Sunday, April 3, 2011

Better reason than usual for staying up late.

So last night was just a mellow, low key Saturday night.  We stayed in and did a bit of Gestalt therapy.  You know, casual.  Noah explained a bit about it and using the two chair strategy for getting parts of my brain (in this case my 'little girl' and my 'adult' personas) to talk to one another.  A lot of my recent anxiety feels exactly like being a scared little girl no matter what I am anxious about.  It took several back and forth experiences before I got the hang of "changing the chair" to move back and forth between the mindsets and then it worked really well.

Part of what is upsetting my 'little girl' (not all of it, we know we didn't get to the bottom of the situation, but we skimmed the top layer well) is stuff with Noah.  As we go through this kid-raising thing we are both changing how we behave dramatically.  Noah is tired and kind of withdrawn--almost like he is under a lot of stress or something.  I am experiencing his behavior as being like my mother's behavior rather that is true or not.  But things are hard and stressful with the kids right now and he is withdrawing.  So I am reverting to pattern in my childhood and I am acting out to get attention and I am doing so largely in potentially self-destructive ways.  I don't know how to do this "safe" thing.  I don't know how to just settle in to a place and be there and do that thing on repeat for years, maybe decades.  My life completely explodes every few years and I start over again doing something else.  That's what I am comfortable with.

So I had this moment where I realized that I am subconsciously baiting Noah.  I want him to get mean to me and nasty.  I want a reason to think of him as my abuser too.  That is the role I know best and I am freaking out because I'm not in it anymore.  How do people do this stable, happy marriage thing?  My only model for life involves relationship-retarded people who are horribly unstable.  My 'little girl' part of my brain recognizes that I am trying to kill this.  Trying to provoke him.  And my 'little girl' is completely terrified of when he is going to turn around and backhand me for being a smart ass/nasty/difficult.  Noah has (in my mind, not in reality) kind of an aura of simmering rage sometimes.  I feel like he is frustrated and about to snap.  One time early in our marriage he slapped a wall in frustration.  that is by far the furthest and most extreme expression of anger I have ever seen from him.  But in some awful way it feels like a potential entry into his psyche where I can poke him and get reactions that I know how to handle.

To be clear, my 'little girl' is mostly upset with *me*.  Not with Noah.  My little girl knows what I am doing and my 'little girl' knows it is bad.  I am far more upset with me than him and it's not about his behavior.

This is what breaking the cycle of abuse looks like.  This is what I have to do right now.  I have to stop and try to tease apart where I am reacting to things that I really need to react to (being molested as a small child is a big deal and I need to work through that) and where I am trying to blow things up so I know how to handle the pattern.  Because both things are going on simultaneously and overlapping.

I realized recently that part of what is both freeing and frustrating is looking at just how much privilege I have.  I really have the luxury of teasing apart the layers of what is going on in my brain slowly in a safe environment.  For all that I'm trying really hard to turn my husband into a monster, he isn't one.  He's outrageously patient with me.  He really will keep me safe.  Because of my husband's job I have ridiculously good credit and I probably have $70k available on credit cards.  If I really wanted to be self destructive and stupid I could get us in a lot of money trouble very quickly.  The interesting thing is how freeing that is.  When my self-destructive impulses start kicking up there is a part of my brain that does lean towards retail therapy.  But when I start going there I follow the path through all the things I would like to buy and what I would do with them.  Because I literally, truly know that I could walk out and buy 99.9% of what I want, today, and it's just no big deal... there's no thrill to it.  Ha.  Because it wouldn't hurt me to buy any of the small impulsive things I 'want' I don't need to buy them.  It's kind of odd.  I know I won't incur any difficulty so it's not worth doing.

Brains are odd.


  1. "So I had this moment where I realized that I am subconsciously baiting Noah."

    this is a pretty major realization. it's hard to see ourselves as clearly as you are seeing yourself right now. take advantage of that insight!

    of course, once you get that breakthrough in thinking, where you realize you're doing something you really don't want to do anymore, doesn't it suck to have to figure out, "okay, what do i replace this with?"

  2. That is exactly what I am trying to figure out. How do I be nicer-in-my-head.

  3. is it really about niceness? i don't think you're doing this out of not-niceness (even though of course it isn't particularly nice behavior). i mean, really, you're not doing it to be nasty toward noah, you're doing it to get on with him being nasty toward you, since you think there has to be some underlying ill-will toward you, since that's what you deserve. right? and/or you have all this agitation since the phone call from your mother, and an explosive fight might give you a release.

    i guess i am in this place with a lot of my issues, where it's been boiled down to, "this is what i'm doing to myself, and this is why," but it's not as simple as just changing my behavior. i can make all kinds of promises to myself and remove all the (apparent) obstacles to making changes, but the my (perceived) unworthiness remains fully intact. how are you supposed to reset your brain?

  4. and of course this is just my non-professional, limited-information outside perspective. it's not like i think i know something about you that you don't. i just really question the idea that you're doing any of this because you need to be nicer. (unless you mean nicer to yourself.)