Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
2 Youngsters I can't control.

3 yr old SS crying all the time!

A bio-mom worried about new stepmom in her daughter's life- can we help?

About ready to throw in the towel!

About to become a step parent and am terrified!

Bio mom badmouthing me to my stepson & he repeats to me & my kids.

Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do?

Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.

Bio-mom is online stalking & has issues w/ pictures of skids.

Bio-mom physically assaulted me & telling skids it was the other way around?

Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what?

BM doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on?

Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS-revised

Dealing w/ bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me?

Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family

Dealing with SD at my young age

DH finds out he has a daughter-I feel terrible

DH sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do?

DH w/3 bio-kids not trying to bond w/ my 2 bio kids.

Do I love my ss? I don't know.

Does the BB help or hurt with issues?

Don't know where I went wrong

Ever Feel Like Leaving?

FDH feels guilty about leaving BM & allows her to excessively call/text/email him.

Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help!

Feeling like the enemy in my own house: Teen SD

Feeling resentment towards my SS & can't connect

From BB- A Ritual for you & your beloved

From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that?

Help w/situation that dad, biomom & skid all agree on but I don’t feel is best

Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS

How can I find the right balance & Boundaries?

How can I handle my SD8 who loves negative attention?

How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family when I'm more realistic about it?

How do I deal with a lying SD, her bio-mom & the ex-step mom?

How do I deal with all the hurt and anger?

How do I help her understand that chores and rules don't mean that I don’t love her?

How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend?

How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices?

How to deal w/ unkind skids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship?

how to deal w/SD choosing bio-mom for school play?

How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$?

How to handle it when skids away Christmas Day?

How to help ss, when BM encourages him to lie?

How to help when bio-mom returns

How to let go of the single life I thought I saw going to live versus being SMOM?

How to make transition easier for skids?

how to step back in after stepping out?

Husband still feels guilty, his kids in their 30’s

I am frustrated with my skids 99% of the time...help!

I feel jealous of DH's ex & unheard by DH-Help!

I feel left out & sort of invisible w/ grown SD’s

I really love my FDH, but really wish his daughter didn't exist?

I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson

I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter

I want my bed back

I would like to know how to change my attitude towards my new inherited family

I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me.

If you're in the mood for SMOMS Pep Talk-read this!

Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough

It's too much work- I need help from DH & Family!

Jealous of sister-in-law & Skids-what can I do?

Just jealous or maybe time to leave?

Local support stepmom groups???

My DH doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt

My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night.

Need better coping skills but..how to do so…

Not a step mom yet but need some guidance

Open for your Questions in March 2015

Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!!

Self-Pity-it's an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic

Someone to talk to when things come up or whenever?

SS5 keeps throwing his BM in my face! Help!

Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter

Stubborn DH and sexually active teenage SS

teenage step daughter & car...Ugh!

the problem is my partner...why is he fighting my efforts?

Transitions and Coparenting Struggles

Trouble coping w/BF's newborn & ex.

Venting Guidelines- A Requested approach

What are reasonable expectations?

What are these letters?

What boundaries do I need to set with husband and sd?

What can we do about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help!

What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old SS

What to do when Bio mom starts turning step daughter against me?

what to do when step child stops saying I love you?

When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your DH?

When BM causes drama, how to prevent that impacting my relationship w/ the skids?

When to call it quits? What to do?

When winning more important to bio-mom than getting along

Why do things Skid's say bother me so & what to do?-Updated!

Why does it bother me that my skids don't recognize how much their father does for th

Why does my ss's rudeness bother me so?

Why does my stepson Idolize his bio-mom????

Why don't I matter in the family?

Why so jealous? What about irrational fears?

What can we do about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help!
The following thread talks about such an important and energy filled emotion that I wanted it to stay available to new readers, instead of drift off the BB.

This SMOM was vulnerable and open and I've so much respect for her (and all SMOMS) so willing to look at ourselves as we work so hard to make things better in our lives.

I've included the other replies, as of this date. You can search the board for her thread, using her screen name.

May this offer your something of value, Cathryn


DIDNTSIGNUPFORTHIS WROTE ON THE GENERAL BB:
It hasn't happened in awhile, but it happened again last night. DH & I had a knock-down, drag-out fight and I was a screaming maniac while he sat there and stared at me like I was a crazy person. I have to admit it though, I WAS a crazy person. I was mean and nasty and said so many things that I know were hurtful. I know it when I'm saying it and I just can't stop myself. I actually say to myself 'stop it' 'shut your mouth' and I just can't. I keep going, and going and going.......

