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Listening to shame
Brené Brown, PhD
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Author Topic: The seven year  (Read 2153 times)

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 46

« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2021, 11:51:46 AM »

I think we're at the point where I need some more certainty about the future, especially financially, just to be able to plan accordingly. So I do think I will need to file soon, which was the original plan, even if we were going to be working on stuff.

The kids seem to doing pretty well. Doing well in school and at home and seem fairly well adjusted. My daughter occasionally asks or remarks when I'm staying at the house or have arrived there, but she's also quick to ask to go to the apartment every few days. It seems genuine and organic, not so much like she's been coached.

Ideally, since we're getting along okay around the kids, we could continue to take them to special things once in a while. I'm going to be careful with that, and we'll see how vengeful she gets if I take the next step.

That seems like a good book, I ordered it from the library along with a few others. I've read Splitting, found it easy to digest and have been keeping a lot of the tips in it in mind.

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 46

« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2022, 11:05:21 PM »

Well, I haven’t pulled the trigger on filing for divorce. We’re still separated, I still have the apartment. Still taking kids to school and watching them a good bit of the time. Her mother is still coming several days a week. I stay over there a few nights a week. We’ve been intimate a few times.

There was some serious drama about me not coming back home in October, and some related drama with my family, when she got upset about them visiting and started trying to control schedules/interactions. Since then, she's backed off on the family drama.

In early November, when I didn’t come back home like she thought I would, she called my apartment complex and bugged them about options to break the lease.

She’s taken the kids out of state a few times to visit family, and every time, drama ensues among her family.
I went out of state with them on Thanksgiving, and stayed in a hotel with them, but didn’t go to the family celebration. Which is good, because there was more family drama.

The family dog got sick in late November, went downhill in early December, rallied for a day, and then died at home overnight. My wife had a major dysregulation that night into the following morning, and then she went out later the morning the dog died and picked up a new puppy after having been very clearly asked not to do so this soon.

We both did some major projects in December and didn’t see much of each other. Late December ended up being a trial run to see whether we could get along full time. I stayed there a decent amount of the time, and things went fairly smoothly. We went out of state on a family trip for my birthday. Things went pretty well, all things considered. No fighting to speak of, some intimacy, and we had a very nice time with the kids.

We then spent a few days at Christmas together as a family. She started to dysregulate a few days prior, got food poisoning on Christmas Eve and then absolutely melted down for about three days, returning to her abusive ways, in particular over presents I had gotten for the kids and blaming me for her predicament. Instead of helping me set up Christmas Eve, she spent it screaming at me, and was moody and abusive on Christmas, threw a fit over the present I got her (she got me nothing) and tried to rush through proceedings. Then she was borderline abusive the next two days, though we did have some family outings that went well, with the exception of a few fairly intense car confrontations.

She hasn’t been unhinged at that level since, but she also refused to acknowledge or discuss what happened. Seemed completely unaware of how bad things got, and claimed I was overreacting when I tried to make her confront it.

She seems to think things are good enough for me to comeback. And things have generally been civil. We’ve parented well together. However, we haven’t really worked through anything. Every attempt to do so escalates. So it’s been a mostly civil baseline, with no productive improvement in the areas that actually need it.

I had essentially given her a list of “wants”, basic functional things that I felt needed to be addressed. Decluttering the house, civility, better communication and so forth. She made a few token attempts at some of it, but it was ultimately very, very half-assed.  In general, she’s set various expectations and not followed through.

From her end, there’s been a lot of “we have to talk” which takes the form of repetitive requests for me to come back that feels a lot like lecturing. Her narrative about me being unsatisfied with our progress as a couple is that it’s due to my depression, that I have a mood disorder, or that I simply want perfection from her, and am overreacting to small mistakes that happen. She claims that because we have discussed the basic issues we have had for months that they have actively been addressed. They have not been, and nothing has been solved.

