Comments: My Short Fuse
here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a
substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.
I have begun counseling for myself. I had already decided to do so before your response. I have seen the tail wagging the dog the last few days and it is a bizarre twist (and painful). Now I'm the one walking on eggshells. Having someone to help put things into perspective helps. Thanks. Good for you!
One of the things I'm most concerned about is also the attitude of "take care of you and forget about her". I have examined my own motives and feelings very carefully and I have been steadfast in that I do love her. Disassociation from that is very difficult. It also goes against my nature of 'what is love' in the sense that if we were talking about my son, I would need to consider him in the same way and be concerned and do anything I could to help him at the same time helping myself. I'm not trying to avoid anything. I'm not hiding from anyone. I have accepted myself also. Will I ever be perfect? Will anyone? Is anyone? Doubtful. Including me. I believe that everyone must accept themselves before they believe that anyone else can. I made an apology today to my first wife for some things that have had to do with my second wife and my son (gee, am I safe now if I die? That is the purpose - feels good). She and I shared MUCH anger and codependency together (19 years). But she offered to let me stay at her house for an upcoming visit with my son. I cannot begin to tell you how amazed I am of the turn around in our relationship since our divorce. My current wife has been a great facilitator of the transformation (one reason I love her). 'Time heals all wounds'. Is that true? I guess I can only hope at this point. And take my lumps if it doesn't. - TED
Ted, please try to make a distinction between the concepts of "take care of yourSelf" and "forget about her." They are orthogonal concepts and one does not assume the other.
Taking care of yourSelf does not necessarily mean to literally forget about her (unless she really wants out), but it does mean that since you are in the habit of looking out for her so-she-can-take-care-of-you (promise!), you need to remove her (or anybody else) from the equation until you know how to care for you. For example: Don't set your goal to walk remain calm in a charged situation - so you can report your good progress to her. You don't need to tell anyone about your good progress. Instead, set that goal so you can feel proud of yourSelf! Another example: Instead of reserving your best, most conscious behavior for her, reserve it for each and every person in your life. Including the clerk at the market - even the one that looked at you funny. Get it?
Doing this type of stuff not only helps you learn your new habits more quickly (since you're practicing them more), it also gets you away from "doing it for her." In time, feeling good about yourSelf becomes self-motivating.
Interestingly, two old (new again) things that I know (duh!) but which have also come about crystally clear:
1) I cannot assume anything about anyone (ever again!) BIG MISTAKE! Yes, yes, YES! Not only the bad but the good (goes both ways). Right. If you make assumptions and simply buy into them, you are essentially talking to yourself. I don't 'hear' what I want to hear (on my own believe me I do!), nor do I not hear what I don't want to hear - NEVER AGAIN! This doesn't mean you can't make assumptions; we all do! It does mean that when you make an assumption, you recognize that it is just an assumption - and you ask your partner/other person about it!
2) You can't live in the future (I wish, I hope, I want, I need), nor can you live in the past (I can't change anything that has already happened - can you? Of course I can! Just kidding! :) - and by living and living again those moments stunts everyone associated with me at that moment. The only place you are left with is the here and now. Don't get me wrong - you can learn from your past and to dream dreams is only human (and everyone's are different which is at the same time exhilarating to think about, but can also be scary because some people are just not very nice to begin with). Excellent little pearls of wisdom! Ted.
Ted, Kudos to you for your good efforts! The road will be bumpy and two steps forward, one step backward applies. The one step backwards days often feel like landslides, but they're not. (Even though they may feel that way.) Just hang in there, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. When you fall, just get back up and walk again. Expect to fall! So when you find yourself resolved to "do it for you" and somewhere in the back of your mind you realize you can't wait to tell her about "it," just notice the thought and let it go.
This will be a wonderful time of self-discovery! Try not to judge what you find. Certainly don't condemn yourself! Keep in mind that the more empathy and acceptance you develop for Self, the more empathic and accepting you can be towards other. So, like it or not, try to accept what is - because what's there is perfectly imperfectly Human...
Some reading to help you with the mindfulness / self-acceptance part:
Good luck to you! Dr. Irene, June 15, 2004
Ted, I wish my husband saw things the way you do. God Bless You.