What sets me off is always the same....BM. Usually BM wanting more money from us or otherwise intruding in our lives. We have had a peaceful several months because she has a new BF and has been leaving us alone. Then last night she calls, and of course, DH picks right up and talks to her. Keep in mind HE has been trying to talk to her about some health issues of SD's for over 3 months. She will not respond to emails or answer calls. They are supposed to be 'email only' because of constant harassment from BM, so the first thing that bothered me was that he took the call at all. Then she proceeds to tell him that SD 9 is getting braces, so he needs to pay. He just says, 'well, keep me posted and let me know what you need'. I was beside myself. We already pay over 1k/mo in CS, plus travel, plus clothing and other things for SD for the brief times she is with us (because BM refuses to send anything decent with her).

I'm trying to put my finger on WHY I get so angry. I think it's mostly because I want him to stand up to her. She has cost us SO much money and heartache in the time that we have been married. Literally the week after our wedding she started filing with the courts and we have wasted close to $20k of MY money on courts, attorneys, etc. Not to mention the huge increase in CS and how that affects me, MY kids, and DH & my future together.

I really fear that if I keep reacting like that, that my marriage will end. I know it's wrong and I know I need to find another way to make my feelings known. I just want BM to leave us alone -- and I want DH to set boundaries with her -- and I feel like he refuses. At the end of our fight last night, after I calmed down a bit, I told him that part of what made me angry was that, while the past few months have been nice (BM Free), it was HER choice to be that way. Nothing DH did or didn't do caused that to happen. And now, she's broken up with Mr.Yesterday, so she's bothering us again and he's playing right into what she wants. I want HIM to set boundaries and keep her out of our lives.

Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do differently to stop the UGLY angry outbursts when my buttons get pushed? It felt horrible, and I feel horrible today 


CATHRYN REPLIED:


Hi,

I'm so sorry to hear about your argument.
What you are describing, what overtook you last night, is Rage.
Rage is more explosive than anger.
Rage is raw, powerful, energy that draws on every unexpressed ounce of anger you've held inside of you, not just recently, but your entire life. (I know that could be a lot, but it's true.)

Rage happens when we feel powerless and/or value-less and realize it suddenly (like what you heard and saw happen last night on the phone.)
Rage is knowing you are powerless to stop or change the person or situation that confronts you.
When rage mixes with our personality, our history and our mood of the moment, literally anything can happen in a matter of seconds, as you experienced.

There's a book titled, "Rage-A step by step Guide to overcoming explosive anger." It's by Ronald Potter-Efron.
He calls the kind of rage that you experienced and SO MANY of us experience...Impotent rage. Without ever referencing our stepmothering situations, he describes this impotent rage as being in a situation that you have no control over and no ability to change. I think many of us can identify with that rage BIG TIME.

Here are a few quotes from the book: (I thought of it as I read your post.)

He says you know you're suffering from impotent rage if you look back over an event and answer "yes" to these questionsSadpage 97)

"Did you feel like exploding because people didn't seem to be listening to you or understanding you?
Did you feel both helpless and furious about a situation that you couldn't control?
Did you say to yourself, 'I just can't take it anymore,' or something similar to that?
Did you get so angry that you had to do something-even if it made the situation worse?
Did you pound the ground, break things or scream out loud when things didn't go the way you wanted them to?
Did you harbor thoughts of violence or revenge toward people who had power or control over you?
Did you lose control, saying things and doing things you later regretted?"

Well, YES!!!! A thousand times YES!!! was my answer when I read that. Some questions more "yes" than others but I think you may be able to identify with this.

He continues: (Page 100)

He says that people experiencing Impotent rage often:

"believe they have been seriously injured by others. These injuries may be physical, financial or emotional."
"feel helpless to change the situation after they've made repeated efforts."
"eventually run out of socially acceptable ways to address the issue."
"become obsessed with the problem, virtually unable to think about anything else."
"Increasingly see themselves as innocent victims of others thoughtless and intentional actions against them and begin to think of their adversaries as evil people who must be punished."
"plan and sometimes carry out specific actions designed at least symbolically to right the wrongs they have suffered." END OF QUOTING BOOK

Holy Cow was he reading our minds or what?

He goes on to give a few sort of odd examples (Where we could give him thousands of good examples) and eventually gets to the "what can you do?' about it part. Here he is weak, in my view. He suggests recognizing that you can only do whatever you can do and after that...accept your fate and move on. Yeah, easy for him to say, right?!?