She’s been paranoid about my phone, worried about being recorded and sensitive about me journaling or taking notes about our interactions. I’m told that I’m gaslighting fairly often if we discuss conflict. She’s started to resort to calling me a narcissist again here and there. She has compared my apartment to “having another woman”, and said that the only commitment she needs from me is for me to come back home.

Meanwhile, she has scheduled and booked a family vacation to Disney World over Spring Break and spent several days engrossed in planning that. She claims she will take the kids whether I go or not.
Lately she’s making a lot of financial appeals to get me to stay. Claims she will lose house, etc. Lot of narrative about how I will be lonely if we divorce, veiled implications that no one will want me with my baggage, how the grass isn’t greener, etc.

So the emotional abuse is still there, just a bit more passive aggressive. Direct verbal abuse has almost completely stopped, but her tone has been sarcastic or angry a lot, which she immediately denies, gets defensive about, and in place of verbal altercations are walls of text lectures. Then she attempts to make up by pretending the conflict never happened. There’s a lot of clinginess and puppy eyes, which has been really offputting. A lot of the intimacy has been...shallow.

Marital counseling has continues, and has gone rather predictably downhill. We’ve had several sessions that seem to go well, but even then she picks fights about what we discussed in counseling afterward. She’s refused to discuss key issues in session, and went from “let’s learn how to fight fairly” a month ago to now being well into “You take his side/you don’t let me talk enough/I don’t think you’re very professional/I don’t trust you” mode with the couples counselor and has torpedoed the last three or four sessions with extended emotional outbursts, criticisms of me, attempts to control the session and dramatic exits.

A week and a half ago, when I mentioned something about her mother having no boundaries as part of the session discussion, she proceeded to call her mother during the session, put her on speaker, tell her I was badmouthing her and having her mother tell the counselor about her perception of my behavior. While the counselor repeatedly told her this was wildly inappropriate. The session fell apart after that. She later tried to excuse her behavior by telling me she was hangry and on her period.
The counselor asked us to do a negotiation wheel and various shared goals and vision exercises, and she has either actively rejected my attempts to do so or otherwise pushed those tasks off.

With all that, the day to day interactions we have are better than they have been in a long time, but any kind of interpersonal conflict has been either unproductive or a mine field. She gets very emotional very quickly, interrupts constantly, and either shuts me down or completely misinterprets much of what I say. She may be listening, but she’s not hearing me.

I have generally set better boundaries in terms of how much drama and repetitive lecturing I will tolerate, during work, phone calls, even in person. And if I was after clarity about how things would be likely to go if I gave her another chance, I think I’ve got it. She’s talked a good game, but not played one. And yet, for pretty much no good reason, my brain is like “Well, things are generally going pretty well except for these few issues here and there”. It’s weird how it makes you forget what has happened, even within a few days.

She's asked me to decide about coming home by mid February. I’ve told her I’ll give her an answer by the end of this month. She wants another trial run over the next week. I'm not expecting miracles.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Never-ending divorce
Posts: 376

« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2022, 05:20:42 AM »

So toxic. I'm sorry you went through this, TheBatHammer.

I read your current situation as she's got you exactly where she wants you and you're going to be at her beck and call until you're no longer of use to her. Then she'll probably annihilate you again. Don't do it.

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 46

« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2022, 03:44:06 PM »

I tried the broccoli again.

Late January was bad. There was an incident where she screamed and yelled about something random for several hours around the kids and upset them; I told her I wouldn’t be going on a planned family outing that night as a result, and she switched gears to alienation and told our daughter I was leaving. After this fight, I hurriedly moved the rest of my stuff to my apartment, and she temporarily demanded I give up access to the house until she realized she needed help with the dog.

We had a couple of good outings with mutual friends that brought us a little closer in early February. Got accused of cheating early in the month.

We had a birthday party for our child in February, with my family in attendance, so she started to think things were going better with them and to try to use that as leverage to get me to open a dialogue with them about letting her back into the family’s good graces.

