You've come a long way. I realize that you are in the process of healing from this marriage, and all it represents, but I've been tough on you. Very tough. It may not sound like it, but I really do empathize with you. But, what good would it do you to tell you, "Yeah, she is a ..." (Which she is... Old news.)
A better gift in exchange for writing your thoughtful account may be to point out the places where I think you have participated or are continuing to participate in your own victimization. That is where I poke at your account. Specifically, I ask you to look at your underlying irrational thinking, some of which you have already identified. Some more assumptions kicking around are on the order of "people must play the game fairly", "you should get what you give", "I want her approval", and, "somehow it is up to me to mop up the mess." Says who? While it would be nice if you could get this stuff from her, you haven't gotten it yet and it is unlikely you ever will. Yet, you react emotionally to frustrations you set yourself up for!
As long as these and similar assumptions remain active, you will find your Kali and look to fight her/him. You will raise your blood pressure needlessly and spend countless, fruitless hours engaged in some kind of victim-think. Worse, you renew your anger and victimization each and every day - and carry it with you everywhere you go. You've got better things to do. Like write. And show your kid how to deal with mom.
My warmest regards, and many thanks for your valuable contribution, Dr. Irene
December 21, 1999
One of the hardest parts of writing my story is in knowing where to
begin any given chapter. There’s
so much raw material to choose from.
So, why not start with one of the more recent examples of insanity
(hers and mine).
First, some background on this year:
Kali has a boyfriend; a long-distance relationship. When he’s in town, he stays at
her house…just down the hall from our son, actually. (This of course, directly
contradicts Kali’s earlier demands that I not have people I am
romantically involved with stay at my house when my son is there. According to Kali, it confuses a
kid, and it’s not right to keep bringing people in and out of his life. But, as so often is the case with
Kali, it’s different when she does it.)
Tex, not that it makes it right, but, consider that the
guy lives out of town... Still, note that she takes what she wants. Why
not take what you want! And, if you don't like something she does,
don't just complain; put your foot down! Also, several times, Kali has gone out of town for the weekend to
visit her boyfriend, or go on trips with him. Once, it was for a week, inclusive
of my birthday, and that, of course, was no big deal. (Let us ponder just
for a moment what her friends would have said had I scheduled a weeklong
trip with a girlfriend that coincided with Kali’s birthday.) So what. They can
yap all they want. Aren't you yapping too? Additionally, about a month ago, Kali went out-of-town
to Washington DC. A friend of
hers was in a Senate hearing, and Kali wanted to be supportive of her. I had about three days notice to
plan to care for our son before Kali jetted off for what was, in essence,
a social trip that lasted two and a half days - in the middle of the week.
Don't you wish you could do this too?
Don't you wish you could do this too?
A consequence of all of these trips was that I had our son during those times. This presents an interesting challenge for me. I do not wish to treat my son like a burden…like some onerous sack of flour that gets passed back and forth between the two of us. At the same time…we do split the time with him, and I have had him on more than a few prime adult recreational times (those weekends when Kali was frolicking with the boyfriend, for example, or during my birthday). Nor do I want to pawn my son off on babysitters so I can attend to a social life in the evening: he spends enough time without me. Then why, Tex, are you complaining? (Because she is free enough to take him when she wants and not take him when she wants? And you can't do what she does?)
I asked Kali to take our son one full weekend this month, so I
could attend two office Christmas parties.
I scheduled this with her at least a month in advance. Unexpectedly, I was asked by my
employers to fly out-of-town on a Friday and Saturday. I told Kali about this on
Tuesday, as soon as I knew.
Devoted readers of these pages know where this is going. First, Kali complained about the
lack of notice she was given regarding my work weekend. Why do you get bent
out of shape if she complains? So what? Why are you taking it as some sort
of "criticism" and letting it bother you? Why does her judgment
still matter to you? (Apparently, there is no
comparison between my three days notice regarding work-related travel, and
her three days notice about her social trip to Washington DC). Then, she mentioned that having
our son on both Friday and Saturday was an awful lot.
So? Why does it bother you that she takes care of
So? Why does it bother you that she takes care of herself?
I didn’t reply. Kali
told me she wanted me to “make a day” for herself, because she needed
to get some things done for Christmas.
Could hire a baby sitter, just like she does, she told me. No problem. You
could. She needed a day to take
care of things for Christmas.
I took a deep breath and tried hard not to respond as she left. The only reason you
are taking a deep breath is because she is doing something you disapprove
of or you wouldn't do. Maybe you could focus more on being concerned with
what you want than with what she takes! I called my sponsor, who wisely
suggested that I make other arrangements.
Yes. So I did.
Good. I called
Kali’s sister, and made arrangements for my son to stay with them the
following Friday. Let’s
keep in mind, I did precisely what Kali asked me to do. I made a day for her to get
something done for Christmas.