My Dh and I were talking about it because he got our attention with the descriptions I wrote above. I'm thinking about writing to him with our common SMOM issues and see what he says. I promise to share if there is any correspondence.

Because I don't know you, your DH and your situation what I may say may not be right for you, however, it may at least give you something to think about while you recover from what must have been a very exhausting, upsetting, scary, painful experience.

You ask, what can you do differently? That's such a great place to start.
Right now, you can make sure that you are being very kind to yourself.
If you are one who tends to be hard on yourself you may want to read my article about "Negative Self-talk" (link to articles via the Get Help pull down menu). Beating yourself up right now isn't going to help anything, even if you feel like you need to be punished, it isn't going to help you be different next time.

Did you read my post about Divorce guilt?
It's so understandable why you would be upset with what happened!
To me, something that will make a BIG difference for you is if you can find a new, healthy way to channel all the powerful energy of rage that needs to be expressed. I bet you could have powered your whole neighborhood last night if we'd been able to harness your energy! (This is not meant in a disrespectful way at any level.)

In a nutshell, it looks like, for whatever reasons, he is NOT willing to do what you are asking in the way that you are asking him to do it. Holding onto the belief that HE needs to change so that you can be free of your skid's bio-mom is fueling your belief that the answer to this situation is out of your control and in someone else's hands. That makes us feel at the mercy of others and is, well, enraging. Are you open to a new goal?

While it would be amazing if our DH's could all take a stand with their ex.s, sadly, many of the ex.s would just find other ways to make our lives miserable, to have the last word, to destroy their kids' relationship with their fathers and who knows what else?...Many of these hostile bio-moms would do all that and more with no remorse, would tell anyone that would listen that they are totally justified in everything they do and some would do take actions with actual glee that they were putting him (and you) in your proper, deserved place. Many of us (and maybe you too) are dealing with narcissistic or scorned or jealous or bitter or insecure women who are not willing to take responsibility for their live own lives and act in the best interest of their kids. This is an enraging situation we are stuck with. Pressuring our DH's to do what they don't want to do doesn't usually work and definitely doesn't work in the long run. We know that logically but emotionally many of us feel we can get him to change if we just come up with the right plan.

There it is in a nutshell. It is unfair, unfair, unfair!!! But it is what so many of us are dealing with. Sounds like you are also.

So what can you do? See if anything here feels right for you today.
Read the list tomorrow and things may look different.
You've been traumatized by your own feelings and I hope you can get some serous TLC as soon as possible.
When you got angry and lost your temper, you also lost your emotional boundaries (temporarily) and that's a very vulnerable feeling also. Creates sort of a low level Post traumatic stress reaction. So please be really kind to yourself. (I know I'm repeating that message. I'm doing it in hopes it gets through any self-judgments you might be feeling.)

You can ask for lots of support and compassion here are SMOMS.org.
You can read my post about one way of dealing with DH divorce guilt.
You can read my article called, "Proving and Testing Love" and see if anything applies to you.
You can read my article called, "Are you ledger-keeping?" for ideas on new strategies with your DH.
You can read the books about narcissism, (The wizard of Oz and other Narcissists) if you think it applies and share it with your DH cause it will REALLY help him if this is true for your skids and/or their bio-mom.
You can begin to process your anger in healthy ways as it comes up to relieve some of the warehouse of stored energy.
You can heal some of those "Hot buttons" of yours. We'll help you here as we can. Counseling can be terrific for that.
You can find ways to shift your focus from what's not working to what is working in your life right now. If you can't find something to focus on, start something, plan something new. Thinking about happy things in the future will make you feel better right away. Giving yourself something else to think about can be very restorative, even if only for a few moments at a time.
You can turn over all SD and Bio-mom activities and decisions over to your DH and empower him, openly with your trust that he knows his ex better than you do and will make the decisions he feels is best, given her "craziness." (This can be hard initially but it will really help, even if you only do it for while. If you don't believe me, read the Lessons Learned page to hear others talk about it)

You can apologize to your DH for losing your temper (you may have already done this, I'm just trying to give you as many options as possible.) The thing about the apologies is that they can get tricky, especially when we feel justified for our feelings, just sorry for the way they got expressed. DH's often seem to have already numbed out their anger button at their ex. Many have gone to a place of despair, even if it looks like weakness or fear. Yet they seem quick to be angry with us for being upset at their ex.s. (go figure-this is usually because they've shut their hearts to their ex.s but they've opened their hearts to us. Open hearts mean emotions will flow.)

