Toying

I feel a bit like I’m being toyed with by J.  My girlfriend B came over last night and we were talking about this.  She and her husband have been seeing the same therapist that I’ve been seeing, so she’s familiar with this concept of Imago therapy as well.  Basically it boils down to 1) I think he is testing my boundaries and trying to get the “upper hand” in terms of control and 2) I feel as if he is trying to keep “tabs” on me.

J has been in Europe since early February.  About three/four weeks ago he asked me to put an app on my phone called “What’s App” so that we could text internationally without being charged for international fees.  In general, we never text… not even when he is on the same continent OR when I’ve told him that it would be nice to get text messages from him throughout the day to feel more connected (yes, I’ve asked for this).  Since I’ve put it on my phone, however, I feel like he’s using it to keep up with when I’m “online” and as a means to make me feel guilty (i.e. control).

One weekend, I had gone out with some friends.  This was the first weekend that he asked me to put the app on my phone.  One of the features of the app is that it shows when you were “last online”.  He saw that I checked the app at like 2 a.m. and was grilling me about what I was doing out at 2 a.m. with people from our soccer team… yes, people from the soccer team that we both play on.  He then asked me if I’ve been messing around with someone, an accusation that has been waged against me since about 2 years into our marriage (that’s for another post and no, I’ve never cheated on him).  He proceeded to lecture me on going out while not having my wedding ring on (lest you forget that I told him I wanted a divorce in December and we’ve been separated since then).  He then told me “I know it sounds hypocritical since I haven’t been wearing mine either, but…blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse”.

Flash forward… he usually only sends me messages on What’s App on the weekends and recently he’s been making passive-aggressive comments like “I wish you had more to say”… as if I’m not, apparently, communicating with him enough.

Finally, when I was at my lowest (i.e. the attempt at suicide in January), he apparently went through my phone records and was asking my girlfriend B about phone numbers, who they were, why was I calling these people, etc.

I feel like these are mind games, does that sound correct to you?  Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? My gut tells me that if I were hearing this from my girlfriend, I’d tell her to run.  But for some reason, I have the ability to keep rationalizing things to myself.  Isn’t this an element of an abusive relationship?  I find it confusing.

I’ve spoken with my therapist about all of this and he’s said “keep conversations neutral right now”.  And I’ve done my best to do this.  There is no reason to get into fights when we’re thousands of miles apart.  And I’ve told J as much.  Thank goodness I have therapy today.  One of the things that my therapist told me once was that he’s there to help us see if we can resolve things, but that if not he will help me move on.  I do find comfort in that.

~AA

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Group

Every Wednesday I go to group therapy.  I really like it, actually.  These have become people that I really care about and who really care about me.  The group session is run by my therapist and his wife…both Imago therapists.  At pretty much every group session, I’ve had some really great and often painful experiences.  Last night was no different.  It is difficult to pinpoint how these things come up (the topics you talk about), but last night I talked about something that I’ve never told anyone in the world.  It was really difficult to even speak about it, but it was healing (not that I’m 100%) to finally say it out loud.

One of the things about Imago therapy is that your issues today are partly from events that happen in your childhood with your parents, caregivers, or anyone really.  I’m not going to even try to recreate how I decided to talk about this, because I really can’t remember…. I just felt it needed to be spoken about.  I told the group about two things that I’ve never told anyone, not even C.  And the reason I’ve never told anyone is because there is such a great amount of shame, confusion, sorrow, pain, and internal conflict surrounding it.  And as I’m typing, I’m realizing that I’m scared to even put it out there now… which is why I’ve written two paragraphs without saying it.

So… here we go… last night I talked about two events that happened in my life both involving my brother.  When I was 14 or so, I woke up to him standing over me with a large kitchen knife to my throat telling me to apologize for something I said to him earlier that night or else he would kill me as he raised the knife over my chest.  He was about 15/16.  I apologized.  And waited as he stood there for what seemed like an eternity.  He told me not to ever say that again or he’d kill me the next time.  Eventually he left.  I ran out of the house when he went down to his room and was in the driveway crying.  It was late and my parents weren’t home.  Eventually he came out and got me.  He told me that he was sorry and that I needed to get in the house.  I’ve never told them about this night.

The other thing that happened was when I was about 7 or 8, he was about 10.  He wanted to play a game with me where we were both naked.  I got in bed and he was wearing a cape–like a superman cape.  He had me order him around and then he was supposed to order me around, but I knew something was wrong.  I ordered him to get me food from the kitchen.  When it was his turn to order me, I dismissed the game and told him I didn’t want to play anymore.  I got dressed and left.  Again, my parents were not there and don’t know about it.

Why am I talking about this now?  Because these have been very big secrets that I’ve never told anyone.  I’m ashamed of what happened and I do love my brother a great deal.  We are very close today.  I have never told anyone because I don’t want people to think poorly of my brother.  He was dealing with things and was taking it out on me inappropriately.  I don’t hate him for it, but yes… these things did impact me and I think about them every now and then even as an adult.

I shouldn’t be ashamed, but I am.  But I feel just a little better by being honest about what happened.  It was hard.  He was my best friend b/c he was my brother, but wanted to kill me at one point and wanted to touch me at another.  I can admit that and I can admit that it hurt me.

Nothing good comes from silence.  Hopefully if you have things that you need to talk about, you will.

~AA

Boiling Water

I went to lunch yesterday with a good friend and we were talking about relationships.  He told me that he had watched a talk show where a woman was describing being in an abusive relationship and how it happens slowly over time; which is one of the reasons people have such a hard time understanding why women (or men) stay in them.  She used the analogy of a frog in boiling water.  If you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out to save its life.  If you put a frog in water and slowly increase the temperature overtime to boiling, it won’t jump out and will die because the death is slow and it doesn’t realize what is happening until it is too late.

This is what happens in abusive relationships.  If a person were to say to you, “you’re stupid, you cannot do that, you need to stop being who you are” on a first date, you would never go out with them again, right?  But if that same message is introduced incrementally and disguised in tone and body language, you don’t realize what has happened until it is too late and the woman you once were is broken and unresponsive.

I don’t know if I would say that my marriage was abusive, but it was definitely oppressive.  Are these things different?  I don’t believe that he intentionally set out to harm me, but he did what he did out of a need for control.  So, while the result did harm me emotionally, I don’t think it was embarked upon with the intent to hurt me.  Is this logical or am I making an excuse?  Is it only abuse if it was done with the intent to harm?

How much he has harmed me has been and continues to be a very difficult thing for J to understand.  The reason why is that most of his oppression and control came in the forms of tone, body language, and withholding…not words or hitting me (although he did punch/kick/slam things).  So, when I tell him how he’s made me feel, he will say, “I never said that!”  And he is right, he didn’t say outright that I wasn’t good enough, but he made me feel like I wasn’t good enough through very “passive” things like tone, body language, and withholding affection and communication.  I think this is one of the most dangerous forms of control because it is so freaking hard to see.

What do you think?

~AA