The next morning, dropping off some of our son’s things, Kali
wanted to talk to me. She
didn’t want me to do what I did. It
It turns out that
Kali wanted Saturday night free. So you tell her, "You should have been specific
earlier Kali. This sitter's on you." Fighting my rapidly growing annoyance, I explained that I did
exactly what she had asked of me. Don't waste your breath "explaining." You are annoyed because you want her to follow the rules. She
had said nothing about Saturday night. Right. That's why she needs to find herself a
sitter. Kali, offended, tells me that she doesn’t have to explain or
justify herself to me. Tell her that you did not ask her to justify or
explain herself to you. Calmly leave and let her pick up the pieces.
more, I try to speak to the facts, and explain that I only did what she
said she wanted me to. And you are upset - again - that you didn't get it right.
Why are you making this one yours? It's hers! Kali
then snarled, “You’re interfering in my life, you’re just
interfering, I don’t have to tell you what I’m doing on Saturday
I think it was that particular lie which enraged me the most. The accusation that I was
“interfering” in her life! I had never asked a thing about what she
was doing! That, plus the fact that - one more time – when I did precisely
what Kali asked, she found reason to bitch and complain, and threw in an
irrational accusation to boot. You gave her the
right to twist stuff by not recognizing right off the bat that you did
your part. You don't need to do anything else, including take responsibility for her.
I was not pleased. Even writing about it, I feel my anger and rage rising. But, what else can I expect? Kali is Kali, and this is what she does. So, why keep expecting her to play by your albeit fairer rules? She won't. This is your participation. The facts, either about what she has said or what she had done, the facts are irrelevant to her own need to make me wrong. Nobody needs to be wrong here at all. There was a stupid misunderstanding. She distorts; she lies. Who cares! You are making yourself the one who cannot please her. To make me the Great Satan. You will stop being the Great Satan when you stop expecting her to understand or to play fairly. You will stop being the Great Satan when you stop looking for her approval.
It’s easy to write about them, about the drunks or druggies or
the verbally and emotionally abusive people. We have their wretched behavior at
which to point. But,
what about me? What about me? You get me instead - being real tough on you - because I
think you are a great guy! (Lucky you.)
You get me instead - being real tough on you - because I think you are a great guy! (Lucky you.)
That’s harder. To
figure out how I volunteered to be part of this insanity. Are you seeing it a
little more now? And even more difficult, is how to
acknowledge that I stayed with this abusive woman without blaming or
Don't you dare waste your precious breath blaming or
condemning yourself! You've got too much other stuff that deserves your
energy and attention!
Don't you dare waste your precious breath blaming or condemning yourself! You've got too much other stuff that deserves your energy and attention!
That answer is not easy. Just
as there isn’t an easy answer for why Kali is the way she is. For me, freedom will come from not
repeating the same mistakes again. This
means I have to be honest about my own motives.
And take a look at your mindset: You insist she play by the rules - because you do!
Maybe its time to re-examine some of your rules.
And take a look at your mindset: You insist she play by the rules - because you do! Maybe its time to re-examine some of your rules.
Part of it was my own loneliness, I must admit. You're human.
I had this idea of marriage that
was based on the concept of reciprocity. It should be. Or, to put it in more basic terms, I figured the marriage would be
like it was when I was a kid. Maybe it was this way for you, too: You’ve got a best buddy, the one you just love to hang out
with. You go over to his/her
house. Whoa, bummer,
they’ve got to mow the lawn. Okay,
so you pitch in and do it together.
While they’re mowing, you rake up the leaves or edge the lawn or
whatever else is required…because the sooner the chores are done, the
sooner you can both go play. And,
along the same lines, I had this idea of “Sometimes we do what I want,
sometimes we do what you want.” Taking
turns, that simple concept. I
wanted that in my life, and Kali talked as if that was what she
believed as well.
But I married her, anyway. The marriage alone calls into
question any perceived intelligence that people ascribe to me. Not at all. Stop
with the put-downs. What it does illustrate is your lack of cognitive and
verbal skills in defending your territory. That's all. One of the reasons I did not call
off the marriage, even after it was amply clear that my feelings had no
place in the relationship: fear of what people would say. If each person
getting married who had thoughts of calling off the marriage called it
off, no one would get married. I’d been married once before for
a short time when I was in my early twenties. (Just as an aside, what people
would say is a minor inconvenience compared to the raging wreckage of a
messed up marriage).
Kali was a bully. Yes. Admittedly, I let her be a bully,
for a while. I realize that
when I was a kid, I never stood up to the bullies in my life and you still have to work on it, and I have
since judged myself harshly because of that. This
part you need to stop doing immediately! Use your energy to learn
the skills you need instead! With Kali, on some level, I decided I was not going to run from another
bully, I was going to stand up and fight back. On the right track,
just not there yet. So one reason I stayed was
to fight against her bullying. But when you saw your battle strategy was failing, you
didn't experiment with new methods. Which, in one way, I think was good.
another reason, which was not good, and did not serve me, was this: At one
point, during one of her diatribes about my failings, something inside me
shifted. The Terminator woke
up. Something in my mind sat
up, complete with metal skull-face and red-glowing eyes. It was a part of me, which I’d never realized I had before
- but looking back - I now see “it” perfectly clearly. It was the part of me that would never forget, would never
forgive, and would never quit. It
was a part of me that said, “This b**ch will not win.” She could tell me I was not as good as her friends, or her
friends’ husbands. She
could compare me to her old boyfriends.
