Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Practice Being Me

I just finished listening to Achieving Happiness with Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein (and Martha, of course!) at MarthaTrowbridgeRadio.com. The show brought up two questions I want to explore in depth and validated my belief that creating boundaries for myself is absolutely CRUCIAL if I hope to expand upon the progress I’ve made after Will comes home.

First, by setting boundaries (and allowing them to develop and change as I see fit), I give myself a set of rules to follow that will help me recognize abuse and react to it appropriately. I am anxious for Will to come home so I can start practicing my current boundaries with him. However, I’m finding that when I’m relating to Marc, my oldest son, I’m also in need of some personal rules to keep Marc and me in our respective places (“son” and “mother”) during our crisis situations.

I’ve recently come to understand that my codependency extends to my children, too. By setting boundaries for myself in relation to the boys, I remind myself that my children are in need of some strong mothering. Seeing that my mommy isn’t here, I have to be the MOM, and that means that I must unravel the mind games I play with myself that diminish my power to be a great mother.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, I don’t have to wait for Will to get home to practice being me.

Secondly, the two questions I want to explore are:

  • What repititious, habitual behaviors of mine fuel my husband’s (and increasingly, Marc’s) abusive behaviors?

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein said that “Behavioral patterns run deeper than love.” I understand completely what she means. Sometimes, during the heat of an argument with Will, the dialog running through my head was completely different from the words coming out of my mouth. Probably worse was that the rational and calm part of my brain was overrun by my spiraling emotions. I KNEW I had been “taken over” by something, but I kept allowing that “something” to run the show. Why?

Despite the fact that I knew better than to continue the course I was on, HABIT allowed me to continue on it. Even though I love Will, I allowed my own bad behavior to further deteriorate an already horrid situation. “Behavior runs deeper than love.”

  • What does my body say about how I handle stress?

I’m going to have to go back and re-listen to this part of the discussion because I forget the specifics and the names associated with the idea I took from it. But anyhow, from what I understand, there are ways to help us handle stress better by looking at the current state of our bodies.

If I’ve got this right, then maybe the fact that I’m overweight and eat to fill emotional voids would be a sign that I fear “not having.” Not having enough food, not having enough love,…as if love was once denied to me (like when my mom, suffering from depressions associated with my emotionally distant father, closeted herself in her sewing room). And god knows that being brought up in an extended family where food was a reward, I can see why I try to make myself feel less of a void by eating it.

This idea plays into the whole “stress causes disease and dis-ease” theory that science is beginning to prove as reality. Or is it already proven? I believe it anyway.

Something else, unrelated to the show, is dawning on me at this late stage in the game. Knowing is inferior to thinking. I mean, what if I had ended my thought process once I KNEW my marriage was riddled with abuse? What if I decided to end my marriage because “everyone” said it was “hopeless,” knowing I would be better off on my own mainly because I would be without him…and then stopped thinking?

I certainly wouldn’t have gotten to know myself as well as I have come to know me. I definately would still be wondering what, if anything, I had to offer my children, my community, my world,…another guy…. And I would not be unraveling the marvelous mystery of who I am. “Knowing” is merely a thread in the fabric of my life, and I will be eternally grateful that I didn’t stop thinking.

From MarthaTrowbridgeRadio.org:

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is a positive psychologist for women, who is in private practice with her husband in Long Branch, NJ. She is the author of several books, including The Truth: I’m A Girl, I’m Smart And I Know Everything. Her websites are enchantedself.com and thetruthforgirls.com.