I could explain that in more detail but I've been long winded all week and we can talk about that more if anyone wants to. The point is, genuine sorrow is very healing for both parties, if both parties can get past pride and ego and remember the love they share.

You and your DH can sit down and brainstorm some ways to handle her various behaviors so she will have less impact in the future. Together you can build plan and boundaries, where it makes sense for the both of you. (Like the "sounds about right" tactic) . You can agree to do some things differently going forward so you two will have a stronger connection. This will make her actions less impactful on you two-this is empowering and feels very good!

Lastly, you can make the decision to make your connection with your DH more important than whatever he does or doesn't do with his ex. so that you two can work together to figure out ways to protect your relationship from her actions.

This is a lot of stuff to digest.
I wanted you to have something to read when you woke up.
Hang in there. I've learned that when people are willing to be different, good things happen.
We're on your side!
You can do this!

Let us know what kind of support you need, Cathryn

DIDN’TSIGNUPFORTHIS WROTE:

Wow...I can't thank you enough for your thoughtful response. I read every word with tears in my eyes -- and will re-read it several times I'm sure. It feels good to know that someone actually understands! I will definitely get the books that you recommend above (I've been thinking about the Wizard of Oz one for some time anyway) and the rage book sounds a lot like what I need. I identify with every single thing he lists about impotent rage.

I read all of your articles (really identified with Divorce Guilt and am going to share that with DH), but it's probably time to re-read many of them. I've been in counseling off & on for the past 10 years....may be time to revisit that too.

I'm feeling a little better now, though I still kinda feel like a puppy with my tail between my legs with DH. He really is a good, good man and he loves me and is awesome to me. I'm trying to take some sort of comfort in the fact these 'rages' used to be much more commonplace in our lives, and I honestly can't remember the last one. It's been at least a year or so --- so at least they are less frequent!! My goal though is to never get to that place again. It's not healthy for me, DH or our relationship.

I have a lot of work (and reading) to do. Again, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your support and for having this awesome site. I am very serious when I say that this site is probably the only reason my marriage has survived.

{{{{Hugs}}}}} and heartfelt thanks


BUNNY WROTE:

Cathryn has already given you awesome advice, so I just wanted to say A) I understand, and B) HUGE hugs to you!! It'll be ok.

I am currently in the middle of a book Cathryn sent me, called "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I was DEEPLY in despair and crisis w/ DH and other general SMOM issues we all go thru--and I am totally serious--this book is changing our lives for the better already!! It all starts by looking within myself and taking care of myself. I cannot recommend it strongly enough!!!!

More hugs,

bunny

CATHRYN WROTE:

Dear Didntsignupforthis, I'm so glad that you got some help in my response. You sound strong and grounded in this last post and that's wonderful! You are going to feel better and better, stronger and more powerful as you begin to understand more about yourself and what YOU need when outsiders come a knockin'. Good for you! Please stay in touch!

ANAHATA WROTE:

I think that you got some great advice from Cathryn. So not much more probably needs to be said but here I go... Sorry my reply is so long hope you can read it all.

I just wanted to say, that the person who is the loud "crazy" one is not always the problem or the one creating the problem. Clearly, that applies here. You may have been the one who was vocalizing this and upset, but you are not the problem. Sometimes in a family or relationship someone acts as the vocalizer and barometer, says when something is wrong and to express the mutual rage when another member it too intimidated by conflict or has too much denial about what's going on. I'm not sure if I'm making sense.

Let me share an example to illustrate what I am trying to say, my FDH is like many men. In professional settings he can be very assertive and strong, however in his personal life he's uncomfortable with conflict, he's not sure how to express anger and seems to think that any display of anger is wrong, he's a peace keeper. This issue goes deep. It's not always a conscious decision for him to "stuff his feelings" or avoid conflict. Sometimes he's not even aware of it. I on the other hand, typical of a woman in our society-- I aware of my feelings and moreso I am fairly comfortable with conflict. It can be a way to resolve problems, etc. When something is "wrong" in our relationship or upsetting me I bring it up and want to talk about it.

