Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Let's Make a Deal

So last night he tells me he is sorry he called me a bitch. Unfortunately, further conversation revealed that he is still holding me responsible for how he behaves.

I told him that in order to feel safe with him again, I need to know that he accepts full responsibility for his behavior and that name calling will not happen in the future under any circumstances.

"What?", he said. "You want me to just unilaterally disarm?" "This isn't a war", I told him. "Weapons have no place in a marriage."

I pointed out that I had stopped yelling, because I knew it bothered him. I no longer slam doors. I don't try to continuing engaging with him when he wants to stop talking, even though he has not kept a 'time out' agreement in a year. (When he takes a 'time out' it doesn't mean he is going to go calm down so we can better discuss the issue. It is his way of disengaging for weeks.) "I did all that", I told him, "and your behavior has not changed."

He wouldn't agree to a ban on name calling regardless of circumstances. (double standard here). Basically, he says if I do something to make him mad (like tell him I am upset about something he did or didn't do) then he will reserve the right to 'fight back'.

This is what Lundy Bancroft says in "Why does he do that?"

He justifies his hurtful or frightening acts or says that you "made him do it."

The abuser uses your behavior as an excuse for his own. He therefore refuses to commit unconditionally to stop using a degrading or intimidating behavior. Instead, he insists on setting up a quid pro quo, where he says he'll stop some form of abuse if you agree to give up something that bothers him, which often will be something that you have every right to do.

So I'm not going to take that 'deal'. I could use 'I feel' statements and stroking and never raise my voice over a whisper and he would still find a way to justify abuse.

Just because I'm not perfect
doesn't mean I deserve to be abused.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bizarre Distortions of Reality

I've also been reading "Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft. He says abusers twist things into their opposites. My husband does that in matters small and large. Here's an example from last night.

I made the mistake of trying to make light conversation with Bob. He had cooked, and I was very hungry, so I sat down to eat with him. I was trying to tell him about a conversation I had that I thought might be of interest to him. I started to tell the story and he interrupted me to comment on an aside. He didn't interrupt me in mid-sentence so I responded to his question. And then another and another.

His questions didn't sound like real questions, i.e. requests for information about my point of view but more like a poorly done cross examination. I tired to get back to what I was originally trying to say a couple of times between questions. Finally I say, I'd like to get back to the point I was making. I said this in a completely calm, polite way. He said "Oh, so I just shouldn't say anything?" in a hostile tone. "What are you talking about?" I asked him. I took time to respond to your comments and you now suggest I am saying you shouldn't say anything just because I said would like to return to my original point??!?

He said "Well you got mad". "Are you asking me how I feel or telling me?" I asked. He then asked me. I told him I had felt slightly frustrated. It seems he will pick up on a feeling, (although any gradation of frustration or annoyance is the equivialant of rage to him), and then assume he knows why I am feeling this way. In this case, his twisted interpretation seemed to be that I didn't want him to say anything.

Maybe he is feeling muzzled because I no longer stay around to listen to his abuse. Where's the fun in being abusive if there's no one there to abuse?

Or maybe this is one of his parataxic distortions, reacting to me as if I were his parents. Hey remember me Bob? It's Jennie, your old pal. The one you used to talk with for hours when you were interested in my point of view. Remember when we shared ideas, sometimes agreed, sometimes not, but both enjoyed the exchange? I'm still that same person. If you had talked to me in the beginning the way you do now, I never would have talked with you again.

Or is this his way of controlling the conversation like Bancroft says. In his book Bancroft answers the question "Why does he say that I am abusing him?"

He says "The lens of entitlement the abuser holds over his eyes stands everything on its head. . . " Why does he think that I am the one that is doing all the talking? Perhaps because as Bancroft explains "[I]n his mind she's supposed to be listening, not talking. If she expresses herself at all, that's too much."

"Bancroft says that when he challenges his clients to stop bullying their partners, they twist his words around just as they do their partners'. (I'm not sure 'partner' is the most accurate word to describe the women who are with abusers). "They accuse me of having said things that have little connection to my actual words."

It is discouraging to know that some men even do that to a male counselor. Yet is is affirming to know that it isn't my fault. His view of reality really is that distorted.


Friday, April 25, 2008


One of the more disconcerting behaviors, that I seem never to become accustomed to, is his pretending that nothing is wrong. Acting like nothing happened.

Nothing is happening. All is well. Time heals all wounds, without any apologies, any understanding, any resolution.

Three weeks ago I told him that since he had not changed his behavior, I needed to withdraw from him emotionally and limit my interaction with him as much as possible. Two weeks ago I asked him to quit even touching me. Yet tonight, he asks me if I want to go out to dinner. You would think that after all this time I would somehow be used to it. But I'm not. But I have changed how I act when he does it.

I dodged. Yep, I guess that is a verbal abuse technique, but I didn't do it to abuse. I did need to leave the house right then, but even when I came back, I didn't give him a reply. Nor, surprisingly, did he ask. Weird.

I decided to wait until he asked again hoping he might catch a glimpse of how it feels to not be responded to, as if he hadn't even asked. Not to hurt him, but to help him understand. But then I didn't know if I should just say "No thanks" or whether I should tell him how that strikes me in view of what I have said. Seems like he is ignoring the obvious - there is a problem. He does that in so many areas of his life. I know it isn't limited to me.

