Yesterday M started up with his usual approach to our “communication problems” which happens each time we have some sort of “incident.”
The first step is for him to play the victim – “I’m obviously evil and should just keep my mouth shut and not speak my mind,” followed by a bunch of bullshit about how he doesn’t intend to hurt people, just to speak the truth as he sees it.
He says that has no idea that his “teasing” me is hurtful – he only means it affectionately. Maybe I’m too sensitive? Perhaps I should take a good look at how I react to other people? Adults can have contentious conversations without getting all upset and holding a grudge.
Blah, blah, blah. All delivered in a hurt tone with much looking at the ground. We’ve been here before, and I know it’s only the beginning.
So, this morning we’re in bed. I make a sexual overture. He claims not to know if I’m being truthful – after all, if I can’t tell him that his “teasing” is hurtful, what else am I hiding? I’m naked, and my recorder is four feet away, so this “conversation” did not get recorded.
He brought up my “grudges” repeatedly, asking how he could possibly know that I was angry over things that happened “so long ago” if I don’t tell him. Well, I did tell him, but he was too busy deflecting, denying, and ignoring me to hear my actual words.
There’s one subject that keeps coming up that I will use as an example. I voted for Bush Jr. There, I said it – I made a mistake and voted Republican back in 2000. At the time, I was in a very conservative state of mind and did not see any redeeming qualities in Al Gore. So I voted and then I forgot about it. Years ago, M asked a question about how I had voted and like an idiot I told him. He was outraged, but we were not in a relationship at that time and he did not criticize except to say that now we were in a cycle of war-like activity and Al Gore would have kept us out of conflict and a bunch of other stuff that was not personally insulting, but made it very clear that he did not approve of my political leanings.
Fast forward to today. If I make any sort of political statement, he immediately shuts me down with, “but you voted for Bush – what do you know?” He stated today that I should be able to defend my vote all those years ago, give a logical, clearly thought-out argument with documented facts and figures to back my view up. I asked why I can’t just say that it was a terrible mistake and I’ve grown in my views and would not cast the same vote today as I did then? Not acceptable. It’s just another example of how ignorant (yes, he did use that precise word) I am.
It’s like that about everything. Because I spent my lunch time necking in the stairwell in JR High with a boy, I am a slut today. Because I did not “express my hurt” over the Camping Incident at the time it was happening, I can’t bring it up later as it’s not fair to hold a grudge – I must say something when it’s actually happening. Again, my tears were pretty clear, IMHO.
Anyway, we’re back to the beginning of his cycle – my feelings are “wrong” and I “overreact” to what he feels is “affectionate teasing” and he feels like he can’t say anything at all to me for fear of being demonized later. He has no way of knowing how I feel unless I tell him and if I don’t tell him then he has to assume the worst. If I laugh at something that he says that is painful* when I really want to cry, then what other of my emotions are “lies?” What else do I conceal from him that would help him to accurately gauge what my true feelings are?
It goes on and on like this. He does not actually hear a word I say unless it’s to turn it around and use it against me. It feels like a battle that he is determined to win at all costs and my feelings really don’t have anything to do with anything. I am nothing to him that he doesn’t want me to be. He wants me to be on the defensive, always ready with an apology, always conciliatory, always inferior, always under his thumb.
Once again, I was in tears, promising to let him know my feelings at the time and not wait until later. The problem is, if I react in the way that he claims to want me to react, he is not going to be happy about it and I will be criticized for giving him what he claims to want. It’s all bout controlling me through my emotions and it’s very difficult to switch my thinking gears when we have been in this pattern for so many years. I’m working on it.
* Srsly. I learned at a very young age that if someone is teasing you and your feelings are hurt, laugh or ignore them to make it stop sooner – to show tears or anger just makes the bully try even harder. It’s common, accepted wisdom, but when used against a verbal abuser rest assured that he will make it into something else entirely.