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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:03 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 676
I've been working in my IC on really saying, accepting and valuing my feelings about my husband's addictions. I now realize I can feel both compassion and condemnation at the same time. This is so healing to me. One feeling doesn't negate the other. And, it is consistent with all of my values. Here's what I feel and how I think about it:

I truly see and feel that my husband suffered early trauma. I see that his addiction was a form of suffering, and while looking like excess and intoxication, it was actually grim, isolating and ultimately, a kind of human deprivation. It was chaotic. It made him overwhelmingly helpless and unable to enjoy the real world. My husband truly struggles with his emotions. I now think that more than shame, his major emotion is fear. He is truly terrified to look inward, to feel his emotions, to take responsibility for his behavior, to look at his early trauma. He's not making this up. It is deeply painful and challenging to him. He clearly was victimized when he was too young to defend himself and never had anyone he could trust who could nurture or care for him. I feel such deep compassion for the abuse he suffered as an innocent child, and for this current suffering.

My husband's addictions are ugly, dehumanizing, exploitive, filled with hatred and disrespect. Protecting his addictions at all costs made him a liar, an abuser, and a narcissist. I see a deep hatred and fear of women, girls, sex, desire. I see a deep fear of love and emotional connection that resulted in coldness, rejection, cruelty, blaming and criticism. Reducing the value of women to how they look and how "they" create desire in him is just ugly and dehumanizing. Expanding his targets to girls is unforgivable. Not being present in his life to any of the women who dared to love him and who needed him (me, his ex wives, his daughters), was abandonment at best and cruelty at worse. His justification, rationalization and minimization of his ugly behaviors is thoughtless, selfish and cruel. His playing the victim to everyone and everything in the world and his sense of entitlement is not only immature, but abusive.

So there it is. I am able to feel both these things at the same time in different degrees. It's healing. I am not a bad, cold, unloving woman for feeling these emotions. They are real. They are valid. And they are mine.

Unaddressed trauma will hurt us and those around us.


PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:18 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
dnell, thank you for sharing this and the duplicity of what we experience and feel.

One of the things humans--even the healthiest of humans--face is the challenge of holding two positions that may seem to be opposing. There is a seeming lack of cleanness to this, and often great discomfort in the holding of both positions. Many of us like things in black and white: either good or bad, wrong or right, etc.

And, to newer partners reading this, I want to emphasize that to hold values that are not gray--that, in other words, define for YOU what is wrong and right, is completely ok. To say or see "this ___ (action/behavior/whatever) is wrong for me in my life" is a healthy thing to define as you build upon your values.

Yet, our feelings toward our partners and the impact of not only their actions but how they show up as people will remain a highly complex, traumatic issue for us. Regardless of whether our partners are in healing, not in recovery, or not even our partners anymore, our experiences of their behaviors and personalities are extremely difficult to sort through.

Like you, dnell, I hold the two views of compassion and condemnation, and that's often an uncomfortable place. It's required me to really examine closely my belief systems around a value like compassion. Does compassion mean staying? Does compassion prohibit me from taking steps to protect myself, even if I know they will hurt him?

The balance isn't easy. No doubt, I love my husband. My attachment to him is significant. Yet the effect of his choices on my life require my condemnation if I am to ever begin to stand up for myself and define a life that truly upholds my vision and values.

OFten I Return to remembering friends of mine who experienced severe trauma in their youths. Rape, ongoing physical abuse, degradation. And these women grew up to somehow carry their pain and work/grow through it without turning to behaviors that were destructive to others. And that's where my compassion for my partner turns into condemnation. Because as much as I feel for whatever early childhood experiences impacted him, he, just like my friends, had/has a choice as to how he will allow those experiences to color his life. And he's chosen a way that is, as you wrote dnell, degrading to other humans. Dehumanizing. And to me, downright abusive.

I wish peace to us all walking this complex, painful, traumatic path. If you are in the midst of hell, and part of that hell is the great conflict of feelings you hold, know you are not alone. It is in knowing this--that in knowing others here share a similar truth--that I find calm in the chaos.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:46 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:30 am
Posts: 95
Thank you both, dnell & meepmeep. That's all I'm able to put into words at the moment.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:19 am 
Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
Yes, yes and yes! (I am excited by dnell’s work, that she shared it, and with meep meep's valuable input). It is for this kind of situation that exercise of identifying conflicts between “heart and head” and, even more so, the exercise of prioritizing one’s values is a most helpful next step.

I think most of us could declare,“yes I value compassion, no I do not value condemnation” or “yes I value peace and happiness, no I do not value anger”. This quick kind of judgement will leads to us making ourselves wrong when have anger or, as expressed here, condemnation.

It is great that dwell went beyond this by identifying and defining what these two things are for her/their role in her relationship to her husband. Next, I would suggest pulling these feelings apart and examine the related values. This will help to bring further clarity and acceptance, and point you in the direction in terms of what to do about it, if anything.

Take, for example, condemnation. This is often judged as wrong, or unhelpful, and we normally do not see value in such feelings/expressions. Yet, it clearly serves a purpose. What is that purpose? It might be that it helps us protect ourselves from the violations of others. It could be a form of communicating in no uncertain terms that we do not support something. It could be that we are trying to influence another with this type of communication. What values does this support? This might support self assertion, it could make one feel in control of themselves. What values does it violate? Compassion, as it were. It may also violate respect of others.

These are just guesses, and the point is for each person to define as dnell did, and identify for ourselves what values are impacted (either supported or violated). Take this to as many layers as you need to. For example, does self-assertion in turn support or violate any other values? Once all of these supports and violations are identified, we can then ask ourselves, first-are any of these values absolute? For example, would you place respect for others above all of the other values that come out in this particular context/situation with the particular person involved. You may also wish who is involved/impacted, and determine if you place more value on any of those involved (E.g. Some people truly value putting others before themselves at all costs. This would be an absolute value).

Be well.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:54 am 

Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 3:16 pm
Posts: 38
WOW! Thank you for capturing in words what living in a world of grey feels like. And thank you for reminding me I'm not crazy when I feel compassion one day and condemnation another. It doesn't have to be either / can be both / and...!

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