PRESSURING him!! (Which I wasn’t at all) It makes me angry to think about how much ‘effort’ it was just to sleep with me…it makes me angry that he put that much effort into something he didn’t want to do…it makes me angry that he still went ahead and married me!

That hurt to hear.

The stupid thing is I knew it really, I figured that out for myself when all of this first came out but I suppose until you actually hear HIM say it there’s always that glimmer of hope that you’re being silly, worrying over nothing…reading too far into it…that you are wrong! Once you hear HIM say THAT…well its real. and its really fucking painful.

She asked me if we ever argue…if there’s ever ANYTHING there which suggests emotions…I mean yeah we have had a few arguments but never really shouting matches (not before all of this anyway and even since there’s been maybe 2…with me doing the shouting) She said THAT must be frustrating because its natural for us to want an argument sometimes but with him I won’t get one…which led her to ask me if I ever let it all out…how do I get it out? What do I do to make myself feel better…DO I cry? Do I allow myself to get angry?

Erm…fuck yes! ‘I usually wait until he’s at work to have a good sob if I feel like it…or when he’s asleep some nights I will lay next to him and let them flow…or I’ll watch some sad shit on TV just so I can sit in tears and feel like I have a valid reason for it’ (By this time I was crying) ‘ I mean I think he KNOWS that I cry about it sometimes but its easier to do it when he’s not around as for starters I don’t want to say shit in the heat of the moment that will undo all of this but also because I have learned that crying to him is pointless… yeah he comforts me physically, he makes all the right noises but I know its bullshit…I know its an act because he doesn’t FEEL anything. He doesn’t empathise…he just does what he knows works…like a puzzle that he’s mastered and knowing that when you need comfort the most is an oxymoron in a way.

She looked to him and asked what it was like to hear me saying those things…he shrugged and shook his head (nothing) He said he didn’t know I was still crying most days and that he wished I would talk to him about it rather than waiting BUT he understood why I didn’t do that and ultimately…hearing that from me… he didn’t FEEL anything. He said he obviously doesn’t LIKE that I feel that way, he doesn’t want me to keep feeling that way, he wants to make it better but as far as emotions go there’s nothing.

lonely traveller

lonely traveller (Photo credit: rprathap)

Double ouch

It made it all real again, the blunt answers, the matter-of-fact way he responded…THAT is why I don’t go to him…because I know all of that too. I KNOW he doesn’t feel anything, I suppose at least he’s being honest about it lol but still… its so…lonely :/

I came out of that session feeling better for understanding more…for knowing more but at the same time I ended up hurting more because I had to hear it all over again… I had my fears and worries confirmed…by him. To be honest (when aren’t I?) we left there feeling closer to each other if anything…more open with each other…which is funny when you think about the content of what we had just been discussing in there. It was…bittersweet would be the word for it I think…but in the weeks since it’s hit me all over again and knocked me a few steps back again – I suppose at least this time I understand it more so hopefully the path back uphill won’t be as tough this time

xBx
(A LOT more to come…)

 
 

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Therapy : The Oxygen Mask

Concepts in Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis

Concepts in Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently met my husbands therapist for the first time. We ended up staying for an extra hour and in those 2 hours I learned so much. There’s a lot of ‘she said’ and numbers involved in this post so apologies if I lose a few of you – a few times throughout lol.

Let me say that due to the nature of this post, this topic…this situation… I’m obviously not going to go into detail of anything that isn’t mine to share so any examples used are purely fabricated for the purpose of… Well giving an example basically lol

The first thing she did was explain all the transactional analysis stuff – which I’ve posted about here– but explained it so it made sense and was relevant to us. The bottom line is that my husband is REALLY hard on himself, maybe not out loud but he is nonetheless. I realised he had low self esteem on some level but I never knew quite the extent of it. For example spilling a drink… To me that’s nothing but for him he hates himself for it – all due to childhood.

