No more arguing today, and it’s 7:30 pm. We did talk more today since my last post, so the “no more arguing” bit is significant.
We talked about how he is concerned about my abuse accusations. He said, “I don’t know what verbal abuse is, and I don’t know when I’m doing it. Judging from your reaction, I do it all the time and I am confused.”
He started talking about how he is a blunt and direct person. He is concerned that he will never be able to be himself with me. In the past, he says he has tried altering the way he speaks to me, but it has left him feeling uncomfortable and unlike his true self. (I’m starting to see the confusion he mentioned earlier. What is verbal abuse? When am I doing it?)
Instead of saying anything, I waited. He continued with “I’ve tried to change who I am to make you happy. But when I change who I am, you are still not happy and I am not happy either. I don’t want to change who I am, and I don’t want to change how I talk.”
Bingo. That’s one feeling Will and I share.
From continuing the conversation, I learned that Will is aware that it is not only the cursing that causes problems. It happens when he says, “That’s a stupid idea” (his example) and similar comments during conversation.
I told him that I haven’t (possibly EVER) been honest with him about what I like and don’t like. If I was honest with him in the beginning, then I stopped because whatever I said caused him displeasure. And his displeasure was something to be avoided at all costs (not only because of his temper, but because avoiding his displeasure was what I DID, it was my modus operandi). I tried to make it easier for those around me at the expense of my self.
I told him that wasn’t fair to him because it left him feeling like he doesn’t know me. He is left to flounder from one extreme to the other, trying to please me, only to find me angrier from his effort. (Sound familiar?) I told him that he must have worked very hard at making things right, only to find me unhappy, resulting in feeling that “nothing” he did was ever good enough.
He agreed. I was surprised; there was no fight.
I told him that I know he is worried about what he says to me and how he says it. I said that since I’ve never told him exactly when he’s crossed a line, so how could he know when to temper his words (stop cursing), tone or attitude? I told him to be himself. If I become uncomfortable at some point, I will let him know right away.
He said that he doesn’t want to hurt me. I hope he will learn what I like and what I don’t in time, and maybe changing his words won’t feel so much like he is changing himself.
He said an amazing thing today. “What if, after all the stuff we’re going to change changes, what if you still don’t like me?”
I wanted to cry a little. Of course I’m going to like him. I liked him loads of times before now. I liked him when we dated and when we were married and when we had kids and when we came back into the Army and when he deployed to war and when I felt like I was fighting for the right to be me. But I didn’t cry, and I didn’t speak those partially true, placating words.
I only said, “I don’t think that is going to be a problem. I like you right now, when you seem to be talking from your heart.”
There were other, private things said today. I know I made mistakes today, and he made his share, too. I am hopeful that when he gets into therapy he (hopefully) discovers what abuse “is” and how to stop his part in the cycle. Any “lessons” coming from me fall on deaf ears, and I do not want to be his teacher.
From today, I learned that this cycle is going to be tougher to end than I thought. I learned that he is willing to open up and speak from his heart from day one. He isn’t (or doesn’t seem to be) feigning reactions to get what he wants. Some of his old traits came into play today, but so did some of mine.
Thank you all for looking after me so well today and in the days leading to today. Tomorrow is going to be a good day.