Monday, July 19, 2010

I Give Myself a "C"

*sigh* Okay, you know how I wrote a few posts back about how I FINALLY understood it wasn't about me, and nothing I could say would change my husband when he was in his trauma brain? I got an "A" that day. Good job, self!

At best I get a "C" for this weekend. I DID fall back into that stupid, stupid position of trying to explain to him how much his PTSD/PAPD behavior was hurting me. I DID fall back into that stupid, stupid idea that once he saw what it was doing to me, he would quit. I totally forgot that when he was there in the bad place, there was nothing I could do to change it or get him to leave any sooner. I totally forgot that trying to reason with him only gives him ammo.

In other words, I was unable to detach emotionally from him and walk away. I was so used to living in a love relationship with him (six and a half weeks with only minor setbacks: a new record!) that I forgot everything I learned about PAPD. I kept talking to him like he was my lover and friend, when he was stuck in trauma land.

This is harder than I thought it would be. And as far as the therapist warning it would get worse again before it stayed better, the voice of experience wins again.

Detaching sucks because I have a hard time with the idea of temporary anything. I want to be either all in or all out of this relationship. Of course that is childish thinking. None of us are all good or all bad. I need to get some maturity, enough to recognize what's going on, and pull back with the understanding that he will come out of it in due time, BUT UNTIL HE DOES, freeze the s.o.b. out of my heart to protect myself.

But this weekend, starting with Thursday night and not really ending until Saturday late morning, reminds me that I have to retrain my own brain to not react. I still have my own traumas, and oh how I am looking forward to finishing this EMDR therapy and being freed from all that emotion!!

The Thursday night walk was a "perfect storm" of yuck. My daughter was triggered by my use of the word "nerd", I was triggered big-time for having my good heart accused of wickedness (QDs know how painful that can be!) and my husband, who was already teetering on the edge of the cliff, was triggered by my trying to de-escalate the situation by turning and walking away quickly. Oy vey.

My husband stormed off home without me, while I tried talking to my daughter. I wound up walking home without her as she would not listen to me. But of course I wanted precious time and tears pleading with her first.

The anguish I felt about being falsely accused of a wicked heart, when I was actually being affectionate and playful, was much deeper than this one situation. I grew up with that pain, and when it happens again it just adds to the accumulated hurt stored up inside of me. I was hurting so bad! I was desperate to get my daughter to listen to me, but she was cold and hard. So I finally wised up and walked home alone crying.

When I got home, my husband was waiting for me on the stairs with open arms and apologies. We cried together. When my daughter got home, we included her and welcomed her with hugs. There were lots of tears, and explanations and reassurances, while my daughter spoke and we reassured her heart. So far, so good.

But when she was apologizing for walking away from me, that's when things got worse in my husband again. He sympathized with her for abandoning me and shutting me out like that (she was apologizing, and here he tells her that anyone would treat me like that!) totally turning the whole thing around to the old paradigm. You know, cold-hearted and cruel "self-controlled" Dad and daughter against "crazy emotional mom". Thankfully my daughter didn't embrace it, but was shocked that her dad would change so quickly. The anger that jumped out of him so suddenly just freaked her out. When she didn't bond with him like he expected, he got up and stormed off again.

The pain that rose up in my heart at this turn in the conversation would break your hearts if you could feel it, kind readers. It is the unfairness of being pinched till you bleed by the bully at school, then being scolded and punished by the teacher for talking out of turn when you cried out in pain. And so in pain, I reacted. If only I could have recognized this as the return to PAPD - when he pretends to be understanding but follows up with cruelty which is again followed by a seeming desire to reconcile but it's only a trap to be cruel again- like the iguana being burned on the basketball court who is offered a way out only to have it blocked by a bully when he gets close to escape.

While husband stormed off my daughter and I came to closure. I reassured her that her Dad's behavior was not her fault. I made it very clear that even though she had been triggered herself, she was NOT responsible for her father's behavior. I told her my best guess was that it was probably delayed reaction to that week's therapy and his parents visit the previous weekend.

