I stayed home this weekend while my husband took our kids to the cottage. I said that I wanted to get things organized before the kids went back to school next week. That was only one reason. I have been incredibly hurt and frustrated and angry with my husband and early last week we had a big fight. I tried to talk to my husband about my worries about finding new jobs (we both have received notice from our employers). He became incredibly defensive and it didn’t matter how I tried to talk our fight escalated. My husband lashed out at me verbally and really hurt my feelings. After he calmed down he apologized for what he said and told I was right and he hadn’t been looking for a job seriously (which is something I hadn’t even said). I had almost no reaction to his apology. An apology doesn’t mean much anymore because it keeps happening. I don’t understand how he can lose his temper so completely that he can be so cruel. It feels like he hates me and I’m the b***h who is ruining his life. The next day I realized that I feel hopeless. I don’t thing he can change and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for the next time he loses it. We ended up talking every night last week until early in the morning. We also had a two-hour sessions with our marriage T. I know my husband loves me and I love him. I don’t know how to get over how hurt I am by him losing his temper. Being alone has given me a lot of time to think but no answers.
I’ve started a new blog after my husband confessed that he had been reading my blog for the last eighteen months and he wanted to talk about something I wrote about at the beginning of May. My husband and I had just started seeing a therapist together when this happened and I have spent over five years in individual therapy. I was shocked that my husband had a read a post in which I talked about looking for casual sex partners and he hadn’t said or done anything for three weeks. I was guilty and ashamed of myself. But I was also angry because he was reading my blog without talking to me about it. When I started it I asked him if he wanted to know the address and he said No, it was mine. I can’t quite believe that he read all those posts and didn’t discuss them with me. There must have been many times that I talked to him about what I was feeling and he had already read my posts about it.
Since then we have had three sessions with the marriage therapist. We are both committed to our relationship and our family. My husband said that he only read my blog if I seemed to be very upset or struggling with something. He felt better when he read my blog and it gave him some idea of what I was feeling. Of course, I asked him why he didn’t ask me what I was feeling. His answer was that sometimes when he asked me how I felt I gave him short, dismissive answers and he didn’t want to pry into my business. I think he is afraid of what I might tell him, afraid it will be more than he can handle, afraid he won’t respond appropriately. We’ve been trying an exercise where we share the best and worst part of our day with each other everyday and it seems to be helping us share how we feel with each other. As for the blog my husband has agreed to not search for my new blog so I am going to return to blogging.
I was surprised to find that I hadn’t written a post for 10 days because it feels like I have been doing so much thinking and processing about therapy. I’ve had three sessions with M since my last post and one with my husband and H the marriage therapist. My obsessive thoughts about finding a stranger to have “forced” sex with have lessened. I’m sleeping better and feel more like myself. After our first marriage therapy session my husband tried to incorporate some of what I talked about in our next sexual experience. I didn’t find it exciting and mainly felt confused. I suspect that might have been part of what triggered the search online for a partner to fulfill my fantasy. I managed to talk to my husband more about my sexual fantasies and how conflicted I feel about acting them out even though I find them exciting. I also shared how sex doesn’t seem very associated with love for me right now. I even find it difficult when my husband tries to express his love for me particularly during sex. I can accept loving gestures a little easier the rest of the time.
I’ve explored with M some of the reasons I am afraid to talk about desire with him even though I want to. Essentially I feel like there is something wrong with the intensity of my desire. I am afraid if I talk about sex or fantasy in detail during a session I will feel that desire or arousal and that will be confusing for me and he will be able to see the “wrongness” of it. M told me he understands that I am afraid he will judge me and that I am wrong or bad for how I feel but that he doesn’t think of it in those terms at all. He thinks that my feelings create a lot of pain for me and that I probably need to make peace with my feelings in order to feel less conflicted and in pain but that isn’t the same as thinking I am wrong or bad for how I feel. It sounds like that should be comforting when I wrote it out but it wasn’t during the sessions he had tried to explain it to me. Instead I felt even more despair and like I would never be able to talk to him about it. The more understanding he is about the reasons I am having trouble telling him the story the more I think he is agreeing that I shouldn’t talk about it, that it might cause me more pain to discuss it, that I might not trust him enough to talk about it, that it is a very layered subject that involves many different threads involving sexual desire as an adult, sexual abuse and how I felt conflicted about the abuse as a child, trust and control issues. By the time he is finished I don’t want to try to tell him anymore and so I sit in a frustrated, tearful silence almost gritting my teeth to keep myself from telling.
