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Starting out on this path.., battling a ghost.
February 3, 2004
5:38 pm
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josiecat
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September 27, 2010
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Hello all:

Great group, from the bits & pieces I've read. I don't normally join in places like this, but I have questions & it feels right.

Years ago I was in a relationship (entanglement,) not abusive, but the guy picked up the idea of 'codependent' and gave me 'Codependent No More.' We later broke up. Still good friends. I later got married to someone else. It's going alright, but I'm not happy & can't put my finger on why. There has been controlling behaviour, and I'm going through life changes through processing my childhood that are allowing me to finally discover & maybe assert my needs & wants.

I've got the perhaps stereotypical abusive background, inability to state what I really need, caretaking people around me in an effort to preserve myself, etc. Lately I've been praying alot and making steps toward defining and fulfilling my own needs from within myself, but I find I'm still sucked in to the old dance. When and how does it stop?

This is so hard to put together. I'm still married, and unhappy. Some days happy, others not. I could point to not being continually in my relationship with God, (not centered,) and that I look outward for fulfillment as the place that I slip back into blame & finger-pointing, caretaking & all the other codep behaviors. But when I go there, I often see his anger & it's not fun to be around. When I am alone, a little voice in my head says 'you can't live this way,' and 'leave,' but I don't know yet if it's leaving the state of mind/emotion I'm in, or the relationship or what.

When I bring up an issue for discussion (like bad communication, trying to turn to my spouse first, ) it always digresses into the fact that it was my problem, I misheard, misinterpreted his words, or... He often comes across as angry and untrusting. Or lately, he refuses to respond, just goes to sleep claiming "He's tired," with one of those long looks that says he's tired of the same old issue coming up again. Well, I try to say it comes up because it's never solved , but... I once left, but came back. Didn't have the mojo or means to make it on my own so consciously returned until such time as I could support myself & make better decisions. (Hey, it was safe at least, even if it was crazy-making.) Now he doesn't trust me to not leave. Perhaps this is right, based on my behavior. But you'd think after a while he'd get over it.?

He does everything he can to be what he thinks I need. He's willing to do anything to have me stay (or more, to not give me a reason to leave.) He denies having any problems with the relationship himself. If I do state a need, he'll act on it and respond without asking me if it's something that would work for me. So he's become a mirror of what he thinks I want/need. He doesn't appear to be himself anymore (and is starting to show signs of it, physical problems.) Yet he says it's maintainable. How on earth can this be true? Can't say I'm quiet about that, either.

Often our conversations go to a point where I literally can not think. I'm getting better at dealing with this, realizing it's denial, fear and pain rearing it's head. but I feel I'm talking to a brick wall. He can pick up in the morning & everything is OK, new & nothing happened. He forgets hurtful things he says to me.

I can piece it together so it looks like emotional abuse, or like it's a figment of my imagination. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. Other times I'm determined to not be beaten by this, myself, or my own demons that are playing into it. Perhaps I've got too big a caretaking complex & I want to be able to support him through changes he just doesn't want to make. Part of me knows it's not my job.

At this point, I'm a little lost... Not sure what I'm looking at, and feeling like I'm battling a ghost. Just when I think I have a solution for myself, it all shifts... I can understand it all, but am unable to act effectively. I've got a call into a counsellor, I'm a little afraid of how my spouse will respond to me going, he's put up flack & fear of my figuring out what I want in life in the past because it might not include him. Although he's backed off that, the initial impression was strong.

Does this all sound like BS to y'all? Am I making it all up & I have the best man out there? (as my mother would let me know.)

Continuing to plod toward independence...

February 3, 2004
6:48 pm
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gingerleigh
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September 30, 2010
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Keep up the spirit! I've never seen you post before, and your style is clear and well thought out and analytical. That's good, you sound like a bright girl 🙂 Maybe you are trying to analyze too much... your husband is willing to try, that's obvious. But it seems like he doesn't know what to do because you don't know what you want either (and I'm not picking on you about that, because I'm pretty sure that's part of what you're struggling with, not being sure about where you yourself want to plot your course).

I got married recently, and something my father of all people said to me is making more and more sense each day. He said "now you have to put each other first". Which when I heard it I just thought "well, duh." But there's so much more to it. When you put each other first, as a couple you grow. Putting each other first doesn't necessarily mean that you always agree or that every issue gets solved. But it means that you put your husbands needs as number one on your priority list, and he puts your needs as number one on his list. I don't mean things like "Well, he wants to see that movie and I don't but I have to put his needs first..." That's a want. The two of you I'm sure can figure out how to compromise on stuff like that. But needs, those are different beasties.

As people who are labeled "codependent" (which by the way I think is a totally bullshit label that people who don't want to really take full responsibility for themselves and their destinies hide behind), so many times they (and myself included) are having to learn how to express their needs. That pendulum swings all the way from stuffing our own needs over to thinking everyone else should automatically meet our needs now that we suddenly know what those are. *smile* It's a balancing act. The balance comes from knowing what your needs are and expressing them in such a way that they can be met by yourself or your husband, and also being able to listen to what needs your husband has. And your husband should do the same for you. Again, I'm not talking about wants here... like if you "need" to be heard and you want to vent to him about your day, sometimes men just can't deal with that. They want to fix things. If you just want to vent, call your mom or a gal pal 🙂 If you really are looking for a solution to a problem, ask your husband. You need to be heard and helped, and I bet you a dollar that he needs to respected and collaborated with.

With all of the changes that you are processing and going through, it's understandable that he will feel threatened and unsure that you might pick up and leave again. You would probably feel the same way if you were in his shoes. You'll need to keep reassuring him, it might take a month, it might take 3 years, but eventually he will get it. You made a pretty deep withdrawl into that emotional bank account when you left, and it will take some time and TLC to build it back up to the level it was before. Not saying you have to tippie toe around or brown nose, but you will have to make some effort.

If counseling on your own feels threatening to him, do you think he might be willing to do a few marriage counseling sessions with you, maybe meet with your priest/pastor together? It might alleviate some of his fears that your concerns and changes aren't about him and the marriage, that you just want to make the marriage stronger.

Two books by pop psychs that are worth a persual... Relationship Rescue (Dr. Phil) and Care and Feeding of Husbands (Dr. Laura). Both of their personalities just drive me nuts, but these two books have some ideas worth considering.

Good luck, josie!

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