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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:59 am 
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It's just a few months short of a year since D-day and I'm struggling a bit at the moment. H and I haven't really talked about our relationship for about 4 months now and I feel like we're sliding back into the way we were before, but it's obviously not real (just as it wasn't real before D-Day). It was always me that initiated conversations and tried to keep us connected after D-Day, but I got tired of doing that after Christmas and haven't done it since then - so we haven't talked. I feel H is in full-blown avoidant mode and is maybe hoping that time will heal the wounds. His mood is better and he has been making more of an effort around the house and with the kids, but he doesn't seem able to make the same effort to connect with me. I think it scares him too much. He is acting like he used to, is trying to be upbeat after a long period of depression last year, but - to me - being the way that he was in the past isn't enough any more. I need more now. I need more evidence that he is willing to be open with me, that he reaches out to me and really wants to know how I am, is willing to proactively & genuinely share how he is feeling.. none of which is happening. I have no idea if he is back to using porn or not - I haven't asked for a while. I suppose it's an indication of how far apart we are that I kind of feel like it's not my business any more. He hasn't been going to therapy for a while and I'm not convinced that it was a deep enough type of therapy anyway.

So, how do I get us out of this rut? Have you been there and what did you do? I'm so very tired of feeling like I'm dragging him along in terms of connecting with me, but I feel I need to give this another go, for the sake of the kids.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:48 pm 
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Hi Beachcomber - I really resonated to your email. I never know when to start my "how long have I been....". D-day one? Two? Start of RN? Start of therapy?

I'll start from when my husband had completed RN and had started individual therapy, which is about 15-17 months ago. Completing RN started my husband on a recovery path. But, he was so completely screwed up he really needed in depth therapy with a very good therapist. I do believe that therapy has helped a bit with addiction recovery, but RN and in some ways, 12 step has helped more with that. But, when they stop the acting out, they are left with all those emotions they were trying to escape from to begin with. And they have all those delusions and distorted thinking. Couple that with no coping skills or healthy life management skills. My husband needed significant help to deal with all of this. And, it is so clear to me now that he was very traumatized as a child and he needs to address those issues. He as well just does not connect with me. This really is an intimacy disorder. He just has glimmers of empathy. It takes a long time to learn new skills, and even longer to really address understanding emotions in a mature and healthy way. It feels like he still abdicates all the relationship "work" to me. Well, he does. He still is a child and I am still a parent to him. He's trying to stop doing that. He still wants to not be responsible for managing his own life, let alone "managing" or working on a relationship. Still emotionally VERY immature. In addition to not wanting to do this work (that is, the "work" of being an adult), he doesn't really know how. I know, it's stunning. But, and this is an important but, he has a very good therapist who is really helping him with all of this. I see changes. It's just going to take time. I mean, like years of time...not months.

Here's how I am dealing with all of this right now. I also am in therapy and in marriage counseling. (Going broke, no doubt about that). I am learning NOT to play the mother role. Ever. I am learning to be more clear about stating how I feel and not worrying about his response. I am learning to not engage in the ridiculous arguments and circular communication he does so well. I am actually saying "I need more." "This is what I need." I'm starting with simple stuff, like..."I need adult conversation. Here are some topics you like and can talk about." My husband is also an intimacy anorexic and he won't even give me that. But, he is starting to work on this issue as well. It's easier to do this work with a marriage counselor. I am not trying as hard as I used to. My view is the burden is on my husband, and he is not very capable of handling all of this. He's getting better. It's just slow. It's critical to stay detached, find joy and connection OUTSIDE OF THE MARRIAGE. It's scary, this stuff, and I am always thinking about what is in MY best interest. Stay? Go? Wait?

I think it is critical that your husband has a more active recovery AND health program. You can demand this. Be clear if you mean it and what you will do if he doesn't follow through. Finding the right therapist is a challenge, but worth it. I trust your gut on your view of your husband's progress. At this point in my marriage, it's clear to me that learning to be healthy and mature is so much more important than not acting out. But the acting out is just a symptom of the immaturity. A sign that they are not adult.

In any event, my challenge now is finding connections and joy outside of my marriage. I'm getting better at this.

With much compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:16 am 
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Hi dnell,

Thanks for understanding. Your replies always make me feel sane and reasonable when I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much! I know I need to trust my instinct on this, and it's telling me that if we keep going the way we are, we'll end up back where we were a year ago.

dnell wrote:
But, when they stop the acting out, they are left with all those emotions they were trying to escape from to begin with.


This is so true - I don't think my husband has really dealt with what brought him to the point of addiction, why he couldn't confront and cope with his feelings in a healthy way. He had a lot of options when he was struggling with work and our marriage, and none of them had to include becoming addicted to porn. But I'm not sure he fully sees how unhealthy that is. He also struggles with intimacy & empathy.