The story that I’ve been trying to tell him is the one I described here about my experience at 14 with my first boyfriend. I managed to tell M the story briefly using the phrase “my first boyfriend and I were making out and stuff and then he moved his hand to my ass and got thrown out of my body”. I told him the part that was hard to tell him was how I felt about “making out and stuff”. M was interested in the obvious dissociative response I had and how upsetting it must have been for me to be separated from my body but I told him I didn’t have any trouble telling him about that. I think I regularly could leave my body when I was being physically punished by my parents or being lectured and yelled at. I didn’t know that everyone didn’t separate themselves like that. I thought that was how a person could keep themselves from getting angry or responding. I think the hardest part was not being able to get back into my body when I wanted to. It is even less important to tell him the details of the story because he understood from what I said that I felt the “making out” very intensely and he thinks the desire I felt at the time might have been the trigger for the dissociation but I have always thought it was a reaction to his hand on my ass. I don’t think I felt like the desire and sexual arousal I felt at the time was “wrong” or inappropriate. I felt like it was wrong to describe it to M in the present.
M tried to tell me that even though I felt like I couldn’t talk about desire I was able to tell him the story about when I was 14 and so I would be able to tell him more stories. I disagreed because I didn’t tell him how I felt and instead he filled in part of the story and while he was mainly right about what he said that wasn’t the same as me telling the story so it didn’t help me talk more about my feelings. So now I feel like I can’t talk about desire and I still want to tell him the story even though he understands the story so I feel wrong that I want to tell him about details for no good reason. I believe that M is willing to listen to whatever I decide to tell him but he isn’t willing to lead the conversation even if I ask him to. He also doesn’t seem interested in any alternative ideas I have for telling him the story. I recorded myself telling the story and told him I was thinking I could play the recording for him. He didn’t seem interested or suggest I play it. He didn’t tell me why he didn’t think it was a good idea just didn’t respond to the idea at all. I think he thinks that I just have to talk, get up the nerve and tell my story, like I couldn’t as a child. He might be right and I may just want him to help me because I think if he helps me it means that he cares about me or my feelings or that he wants to hear what I say. I feel quite sad tonight because I trust M more than I ever have and I believe that he will listen to whatever I say but I don’t know if that is enough. I don’t know if he can help me find the reasons and the courage to tell my story. I feel like sessions like I had today reinforce my belief that I can’t talk and that he can’t help me and that isn’t good.
Today was therapy day. My husband and I met with a T for an assessment session that turned into a double session. I think I am going to call him H. H is a psychiatrist who is probably 10-20 years older than I am. He asked us that traditional “what brings you here today?” and we were off. My husband started talking about his goal to improve communication between us. We moved fluidly between what our marriage was like today and the past including our individual therapy histories, the abuse in my childhood and how it affects our sex life today, my husband’s childhood and the sudden death of his mother. It was a good conversation and H made some interesting observations and connections in what we chose to discuss today. At one point I used a specific phrase to describe what our current sex life was like for me. I said that I had told M we mostly had “drunken, angry, sex”. H asked me what I meant by that and I hesitated and my husband jumped in with his interpretation which isn’t at all what I meant. I didn’t know how to describe it and H said but you have been discussing it with your individual therapist. I replied “No, I’ve mentioned it like I did now but I haven’t discussed or explored it and I don’t know if M understood what I meant”. My husband asked me to try to describe it and after a few minutes I managed to start to tell my husband what I meant looking only at him and not at H. I kept the description very intellectual and non-emotional and H made the kindest possible interpretation of what I said and how it might represent a wish I had for the relationship I had with my husband. Then he asked me how I felt talking about it and then said perhaps you don’t feel you got all the way into it. That is true. I don’t regret it because I’m deeply ashamed both of my sexual behavior and desires and of what they say about me. I don’t think the first meeting with a marriage therapist is the place to delve into that kind of shame. We agreed to meet with H again in a couple of weeks and both my husband and I felt good about the session.
