Sunday, July 6, 2008

Teddy Check

PhotobucketI am doing much better at ignoring his craziness. For months, I felt tense and on edge around him. I don't anymore. I've come to expect that he will become unexpectedly and irrationally angry from time to time. (Irrational because he is angry about what he makes up about what I'm thinking, implying and intending rather than the truth of me). I pretty much just ignore it now. I decided I will not be afraid. He is merely annoying to me now. I am so emotionally distant from him that I simply don't care. But I am still thrown off balance by the "Teddy check"

In her book Controlling People, Patricia Evans uses the analogy of how a child relates to his teddy bear to describe how a controlling person tries to create a pretend relationship with a spouse.

A teddy bear is inanimate and compliant. A child plugs his thoughts and moves into the teddy making it "do and "say" what he wants. Teddy is comforting. A child talks to Teddy, and responds for Teddy. Teddy always appreciates you and never minds if you leave her sitting around for a while. Teddy gets things done, agrees with you, and think of things to do for you, even before you ask.

I think that Bob was attracted to me because of the ways in which the real me resembles his 'dream woman'. The problem is, he does not accept those ways in which I am not his dream woman.

In adulthood, the controlling spouse, i.e. The Pretender, is trying to plug his pretend person into the body of the partner. When the authentic woman speaks up the Pretender may think "Sometimes Teddy talks about stuff but
it doesn't have anything to do with you, so you just nod now and then." Teddy wants what you want.

One day Teddy is upset by something you did. How could this be? Delivering a barrage of diverting and and countering finally silences Teddy. Teddy stays quiet for a few days so okay, maybe everything is back to normal. Teddy malfunctioned briefly but maybe now she is back.

In the old days, I would always inquire about Bob's important business meetings. I was interested in his work and his successes and frustrations. Even now, I have no wish for him to fail. He is talented and I wish him well. It's just that I stopped giving that kind of attention to someone who was showing very little interest in my life and well being.

I have repeatedly and clearly spelled out the issues that need to be addressed and have been ignored. A few days ago I told him I would prefer that he would address me by my name, rather than with terms of endearment such as "sweetie" because such terms imply a degree of closeness that is not present between us. This upset him and he said sarcastically "Fine, I'll just drop this fantasy that everything is okay." "That would be great." I said.

It really would be great if he would drop the fantasy and relate to me as a real person.

As usual, after a few days have passed, Bob does what I call a "teddy check". I've been through this cycle with Bob more times than I care to remember. Even though it was late at night and I was in my room, he sought me out to tell me about his meeting that evening.
I thought something out of the ordinary that I needed to know about must have happened. After listening politely for a few minutes, I realized he simply wanted to talk to Teddy. I politely told him he would need to leave because I was going to sleep now. It is so maddening that he expects a loving wife to be there for him when he has shown a near total disregard for my needs. Unbeleiveable.

If you have never been treated as Teddy, it probably sounds weird if to feel annoyed when your spouse comes to you to share their good news. In a healthy relationship, spouses share their good news with each other. However, in a healthy relationship spouses also listen to each other when the other is upset about something. They try to understand each other. They try to reach and follow through on fair agreements with each other.

Perhaps I am having a hard time seeing the reality of him as well. The idea that relationships are reciprocal seems to be hardwired into my brain. I have to remember that he doesn't see it that way. I am Teddy to him. Teddy doesn't require reciprocation.

I feel like I am caught between bad choices. Must I growl at him each morning to remind him that we don't have a relationship? If I do, he will become surly. Yet when I am simply polite, as I would be to any stranger, he thinks Teddy is back.


jonnee k said...

Nice way to explain it to kids also...
It is shorthand for the problem that helps you remember to avoid seeking reciprocity when it is unavailable.

jennie said...

I agree it would help kids. Evans explains the concepts very simply and clearly.

If you want reciprocity with someone who sees you as 'Teddy', make sure you get yours first.

Mariana said...

Hi Jennie,

This post was very interesting. I have created a website on emotional abuse (both in SPanish and english) and you can find more information there.

Hope it helps :)

All the best!


jennie said...

That's wonderful you have created a website Mariana. I'll check it out and post the link tomorrow.

It is so wonderful to have this resource of the internet to help each other heal.

I hope you are doing well and that you find the love you so richly deserve.

cmoursler said...

Amen, preach it. This is my husband to a t. He will say something horrendous and then come around like nothing happened. I never thought of it this way before. I just thought he was a narccicist.

Anonymous said...

I am a recovering abuser. Please do not hate me, I am in real therapy and am really working on it everday. This is totally how it is and every husband who verbally abuses should read this article to begin the healing process.

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