She explained that he knows he NEEDS to change but some things he doesn’t necessarily WANT to… Not yet anyway. The reason he NEEDS to change… the reason he wants to WANT to change is to stay with me. He’s doing this for us because he knows that I cant live like this forever. (sounds like I’m a bitch but I need to look out for me too and basically he doesn’t want to lose me) She told me that it would be a long road but he has made so much progress already and I should be proud (I am) and that the trick is to make HIM feel proud of himself too.

She told me that some of his secrets, the things he doesn’t tell me aren’t necessarily BAD, it’s more that he finds hard to tell me because he’s kept them close for years, they’re his good memories and he wants to keep them and needs to learn that he CAN tell them without bad repercussions. I suppose in childhood he learnt (subconsciously) that if he didn’t tell then he couldn’t get in trouble etc so instead he kept everything to himself.

She then used the example of rating each “secret” on a scale of difficulty, 1 being ‘without MUCH effort’ (though for him that’s still a lot) and 10 being ‘wouldn’t tell a soul’. She asked me to give examples of a 1 – which I found difficult in itself as there’s not much I DONT find easy to disclose. So Instead I chose a 2… ‘My mum and dad split when I was nine and he has lived in America ever since’ That statement – for me- has been said so often that now it’s just another fact. I don’t LIKE that fact, I don’t LIKE the ‘awwws’ and the questions that follow but I find it relatively easy to tell. On my husbands scale that would be a ‘7’.

I was then asked to give an example (not necessarily true) of a 10 in my mind. I honestly could not think of anything of my own bad enough to be rated a 10. I mean telling someone their family member just died etc that’s pretty hard but that’s not MY secret is it? The therapist stepped in and said she would find it quite hard to think of one too but maybe if she had cheated on her husband then telling him would be a 10. I have to be honest here…I disagree…and that’s made me question whether I’m just too brutal/blunt/open….THAT for me would be a ‘7’ yes it would be hard but surely if I had cheated in the first place I wouldn’t find it that hard to hurt him anyway.

ANYWAY, seeing as my 2 (pretty easy) was the equivalent of his 7 (really hard) hopefully I haven’t lost you and you see the difference – AND my point. They explained the consequences of telling me (or anyone) anything over a 2, he feels physically sick the higher the number, he berates himself, he panics, he worries….and these symptoms or repercussions can last for days afterwards so basically whenever he reveals things I need to soothe him and thank him etc and at the same time try not to react too much either way -basically don’t make a big deal out of it but don’t ignore the fact he’s opening up…to me.

We agreed to state the rating whenever anything new has been discussed as some of them – to me- are so ‘normal’ i.e. ‘one time this guy at work….’ = ‘4’… that I often don’t realise that it was anything other than small talk.

To put it into perspective once more she asked him the following questions:

How many people have you told a ‘1’ ? – one or two (being me and her)
How many people have you told a ‘5’? – one (me)
How many people have you told a ’10’? one (me again)

Bottom line is...I am the one he trusts, I am the one he is opening up to and I am the one he wants to talk to and be himself with. It suddenly dawned on me that when we first started dating he would often say ‘god I’ve never told anyone that before’ about things which – again- didn’t seem like a big deal to me… well now it does. I asked if that’s the reason he married me – ‘I guess so’

She did ask me how it (our situation) affects me day to day etc but I will leave that for another post so I can pour my heart out a little without taking away from the stuff in this one as all of the above really did open my eyes to exactly what we are going through – and that’s the focus here.

When wrapping up our session she asked if I had any questions….

‘What would you say were the 3 things I CAN to do help….and what 3 things should I steer clear of?’

Oxygen mask made in NY

Oxygen mask made in NY (Photo credit: K. Todd Storch)

To help:

  • He’s already critical of everything so ease off – don’t ignore issues when they arise but think about wording and calming before exploding etc – basically give him a shit sandwich where you give a positive then the negative and follow it with another positive.
  • Thank him when he opens up – its really fucking hard for him to do so
  • Appreciate that he’s trying– for US

As for things to avoid she gave the example of the oxygen mask dropping when a plane is going down….

