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Discussion in 'Significant Other Journals' started by Susannah, Nov 28, 2018.
I love this place....
Susannah, i just have to say i have so enjoyed reading your journal. You are a wonderful person and the compassion, intelligence and strength you have shown inspire me. I hope you didnt take my comment the wrong way. My comment is about my own situation and the fact that i feel foolish for having found myself back in this situation again. I wrote that during a bad night. The fact is my SO did relapse, lie and fall into old habits. I am giving him one more chance but i have learned a lot and i believe we are both going into it better equiped this time. Just didnt want you to think that the idiot comment was directed to your situation.
Ya me too . Who woulda thunk NOFAP is good for a laugh on a really shitty day
I do not have desires for much younger women. My point was that I have been fighting internet porn since my 30s. Knowing that 20-30 is the age of most porn stars (and hot girls in ads/movies), I realized that while it might feel normal at that time, looking into the future I could see that this would be a problem when I reached 50s and above if I didn't address it soon.
Clarification. I am saying that I am using all my might and energy to resist the lie that is thrown at me in the media (these women in their 20s and 30s are sexual objects, ONLY). Sexuality is synonymous with youth, firm breasts, tight skin, perfect curves. I'm NOT using all my might to stop fantasizing about teens. PA ...creep? Maybe the same thing; someone who needs to see people as human again. I can own it.
I'm not and I get it. I probably should have been more specific, but seeing as how its @Susannah 's journal, I really just wanted to share briefly some related struggles, whether they were spot on, or mildly related to her husband's. I used to watch coming of age movies as an adult (Read this as: 20-30 years old) not to sexualize the girls; but to try to feel the emotion that I missed. Then, it was curiosity. It was the nostalgia I sought. At 50, and with a teen myself, it is different. I now watch with fear and trepidation to learn and be diligent about what my children are being exposed to. Guess I should be careful what I share, and how. As @Susannah said, we all have anonymous reputations to uphold with strangers we shall never meet!
Thanks for the clarification @Trynagetbetter. I really had misinterpreted what you’d written.
Oh no! I didn't take it that way at all! And you are not alone. I think it's safe to say that we have all felt foolish from time to time. I am currently spending a lot of time trying to figure out why I tolerated things for so long. Sometimes I feel really blind, stupid, and weak - but most of the time I realize I am just kind-hearted, forgiving, and tend to think the best about people. It makes me vulnerable to the kind of hurt I've been through, but I still don't think I'd give up those qualities to avoid vulnerability to pain. I hereby extend a formal invitation to you to drop by here on any bad night you want!
I know my comment will be totally out of your context here, but the "see people as human again" struck a chord with me. One of the best outcomes for me of reading PA's journals has been the role it (and all of you) have played in my being able to begin to see my husband as "human again". There are so many of you that I really like and admire. I have come to think of you as friends - wonderful, funny, human, multi-faceted men, who happen to be suffering from an addiction. I admit, my husband has engaged in behavior that sometimes seems monstrous to me, but he is a human being, as worthy as any of us.
I REALLY hope you feel free to keep doing this. Your comments here and in your journal have been some of the most valuable and pertinent to my situation that I've seen here.
I've often thought about the hell all the folks here have been through together and how interesting it would be to have a big get-together sometime (I know this is a fantasy) just to see what everybody looks like, what their voices sound like, how they laugh - big hugs all around.
Definitely not ignoring you, my friend. Busy week for me so far and staying back at the house with my husband over the entire upcoming holiday weekend (!) Ruminating on your question.
I was posing the question more as something to chew on than something that needs to be answered here. It’s definitely not an assignment.
I haven’t posted for a while, as I have been busy with family. Daughter “J” came for a long-overdue visit. We hadn’t seen her in almost a year. She’s 22 and they change pretty quickly at that age, so it’s almost like getting to know her all over again. She, my husband, and I took a short road trip to visit yet more family and generally had a good time. But as is almost always the case now, the enjoyable parts of the trip were overlaid with the addiction and all the emotions that come with it for me. It is very difficult to watch my husband struggle with everyday activities while I work on my own addiction-caused problems. I am doing better, but still struggle with scanning, obsessive awareness of “targets”, and anxiety, even when I am not with my husband. When we ARE together, it can become exhausting. One thing in particular weighed very heavily on me this time. There were several times during the trip when I would look at “J” and husband together and think that if he were not her father, he would definitely be ogling this 22 year old girl. I’ve had this thought on many past occasions, but this time it seemed very real and present to me somehow. A couple of times, I wondered if he actually felt sexual attraction for her. After all, an addict’s thoughts can be so off-kilter and inappropriate– why would it be surprising at all if he objectified and sexualized his own daughter? The addiction allows for so much that is terrible, why not incest? I felt a bit nauseated a couple of times.