This is not how FDH is used to dealing with problems. In the past he's been more of a "sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away" or "stick my head in the sand until the problems goes away" guy. (Clearly this approach did not work so well for him in the past as evidenced by wasting so many miserable years "stuck with BM."). There was a period of time in our relationship where it seemed like I was the unhappy, angry, nag. FDH once even said to me, "why do you always pick fights with me?" And he even accused me of causing the conflicts between us. True, I was bring up the problems. True, I was the one "ruining" our date night by insisting that he talk about things-- but I was not the one "creating the problem" or "ruining our date." The problem was there and the distance obvious before I even asked to talk about it. You can imagine that when I would begin to talk about the problem (whatever it was at the time) he would be uncomfortable, try to deny it, try to minimize it or try to pacify me to get the discussion over with. I would get louder and louder, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT? DIDN'T YOU THINK OF THAT?" on and on.

At one point, I had to decide to step back. I realized that I was getting loud and angry in response to FDH's intense discomfort with conflict. I realized that this was FDH's problem with conflict, not mine. I was not the "crazy" yelling, "I told you so" person I was becoming. I refused to be that person! I had to find a way to express my discontent, and then disengage. I could not force him to acknowledge a problem if he wasn't ready or able to. Focusing on I feel statements, and I need statements helps...

Anyway, maybe this is what's happening with you and your DH? The situation with BM is enough to make anyone enraged. Your DH may be ignoring the rage and avoiding the conflict, when he says, "sure BM I'll keep the money coming" but his rage is inside him there somewhere! You don't have to be the barometer in this family hun. Step back. Say how you feel, and then step away. I think the dynamic that's occurring is that your DH is too uncomfortable with the conflict and rage he feels, yet it needs to get out some how. So you step into that position for him (and yourself) and express it all. You end up feeling crazy and out of control.

But you're not crazy. The situation is.

CATHRYN WROTE:

Anahata, You describe so many Dh's very well. His actions (non-actions) are his "now outdated but once he thought it worked" survival strategy.

Also, passive aggression is generally agreed to be THE most toxic form of relationship aggression because of what you said. It makes the "sane' people act out of rage and frustration which then distracts from the real situation.

Thanks for your comments. It's a good illustration of the dynamic.
Can you say more about what you did with your anger/rage energy as you stepped back?
What worked for you?

As we step back, we create a space that creates a vacuum on the old dynamic. As we can resist filling that vacuum, it gives the DH a chance to step in, do something, speak up, etc. When he does, it can be terrific. It also gives us a chance to "catch our DH's doing something right!" and that feels really good to DH and us.

If you have the time and are so inclined, what else can you share from your experience that will help our sister SMOMS? Cathryn

INSTANTMOMOF3 WROTE:

Wow, do we have the same life or what? I understand - with BM court drama, miscarriages, financial turmoil, teen SD drama - our marriage is suffering. I am a rage-o-holic these days. I didn't realize the term was rage, but I understand it's definition now and I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels it. What is terrible is that I can go for months and never lose it or get upset, and one fight with DH sets me off. I say things I don't mean because I want DH to hurt as much as I do. He does it too and we both are sorry.

I am trying right now to keep my cool and be understanding to DH, but he is impossible right now. We are in a dangerous mental state right now but at least we both realize that starting a fight is so destructive.

I blame BM, I shouldn't blame anyone, but you are so right - it's her fault for interfering with my life. We mind our own business and are blindsided by attorney and court fees and more CS out of no where - sending us and our family into a whirlwind of emotions and stress. I blame her for targeting my family and my husband - I feel like a victim and everything she does is perfectly legal - that makes for the frustration. There is no consequence, yet reward for her actions and there is no winning or nothing we can do. When you are shoved between a rock and a hard place, something has to give.

In our case, BM wants nothing more than my marriage to fail - I want nothing more than to have a perfect marriage, so where does it end?

W80PDX WROTE:

My best advice here is to try nonviolent communication. Even now after you've lost your cool is a perfect time to use it. I'm sure you have expressed to DH that you are sorry you lost it. Now it's time to ask him for help. It sounds to me like you have unmet needs for safety, privacy, and control. I am positive he didn't hear about those needs last night. He shut down, because that's what men do. The good thing about him being a man, is that men want to help! So, ask him for help. "DH, when you tell BM you will give her unspecified amounts of money I feel VERY afraid, because I need to be safe/financially secure. Would you be willing to require receipts from BM, and/or discuss financial issues with me before you agree to give her money?"

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD.

and the website is http://www.cnvc.org

There is a great series of videos from a workshop on Youtube- start here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-129JLTjkQ

ANAHATA WROTE:

YES! that's the word I couldn't quite get to Cathryn-- passive aggressive! I used to think that passive aggression was just a way that catty women were covertly and intentionally mean to others. It's so much deeper than that! Sometimes people literally do not realize that they are angry/ enraged and then act in ways that are subtlety angry and mean. I don't know if this part applies to Didn'tsignupforthis right now or not but I'll share anyway...

