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I’m still struggling to not fall into the cycle of doing things explicitly to get my wife to do things.  Not easy, but I’m feeling less withdrawal about it.

Had a good conversation about her depression.  I explained how I was feeling and the effects I saw.  She agreed it was an issue, but said she doesn’t really know what to do.  She did talk to her therapist about it the next day, so I know she’s trying to work on it.  I appreciate being heard and her taking some sort of action on it.

The difficult thing is how to draw the line between trying to control her (getting her onto anti-depressants) and being honest and real about my feelings, not being in denial of the impact on myself and the kids.  I talked to my therapist today and agreed that it’s OK to bring up my concerns regarding what I view as a health issue, but staying away from telling her what to do.

I’m doing more things for myself.  Little things like stopping at a store to pick up a few things I want, even though it means I’ll be late getting home by a bit.  Not putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own for once.  Feels strange, but I need to do it.

Seem like I have few readers now.  I hope you all have a good day.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the love avoidant/love addict thing with me and my wife.  I’m pretty up in my head about this stuff, so it may not make a lot of sense to others, but I’ll feel better getting it out.

When my therapist first started to discuss the idea with me, and I read the part about how the two cycles interact, fueling each other into different behaviors, it all made sense.  My wife, acting as the love avoidant, would move away as I did more and more to pull her back, acting as the love addict.

When I read about breaking the cycles, it mentions the withdrawal that a love addict will feel.  When I first read it I couldn’t understand what they could possibly mean.  Now I do.

The task in front of me is to stop doing things for the sole purpose of getting my wife’s attention and love.  By doing this, I help break the cycles that drive our problems.  Sounds strange, but if you are in this kind of relationship, it makes sense.

It’s damn hard.

As strange as it sounds, after what’s she’s done, there’s nothing I want more than her love and approval.  And I want it all the time.  This is my problem and it’s not normally to expect ‘continuous positive regard’ at all times.  

Many times, I’ve gotten obsessed with making things perfect and carrying out seduction bombs to get the affection I want from her.  All the while, my dramatic efforts help push her farther away.

So I had to stop.  Stop with over-thinking conversations, stop with going out of my way to do special things all the time, stop trying to solve problems, stop with asking if she’s OK 20 times a day, stop worrying if she’s going to act out every time she leaves the house.

I had to start waiting to let her start conversation, to start truly accepting I have no control over what she does,  to start waiting until she asked for help, to start doing things I wanted to do that had no benefit to her, to start putting my own needs first.

And you know what, it’s hard and it sucks.

When I get home, I want nothing more than to do something to get her to pay total attention to me, but I force myself not to do it.  I am pleasant, but I don’t go overboard with talking.  I ask about dinner and if she says she’s not hungry, I drop it rather than pestering her.

I feel a bit empty inside and now understand what they mean by withdrawal.  I crave the continuous attention, but know it’s not normal or healthy for me.  I’m learning a new way to accept life but it doesn’t make it any easier to go through it.   I have to fight myself in my head when I start to plan ways to get her attention.  It’s a conscious effort to push those thoughts away.  I never thought I could have a battle in my own mind.

The truth is that it works.  As I’ve worked to maintain a little distance, she’s more relaxed and less withdrawn.  She engages me now to chat and tell me stories unprompted, which makes me happy.  She does little things for me that I appreciate much more than before.

We are both on our paths to recovery, which is good, but it’s a long damn path.

Last night I was out exercising and got hit by a car.  Nothing serious.  A few bruises.  I got lucky.

I finished my exercise and when I got home my wife and daughter were in the bathroom getting ready for bed.  I walked up and said, “I got hit by a car.” and my wife said, “No you didn’t.” and continued talking to my daughter.

I felt very upset and hurt.  Yes, I wasn’t horribly mangled, but I expected a little caring and sympathy.

I know she’s pretty wound up with her mother coming to town, her depression, and she’s raised all her walls to compensate, but I didn’t feel like that justified her action (or lack of).

Upset, I went and showered in the other bathroom.  In my head, I went back and forth on about whether I was being too needy or whether she was not acting appropriately.  I decided it was normal, not being a drama queen, to expect some sympathy.  I decided not to make a big deal of it, becasue I’m not going to get the response out of her that I would like.

Underneath it all, I was feeling like she didn’t give a shit about me.  The feelings went back to when I first learned about her acting out and feeling “how could she do this to me, knowing how I’d feel”.  She’s just not wired like me, with a lot of empathy for what other people are going through.

