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

Little Girl

Tonight I went to my individual therapy session.   It was good and good timing considering what happened at group last night.  You know, one of the things that we talked about toward the end was how we have the adult us and the little girl (or boy).  The little girl part of us is the part that is wounded and scared.  So, my reaction to M and the fact that I need to “please” comes from my little girl.  The little girl I was when I was reliant on others for survival.  The little girl who wanted approval from my dad.  The little girl that was scared her brother might kill her.  The little girl who trusted, was used, and discarded by a man.

We talked about how I am no longer “that little girl”, but that she still is part of me and I give her power in certain situations like with J and with other personal relationships.  So when I feel rejected or invalidated, that little girl is the one that is fearful.  She’s the one with the anxiety and fear of not surviving.  This is opposite to me, my adult self, that knows I can take care of myself and I do not need anyone for survival.  But my adult self and my little girl live together in me.  She is the part of me that helps me to never lose my childlike enthusiasm for life.

The important thing to remember is that I am not trying to get rid of my little girl, merely learning how to live with her….how to coexist.  This makes sense to me.  So, my little girl and I need to learn how to play together.  And I need to make more time to really get to know her.

Who is your little girl (or boy)?

~AA

Meandering Thoughts

I feel like so much has happened over the last few months, weeks, days, yet I have a difficult time putting them into words… sometimes because I’m really busy, other times because I cannot remember what happened, exactly.  I seem to be doing really well at work, which is good, but I still struggle with my relationship issues.  I think that is where my greatest issues are.  I’m not very good at being vulnerable with people and it makes me very anxious to do so.  Last night in group I almost left because I was feeling so anxious about a response from one of my group members.  She didn’t attack me or anything, but more so dismissed what I was saying and sort of made me feel bad about saying what I did.  I literally almost freaked and left.  It was in that moment that I realized she represents some part of my relationship with J, and others, that triggers this in me.

There is one guy in my group who is a very good Imago match… as in, he is almost exactly like J.  So, I have a heightened response to him when he opens up in groups because I desire to hear or see those things in J.  It can be difficult, but it is also good for me to see.  M, the girl in my group who got to me yesterday, really makes me feel those times that I am dismissed and sort of invalidated–mostly by J.  I didn’t realize that until last night and it was very painful.  I was hot, tearing, couldn’t talk above a whisper.  Felt like I was either going to bolt or vomit or both.  The group encouraged me to talk about what I was feeling despite the fact that I didn’t want to, and I did, so it ended up being very good for me.  Very difficult, but good overall.  That’s one of the essential things I’m learning from group…to simply say what I need to say.  I listen to that John Mayer song “Say” a lot.  It is sort of my little mantra.

For those of you struggling with mental health issues, and I think most of us are if we were to be honest with ourselves, don’t be afraid to push yourself into the painful parts of therapy.  There will be good that comes out of it.  Being in a place where I can admit my fears openly and can admit my anxieties without fear of rejection is huge.

Take care of one another.

~AA

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

Imago

According to Imago therapy, there are 3 stages in a romantic relationship:

  1. The Enchantment Stage
  2. The Power Struggle
  3. Real Love

The therapist that I’ve been seeing is an Imago therapist and so is his wife.  I’ve read the books they’ve recommended and have been participating in group and individual therapy; all of this has been extremely helpful to me and I’m hopeful that it will be helpful when J returns.

I think, and according to my therapist, J and I are in a real power struggle right now.  There are so many things that have transpired and we are actually on different pages right now because I’ve been going to therapy while he’s been out of the country for the last few months.  And very significantly, I have changed the relationship dynamics by telling him that I want a divorce.  So, even talking on the phone is difficult b/c we aren’t on the same page in terms of learning how to communicate with one another.  And he’s not very happy about my independence and boundaries.

Yesterday he called and we got into a bit of a heated discussion about some things.  This actually started on Sunday when we were on the phone he told me that I had disappointed him because he felt that I had made a promise to him before he left that I was not keeping (it had to do with me having drinks with friends while he was gone and I simply didn’t remember the conversation).  Then he told me that he was suspicious about me in regard to whether or not I’m seeing someone here.  This, unfortunately, is not a new accusation.  For as long as I can remember, he’s always been accusatory in this sense.  He’d say, “it isn’t that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust other people”.  And whenever I would try to communicate to him how I feel that something is wrong, he’d say “are you seeing someone else?”  It gets old after a while.  And this weekend he was mad at me because he asked me to put “whatsapp” on my phone so that we could text one another, but I didn’t text him on Saturday night when I was out with my friends.  I’d like to point out that 1) he doesn’t text me in general even when we are on the same continent and I’ve asked for more daily communication like this and 2) he hasn’t texted me using that app since Saturday.  So, I’m postulating (and suspected this) that he only wanted me to have that app so that he could “text” me the night that I went out with friends while presenting it under the guise that he wanted to stay more in touch with me.  I find this to be very manipulative behavior.

Anyway, I chalk this up to a power struggle.  He wants more control and he has said as much…recently.  When I first told him I wanted a divorce, I told him I couldn’t be around him because he has too much influence over me.  He said, “well, maybe that is a good thing.”  I’m trying to follow my therapist’s advice and just let it go for now.  I have concerns about his drinking there, but there is no need to get into fights when he’s in Germany, I’m here, and our relationship is in a very delicate state.  But I have been warned by my therapist that the power struggle will probably get worse before it gets better.  I just need to ensure that I don’t lose myself  in the process.  I’m very protective of my fragile state right now and do fear his return because of that.

~AA