Counseling issues started in mid February. She started trying to control sessions. At one point she implied constant abuse and gaslighting. She continually interrupted the counselor, was really defensive. At one point she belittled me for writing in my journal about all this, and then read from her own journal in session despite being asked not to. She left that session twice. Counselor told her she might need to record convos to be able to see what she does on a regular basis, and she declined and got really upset. She then scheduled an emergency follow up counseling session, was unfocused and rambling in that one. She was outright combative with the counselor this time, claimed he was on my side and being mean to her.

The next session was also subpar, a lot of defensiveness and combative behavior.

Amidst all this, in early March, we agreed to a 10 day marriage trial, then had a major fight outside the house; she tried to prevent me from leaving during one of her meltdowns and went ballistic in public. I left, she came to my apartment, I wouldn’t let her in and she left. There was a lot of accusatory, emotionally appealing/abandonment stuff the next few days.

Had yet another bad counseling session after this. She denied the previous drama, lectured, interrupted, sobbed and wailed, talked about trauma over her abandonment, and made some new demands for me to move back and continue marriage trial or would not let me go on the scheduled Disney trip. She kept referring to me as “this person” during that session.

The next day, since I still hadn’t returned to the trial (heh), she asked me to breakfast to talk, where she was abrasive and petty with both myself and the restaurant staff. She denied all of it, of course. Our next few interactions we had were very tense, and revolved around me continuing the marriage trial.

Eventually, via couples counseling, in late March we negotiated an additional trial period of a month and a half in exchange for me going to Disney with the kids. The trial period would extend for about a month beyond the trip.

When I first came back to start the trial, she was agitated for a few days. She started talking in future terms. “When you come home, we will…”
After every good outing or interaction, she would make an emotional, often tearful appeal for me to come back and stay there. Claimed she only wanted commitment and financial support.

There were some small initial fights. I tried to maintain boundaries, especially regarding work time. She still displayed some paranoia about being taped, was sensitive about various things.

The Disney trip itself went okay. We drove from the Midwest, and things were all right on the way down. At the parks themselves, she had several stress-related meltdowns, was abrasive to most of the restaurant and hotel staff, refused to cooperate in planning our itinerary, and generally behaved in an entitled way. There was some namecalling and general interpersonal drama here and there. On the way home, we were supposed to meet my brother and his wife,but they changed their mind a few hours prior, allegedly due to family issues with in laws who were visiting. This sent my wife into a screaming, shrieking meltdown for at least an hour with the kids in the car. Insulting my family, me, blaming me for issues with my kin, lather, rinse, repeat. The rest of the trip home was less eventful.

Early April, however, was awful, for three or four days, and I don’t remember what all happened, in part because it was intense and unpleasant. I wrote a lot of it down, and then she found and deleted my journal entries for those days. At least I think that’s what happened. She denied it. There was a lot of drama about me letting my family mistreat her, and her denying what had happened on the trip, especially on the car in the way home. I left the house again during this time, despite us being in a trial period. I returned after a few days, and things slowly got to a more civil place over the next few weeks.

In mid April, I spent an entire day running around planning a surprise 40th birthday party for her, however on the way there she melted down because I wouldn’t tell her where we were going, and went ballistic in car with kids there. We did have a very good time, and she ended up apologizing later, but didn’t seem to understand the level of unstable behavior she had displayed, and there was drama because now people knew she was 40. There was also drama because my parents didn’t wish her a happy birthday.  A few days later she was telling me my mother is dead to her, insulting my family again.

We took our kids to her parents’ for Easter, where I am apparently not welcome, so we stayed in a hotel instead. Things went all right. I did attend the family Easter gathering, and people were decent there. She used this to try to point out my family has overreacted to her behavior and to try to make them look unfair and immature.

Shortly after this, we discovered our child might be on the spectrum, which became a whole new stress.
Much of the last month plus has been taking our child to early intervention stuff, doctor’s appointments, assessments, various therapy sessions.

We had a terrible counseling session in late April. I tried to talk about things that were improving to start off, as we were doing better with and around the kids, and then when asked by the counselor about specifics that make me not want to come home, dared to mention the core issues: being shut down, her defensiveness, lack of conflict resolution between us. She immediately got super defensive. When the counselor once more pointed out that there was only one way to definitively show her how things go during our conversations about conflict, she completely melted down, shouted that she didn’t want to be videotaped. Claimed counselor was on my side, got up and “left” several times.