My FDH at times has been so guarded against his feelings (mostly anger that I really don't think that he knew when he was being passive aggressive or dismissive of issues in our relationship. Our pattern went like this: something would happen in our lives. Sometimes I wouldn't know what upset him but I would feel distance from him and know something was up. Other times, like Didntsignupforthis describes, he would do something that absolutely didn't make sense.. with BM, skids, work, me etc. I would try to bring it up, he would deny it. But he would get mad at me for bringing it up, I'm certain of that because he would also send out subtle (or even direct) messages of anger or rage by doing things that obviously would hurt or upset me. Such as staying out really late with his friend and not calling me, or leaving the house with skids without saying goodbye... Next I would get anxious. I couldn't figure out exactly what was happening with us, but something didn't "feel" right. Not being able to put words to what was happening would make me anxious. And my "past wounds" as you say Cathryn, would be triggered. I would question if he really loved me, question if FDH could be the strong, reliable man I needed, or be someone I could trust, etc. Things would build between us. FDH would try to go on with life as usual. I would be an anxious wreck, trying to "figure it out" and becoming more angry with him for the "dumb" things he was doing (Hurtful things to me, not confronting BM, whatever the issue was at the time.) Finally we would fight and I would become angry, loud and NAG NAG NAG. He would deny whatever the problem was initially. I would get louder and argue more. I can argue like a lawyer and REFUSED to allow him to deny it. I was determined to prove to him that I was right, that he was angry about something, that we suffered an injustice etc (again whatever the problem was at the time), then eventually he would "yes me to death" and promise to do things differently in the future. Finally I would shut up and we'd go on with life. But of course he was just saying that to me to keep the peace, so the pattern continued and only further intensified.

The whole pattern came to a head finally one evening a few months ago. We were driving home from a (awful) date, arguing. He denied, then tried to pacify me. "You're right Anahata, I should do xyz next time." Yet, by now I knew that "next time" he'd do the same stupid thing. It's not that he was lying to me, more that he was was desperately trying to keep the peace in the only way he knew how. At that time he wasn't able to see things as I saw them (admit that he was upset etc). I didn't understand all that that then, and him saying that CRAP made me SO MAD!!!! I pushed harder, yelled, and argued my point. He (surprisingly) got mad! He accused me of "picking a fight" for "always picking fights" and "ruining the night." I was ENRAGED by this point. WHAT!? I was trying to talk about things to make them BETTER. WHO IN THE WORLD LIKES TO FIGHT AND BE A CRAZY WOMAN?! HOW COULD HE SAY I WANTED TO FIGHT WITH HIM?! I pulled the car over and told him to "get the *uck out." We were only a couple blocks from home... but wow! When he reached for the door handle--I saw myself. I was shocked . I was yelling, swearing and kicking him out of my car?! Who was this person?! What a disgrace, this was not me!

With the help of a therapist (who I had been seeing for years) I was able to begin to identify and separate my feelings from his feelings. It is not my job to convince him of things, or point things out to him. He's a highly intelligent man. He knows when something is wrong or when he's doing something "stupid." I began to disengage (with the help of this site). Instead of trying to convince him how he "should" feel or what he "should" do I had to really focus on telling my feelings and then moving on. I had to STOP trying to force him into action or into seeing things as I do, it was hard. I often relied on others (friends, my therapist and women here) to validate that the issue and my experience when FDH couldn't or when he insisted that his behavior was normal, etc. I also had to better manage my anxiety because that's what caused me to feel like I "had to" convince him. I found yoga works great for me. I didn't stop telling him how I feel, or how his behavior impacts me, this is still important to do. But I stopped trying to convince him and stopped trying to get him to "do something." And like you said Cathyrn, I thing doing this gave FDH the space to "see and do" himself.

Phew. Sorry so long. Thanks for asking Cathryn. It was hard, but good to recall how I got through that... I think it's good to remember in case I start to get into that place again... Fortunately FDH also got into therapy so we're working on it from "both ends."

I didn't intend to capitalize here Didntsignupforthis. I don't know if any of this will help you in your situation or not.... I hope a small part of it will. And if nothing else, please remind yourself when you get mad-- you're not crazy, if you're acting crazy it's information that something about the situation may be...
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