TED: My last letter to my wife: Where to start? I am extremely happy internally. There is absolutely no way to describe to you (I'll try though - one more time - out of joy of finding it and wanting to share it with you!). I fly. Not in a plane. Within MYSELF! It is the absolutely most wonderful feeling of my entire life. AND IT IS THE MOST AMAZING THING! I have been in hell my entire life and didn't know it. But you know what? It was MY hell! And it was all caused by my thinking that people were 'out to get me!' or 'not doing what I want!' - both very unrealistic things! But it was my own anger that drives other's away. What I have discovered is that I now 'OWN MY ANGER!' What does it mean when you 'own' your anger? I know now. I sit and ask myself why now. Before I express whatever it is I'm trying to communicate. I love you and you can't see it right now. I see that as clearly as anything I've ever seen in my entire life. The Dr described 'you' (in the sense that you were my love as I told her) as 'orthogonal' to my 'issue' (my anger). I now undertand that also. I am as free as a bird right now internally (I have 'seen' my own anger! It did set me free!) But I still want you. The 'issue' of me is not tied to you. I am who I am. Today. Right now! But I can't go back and be the person I was either. I don't want to, need to, and won't ever again. I see it! I would think that after the other night when I was trying to get you to see that I also now understand to be very gentle in my thoughts. Yes, I understand that you are angry, I understand that you don't trust, I understand that you are where you are. But I also understand that it is also your choice to be wherever you need or want to be. I can't control it. But I can try to also get you to at least 'see' the possibility that I am not coming from the same place I was before. That is something I can do for myself perhaps, considering that I want you. How do I get you to at least accept a possibility? It is that important to me! Why? Because I want you with me. By me. You are a very special person to me. How could I not feel this way towards someone that put me on this path? You are the reason for my turn. I now know why I was supposed to meet you. You have been on my path my entire life. Fate? Chance? perhaps ... perhaps not. That is one of the things in the book I'm reading talks about. She calls it 'your business', 'my business', and 'God's business' (anything not under control of the other two is how she explains that for non-christians - nature, etc.). Fate and chance are nothing either one of us has control over. But I know it happened so it is fact. Fact is truth to me. Absolute. Uncompromised. But the orthogonal part of that love is that one does not influence the other. Yes, it makes me very sad to think that I won't be able to share this great fortune with you. But that is what it is. But then that is 'my business'. It isn't 'your business'. I guess I had hoped that I could somehow get you to see that I can't even get myself to be angry these days. It is truly the weirdest and most wonderful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I want to share it with the world. What a gift! This life is pretty wonderful if you just let it be! I see it so absolutely clearly for the first time in my life! I told the Dr. that I 'get it'. I now realize that the reason I feel like I'm on roller coaster emotionally right now between pain of not being able to at least get you to go see a counselor with me to see the difference - all I'm asking for is a chance. I think if you could at least get yourself to a place where you can try to experience it. Wishful thinking I know. I can't control it ultimately. The roller coaster ride continues. I love you so this hurts but I know now where 'my business' stops and ends. I very easily see now where it starts and where it ends. 'My business' starts and ends with me. This is also a part of who I am now. There isn't any more anger. It's gone. IT IS THE MOST WONDERFUL FEELING! I want everyone to feel this way. But then that would be 'God's business' I guess. Not something I can control. SHIT!(I'm joking!) That's where you get to. All I can see in myself anymore are good things. Not bad things. And I want to share them. All of them. Everything. With you. But that is 'my business' as I said. I love you. If that is the definition. If wanting to share everything, anything I have with you is what that means then I guess that is my definition of love. But here's also where the orthogonal part comes in. I am only half the equation, that's where the 'your business' comes in. I think I'm going to start using the line from that movie (even though I can't remember the name of it right now) - "I am not programmed to respond in that area" "That is a part of my Operating System". It really is the same thing as the book I'm reading but with a computer twist to it. But since my anger is part of the past, not the present, who I am now is still happy. Life is absolutely wonderful! That is where my roller coaster ride is coming from. But I don't get angry about my pain anymore. It's my pain. Not yours. I can't be angry at the entire world for not loving me can I? So why should I get mad at you. It's not 'my business' to get mad at you. See! That's the other side of the coin I see internally. Whatever you do or think doesn't really make me who I am. I make me who I am. Good and bad (past), it is where I came from. It isn't who I am now. I guess somehow I have to pay for my good fortune somehow though. Is that fate? ... chance? ... stepping in again? I can't say. Not 'my business'. Out of my control. But thats OK. I may hurt along the way, but I can't go back. There isn't any way back there now. It isn't a part of who I am anymore. If that isn't appealing to you then I guess I will just hurt. The thing the other night that I was trying to get you to see that I now understand: when I was angry before, I was just trying to 'get you to understand' and it is frustrating for everyone sometimes to get a point across. But I also see that if I treat a child that way, someone who genuinely doesn't understand something, angrily, I'm being mean. I get it. That was my whole point. Look at me as a child, because that is how I promised to look at anyone I interact with in the future. Not in a