I walked into the bedroom after the shower and she said, “You didn’t really get hit by a car did you?” and tried to play like I was joking with her.  I could tell that she knew I wasn’t joking and realized she had acted inappropriately.  She wasn’t going to apologize and I really didn’t want to get into a deep thing.  I knew my feelings weren’t just about this evening, and that I’d been triggered to feelings of betrayal and being taken for granted in the past.  I knew we’d never have a successful conversation about my feelings in that moment.

We discussed what happened, and she tried to be sympathetic.  I knew nothing would make me feel better in the moment, so I went up front to watch some TV (which I rarely do) and get my mind off of things.

I appreciate her trying, but even now, the next day I feel hurt.   My mind knows it’s previous pain trying to get out, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.  

Previously, my therapist says that I’ve suffered a serious trauma and that there’s pain that needs to be dealt with.  Well, it’s leaking out the edges today.

My wife’s mother is coming to town.

This is a big problem.  My wife’s mother is the main one responsible for my wife’s emotional abuse as a child.  She can get to my wife like no one else can and penetrate all her defenses.

Last time she came to town it was terrible.  My wife put up all her walls and basically avoided the whole family.  It was terrible.  I wasn’t in therapy myself and we fought, not understanding the dynamic going on.

We are a little more prepared, but it is still causing problems.  My wife is already more depressed and shutting down emotionally as the arrival gets nearer.  My urge is to try to ‘solve’ things but I know I can’t.

My wife is preparing herself and talking with her therapist.  She came up with the idea of the whole family going out of town this weekend to avoid most of the visit.  She came up with the idea and I agreed.  I didn’t suggest it, which is a little payoff in my attempt not to fix things.

Her therapy was yesterday but she didn’t mention it.  Usually she brings something up about her session.  She was completely drained when I got home.  I knew the cause and didn’t try to pry.  I gave her as much space as possible, even though I wanted to know what went on.  MUST BREAK CODEPENDENT CYCLE!  ;)

I’m proud I didn’t try to solve her mood or ask about things.  It took willpower on my part to let her be, but I did it.

There will still be a couple days of overlap and I just have to accept that my wife will be in her most isolated & defensive mode.  I have to keep saying, “It’s not me, it’s her.  I didn’t do this.  I can’t fix this.”  Even so, I know I’ll be hurting on the inside.  

Hopefully our escape will give her the relief she (and we) need.  Instead of running away by herself, she’s taking us along and trying to protect us from her mother.  It’s a huge step forward for her.  

For myself, I’m prepared to be honest with her mother if she starts in with me about my wife, or what we are doing.  I’m prepared to tell her that in therapy, my wife’s childhood plays a major role in her issues and depression, and that dealing with her is extremely stressful.  I doubt she will accept this, but I need to be honest and not deny reality that she is a problem to my family.

I’ve been working with my therapist on the ideas in Pia Melody’s book Facing Love Addiction.  Last week he asked me to write about the love addict cycle and how I see it.  In my case, I’m the love addict and my wife is the love avoidant.

We went over it today and it was helpful to talk about it.  I’ll repost it here.

Cycle

1) Attracted to the seductiveness and apparent power of the Love Avoidant

I worry what others think about me. Sometimes simple things like changing my desktop picture take on huge scope when I start to worry that if I change the picture of the family to something else, for fear that someone will think taking down a picture of the family means I don’t love them. Often, I let my wife give me permission to do things that I don’t allow myself.

I desire other esteem from many people, but nothing ‘fills me up’ more than attention and other esteem from my wife.

Strangely, I don’t get fulfilled by other esteem by some others like my parents or people that I don’t think are being honest.

2) Feels high as the fantasy is triggered

In the moments when my wife and I connect, I feel great. I want to relive the moment over and over. It can be a simple thing from holding hands, having a good talk, sex, or pretty much anytime the two of us are alone and happy.

3) Feels relief from the pain of loneliness, emptiness, and not mattering to partner

My worries tend to stop at this point. I feel a little serenity and don’t seem to overthink everything as much. Everytime I tend to think we’re rounding the corner and it’s going to get better this time.

4) Shows more neediness and denies reality of the Avoidant’s walls

To stay in this happy place, I go to my wife more and more, hoping that things will stay ‘good’ for a long time. I try to reenact the bombs that got my wife engaged over and over. my wife then starts to distance herself from me.

