My coping skills are not.
This afternoon I was going to leave. I had taken several assessments from Melody Beattie’s book “The New Codependency” and none of my scores came close to 100. I decided I needed to save myself. I was desperate. My therapist cannot see me until Thursday and it’s only Monday. I started looking for inpatient programs of a hotline of some sort. Since I’m not suicidal [only self-abusive in the form of codependent behaviors] I quickly realized there is not a codependency hotline nor is there an inpatient program that didn’t sound totally scary and wrong. So I was going to go to my apartment.
And then he hits me with it on the way out the door: the anger veiled in a question. “What do you want me to tell the kids?” I stopped. Again with the deer in the headlights. His anger poured forth with such visceral force that we ended up in the same cycle of him saying nasty, awful things about me as a mother and throwing the same stuff in my face as he always does. He truly believes that if I go to that damn apartment, we are done. There is no concept of a respite. There is no concept of temporary. And there certainly is not concept of perhaps we could both benefit from some time away from each other. He’d rather have me here, right in front of him all the time, so he can control me and watch me. That’s where he feels comfortable.
I did manage to put up a boundary, weak though it may have been, when he started nastily saying “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Mike [youngest son] the same way I have for the past 3 years.” I stopped and was able to compose myself enough to tell him that regardless of how things go with us 1) he should never use my children against me, 2) he should stop trashing me as a mother – on the heels of him telling me I’m a great mom, no less and 3) he should never doubt that I will always be there for my kids.
What I took from the conversation is that he resents me going to the apartment because he said “oh it must be nice to go off and be able to work on yourself [heavy sarcasm]. I guess I’ll just have to deal with my problems since yours are the only ones that matter.”
There were several selfish statements like that and finally I got sick of him throwing mud at me and said “sure, keep tearing me down, keep attacking me, keep going, come on, don’t stop now you’re on a roll, dig that hole deeper”.
I recognize this was taunting and counterproductive and this is a tactic I never use. I was furious. I was standing toe to toe with him and the heat from my anger was all over him. I wanted him to know I wasn’t afraid of him, if only for a few moments. I wasn’t going to be intimidated, by that at least.
He also indicated that he doesn’t believe that I have the problems I say I’m having. “This codependence thing – have you talked with your counsellor about this? How often? What did she say? Are you reading too much? Are you obsessing?” OMG, why do I have to justify or defend any of this to him? Why? I asked him what quantifying this information would provide for him. He answered “probably nothing.” He said that it just seemed “strange” that this codependence thing cropped up out of nowhere.
HELLO. Big red flag. Out of nowhere? Are you kidding me? We are both so messed up with codependence that it is impossible to separate my problems from his problems from our problems. I stated this, leaving out the part that would indicate he has serious problems because Zeus-forbid I diagnose him because then I’ll get that “OH OK doctor” in his most biting and sarcastic nasty snap.
Yeah, I’m a doctor. No, not that kind of doctor. But a damn PhD in a STEM field affords me the tools to at least read and understand literature. I’m not reading literature to understand myself as much as I’m trying to read time-tested, seminal works such as Beattie’s books. This means I am working hard at feeling the emotions as well as intellectualizing. I’m constantly reading. I’m intent on working my program, whatever that may be. I want to recover. He has no sense of any of this.
I asked him why he continually says wicked hurtful things to me. It’s always been this way. He says he doesn’t know. He says he doesn’t want to hurt me. But, during the conversation when I saw him spiraling into a very destructive place, I put my hand up and said “Don’t you dare!” Fortunately, he caught the force of that energy and stopped.
In my next post, I’m going to try my hand at writing formal boundary statements. Feedback is always appreciated.