So who knows, in his world, maybe instead of giving a direct answer to a direct question, people just ignore you if they mean no. No, I don't think that's it. At least it isn't that way on a business level for him. There have been times when he would continue to call and call a prospect who was sort of shining him on long after I thought, they just don't want to tell you no. But it might be different in the area of personal and women relationships for him. Hmmm, I wonder if he even thinks of me like a woman relationship. I doubt it. Doesn't feel like it.

Or maybe his invitation was just an impulsive act springing from the thought of the moment. Once he forgot about it, I am so nonexistent to him the fact that he had extended an invitation to me wouldn't matter once it was no longer on his mind. I think that's more likely.

And here I am twisting my brain into a pretzel, getting a headache, trying, again, to figure out what they hell is this guy thinking. Guess I better stop doing that.

Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal With People Who Try to Control You


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nothing more I can do here

PhotobucketMy abusive husband says that he called me a bitch because I provoked him. Classic abuser thinking. As if I had the power to move the muscles of his lips. And to force his hand to pick up my telephone and throw it.

I know that nothing can be done so long as he either honestly believes or hopes that I'll believe, that his abusive behavior is due to my so called 'provocation'.

He has an incredible sense of entitlement. He calls names, throws things and says it is my fault. I try to tell him how I feel when he does those things and he immediately says "You're blaming me".

Actually the 'blame' word never entered my mind. The need to find out who is to blame is a feature of dysfunctional relating. But even if 'blame' were, relevant, Here is how he sees it: What I do causes his feelings and his behavior, but what he does is in no way causes my feelings. Sick.

Last friday, I asked him to quit touching me. I hate the way he tries to act nice when this stuff has happened. But he always does. So he said he would quit touching me. We speak only a few words to each other during the day, and of course I sleep alone.

I used to feel lonely and shut out when that would happen. Now I just feel relief. I am doing so much better now that I don't engage with him. And now that I have given up hope. Well, maybe not all hope. When I move out, I guess there is some possibility he will reconsider whether he has a problem. But I have no hope that anything will change until I do something that drastic.

In the meantime, at least I have peace. I am finding it easier to concentrate on my work. I am getting the backlog done slowly but surely. I don't spend time fixing the house up and the yard now, because I won't be here. I am so sad about that because I LOVE this house. And I wanted so badly to have a home. But it's not home where someone is abusing you, no matter how beautiful the floors and walls.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What would this conversation sound like in a healthy relationsip?


One thing that helps me not get caught up in the craziness is to ask myself "What would this conversation sound like in a healthy relationship?" Here is just one example.

This is how it went:

I got home from a day running errands.

Bob: "What are you doing here?"

me: It's 3:00, that's when I told you I'd be home.

Bob: It's 3:00! Oh no. My watch stopped. I thought it was only 1:00.

[I knew Bob had an appointment in the late afternoon but not exactly when. Today was the deadline to mail our tax returns. Last night he said he would do it today. Now I was concerned that if he was running late, either I might need to do it, or he might forget them because he was in a hurry.]

me: Are you going to mail the tax returns when you go out?

Bob: (in an irritated voice) "You don't understand. I thought it was two hours earlier."

me: I realize that you thought it was two hours earlier. What is it you think I don't understand?

Bob: You don't understand that I'm late and I don't even have the papers I need to take together yet.

me: Well it is true I don't know those things. Did you tell me?

Bob: I told you it is two hours later than I realized.

me: Yes, I understand it is later than you thought but I don't know what time you need to leave or what preparations you need to make first. I wouldn't know that because you didn't tell me.

[Not having heard any request yet, I went into another room.]

Bob: (yelling from the other room) Could you mail the tax returns?

[I did mail the tax returns but did not offer any other assistance due to the way he was behaving.]

Here is how the conversation would go in similar circumstances in a healthy relationship:

me: Are you going to mail the tax returns when you go out?

Bob: I know I said I would do it, but since I just realized my watch stopped, I'm running late. I need to leave in ten minutes and I still need to get my papers together. I would really appreciate it if you would mail them. Would you?

me: Sure honey. Sorry your watch stopped. Is there anything I can do to help you get your things together?

It is so freakin simple.

Patricia Evans says that verbal abusers not only think they can read your mind, but that you can read theirs too. Bob acted as if I should have known what time he needed to leave. I should have known that he wasn't ready yet. I should have known that he wanted me to mail the tax returns All without him explaining his situation to me and making a request.

And he shouldn't have to acknowledge that he said he would do it. He shouldn't have to ask me politely for my help. I should just know what his situation is, what he wants me to do, and just do it.

Master psychic that he is, he also knows why I asked if he would be mailing the returns. He knows it wasn't because I was concerned that if he was running late he might want me to do it or if he still intended to do it, that he might forget because he was in a hurry.

Patricia Evans compares the relationship of the abusive man to his wife with that of a child with his Teddy Bear. Teddy would know. Teddy would just take care of it. It's a wonder he didn't get upset that I didn't call him while I was out to tell him his watch had stopped. Teddy would know his watch had stopped.

Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal With People Who Try to Control You


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