We had yet another emergency counseling session after this. She was asked to validate my current feelings, and it felt very much like “Tell me what you want/how you feel so I can pretend to validate it and we can move on”. She felt things were good enough for me to move back in.I did not.

The realization that I was not on the same page as her seemed to send her into some depression. She went back to the “you want me to be perfect and I will never be good enough” well.

In early May, my niece had a birthday party and invited our kids. My wife asked me to ask if she could drop off kids at least, as she was generally forbidden from going over there due to the disowning. This request was met with a resounding no, so naturally she then reached out to both my sister and my mother in a “civil” way via text message. And she was relatively civil, but it was incredibly tonedeaf. She then claimed she’d never asked me to ask them about coming, that we should have just shown up, made some noise about doing so.

The same day, we had a terrible counseling session, complete with a shrieking meltdown by her about family/disowning issues, lots of sobbing and yelling, and she implied she would divorce me if I don’t stand up to my family. During this session, our counselor told us he would honor the last three sessions we had scheduled, and then was done.

We negotiated in session with the counselor that I would take one kid to the party as the other was sick, but then she had her mother pick the kid up at school before I could, and tried to use that as leverage to get me to reconsider. I wouldn’t, and took our daughter to the party, discovering that my wife was already trying to alienate her from my sister in the process.

The next few days were spent flinging insults about my family, accusing my sister of having a personality disorder, and blaming me for not fixing the situation. She was in a mood for several days. Then, she asked me to ask my family if we could take the kids to visit them (out of state) for Mother’s Day. Again, we received a resounding No, and again, drama ensued. She text messaged my mother asking to talk, was rebuffed.

Then on Mother’s Day, she freaked out first thing in the morning, because I had not gotten her a card or said anything on Facebook about it yet. She seemed to want reassurance that she was a good mother, so I said as much, and she then immediately got offended that I had only said “good”, and talked about she’s the best mom the kids could ever have.

The drama from this perceived transgression went on for a few days.

In mid May, she had some drama with an old friend, who herself seems to have some significant mental issues and who has my wife playing maid of honor  because she has no one else to, and who attacked my wife verbally for not paying for her wedding or bachelorette party or something.

Almost immediately after this, my wife had an irregular mammogram, and we had a cancer scare that lasted a few weeks. She ended up having a tumor and an emergency biopsy, but it was discovered to be benign. Mind you, this is during the period of discovery that our son might be special needs. I didn’t get much of anything done during this few weeks, and there was a lot of stress, although she handled the crisis situation without dysregulating.

So that’s where we are. Just coming down from major stress.

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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated
Posts: 46

« Reply #34 on: May 24, 2022, 03:53:50 PM »

Because her job requires her to get up early and leave, I’ve taken care of the dog, handled the kids in the morning, take kids to school, pick them up, take them to doctor’s appointments, activities, etc.

I do much of the work at home. Feeding kids, bathing them. She’s on her feet all day, so I don’t actually mind doing a lot of the evening stuff, but its inequitable. When she does stuff, it tends to be taking kids to activities she wants them to go to, which I see as recreation.

In the last month or so, she’s been a little better about sharing chores, but with that comes emotional appeals to come back and claims things are good enough for me to do so.

Her mom is still coming three to four days a week. I’ve caught my daughter calling her Mom and watched her grandmother not correct her. She’s clearly enabled my wife, and I can barely stand her presence at this point. Wife seems to be enmeshed with her mother, text messages with her constantly, and defends her rabidly at the slightest negative statement about her.

My wife has let up on asking for/demanding money a bit, with the exception of a few “promised” items that she was repetitive about asking for, and a habit of calling pretending to make small talk and then asking about a minor transaction or money issue that is causing her anxiety.