She could ignore my desires, she could insult and belittle me, but
she could not tell me I was never going to make it as a writer. She could denigrate my dreams. She was not going to win!
There is nothing to win or lose. When you are more
skilled in defending yourself, you are more likely to distance from people
who attack rather than engage in futile battle with them.
There is nothing to win or lose. When you are more skilled in defending yourself, you are more likely to distance from people who attack rather than engage in futile battle with them.
was one big reason I stayed so long. To prove that miserable b**ch wrong. And I did. I did
have some success as a writer. But
was it a victory? I stayed
five years…building up five years of anger and resentment. We had a son. Our son is beautiful and innocent. He’s one of the reasons I left:
I was so angry at Kali that our marriage was making me into a terrible,
short-tempered father. My son
does not deserve to pay for my stupidity in marrying his mother.
Your son deserves a father who can show him how to
negotiate his mother!
Your son deserves a father who can show him how to negotiate his mother!
I was unwilling accept the reality of who Kali was, I rented a little
corner of Hell for a while. Ironically
enough, there were some benefits from the tour. I have my son, whom I love more than anything in the world. :) I learned I wasn’t an alcoholic. :) And I learned that nothing was
going to keep me from being a writer. :)
But the most important lesson was that
there are some fights and games not worth winning, much less
:) :) :)
:) :) :)
been getting in touch with how much I, frankly, hate Kali. I hate her for using me. You let her use you.
Take your power. That's the neat part: you will be
in control here as soon as you figure out where your
"on" switch is! It’s pretty clear she married me
only to have a child. I doubt
it was conscious on her part, I just don’t think she was honest about
how much she wanted a baby. She
wasn’t honest with herself, nor was she honest with me. Probably not.
It seems to me that if Kali loved
me for me, rather than for my sperm-production capabilities, then she
wouldn’t have decided after the wedding that everything about me (from
my goddamned shoes up) was wrong.
I hate her lies, the way she twists what
I’ve said (or never said) to portray me as something I am not. And you buy into it
because you don't know how to stop her! I hate how she has one face for
the world, and another for me.
I’ve had to give up a lot of crazy expectations of my own, too. Like wanting her to apologize for: all of it. For marrying me almost solely because she wanted to have a baby. It’s crazy for me to expect her to apologize. She’d have to be honest with herself, she’d have to take a really good look at herself - and that’s not going to happen. She won’t even apologize for the times she falsely accuses me of actions or statements I’ve never made. Now you're on the right track.
C.S. Lewis’ line “Don’t pray for
justice, pray for mercy” keeps coming to mind, even though I’m not
sure I understand it (or more accurately, that I want to understand it). :) I have to give up my desire for
justice, my desire that Kali should be punished for what she did to me. Yes. A therapist once told me that Kali
and I couldn’t keep on hurting each other the way we were. I’m not thrilled about that characterization. Kali took
actions, she made choices of what she would say and how she
would treat me. True, in
my more reactive moments, I wasn’t at my best. My problem with Kali was her
treatment of me. Yes. Kali’s
problem with Tex was my very existence (my dreams, my hopes, my past,
etc.). Which leads to my
other current difficulty: How
do I forgive someone who made those kinds of choices? You don't need to
forgive her as much as you need to develop the skills to prevent her, and
people like her, from victimizing you.
Maybe in the spirit of the 12 steps, I have to give everything up. Give up my desire (childish, no doubt) for someone to say, “Kali, you were wrong and cruel and unjust.” Yeah. Give it up. Quit hoping for the cosmic referee to blow Her whistle and give Kali a penalty. Yep. Quit hoping for her to apologize. Don't hope. Give up wanting her to be treated by her boyfriend the same way she treated me. More likely she treats him the way she treated you.
Only two things keep me in this City, near my son: First, I love my son more than I hate his evil mother. Good for you! Second, I don’t want to be a father who abandons his child. Double good for you - and for him!
I don’t know
how to let it go. Not only my
anger at the betrayal and emotional abandonment and the undeserved
attacks, but my grief over the family and marriage I “should” have
had. "Should, ought, must, etc. Good words to
drop from your repertoire. Let’s not forget my anger at her irrationality and
lies in the present as well.
And the fact that expecting an irrational person to
behave rationally is in itself irrational!
And the fact that expecting an irrational person to behave rationally is in itself irrational!
My hatred for her is poisonous, corrosive,
and is hurting only me (and possibly my son a little). Yes. Probably
hurting your son more than "a little". I don’t run her down in
front of him. I dread the day
he asks why we’re not married. What do I tell him that’s not hurtful,
yet is the truth?
The truth: You did not know how to negotiate his
The truth: You did not know how to negotiate his mom's ways.
“The good news is: There is a way out of Hell."
The bad news is: You have to get up, and walk out on your own two feet.” Tex
Email excerpts between Tex
(over a period of hours):
I want to read others' comments.