Who do you put the mask on first? (I said the kids lol) WRONG!
You put it on yourself and THEN help others because how can you help others if you’re not strong enough? Basically I need to take care of myself too otherwise I wont be any good to anyone, take a break, have some fun, treat myself… because I need to be strong for him…just like he is using therapy as his oxygen mask….so that he can be strong for me too.

xBx

 
 

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I stuffed the cat back in….

20130614-011732 AM.jpg

An update on my previous post

I bit the bullet and I told him en route to therapy this evening, we had to run some errands before officially setting off and he had questioned little things like why hasn’t I picked a CD to listen to yet etc so I told him it was because I wanted to talk to him once we got going. He asked what about and made jokes etc so by the time we were on our way the atmosphere was a little more settled.

I told him I didn’t know how he would feel etc and told him exactly what happened and what was discussed. As I did he nodded along in agreement and once finished said…. “…. And then….?”

And then nothing, that was it.

To which he said “oh… Why would you think I’d be mad about that??”

*phew*

Out of all of it he was more interested in the kidnapping as he doesn’t remember that but seeing as he must have been 10yrs old at the time it’s strange that he doesn’t. He said he didn’t mind me talking to her because I gave nothing -about what’s going on with us- away, it’s all stuff I would have asked her regardless and she probably expects it to some extent from a daughter-in-law.

So that was that. Instant relief as i remembered that even though i cant read him, he CAN read me and he knows I’m only ever thinking of us and how to help.

We got through our session and over-ran by an hour but it was all very encouraging; however as the appointment was at 9pm (cause that’s how we roll) we didn’t get home till gone midnight so I’ll have to update on the session another time – obviously not in great detail but just more than I can give right now. – what I will say is I got a gold star sticker for good behaviour 🙂

So that’s all folks

xBx

 
 

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Duh!

email

email (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I got the email from his therapist and as soon as I opened it I literally said aloud: DUH! (The quote button isnt working so all bits from the article are in italic)

‘Growing Up with Drinking or Other Substance Abuse
When a parent or important adult misuses or abuses alcohol or another substance, it can have a profound effect on the whole family, especially on the children. You may have asked yourself, “How was my family affected?”
Although each family differs, there are some common qualities within families where an adult abuses alcohol or another substance. These similarities include: the fact that life feels chaotic, people feel inconsistent, roles are unclear, rules are arbitrary, and change feels daunting. There may also be relational conflict, repetitious and illogical thinking, and perhaps violence and various abuses including sexual, verbal, and physical. The family is dominated by the co-existence of denial and substance use. The substance use becomes the major family secret, often denied inside the family as well as to outsiders. In an effort to hold the family together in the face of difficulties caused by the substance abuse, the family changes its strategies for coping and the beliefs it shares.
Claudia Black, a leading author and theorist regarding the impact of adult substance abuse on children, has written about several rules in alcoholic homes including, but not limited to, these:
 1.    Don’t feel. Due to the constant pain of living with an adult substance user, a child must “quit feeling” in order to survive. After all, what’s the use of hurting all the time? In these families, when emotions are expressed, they are often abusive and are frequently prompted by drunkenness. These outbursts have no positive result and, along with the drinking, are usually denied the following day. Thus, children have had few if any opportunities to see emotions expressed appropriately, or used to foster constructive change. “So,” the child thinks, “why feel anything, when the feelings will only get out of control and won’t change anything anyway? I don’t want to hurt more than I already do.”
 2.    Don’t talk. Children of adult substance users learn in their families not to talk about a huge part of their reality – the drinking or substance use. This results from the family’s need to deny that a problem exists and that drinking is tied to that problem. That which is so evident must not be spoken aloud. There is often an unspoken hope that, if no one mentions the drinking, it won’t happen again. There is also no good time to talk. It is impossible to talk when a parent is drunk; but when that parent is sober, everyone wants to forget. From this early training, the children often develop a tendency to not talk about anything unpleasant.
 3.    Don’t trust. In alcoholic families, promises are often forgotten, celebrations cancelled and adults’ moods unpredictable. As a result, children learn not to count on others and often have a hard time believing that others can care enough to follow through on their commitments.’

a beautiful macro shot of Crystal Methamphetam...

