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How do I accept my "new" WS?

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PrincessPeach06 posted 8/25/2013 09:59 AM

My WS was a controlling possessive jerk. Over time I learned how to accept it, how to keep him happy and keep the peace and I lost myself along the way. We both agree now it was completely unhealthy and have addressed it in therapy.

He has been a different person since Dday. He used to freak when I didn't answer my phone or respond to a text and if I didn't tell him I was going to the store or something he would get pissed and not talk to me for hours. The kids and I basically walked on eggshells around him unless he was in a super great mood.

Now if I don't answer the phone he is ok but I freak out based on the past. Today I was in the shower and called him back. He was fine but after the phone call I got nervous. This was our text convo afterward:

Me - I know you are not irritated I just always feel that way when I miss your calls. It does make me sad/anxious because I worry I upset you.

Him - It's not an issue honey, I love you! Calm down.

Great right? So how do I not feel like that? Is it going to be a time thing based on his actions? I hate feeling like I'm living life holding my breath

20WrongsVs1 posted 8/25/2013 11:12 AM

WS here, hope you don't mind.

What I love about your text convo is that you expressed your feelings. What I don't love, is that (a) you all-but apologize for your feelings and (b) even if his intentions were noble, WS kinda invalidated your feelings, and tried to "fix" it.

BH and I are learning to both express our feelings, without projecting feelings (or blame) onto the other person. It is harder than it sounds!

So how do I not feel like that?

Feel how you feel, and don't beat yourself up for it. Be authentic. Express your feelings in a non-blaming way. You do that with the "When you...I feel" construct. I'm not a pro at this by any means, but if I were rewriting your text convo so that you each take ownership of your own feelings, it may have gone like this:

You: When I missed your call, I felt anxious. Even though you reassured me that you're not irritated now, I still worry about it.

Him: I'm angry with myself that I treated you that way before. I'm sad that you're upset about this, and I will keep working to prove that I've changed.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/25/2013 12:43 PM

Time, consistent *new* responses from him.....and *I*, personally, would not ever be able to be comfortable unless he was in therapy to address the controlling-ness.

My stbx was very controlling/possessive also. Very. We went through many *calm* periods after Dday when we were (supposedly) working at the M and he would 'back off'....but I retained those same feelings that you described. (In my case, stbx always *fell off* the non-abusive wagon within a short period of time.)

I talked about this scenario with a counselor a few years ago, and I'll describe it a little bit because what occurred to you is very similar to what I went through.

When stbx placed me in situations such as you described, I felt *guilt* or as if I had done something *wrong*. These feelings popped up because of stbx's response to my not answering his call. He would make me feel like I was *neglecting* him or he would be accusatory and act as if I hadn't answered because I was doing something naughty. (yea, he only projects a teensy bit)

Anyway. Counselor said to take a second and recognize what I was feeling. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, PP. That *anxious* feeling in the pit of you tummy, right? The loss of thought about ANYTHING other than calling him back ASAP so that you don't get *scolded*. And then he said to think about the situation and ask yourself *why* should I feel guilty and afraid about this?
It's one thing if your WS had said "I'm going to call you at 3 about suchandsuch' and you got into the shower at 2:59:59, kwim?

But if you just randomly got into the shower and he just *happened* to call at that time.....well, it's no big deal and you don't have any reason to feel guilty because you didn't do anything wrong. You're allowed to schedule your day and decide WHEN you're going to take your shower. And if WS picks that time to call...when you are in the middle of doing something else....well, that's just bad timing on his part and he can leave a message or shoot you a text and you can get back to him when you're not busy.

I think my counselor's point was that I'm *allowed* to be busy and I don't *have* to be always available....and there's not a darn thing wrong with that. The dysfunction is WS's to own....because it is wrong of him to expect you to be available for/to him 24/7. (I say that in a general sense because there will be situations where immediate contact is necessary).

It's very hard to break the pattern. But as long as you are able to recognize it......and your WS is working to understand how to respect that other people are *separate* and have boundaries that need to be respected, your *anxiety* should fade over time.

Now about the text exchange. This may have been a convo to have face-to-face or by phone. His comment could be taken as dismissive....or it could just be shorthand for what 20W said his response should have been. (in my case, if I had gotten a response like that, it would have indicated that he was, like, *granting me permission* to have missed his call, kwim....and then when he fell off the wagon a few days later and freaked out on me, he would demand *credit* for the previous times that he had *overlooked* it )

IMO, your response was too submissive and shows that you're still stuck in the *old* mindset.....because again, you didn't miss his call because you were doing something wrong. If anything, YOU would have had the right to be upset with HIM if he had gotten pissy about it, IMO.

So this is a situation where time, all by itself, isn't going to make this go away. You'll have to use the time to actively re-program yourself.....and I think that you'll only truly end up losing that *anxiety feeling* if you see that he is also actively working to overcome his previous *it's all about me* attitude.

(I got kinda rambly on you....sorry )

[This message edited by gonnabe2016 at 12:44 PM, August 25th (Sunday)]

PrincessPeach06 posted 8/25/2013 13:28 PM

Thank you both so much! Both WS and I know we are learning and growing and undoing 16 years of dysfunctional behaviors is not going to be easy. I am just thankful he has shown consistency for 3 months and knows it will be hard work. His old way of responding wouldnt have been a response at all or would have been "K" because he knows I hate it.

Gonnabe - yes you know exactly how I feel/felt! It's so frustrating yet I am pushing WS to talk and trying to express my own feelings because I never ever ever want to go back to the way it was and honestly don't think I could! Yet breaking free from this mindset is so incredibly difficult.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/25/2013 14:02 PM

Yet breaking free from this mindset is so incredibly difficult.

You're right. It is....and it is an *active* process to do it.

Good luck PP. I'm happy to hear that your WS seems to be doing his part.

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