After we delivered “J” to the airport on Friday for her trip home, I took husband to the house and stayed for dinner. We were just finishing up when daughter “R” called. “R” and I are very close and she calls a lot to chat or to ask advice. She just finished grad school in the spring and began her first “real” job since June. She’s an engineer in a field where women are very under-represented – only about 10% - so she’s the only woman on her entire floor. She has been complaining to me about a guy in her office messaging her excessively over the company message system. His messages are personal – not work-related. I have been dismayed to hear that she feels uncomfortable about telling him to stop - not wanting to “hurt his feelings” or “make him mad”. I have tried to tell her how to handle the situation until I am blue in the face and she has still been unable to get the courage to do it. So the situation has dragged on for weeks. So when she called, it was to say that she had been simply ignoring his 10-12 messages per day, hoping he would get the picture and stop. He had not, so she wanted to ask my husband what was up with that. From a male perspective, why didn’t this guy get the picture? So as my husband began to explain to her that young men are often completely clueless and incapable of hearing what they don’t want to hear, she interrupted him and said, “Oh no, he’s not a young man. He’s one of the senior engineers. He’s in his 50s, with a wife and kids.” I fucking lost it. My heart started pounding, I felt hot all over, and I became so angry that I couldn’t speak for a moment. What the ever-loving fuck?!? My daughter goes through hell in college and grad school as the only girl in her class most of the time, getting picked last for teams, projects, etc; is the object of near constant harassment by fellow students and not only finishes her degrees, but excels. Now she’s a bona fide engineer, working at a company she really loves, just trying to do a good job. But she has to spend her time and energy dealing with some asshole more than twice her age, pressing his power advantage, messaging her a dozen times a day. Obviously, no one wants this to happen to her daughter, but given how many times my husband has been that asshole, the irony of the situation was too much and, as I said, I lost it. So I just looked at him and said, “Go ahead. Tell her how to handle this asshole. How can she make him stop? She couldn’t find someone more qualified to give her advice.” So he began giving her suggestions. I could tell it was going to be crap, so I left the room. Right now, the only advice I have for her is to march in there Monday morning and kick this guy in the balls. So I’ll call her about it in a couple of day after I calm down a bit. I’m so fucking tired.
We are still recovering from all the recent "kid time". It has brought up a lot of feelings in my husband and as a result, he has had a pretty rough week. It seems he is finally beginning to fully understand the impact his addiction had on his parenting. I try to have patience and just listen, but it is very difficult. Maybe because I'm not an addict I'm not able to comprehend how a man could hide in his office for 2-3 hours four nights a week, telling his family he is "working late", all the while downloading pile after pile of porn, and truly believe that this mindset and his absence had no impact on his children. But that has been his position until very recently. To his credit, he has not been resisting the feelings of shame as he would have in the past. He says he now feels it is entirely appropriate for him to feel shame and he is determined to work through it. The only time he slides into despair is when he gets to the "making amends" part and realizes that once kids are grown, the damage is done. It's rough to watch.
What do you kids think of their father, in a general sense? My father tries to makes amends for not being around enough when I was young but it seriously wasn't an issue. I worked beside him for almost 10 years later....that was more than enough to catch up on anything and I never felt there was anything to catch up on.
I guess what I'm saying is make sure his guilt matches their feelings and isn't just him feeling sorry for himself.
Good thought. Part of the reason this has come up is that he feels offended that the kids communicate often with me but are polite and cool with him. I think they love him, but there is really no affection. Texts and calls go unanswered, etc. He may indeed be feeling sorry for himself, but I also think he is feeling the chickens coming home to roost. I have genuine compassion because I imagine it would be a terrible thing to realize you hadn't done your best for your children, but I also think his guilt is entirely appropriate.
Hi there, S&L! Finally get back to you.
This is interesting and I know it applies to my case, as well. If I look back and am honest, I can track how much more servile I became as my self-esteem began to plummet as a result of my husband’s addictive behaviors. And am I doing this now? Is my sticking around to “help him” with his recovery actually just me needing to “earn” back some self worth? I don’t owe him anything. Is all this simply that I have no sexual “utility” (the kind that is most important to him) so I need to “pay my way” with some other kind of utility? Gross.
This is a good thought, but I don’t think it’s quite right. I know that down deep, his self-worth is severely compromised. But all outward appearances belie this. He has always been a forceful, arrogant, dominant peacock. I think it is possible that I chose him for the exact opposite reason that you suggest. It may have been because I perceived him as strong, like my father, and so, a good match for me (a strong person also). So why did I stay? I am still struggling with figuring this out. Initially, I stayed for all the usual reasons. He was lying about everything, I had no idea of the depth of his problem, and I blamed myself for a lot of things I saw. But after that stage, I really don’t know….Maybe some disbelief and denial? Maybe a reluctance to admit that I had no power in this situation and that I could not bend the situation to my will? Still trying to figure this out. I guess it’s a basic and a common question. Why do people pretty consistently work against their own self-interest even as they know they are doing it?
This impulse may not be completely healthy for you, but I’m pretty sure it is more evidence that you are a good and empathetic person.