Afterwards I thought about the fact that when I mentioned “drunken, angry, sex” (DAS) to M a few months ago I didn’t say anything more about it (kind of like I was reporting the final score of a sporting event) and he didn’t ask me any questions. Ideally the place to delve into that topic would be with an individual therapist with whom I’ve built a long-term therapeutic relationship. But I don’t. I struggle to even bring up a subject like that and M doesn’t ask me about it and I shut down very quickly. I know that M is very non-directive and willing to talk about anything that I want to talk about but that just leaves me feeling like it is my fault for not being brave enough to talk about it. That kind of illustrates part of the difficulty I have in therapy. Then there is the fact that I am continually preoccupied by my worries about what M really thinks of me, how needy and dependent I am on him and therapy and how annoying that must be, and my constant quit/don’t quit or find a new T/stay with M battles. So individual therapy brings up a lot of the issues I have around attachment, dependency, trust, vulnerability and those issue make it very hard to talk about the things that I am struggling with Irl like my weight or my sex life or my relationship with my husband.
So before I went to my session tonight I wrote M and email talking about how fear that he is angry with me for calling him recently even though I didn’t have a “good” reason to call and the way I am battling with myself about how needy I feel. I told him about our session with H and then told him that I managed to talk about DAS during the session. I told him that I wanted to talk to him about it but I realized that he wouldn’t ask me about it when I mentioned it and I didn’t know how to bring it up again. I wondered if this would be a good time for me to take a break from individual therapy and the endless cycle of attachment, need, shame, and self-loathing that get activated and concentrate on marriage therapy with my husband. Even writing the sentence stressed me out and I realized that even when I think a therapy break might be a helpful thing there is still a huge and relentless fear that wells up in me thinking about it. I sent the email to M about 30 minutes before my session. When I arrived M had just read my email. He didn’t mention my fear that he was angry at me for my recent phone calls or the idea of therapy break. Instead we talked about DAS, what I had told my husband and H, and the fact that there were a lot of things I didn’t tell them. I talked more about it with M. He asked me some direct questions which helped me keep talking about it and isn’t how he typically operates but I appreciated it. Near the end of the session M asked how I felt talking about it with him and what I was afraid he was thinking which gave me a chance to predict the reaction I might have to disclosing so much. I admitted I was afraid he thought I was disgusting (because it feels so wrong) and he told me he didn’t see it in those terms at all. He didn’t think I was talking about something wrong or disgusting and that he had a lot of sympathy for the obvious conflict and pain I had between sexual desire and my childhood experiences. I also admitted that something he had said earlier in the session made me think that I didn’t need to tell him everything that I did and that I might have said too much or told him something that wasn’t necessary. Saying too much is a big concern of mine. There are so many things I want to tell him and I stop myself because I don’t think they add anything new to the story of my life, like if I’ve told him three stories illustrating how incredibly narcissistic and emotionally abusive my mother was in my childhood why do I need to tell him more stories even if I want to. He pointed out that I was unnecessarily judging how much I said or what I chose to say and that telling more stories or giving more details was a way to flesh out the conflicting and confusing feelings I had about a subject. I thanked him for telling me what he thought at that moment which has given me something positive to remember when I think about the session.
I’m feeling awful. I had the third session with M where we talked about the big fight I had with my husband. Initially I appreciate talking to M when something difficult happens to me. I don’t think about what to talk about and whether it is worth talking about or if it is going to be helpful. I may not describe all the details but I always feel like M hears me and understands what I am feeling. He normalizes my feelings and actions. Later as we continue to discuss something I start to worry that he isn’t being honest about what he thinks. Last week during my second session I told him more about my fight with my husband, the big one and the follow-up discussions we had. I expressed how frustrated I was with how my husband communicates (or doesn’t more likely) except when he gets very angry. All of a sudden I realized that I probably sounded like a complete bitch to M. Why did I think that? Because I had spent thirty minutes recounting various repetitive fights I’ve had and the things I’ve done to try to change things between my husband and me and M hadn’t said much at all. He didn’t say or do anything except not really respond much beside saying things like “that sounds very difficult or frustrating” or “I can hear how you are trying”. I pretty much stopped talking and started wondering whether I was doing all the same things as I was accusing my husband of doing.