5) Develops awareness of partner’s walls and behavior outside the relationship and denial crumbles

Usually I notice her great interest in other things like exercise or friends and start to see she’s walling *me* off, not everything. I can see in the past that her behavior is inexorably tied to mine. We call it “chasing & running away”.

This is also the time I start to worry most about my wife acting out. I resist the urge to snoop, but every little thing acts like a trigger to get me worrying about this. I have to fight hard to head toward peace rather that obsession about my wife’s life outside of me.

6) Enters withdrawal

I get upset and feel bad that I’m not receiving love. I become jealous of other people and things. I start to think about how it would just be better if… I start to blame my wife for this but at the same time deny it’s her fault.

Just before starting therapy, I was having very hard moments when my mind was a whirlwind and I couldn’t process the desire to be loved and be angry simultaneously. I had no way to solve the problems and felt worthless. There was a feeling of extreme desperation for relief at this time.

7) Obsesses about how to get the Love Avoidant to return

There are times where I will start to scheme on how to get my wife’s attention by dropping some sort of seduction bomb to get it. I will go over and over in my head what I plan to do. Sometimes it is finding a perfect gift, or cleaning the house perfectly, or having a perfect conversation.

8) Compulsively acts out obsessive plans

Sometimes the seduction bombs go ‘well’ and my wife engages with me, sometimes it goes ‘bad’. When it goes bad, it’s not so much that my wife is upset with me, as I don’t get the response I want. During this, I am fairly keyed up and find it hard to concentrate on other things.

9) Repeats the cycle with the Love Avoidant

I want to feel loved and appreciated again

Good things and bad things…

Yesterday was a mix.

Good thing:  Early in the day, my wife and I had to discuss our plans for the day.  Without getting into details, it involved doing something that we both could do, or either do solo.  My wife gave some reasons we couldn’t do this together that just didn’t make sense.  As we talked it through I said I thought that wasn’t the real reason.  She admitted that she’d be uncomfortable with me along.  I told her that was fine and not to worry and that she should go and I wouldn’t feel bad.

Later, she returned and talked about the event and said that she wanted to me to come along next week.  I felt good about everything.  I was honest with myself and her.  We didn’t resort to a shared lie and discussed the real feelings we were having.   We then went out to lunch and had a good time chatting and feeling connected.  This felt like the way things are supposed to work.

Bad thing:  Later that same day, she told me she had to run to work for some ‘quick paperwork’.  It’s not unusual for her to have to run off to work, it’s a local business that runs 7 days a week.  But this time it was early Sunday evening.  I just kept saying to myself, “You can’t control this.  You can’t get upset.”  But of course I was.  I was triggered and feeling terrible feelings about her acting out.  I tried to keep busy and not think about it, but the feelings were strong.  I willed myself not to interrogate her when she returned.  Must not obsess!

She got back soon and I asked how it went.  She described what she did and chatting with her boss about things she had mentioned earlier in the day.  It all made sense and part of me calmed down that nothing happened.  But part of me was still feeling bad.  Once the feelings are stirred up, it takes them a while to settle down. 

My therapist says that after the emotional trauma, it’s normal to react this way.  My mind (sub-conscious) is trying to protect me from further trauma by setting off warning bells.  Over time, they will lessen in degree, but never fully.  I hate this.

So my therapist gave me a book to read.  It’s Facing Love Addiction by Pia Melody.

I start reading it, and sure enough, many of the pieces seem to fit.  I don’t see myself into some of the descriptions of love addict in childhood or some behaviors.  But I do see the ‘love avoidant’ behavior in my wife and the ‘love addict’ behavior in my wife.

A lot of it made sense of how our relationship has worked in the past.  I could see us both in the descriptions and in the way our behavior cycles mesh together and make the wheel of dysfunction roll.

I was glad to see how it works and how the cycle can be broken and relationship repaired.  The frustrating part is that what is stressed is that we both need to work our our individual issues of addiction, codependence, depression, etc. before we can really start working our relationship with each other.

And, this sucks.  I want things better NOW.

To top it off, my wife was in a foul mood today.  I know it’s nothing I’ve done or could fix, but my mind starts down the path of trying to figure something out.  Then I start to feel pissed off that she’s not paying attention to me or being nice.  Straight out of the book…

Well, tomorrow is therapy day, I guess I’ll have something to talk about.