Friday, August 03, 2007

Part Two: Pass the Antacid, Please

All right, then, where was I?

Oh yes, I was venting about Mrs. Lefty feeling as if I don’t support her enough, particularly when it comes to other people mistreating her.

The reason I am going on about this now is that the past week at the Lefty place has been one of extreme stress. About this time last week, Mrs. Lefty and I had our biggest fight to date about the issue. On back-to-back days, there were two related incidents, in which Mrs. Lefty wanted me to back her up. If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll recall that by “back her up” she meant for me to yell and scream and generally get in somebody’s face. That type of behavior is never productive and will never get a person what they want. But it may be the only way Mrs. Lefty will feel supported by me.

So, at the conclusion of the most recent episode, she modeled the type of behavior she wants from me by swearing at me and getting in my face. Then, she stormed out of the room. A little later she called me and said, “I’ve had enough of this. I’m seriously thinking of a separation.” I didn’t believe she would take that route, and still don’t. She has said similar things before in the heat of her anger.

I told her, “I don’t want that, and I don’t think it would be helpful for either of us.”

This time, though, her anger lasted much longer than usual. She slept on the couch for four days. She completely ignored me except for things about which she absolutely needed to talk to me. Even then, her words were bitter and brusque. She was one cold woman.

And even though I did not fear for the end of our marriage, there was so much tension in the house that my stomach felt like a punching bag. It was a hellish 4 or 5 days. Then, we had our first counseling session since the incident, and, as expected, that took some of the edge off her anger and my tension.

Mrs. Lefty is unable to see that it is unusual that, in her mind, just about every significant person in her life has seriously betrayed and abused her. Now, in fairness, she has been through an enormous amount of trauma--physical and emotional--at the hands of people in her life. She has received serious wounds, inside and outside, because people have done some terrible things to her. And precisely because of that, the world to her is a dangerous place, and she expects every single person on this planet to betray her.

For a person like myself, who has lived a relatively normal--even sheltered--life, I do not expect betrayal. I cannot say that even one single person in my life has abused or betrayed me in a significant way. For Mrs. Lefty, everybody does. That is why I believe it may not be possible for me ever to support her enough. She may always be expecting me to fail her, because, in her mind, everyone else always has.

I am sure hoping, though, that we don’t have to live this way for the next 50 years. It can be quite hellish. I am hoping that somehow the counseling and other things we’re doing to build our marriage will gradually help Mrs. Lefty to get to a more healthy place.

And I know that I have my own issues. As I’ve written before, I tend to avoid conflict. I can be a perfectionist and nitpick at others when they fail to do something perfectly. I procrastinate. I don’t drink nearly enough beer. I have my own issues, and I am working on those.

I have to believe we’ll get there. To Mrs. Lefty’s credit, she is willing to work on things, even though she’s scared to death of confronting some of the things in her past. She’s willing to make the effort, and so am I. As long as that is true, then I have to believe our work will pay off.

Besides, I love her, and she loves me. That makes all the difference in the world.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Have the T-Shirt said...

Wow, I have worn the T-shirts your wife wears. Through counseling I have learned to take those T-shirts off and give em to the Goodwill, but it wasn't easy, it wasn't fun and it took several attempts at it.

Looking back (and trust me, I am still dealing with remnants of my issues) it really all comes down to loving and trusting myself enough. Once I learned to love me the way I wanted others to love me, I could begin not needing to look outside myself for all that stuff, cause I was able to give it to myself.

I'm sure glad your wife has a husband who understands what drives her behavior, that helps a lot.

Just encourage her to keep working on it all :)

2:09 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

t-shirt--thanks for the supportive words; it's nice to hear a success story.

Mrs. Lefty does look to others for the value, self-esteem and meaning that only she can give herself. To herself, her insides feel so awful, she probably can't imagine there's anything good in there.

And, though I understand the value of learning to encourage her more, I also sometimes find it hard when I'm feeling so stressed or stomped on myself.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous g-dog said...

Wow - I tend to be like your Mrs. when I get really angry, though I skip the yelling and go straight to the cold shoulder. And, even at my age, I will flip him off behind his back, or barely answer his question and finish each sentence mentally with "bastard" "SOB", or some other epithet. Eventually, I get 'over' it.

I wish I could explain what makes me that mad, what prompts that strong reaction, but I can't. And maybe that is why Mrs. L can't tell you or your family how to change whatever is pushing her buttons.

