Sunday, May 18, 2008

"You got mad at me"

Yesterday Bob was recounting some of his grievances against me. I realized that almost every one of them was basically, "You got mad at me". What he did that I was mad about was irrelevant.

For example he reminds me that I got mad at him when he barked at me "Why don't you just fucking tell me!" when I asked if he wanted to hear my ideas about where to stay that night when we were on vacation one summer.

He was driving down a steep, curvy, dark mountain road late at night and I thought it might be taking all his concentration. He interpreted my question as (can you guess?) as an ATTACK. He did not recognize that I was being considerate. He thought I was ACCUSING him of not wanting to hear what I had to say. He later told me that because I had previously complained that often I felt like he didn't want to hear what I had to say, that I was accusing him of doing that again.

I start to feel dizzy just trying to follow his logic. Seems to me that if your loved one sometimes felt like you didn't want to hear what they said that you might make an effort to show that you are interested rather than yell "What don't you just fucking tell me!"

So that was the horrible thing I did - I got mad. Imagine the nerve!

Okay, but I confess that wasn't all I did. I was scared. It was a bad road and I don't want to be a passenger in a car with an enraged man at the wheel. So about five minutes later I said I had to pee. He pulled over. I got some warm clothes and shoes from my suitcase in the trunk. We were in very remote country. We had not seen another car in two hours. Nonetheless, I told him I was not getting back in that car with him unless I was driving and until he calmed down. And if that meant I spent the night under a pine tree, so be it.

"Freedom from accountability means that the abusive man considers himself above criticism. If his partner attempt to raise her grievances she is 'provoking' him. ", says Lundy Bancroft in "Why Does He Do That?".

It is commonly believed that abusive men have a problem managing their anger. This is what Bancroft says:

"Your abusive partner doesn't have a problem with his anger; he has a problem with your anger. One of the basic human rights he tries to take away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn't rise and your blood shouldn't boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone."

No wonder Bob is so unhappy. Despite his relentless attempts, he has never been able to convince me that there is something wrong with me for feeling angry. So I do not dispute his grievances. Yes, I got mad. And I'm not sorry. Anger is a healthy response to abuse.

Bancroft says this about abusers and anger:


Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men


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