My husband did not take a time-out as he has in the past, though I assumed he had since he was alone somewhere. We went to bed in an uneasy state. The next morning he went off to work still in trauma, came home for lunch in the same state, and came home from work not any different. Unfortunately, all this time I was back to playing the victim, trying to get him to care about me and reconcile our relationship.

When he got home from work in the evening, after first ignoring him, I fell for his efforts at reconciliation again. I was so frustrated and in so much emotional pain! I can't openly write of how much I was hurting, it's too vulnerable. I wanted to disappear from the earth. I was in deep anguish.

He seemed to truly snap out of it that night, to stop being so arrogant and self-centered. He offered apologies and love. He held me and spoke comfortingly and tenderly. We went to bed in each other's arms.

But Saturday morning, he woke up mean as a snake. He started off by accusing me of being controlling (I knew I was in the "mommy box" then!) when I asked if he was okay. I inquired after his welfare because something wasn't right in his face. It had lost it's animation. His face gets passive and flat and his eyes get small and hard when he is in his reptilian brain.

I went downstairs first and warned the teens about his mood. My daughter hugged me; my son expressed his support. My husband then came downstairs and tried to get my daughter to hate on me with him again, but she refused. She told him that we both needed a time-out from each other (diplomatic and kind of her)and my son told him to stop being an, eh hem, unkind person.

So he did. And this time it took! Final time out (maybe first real time out, I don't know) thirty six hours after initial onset of emotional abuse. That is definitely regress, not progress. I hope this is as bad as it gets in the "it's going to get worst before it get's better" prognostication of our EMDR therapist.

So since noon Saturday the man appears to be in his right mind again, after the timeout our daughter called for. Looking back, he admits his depression has been deepening all week. He started making choices that would lead to sleep deprivation. He stopped having time for devotions, journaling, affirmations, etc. because he would stay up too late and then need the sleep in the morning. I can tell by holding him that he's gained weight again this week. ( He compulsively eats to deaden his feelings.) And even though he wasn't an ass yesterday, he spent almost all day alone and isolated from the family. I can't remember a day that he spent so much time alone.

Of course there's fall out from this for me. I am disappointed in myself, that I jumped back onto the basketball court, so to speak. I am still prone to crying spells, as it not only touched deep hurts in me to be repeatedly accepted then rejected, welcomed then abandoned, it confuses me and weakens my hope for a final end to this crap in our marriage. I don't want to find that after all this effort, the only way to end the crappy marriage is the end the marriage. I was hoping to just put an end to the crap, you know?

It's bad because now if/when he remembers to be tender, to touch me gently and speak to me kindly and look me in my eyes, my heart responds with doubt. He is truly being good to me, but it only bring tears to my eyes and I'm sure that my sorrow is not helping any to alleviate his depression.

I am not as confident that I can trust him, or that he is sincere in his kindness. I don't want to live waiting for the other shoe to drop. God doesn't treat me that way and I don't want to do it to my husband either, you know? I hate being governed by fear, yet finding a balance between self-protection and rebuilding what's been damaged is not easy.

Well, there's therapy on Tuesday! Yay! I remind myself that he is working on getting well, and I am working on getting well. One setback (which I was warned would happen) is not reason to abandon the whole process. There is still hope that our marriage (our hearts) will be rescued, healed, and made strong and healthy. The hope lies in each of us as individuals reaching that place.

Well, there you have it, folks. Though he was okay while his parents were here, he fell apart after they left. Unfortunately, whatever dark thoughts, feelings or memories are haunting him, pushing him to stop self-care, to destroy his only supportive relationships, he is still keeping those to himself. I hope he is able to share them with the therapist, because he isn't sharing them with me. And getting free from those hidden things, that's the real key to ending the crappy in our crappy home school marriage.

Peace to all who read here. May you know you are not alone, and may my transparency be helpful to you in some way. The thought that telling my story helps others in even a small way redeems my suffering. I need it to be redeemed. It would really suck if it ends up that I suffered all this just because I was too much of a Pollyanna goody-goody to get out earlier.