Crystal Methamphetamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing I have known from the start is that his dad (back in the states) is a meth addict. How did I not put the 2 together?! I suppose its because he’s always been quite matter-of-fact about it and at the same time he’s always kind of brushed over it. I must admit I’ve always found their relationship strange, he’s told me what kind of man his dad was when he (my husband) was younger, the extent of the drugs and money problems etc, he’s painted a rather negative image of him and yet he calls him every now and then and makes the effort with him…wanted to visit him next time we go to the states etc

I know from experience that every family has their secrets, issues…their black sheep…so I just took it as that and left it alone. My dad was (probably is) an alcoholic – which is probably where I get some of my (almost) co-dependent characteristics; I’ve had family members or friends linked to drugs…but never the strong stuff. Never meth. So I don’t think I understood just how serious that is.When I told my counsellor his reaction was a raised eyebrow, wide eyes and…‘WOW…yeah that’ll do it’

His dad has sons much older than him and his mum has a daughter who is older too…the 2 then had my husband…and split a few years later. I haven’t met any of his family but judging by the contact between them now he’s across the pond the brothers at least don’t seem very close to him. He talks to his mum and his sister tries to control him from afar…its all very complicated and I’m sure they all have their issues to boot…I’m just not married to them.

The article goes on to say: “If my family is the root of all this, why do my brothers and sisters seem OK?”…Each family member tends to find his or her own way to live with these rules. Different “roles” emerge for children in their attempts to make sense of the chaos.’ It talks about the ‘Hero – the responsible children’ (which describes his sister), the ‘Placater- people pleaser’ and the entertainers. Also the adjuster and the scapegoat which were the 2 which I found most interesting in relation to my husband.

Adjuster: These children learn never to expect or to plan anything, and tend to follow without question. They often strive to be invisible and to avoid taking a stand or rocking the boat. As a result, they often come to feel that they are drifting through life and are out of control.

Scapegoat: These people are identified as the “family problem.” They are likely to get into various kinds of trouble, including drug and alcohol abuse, as a way of expressing their anger at the family. They also function as a sort of pressure valve; when tension builds in the family, the scapegoat will misbehave, allowing the family to avoid dealing with the drinking problem. Scapegoats tend to be unaware of feelings other than anger.

Crystal Meth

Crystal Meth (Photo credit: eighteen1)

I just cant believe I didn’t even consider how his dads behaviour would have affected him. My counsellor explained to me more about the lifestyle surrounding most meth addicts; the paranoia, the panic or need for money and more drugs… the things you would be exposed to when buying it, the people, the places associated. Maybe not in my husbands case…and to be fair he still doesn’t remember most of his life before the ages of 9 so who knows what he experienced? However, apparently the more him and his therapist talk about his past the more he is starting to remember slowly so that sounds hopeful…so what happens next? Lets go back to the article…

‘Trying to forget the past without understanding how it affected you will usually not work, and may prolong its costs. Because you learned as a child to relate to others by following your family’s rules, you are likely to bring these same behaviours into your adult relationships, even if you do not think you will.

Recovery: The best way to “move on” is to squarely face the past, its importance, and its meaning for you. Often this means understanding your parents and yourself, so that the healing process can begin. You can actively work to replace self-destructive behaviours with healthy behaviours. Recovery from co-dependency involves accepting your reality, becoming in tune with your thoughts and feelings, setting boundaries in your relationships, expressing your wants and needs, and establishing a sense of self-worth, self-love, and self-appreciation.

