Thanks @DonCharmisma: You just provided a fabulous summer fun idea for me and my 11 year old son! Hooray!
I became emotionally unavailable to my husband. Early in our relationship, I was silly, fun-loving and light-hearted whenever possible. The baggage of his unresolved previous marriage and child issues was always there. Every day was one more drama in the story of his life. I tried to live as though we were truly newlyweds, but newlyweds don’t usually settle into being the 3rd person in the marriage because the Ex still runs things. Not if they have a clue anyway.
Clearly, I had no clue.
I took a seat in the back of the bus that was H’s life and problems. I tried to be patient and to put up boundaries but it began to seem that unless I complied with NOT being important and settling for whatever I got – and not bitching about it – I would likely lose the relationship.
[Well-adjusted people might say “Yay! That would have been a good thing.” Hindsight is 20/20 because I had no idea how wrecked my life would become because of his baggage.]
Time after time I would be screamed at, blamed, belittled, demoralized and gutted. Time after time I stuffed it after a series of attempts to be heard. After awhile, I began to live more and more inside of my head. I became afraid to display who I was and what I felt.
[Dear God, please don’t show him how you feel!! You need to be strong and suck it up. This will all pass one of these days and THEN you will have your marriage to yourselves.]
I carefully moderated what I showed H in terms of emotions. Any time I tried to step out of the subservient box and set boundaries with his family or Ex, I was humiliated.
I became emotionally unavailable (to H) because there was no hope of getting the love I needed in return. My life became jammed with emotional cutoffs, the silent treatment, and unhealthy behavior patterns/interactions. To protect myself I hid. When hiding no longer worked, I had an affair.
[I learned how to hide really well growing up though, much to my credit, I was too stubborn to quit trying to be me. Trouble was, I would forget how bad the punishment was if I tried to change or “become”.]
The long term damage is hard to assess at this point. What I can assess is that if H cannot deal with his end of our marriage problems then I need to accept that he cannot love me the way I want to be loved. Come off of a broken psyche, this acceptance seems a bit impossible to me but that’s reality.
Here’s the hitch: I was not an emotionally unavailable person before I married him and had done a fair amount of self-work to get there. Over the years I’ve shown I can be emotionally available but I’ve also demonstrated that CONDITIONING MATTERS.
Double-bind: Why do I believe my marriage can be saved at my expense?
OK, so if one is dealing with a BPD spouse, it seems like the advice is to not argue or defend during the spouse’s flare up. However, the non shouldn’t be a doormat. The scenarios presented always speak to the no win dynamic. Resistance is futile. heh.
[yeah, yeah, codependent, enabling, he’s in therapy now, all that…I know…]
Given all of that, how is someone like me who has been seriously wounded by the nasty things H might say and not take them personally? How can that possibly be healthy for me? Do I have it wrong here?
P.S. – Processing a lot of serious things and have been incommunicado and buried with end of semester yuck. It’s been helpful to focus on work though. I am low on ability to interact but I had to raise my head to get feedback. I can’t wrap my head around this. I’ve been keeping myself out of the toxic house as much as possible and I am better. Now I need to know what not to do.
Devil’s advocate or different perspective? Differences in degrees or in kinds? Ponder…