When Loving Hurts
What hurts both of us is that she has some very old, deep wounds. Since she was a child, she has been mistreated, neglected and abused in a variety of ways, particularly by men. And when she is frustrated, angry or under severe stress, those wounds open up inside her. When that happens, she lashes out in self-defense.
Because I am the nearest, safest human being to her--and perhaps because I am a man--she often attacks me. They aren’t physical attacks, of course. I seem to become the symbol for everyone who hurt or disappointed her, and everything comes down on me. At first, that surprised me. I hadn’t known how much she had been through, nor had I known how that could affect her behavior and ability to differentiate between real threats and her imagination. There have been wounds that damaged her ability to control her emotion.
Now, I try very hard to have patience. It is often impossible to use logic when she is so very angry. I gave up trying. Now, I try to listen and reassure her that I love her. And, frankly, not even that works. She just seems to have to burn out that fear through counterattack, and when she does that, then she returns to a place of stability. Afterward, she is often apologetic, and can look back and see what happened.
The problem is, that though I try to understand, each episode pounds me pretty good. I feel like I’ve been used as a punching bag for a few hours, and I wonder when I’m just going to fall apart myself.
It’s not completely hopeless, though. She is better now than when we first married. Counseling, medication and our working together have helped. But it’s always there, just under the surface, and sometimes it leaps out and surprises me.
I love my wife. I just wish I could heal her, too.