One of the things I was thinking about today during my session was wondering if M and I were going to go back to the discussion we were having before the fight with my husband about whether I mattered to him and how I felt like I didn’t. I had written him a very honest email and had hoped to discuss it in person but it had got side tracked after I started talking about the fight with my husband. Today I left his office feeling frustrated that I couldn’t force myself to go back to that topic and that I didn’t think talking anymore about the fight with my husband was helpful. My husband and I have an appointment to meet with a marriage therapist this week. Tonight my eldest child dropped a bombshell on me by telling me who she is dating and her feelings about her own sexual preferences. I had suspected what she told me for a while and was almost prepared to have the discussion but still feel unsure of myself. Parenting is so hard and it drives the fight with my husband and my difficulties with M out of the forefront of my mind. So I always feel like I don’t give anything the attention it deserves and I keep falling further and further behind.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word complain is ‘to express grief, pain, or discontent’. I think everybody must complain at some point in time and that it is a necessary part of communicating. It has a lot of negative connotations to me. It suggests complaining without purpose, being too sensitive or difficult.
Last week when I was talking to M about how therapy works and how much I wanted a plan for therapy I told him that I thought that telling him sad stories about my childhood was just complaining. I told him that I frequently fight the urge to tell him things because I thought everything I said was whiny and stupid and pointless. I meant I’ve already told him that my parents had narcissistic traits and didn’t care about my feelings needs. They were at best emotionally neglectful and sometimes quite mean and abusive. I know that it damaged me so how many stories do I have to tell (or remember) that demonstrate their parenting style. I am always remembering more things and wanting to talk about it but I don’t know why. Complaining about my parents won’t help me move forward and do things differently in my life, will it?
A couple of days after my session, I had a fight with my husband. It started with me trying to talk to my husband about how hurt I was by his actions (or inaction in this case). There is no point is describing what hurt me because I am trying not to get caught up in judging which of us was “right” in this case. I used “I statements” like they encourage you to do in order to communicate. I said I felt hurt when …. and I felt ignored when … My husband reacted like I had said “you are the worst husband in the world” and almost immediately bit my head off. When I defended myself and tried to restate things he lost his temper and said “all you do is complain, complain, complain…you don’t know what it is like for me to try to live with ..” My memory gets foggy but he added something about me making him miserable. Since then I have been trying to figure out what the difference is between “complain, complain, complain” and expressing my feelings.
I spent my first session this week describing the fight and asking M whether one could express their feelings without complaining. He talked about the importance of expressing your feelings when you are in a relationship with someone so that they can understand how you feel and the importance of listening to the other person’s feelings. He said he thought complaining to the person who hurt you was very different from complaining to a another person about what happened. The first was an attempt to repair the relationship while the second was venting. It makes me wonder about therapy though because I am not telling the people who hurt that they hurt me. Instead I want to tell M that I’ve been hurt.
I will be talking more about complaining with M and with my husband. I don’t want my husband to be thinking I just complain all the time and make his life miserable but I can’t ignore how I feel. It seems like a very difficult line to walk.
I talked to my husband about the idea of both of us having a session with M. He said he was willing but of course I had to explain more about what I was talking about with M. I told him that I felt like he had changed his behaviour after our last disagreement/conversation and I didn’t know why because he hadn’t discussed it with me. He was frustrated because he thought he was doing what I asked and changing his attitude and we didn’t need to talk about it. I told him that I didn’t ask him to do what he is doing but he thought I did. We had a conversation and then he went away and decided what would fix it and then decided I asked him to change and his main goal appeared to be not having to talk to me about it again. Then I told him I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet with M because I felt pretty hopeless about our ability to change how we interact. I was very sad and cried a lot. My husband asked me lots of questions about how I felt and he even wrote himself notes but he didn’t really talk about what he was thinking or feeling. After an hour I told this was an example of how things worked with us. I had shared a lot of my feelings and thoughts and he wrote notes and didn’t tell me anything. He got upset and told me that the notes were for him and if he wanted me to know what was in the notes then he would have written them to me. That pushed me over the edge. I was so hurt. I feel completely shut out, like he doesn’t think I am good enough to know what he is thinking. He like to dissect my thoughts and feelings but I guess his are off-limits. He got angry I was so upset even though I tried to explain I was hurt because he was leaving me out.
So as preparation for my session with M tonight I wrote him an email describing the conversation with my husband. He replied by email saying that I was looking for my husband to respond in a way that wasn’t comfortable for him and wasn’t his way. I think that is another way of saying I”m expecting too much from my husband or being unreasonable. I wish he had waited until my session to tell me this because now I don’t even want to go to my session. I don’t want to hear M side with my husband or tell me I can only change myself. I know that and it isn’t helping me.