Her demand to have you defend her sounds like she is testing your loyalty towards her. She wants you to pick a side, specifically - hers. And she wants you to feel as upset as she does. (Not that this is fair, and she may not realize why she wants you to blow up at your family)

Or - I'm full of crap, since I'm just guessing here based on my experience.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar....

6:16 PM  
Anonymous xboxgirl said...

Geez, sounds like it might be a bit tough, but as you said your both willing to work on things and you both love each other, so I too think yours & hers work will pay off.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Bre said...

That last line gives me all the hope in the world!

9:58 PM  
Blogger SWF42 said...

It's sad how feelings like Mrs. Lefty's often become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you're (generic you) constantly looking for something wrong, you'll eventually find something wrong.

Tough road to hoe, kiddo. Tough road to hoe.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous g-dog said...

Another amateur psychology thought: The Mrs. still somehow blames herself for all the nasty things that happened to her throughout her life. Somehow, there must have been something she did, or didn't do, that elicited the abuse. But, while she can't stand up and scream "it wasn't my fault!" - she can expect you to do it ("it's not her fault" my family is being unreasonable/rude/mean/nasty/etc...

I always thought the phrase was "tough row to hoe", like in a garden.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous sammie said...

Just my two cents, but it sounds like she really needs to go to individual counseling. i hope she gets the help she needs. there are talk therapies that focus on confronting the past and other talk therapies which deal with the 'here and now'. maybe looking into the latter type of therapy might be more useful because it seems as if she 'confronts' the past everyday - in the real or perceived hurts she gets from the people in her present life. and it doesn't seem to change her perspective or perception of what is actually transpiring, particularly regarding your parents' 'dislike' of her.

A 'here and now' therapy - something cognitive behavioral or maybe a totally different type - like gestalt therapy really might help her.

good luck

7:06 PM  
Blogger LM said...

Yep. I too have to take a step back from time to time to be sure that the person I'm mad at is REALLY the person I'm mad at. At times I am convinced that everyone will eventually abandon me. These are tough issues.

So Mrs. Lefty wants you to go to extremes to assure her that you are not going to go the way of those who have betrayed her in the past. This may not be what you want to hear, but I kind of think that (if possible) you should - for a little while, until she sees that no all people (translation men) are alike.

Just a thought from a very feminine mind.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Guilty Secret said...

Hi Lefty,
Sorry to her things got so bad. I think it is great that you remain so confident and keep trying to see things from her perspective.
I really hope the counselling helps. Remember too, once you're done venting here and feel serene again (hopefully!) that nothing beats a good hug!

6:37 AM  
Anonymous brandy said...

It's scary how things can get so... out of control when feelings get slid under the carpet, or issues not discussed when they should be. It sounds like you guys are both wanting to work things out, and I think that's the greatest advantage a couple can have. As for the last line, I'm with Bre.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

g-dog--sounds like you have learned some great ways to express your anger! Hey, don't flip me off, I'm just saying...

xbox--it is hard sometimes, but it's not all bad; there's a lot of good in the marriage, too.

bre--you ARE hopelessly optimistic; but that's not a bad thing.

swf--that's the problem; if she's looking for disapproval, she'll find it.

sammie--individual counseling has been suggested; I just don't think she's ready to face it; thanks for the well wishes.

lm--I do what I can to be supportive without going off on people who don't deserve it; unfortunately, she things they DO deserve it; and, after more than 6 years, I'm still here--isn't that enough? Apparently not.

guilty--things are better now after about 10 days; and we got a big hug last night; I think she's feeling more serene, too.

brandy--you and bre are certainly two peas in a pod.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous g-dog said...

could be risky - but after an episode - you could try complimenting her or getting her a gift. The risk - it may look like an implicit apology ( you were right, I was wrong...), which may only reinforce the unwanted behavior.

There was an article in the NY Times where a woman tried following animal training protocol with her husband - ignore unwanted behavior, reward wanted behavior. Then she wrote a book! Yes - it works, but not only because the subjects behavior(s) change, but because your behavior does too!

4:53 PM  
Anonymous LVGurl said...

Not to minimize everything you just wrote, but I couldn't help but to chuckle when I saw that this entry was file under 'antacid.'

It sounds like you're both doing the best you can to nurture your marriage and work on the issue. So many people don't do that. Your work WILL pay off.


6:58 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

g-dog--I should just be sure not to tell Mrs. Lefty I've decided to treat her like an animal.

lv--an entire case of antacid would not have been too much.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish not acquiesce in on it. I assume precise post. Expressly the designation attracted me to study the intact story.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I dream the collection should prepare more info then it has.

9:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home