  1. I have started this comment three times and each one turned into a sermon you didn't need--apparently it was something I needed to hear! So I'll try again and just say that my love and prayers are with you all. <3 S

  2. PS that feels so lame and trite to have said, however heartfelt it was! Can I bring you a virtual cup of coffee or something?

  3. All I can think of is do you have someone who knows the situation well that you can call whenever he starts doing this? It might be a huge help to have someone to talk to who could remind you to disengage, get away from him, what to expect, etc. You shouldn't beat yourself up over not remembering things, in the heat of the moment it can be too hard to remember different patterns without help.


  4. Awww...big hugs. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. I agree with Anon: you aren't doing yourself or him any favors if you feel you need to stifle your natural reactions (crying, walking away, experiencing pain) because he has extremely sensitive triggers.

    You can work on changing your reactions because it is YOUR healing but not because you think it is helping HIS healing. That just becomes codependent.

    Do you have someone--your counselor? his counselor? a friend?--you can call in the moment for that necessary objectivity when you shouldn't have to find it in yourself?

    <3 Breathe. And then breathe some more. Then find something to make you laugh. Nothing heals like laughter.

  6. The whole point behind walking away IS FOR ME.

    My "C" is for not taking better care of myself while he was in his bad place. He has to get his own self out of there, I can't and that's the whole point.

    It only torments ME when I try to show him his fault, or how much he hurt me, or blah blah blah.

    And I am a grade wh***. I live for As. So expect improvement. I will find a way to keep from getting pulled onto the PAPD merry-go-round.

    So to all, thanks for the good will. And I don't beat myself up over Cs, only Ds or Fs. ;p

    So I'm good for now. n_n

  7. Ahh, those lovely grades! Isn't that part of the seduction of fundamentalism--of any flavor? The lure of knowing all the right answers for the ultimate test. Getting that big red letter A on the top of the God-paper for all to see.

    If only there weren't the necessary flip side that creates Hester Prynne's wearing the big red letter A on her dress instead of the test-paper.

    Guess that means there's something wrong with the system?

    Glad you are good.

  8. LOL I think I would blame my use of a grading scale on all those years in public school rather than fundamentalism- though we both know I am no fan of the fundamentalist religion.

    In truth, my only source of praise as a young child was at school. I was an early reader, home was a battle field and I was an overweight asthmatic, so no kudos for being athletic, beautiful or owning the coolest stuff. Instead, it was those little notes from the teacher that gave me positive feelings about myself. "Great handwriting." "Keep up the good work." and the ever-popular smiley face and star stickers. I smile just thinking about them!

  9. "I am disappointed in myself, that I jumped back onto the basketball court, so to speak."

    Please don't be. You are being emotionally abused. You are finding ways to cope with that, but at the heart of it you want -- and deserve! -- a relationship where you can feel safe. Lapses in your attempted preplanned reactions to his choice to abuse are not something you should feel bad about. The abuse shouldn't be happening in the first place!!! (I know he's had trauma, I've read all that. It's a shame, it really is. Doesn't negate HIS responsibility for HIS behavior.)

    "I don't want to find that after all this effort, the only way to end the crappy marriage is the end the marriage. I was hoping to just put an end to the crap, you know?"

    Well, that's always a worthy and noble goal. Sometimes IRL what happens is that we put in all that effort so that at the end, we can sleep with ourselves at night. We can say we worked our rears off and stayed longer than others would to try to preserve a nuclear family for our children. We can say we tried until there was nothing left to try.

    And then, if the marriage does end, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not due to anything we could control. We come out stronger, better people, closer to God, because we spent all that time trying to become stronger and better and closer to God. We are better in all our other relationships than we were before. We treat our good relationships like gold, and our bad ones with prayer and letting go, before they damage us both.

    I hope and pray your marriage survives, I really do. But if it doesn't, don't tell yourself you did all that work for nothing. You did it for YOU! You jumped on the accelerated spiritual fast-track to the person and purpose God created you to be and do! He will use it all for His Glory and you will be blessed!

    Praying for you all!

  10. Thank you, Anon! Your comments are very encouraging and affirming. They nourish my heart.

    Very kind of you. =)