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Author Topic: Shame versus criticism  (Read 146 times)
Cat Familiar
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« on: March 26, 2020, 12:17:19 PM »

For the first time in months, I lost my temper a couple of days ago over something insignificant. And as to be expected, that caused my husband to react in the typical BPDish way one could imagine.

Later, when things had calmed down, we talked. At first, he was blaming and stonewalling, but then we had an actual real conversation.

He pointed out a pattern in my behavior that I was unaware of, and I’m not certain that I do that, but I can see how he interprets it that way. What bothers him is “scolding”.

To me, it’s merely stating a preference and desire that he does things in a way that makes my life easier. For example, when I asked him to take his wet clothes out of the washer promptly, instead of leaving them for days, that was “scolding.” Fortunately he doesn’t do that any more, but I had to make several requests, over and over, so I can see how he might have felt scolded.

Furthermore, he stated that my “pattern” included justifying. Oh no! I’m JADEing.

Once he explained what he noticed, I thought it’s not really justifying, but rather explaining, which I’m fully aware that I often do.

In the case of my example, I told him that the washer will mildew with wet clothes and also it prevents me from using the washer, unless I deal with his laundry, (a slippery slope I’ve learned since more and more tasks will end up as mine.)

As far as patterns I’ve noticed with him, he has tended to shut down discussions and arguments by stonewalling or saying, “You hate me,” “I’m a piece of  Cursing - won't cause site restrictions at Starbucks (click to insert in post) ,” etc.

I asked him about that and he agreed that he often goes into self loathing when feeling shamed.

I never meant to shame him, only to assert what I wanted and ask for his cooperation, but he interpreted it as an attack on who he is.

Digging deeper into our patterns, we both grew up with parents with personality disorders. My mother was a pwBPD. His father was a malignant narcissist. I realize that people often exaggerate how bad their parents are, but I met his dad near the end of his life and he was about as nasty as he could be, even to me, a stranger.

What dawned on me is that even though my mother constantly criticized me, I still felt loved. He felt devalued, diminished, hated.

My lightbulb moment—the criticism I felt was annoying and hurtful, but didn’t diminish me as a person. The unkind words and behavior from his father cut far deeper.

The conclusion I reached was that anything that sounded to me like criticism was felt by him as shaming, and no wonder with his background.

This certainly makes it more difficult for me to assert preferences, but now that I understand, I can be much more mindful when I need to do that.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 03:48:28 PM by Cat Familiar » Logged

“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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formflier
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 01:23:15 PM »


A very similar insight has been gained in my relationship. 

To me, "wrong" and "criticism" are cousins and my wife really doesn't "hear" any difference.  I used to think I was doing a service by "being clear" about what was and wasn't going right and that a "good outcome" would be enjoyed by all.

In my mind..."we all make mistakes"...no big deal, since I'm always looking for a better way.

In my wife's mind..."you are a mistake"  (she was the unexpected twin that came out after her brother).  They often remind her of that.  And she was "picked apart" growing up.  Love was rare, criticism was rampant.

Uggg...

So...now I focus on being clear about what I want...and being thankful for what I get.  I rarely mention how prior actions "let me down" or "didn't measure up" or even "could be better".

The difference in our relationship is amazing.

Best,

FF



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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 04:09:05 PM »

In my mind..."we all make mistakes"...no big deal, since I'm always looking for a better way.

I do vaguely remember how painful my mom’s constant criticism was when I was a child. Nowadays if someone criticizes me, I think of it as a gift. I look to see if I think it’s valid, and if it seems to be, it gives me a wonderful opportunity to grow.

I forget that not everyone sees it this way.

I have friends with whom I can trade snarky remarks and it deepens our friendship. The husband...not at all. Even completely innocuous comments can be perceived as criticism.


So...now I focus on being clear about what I want...and being thankful for what I get.  I rarely mention how prior actions "let me down" or "didn't measure up" or even "could be better".

The difference in our relationship is amazing.

Not sweating the little things is so important in these relationships. Definitely easier said than done sometimes.
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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