She’s had a lot of trouble validating and not being invalidating, even in counseling. It’s accompanied with almost eye rolling reluctance, even during counseling exercises. She’s told me I’m glass half full, refuse to see the improvements she’s made, and that nothing will be good enough for me. This is apparently her excuse for not putting more effort into things for the last year.

I basically gave her a list of things that needed to be worked on for me to consider coming back, and she sort of did a half ass surface attempt at some of the things, but otherwise does not seem to have understood the assignment. She’s moved the goalposts on a couple of areas she promised to work on. Claims I have asked her to change who she is, pretends like she’s bent over backward to satisfy my requests, when she really hasn’t made that much effort in the first place. She claims she’s being devalued as a person by being asked to change anything, which to me is a subtle dig at me being a narcissist, her favorite go to insult. Another favorite defense is to tell me not to gaslight her if I try to discuss what actually happened in a given situation, or my perspective on a matter. A few times she told me that my conversation about things was “Word Salad”.

She’s still a fairly good mom. Attentive to the children and their basic needs. But she’s got me at her beck and call…and is not really giving much of anything in return, in terms of our relationship. She’s a perfectly pleasantly person...until she’s asked to be anything but that. She often seems unfocused and rudderless. Comes homes and sits in work clothes, sits on the phone, watches TV all night, falls asleep if we try to watch something together. Her priorities are clear. Her hobbies, and her status, or at least recreational activities she wants to do, and her career, and that's it.

The sex life I want, or at least a less satisfying and appealing version of it, is still being used as a bargaining chip, which isn’t really new. We haven’t had much intimacy in general, because frankly I don’t feel very connected to her due to her toxic behavior. So there’s very little intimacy. She goes to bed without saying goodnight, leaves in the morning without saying goodbye. It’s not done with malice. She just seems not to care all that much about those basic areas of connection.

Since she cant stay awake, and gets up early, we are essentially living apart. That said, things are considerably more civil between us. They’re more pleasant. There’s a fondness. But it’s still not satisfying in the least.

There’s simply no conflict resolution. If I raise a need, or want to talk about something I wish she would do differently, or heaven help us, scold her, she gets very defensive. She has generally been much better around the kids in terms of engaging in conflict or getting upset, but has slipped up significantly a few times, notably in the car.

With the counselor, we agreed to use a time out scenario when things get heated, but she has not honored it. She likes to get the last word in, or argue about whether a situation calls for a break or not.

She has, for some time, claimed she would leave me if I didn’t move back by May 4th of this year. That got stretched to May 10th due to stress, and has become the 26th, and now is early April. She doesn’t want the stress of me leaving on top of (insert X stressful thing). She clearly doesn't want me to leave, and is making empty threats.

Earlier this week, she found a self help book I’d been reading (Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay) and berated me for needing a book to make up my mind.

A few days ago was the one year anniversary of me moving out. She decided she doesn’t want to go to the counselor (who has already essentially dropped us) and that she wanted to start over with a new counselor. Since then there's been drama about his professionalism, the company, and so on.

She claims she is not the same person she was when I left her. And that’s true in some ways. She’s much less abusive, even verbally, especially in front of the children.

When things have been bad or tense recently, it’s largely been underground. Long dramatic, repetitive text bombs about how I have wronged her, what I've done wrong, what I should do, how she feels, etc. I don’t know about it being directly abusive, but it still feels unstable. She occassionally send lectures about money, abandonment, claiming I'm being abusive, etc.

So her internal processes seem to be the same. The same worldview guides her. Nothing is ever her fault. She still has no accountability for her role in things, or much if any self awareness about how she comes across, or what is appropriate in a given situation.

Sure, things are fine when things are fine. The day to day is generally very civil, even productive. But any kind of conflict discussion or attempt to get my needs met is a land mine.

I’m not a math person, but I checked my journal and did some metrics. In roughly the last 120 days, she had close to 60 major dysregulations. Some of these were compressed into a few days, but that averages out to one every two days or so. The same goes for long lectures/text missives. Half the time. That’s just not sustainable, or pleasant to be around. And my needs just aren’t being met.
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