To summarise… its going to take a lot of work lol but at least that work has started in his sessions.

xBx

 

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Hearts and Daggers

love graffiti

love graffiti (Photo credit: marc e marc)

Funnily enough last week when reading up on the ego states (mentioned in this post) I stumbled across some relating stuff about “strokes”

‘Strokes are the recognition, attention or responsiveness that one person gives another. Strokes can be positive (nicknamed “warm fuzzies”) or negative (“cold pricklies”). A key idea is that people hunger for recognition, and that lacking positive strokes, will seek whatever kind they can, even if it is recognition of a negative kind. We test out as children what strategies and behaviours seem to get us strokes, of whatever kind we can get.’

Basically positive reinforcements … Ego strokes. I realised that with the positive, genuine, good things I have been asking my husband for (like in this post) I have inadvertently been requesting strokes from him for my own benefit whilst hoping that by him focusing on the good he will start to feel good too…thus creating a dominoes effect on the both of us…win win really.

Feeling silly I found my husband and (hilariously) put my new found knowledge into practice by literally stroking him – like a puppy and kissing him. Unsurprisingly he asked what I was doing to which I said “giving you strokes” before laughing and reconsidering my approach.

I realised that it’s like in the computer game “Sims“. You control your character – or “sim”- in a world you create. Each sim has a friendship meter and mood meter (among other things) and as you interact – these bars move depending on their connection with others.You can select options for your sim to act out when interacting with others. I.e. “flirt”, “tell joke”, “ask about day” in order to build friendships but it’s not always that simple.

After each interaction the receiving sim will react – like reality- with either a green plus sign (i.e. +10 friend points) and a smiley face OR – if they’re turned of by it -with a red minus sign (- 10 friend points) and a sad/angry face… And your sims mood will mirror it. There are extremes to the point meter too, when in love red hearts flash above their head after a positive action while red daggers (or possibly lightning) will flash if you’ve REALLY pissed them off. It’s a long and slow process (unless you use the cheats like I do) but its funny to watch the other sims reactions when you make your sim come on to them within 5 minutes of introductions.

As the friendship points increase, so does the mood meter and it worked both ways. It was nearly impossible to start a friendship with a miserable sim… Unless you wanted to go away with a sworn enemy. Like in real life, over time if your sim hasn’t seen their friend the relationship or friendship meter would drop so every now and then you would call your mate or hang out or SOMETHING to keep the meters up.

Anyway, I used to play this game (I know i know its sad) and it would always remind me that I needed to do the same, call up friends, send the odd text… Make everyone happy. I used to call it damage control. Now that I’ve moved and established that the real friends I have don’t require “damage control” because they’re mature enough to know that we don’t need to check in every day… Or every week even to class each other as friends… The previous lessons I had learnt from sims seemed redundant… Until now.

My husband used to really get into it when i played so he understood the reference when he asked me to explain what I was doing the following night and I said… Strokes are like the positive actions you would choose for your sim to do to another. You would make them hug and the other sim would feel good (+10 – I made a plus sign with my hands) and your sim would feel good (+10) in return. It built relationships, it took time and you had to keep doing it every now and then in order to keep the moods and relationships strong. Its important to keep both sims meters high so both are happy…or in this case happy AND in love with the flashy hearts above their heads (I tried to mimic this with my hands which ended up being named ‘the crabs’) otherwise the relationships dwindle and the sims get miserable.

He liked my explanation and hugged me again (+10 LOVEHEARTS) and then laughed at my ‘crabs’ (-10 SADFACE)… so I poked his bum (-10 DAGGERS!!) (HAPPYFACE for me 😉 )
This (the +/- etc) went on for about 2 days and it was definitely fun while it lasted; although we aren’t doing the hand signals anymore I think we both think them and regardless, he’s taken my point on board 😉

xBx

 

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