I think he's hoping that I'll just leave it all alone, even though he knows that's not the answer. But I sure as heck am not going to wait for him to become addicted again and go through all of that pain again. I just need to shore up the courage to start that conversation with him. I never feel like my words come out right when we talk, so I find it hard to bring the subject up again.

But I have to, because I know he won't.

Thanks for your kind words - they give me strength.
x


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:25 pm 
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Hi Beachcomber,

Beachcomber wrote:

But I'm not sure he fully sees how unhealthy that is. He also struggles with intimacy & empathy.

The nature of his lack of emotional development means he has tunnel vision when it comes to himself. Many of us do, but his general immaturity and undeveloped coping and life skills further exaggerate this. I'm pretty sure I've written this before, but he doesn't know what he doesn't know :)

However, that does not excuse him! We all have the capacity to choose to learn what we need to grow, mature, and be responsible adult humans.

Beachcomber wrote:
I just need to shore up the courage to start that conversation with him. I never feel like my words come out right when we talk, so I find it hard to bring the subject up again.


With compassion for you, I propose it is likely his reactions (denial, gaslighting, circular conversations(!), deflection, minimization, aggression) that are the significant factor in making these conversations difficult for you, and further, that the issue is not with how you present yourself or the words you choose to use.

For a very long time I would reflect back upon my communication and continue to bang my head against the virtual wall, convinced that I wasn't being clear, or to the point, or empathic enough, or (____insert whatever self-deprecating phrase you can think of here___)...on and on.

In the past year (and I've been working this program and learning about SA for a while) I finally woke up and realized my husband is the ONLY person with whom communication is so challenging. And, unlike what pop culture pundit authors would have you believe, this is not really a mars and venus issue. It's an issue of trying to have a sane, mature conversation with a person who is mired in addiction, immature, and unable and/or unwilling to have an adult conversation and who is, at the very same time, highly skilled in the art of conversation manipulation.

I know that doesn't make the conversation any easier, and in fact may ask you to summon even more courage, knowing what you'll face. But, I want to impress upon you that it's very unlikely your communication skills are that bad, or even are the issue here. Say your truth in a way that upholds your values. If you feel things begin to be derailed, you have hte option to say "let's revisit this when we are both calmer and have had some time to process" or, simply, "There is nothing more to discuss" (if you need to say your peace, and not have it be a discussion/debate).

I do not envy you the task ahead. None of us do. I wish you peace and clarity in the journey ahead.

all my best,
meep


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:41 am 
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Meep, what an important post. And, it is oh so true. I as well FINALLY came to realize that my husband was the most challenging person I ever had to talk to and communicate with. For decades (and, that is truly painful to write) I kept trying so hard to say the right thing in the right way. And, he accused me so often of being "so difficult to talk to." I am flabbergasted that I accepted this blame, and what is really an abusive lie, for so long.

Meep's point about how they don't communicate but do perfect the tools of miscommunication (gaslighting, denying, blaming, minimizing...we know the list) is also important to remember. I think Jon said that addicts use communication as performance and manipulation, not for connection. And, he also said it eventually reaches paralysis. I certainly experienced that. Some of the most important things my current marriage counselor has told me are: "don't try so hard, you're not responsible for his behavior and choices"; and, "it's not you. He's assigned you a role and is reacting to it." I am learning to just say my truth and leave it at that. If I try to measure if my husband gets it or even cares, it's just too damaging.

dnell


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:41 am 
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dnell wrote:
I am learning to just say my truth and leave it at that. If I try to measure if my husband gets it or even cares, it's just too damaging.


Yes, this!

We cannot use our partner's responses, assimilation, or seeming (in)comprehension as the metric by which we measure our worth as communicators, and as humans.

Too long I took on his reactions and poor communication skills as reflective of me.

It is not. It is not reflective of any of us.

Learning this and stepping away from the expectation (note: different from violating or denying our value of healthy communication) they will effectively communicate, listen, or understand, may be one of the most crucial aspects of our own respective healing journeys.

With compassion for us all,
Meep


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:27 am 
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Thanks meepmeep & dnell.

Your points about communication are really interesting to me, and a relief to hear that I'm not alone! One of my personal issues is that I can be a little too empathetic and have poor emotional boundaries, so I tend to hear and understand what he's saying, from his point of view, so it can derail me sometimes. I worry about losing myself, my feelings and thoughts in these conversations and ending up doubting the validity of how I feel. He does manage his words very carefully and is very guarded, partly because he has hurt me so much in the past with the things he has said, so he is tries not to do that again. But it leads to communication that isn't authentic or intimate.

meepmeep wrote:
Say your truth in a way that upholds your values


This is what I really need to hold onto. But it can be so hard!

Thanks for all of your compassion and understanding.
x


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