demeaning or condescending way, but in the way of patience and calmness. Your anger prevented you from seeing that I was trying to explain to you that I get it. I wasn't angry. Unafraid. Yes. For the first time in my life perhaps. Unfeddered by crap. Yes. Trying to get you out of the angry state you are in? Yes. For some reason, now when I am only taking care of me, that angers you. It isn't intended to. I am not blaming, not anything directed at you in any way. I wasn't even talking about you and you immediately turned it into that I was talking about you and I wasn't. I was trying to say to you: If a child doesn't understand something why would you get angry at a child? They are not doing anything to you, why should you be angry at that point? That doesn't make sense. But I am trying to get you to see that you are angry with me, but if I was a child, why would you be angry? Yes, I know that I'm not, but what purpose does it serve to treat an adult any differently than you would a child (see where I'm at? I don't get angry anymore!). In that sense, I look at things much differently. But you refuse to even accept it as a possibility. The book I'm reading has a four step method to achieiving happiness with everything in your own life. I haven't read enough to fully take it all in yet but she talks about 'Is it the truth', "Is there a possibility that it is the truth', and a couple of others. They are designed to get yourself out of seeing what it is you want to see in others and really see them for who they really are by ultimately turning the entire thing around at the end to look at yourself. And it works. I have never been more enlightened in my life. IT IS AMAZING! I keep shouting it. TO MYSELF! and to anyone else who will listen. But then most people I think have already seen a change in me. The people I work with, family. Who knows, after this morning, perhaps your daughter if they are coming over. That's fine if you don't want to see. I can't control that. Saddens me terribly. I won't be able to share with you. But I can still share with the rest of the world in whatever way there is. That is what I see as my 'need'. To share. It is a worthwhile pursuit. But sharing the truth. Only the truth. No more bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions. The title of the book is 'Loving What Is:' written in 1986 by Byron Katie. She sounds like a wonderful person from reading the seminars she's done (extremely smart also!) and how she treats people (in the intro by the editor or someone). She calls everyone sweetheart! And means it! I understand why now. IT IS WONDERFUL! COME JOIN ME! Please?
I can relate to Ted's wife. My fiance and I have been together almost 4 years. Dr Irene suggested I might want to leave 3 years ago. I didn't, but I did insist my partner get help. I wouldn't have stayed if he hadn't been willing to really work on his issues. Now we're at a point where we can work on us because a lot of the unhealthy garbage is out of the way. However, I still have some of that residual anger you describe your wife is having. The anger felt like a way I could protect myself - not letting him hurt me with his issues. After my fiance took some huge strides in his healing, I was able to make a commitment to letting go of the anger and starting fresh. We are now reading together "the Path to Love" by Deepak Chopra and learning to heal ourselves so we can have a healthy relationship together. I don't think we could have come to this point if he had not taken the first steps toward healing. Suzanne
Ted, Listen to Dr. Irene. I too am a male abuser. Did not know it until my wife sent me to this site. And WOW!!!. I read through a lot of emails and letter on this site. I am by far the physical abuser, but none the less still an abuser. I am reading a book " Beyond ange a guide for men" recommended here. Dr. Irene. Thanks B
Ted, you are a man, which makes you different by God's design. Absolutely work on your anger, but keep a mental or actual log of her actions/reactions. I quite often would tell my X-fiancee, "Let's agree to disagree, and move on", to no avail. She would keep pushing. Even things she knew I found extremely disrespectful she would do. Rashly, she would act spitefully or vindictively, then expect me to compromise to these actions. In other words, she wants you to react, so she can point the finger. It makes her feel almighty. It evolves into her justifying anything she wants to do. Another thing, if you punched me in the face, I'd kick your a*s. Men fight wars. That is how we are created. It's God's design, not ours. I, personally, am not about to tell God he made a mistake. So, accept your manhood. Women (not all) will cry, in the face of controversy. The key is not to let your home become a battlefield. Most importantly, respect your wife, but respect for others evolves from self-respect. Self respect means fighting back over being a doormat.
Ted, It's wonderful that you are getting help with your problem. What I find quite disturbing, and not at all surprising, is the somewhat dismissive attitude displayed regarding the abusive behavior presented by your wife. As is all too typical when looking at abuse and anger, it's so easy to point the finger at the man and say - get your act together - while the woman's issues are passed off as not quite as important to the situation. I often see information regarding abuse and anger issues where the person on the receiving end is directed to their local woman's shelter even though the abuser/person with the anger problem may be a woman. By admitting you have a problem and committing to change, you are well on your way to addressing the problem. While Dr. Irene appears to feel you are deflecting from your issue by trying to mitigate your own culpability, I think she is mitigating the other issue - your wife needs help. Just because someone does not have explosive anger does not mean their anger is not destructive. Good luck. Tom
ted i understand how you feel.i've been there. if you get counseling and try to work on your anger she might notice that and see that you are trying to reconcile your frustrations in this relationship.if you do the right thing then it is up to her to control her actions.if she sees no fault in herself after u seek help then she might not be the right woman for you.