You are “safe” with me and if there is one thing examining my own shortcomings has taught me, it’s that I damn well better be understanding of others.
There is a disconnect here. My husband never actually had any problem dating girls his own age. Starting in high school, he had a pretty constant string of girlfriends. Never had any trouble in this area.
This is where you and he differ. He got stuck somehow. I tend to accept his assessment here, ie it’s partly a power thing, but also something deeply weird. Somewhere along the way, he developed and strange “belief” that young girls are quasi-magical creatures and a special set of rules apply to them. I could write a whole thesis about this belief he has, but I don’t want to get sidetracked in this reply.
I’m also not completely sure about this. I think it might be more complicated and disturbed thinking than this. First, we have to make a distinction between girls he simply ogles (where your assessment is closer to accurate) and those girls he believes (almost always erroneously) he has a connection with. In those cases, he derives feelings of intimacy from the imagined relationship, but also feels actually connected to the girls he develops a fixation on.
Again – complicated. Yes, of course, you are right in ogling or fantasy situations. But in other cases, where he imagines there is a relationship, he does not perceive himself to be in a position of power over the girls, but rather as their peer in every way – even age. In those moments, he “believes” himself to be functioning as and being seen as a 19 year old boy. He can be quite delusional about this. I wish he would get some help, but we’ve had so many false starts on this that I have given up hope he ever will.
For the last week, this hypothetical brought to us by @RUNDMC on another thread has been crawling around in my brain (it’s a scary place). There are two bits, in particular, that have been popping up verbatim at times throughout the day – upon waking, going to sleep, while washing dishes, etc. They are: “women would all be single if they put their foot down about this, at least without taking effective collective action to raise their own power and status as a group” and “and women can't really do anything about it besides cry.” Of course, the second bit is directly related to the first, and both realizations have caused me many despairing thoughts throughout the decades. So nothing new for me. Then why has RUNDMC’s post become a brain worm for me? Perhaps because throughout my experience with my husband’s SA/PA, the thing that caused me the most abject suffering, hands down, was the overwhelming sense of powerlessness I felt. Powerless to change him, powerless to change my situation, powerless to even know what my situation was, powerless over my own mind, and as the PTSD took root, powerless over my own body’s reactions. In public, even if my mind was occupied with something completely innocuous (hmm – when will this traffic light change?), a sudden sight, smell, or sound and I’d be instantly rocketed into pounding heart, rapid pulse, nausea, etc. Some of that powerlessness was real and some was perceived, but I’m sure those memories are a partial cause of my preoccupation.
But definitely not all. Throughout the week, while my mind was being invaded by RUNDMC’s post, it has also been musing about historical attempts at grand-scale women’s collective action, ie suffrage movement, some labor organizing (garment worker’s etc), NOW, and…and…and…um, the American temperance movement? Now, I’m not here to say that there haven’t been attempts at targeted organization - only that history does, indeed, seem to be lacking examples of large-scale, lastingly effective, formal attempts by women to organize themselves. Why? Are we women, as RUNDMC sometimes seems to suggest, simply constitutionally incapable of this? (sorry if I got your position on this wrong, RUNDMC). That this might be true is uncomfortable to consider. But partly in the interest of the scientific method and partly due to my inability (to date) to come up with a satisfactory answer to my “Why did I stay so long?” question, I am willing to entertain this question, AND willing to consider whether my behavior is evidence of at least this woman’s constitutional unfitness. No conclusions yet - so many questions swirling around….
And all that “swirling” about collective organizing naturally led my brain to Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, a play I have always loathed for lots of reasons, not least of which is its “perennial favorite” status among a certain middlebrow contingent who never seems to tire in its quest to feel sophisticated, (and just the right amount of naughty), simply because the bawdiness and sexual innuendo they are ever-so-knowingly tittering at is brought to them by The Ancients or Shakespeare. Gah! Sometimes my obnoxiousness floors even me! But... “My Journal” privileges were invented for paragraphs like this, so I’m invoking them here.
So why Lysistrata? Because throughout the play, the character of Lysistrata voices her embarrassment and exasperation at women’s individual and collective short-sightedness and inability to act in their own best interest. And sometimes she does it in a way that is reminiscent of RUNDMC’s somewhat matter-of-fact tone in the above-referenced and other posts.
Another reason Lysistrata comes to mind has to do with RUNDMC’s “This is the real world- men have the economic and social power to maintain the right and access to a slave class of sex workers, and women can't really do anything about it besides cry.” One reason I hate the play (and yes, I know it was supposed to be a comedy) is for its absolute failure to address what is perhaps the most glaring hole in the women’s scheme, that it relies on 100% compliance by the women of Greece in withholding sex, yet ignores the huge segment of the population for whom sex is not voluntary (slaves, sex workers, and wives whose husbands would have no compunction about seizing sex from them, although Lysistrata’s plan does have a provision for how the conspirators are to handle marital rape.) In one particularly distasteful scene, a husband, annoyed at his wife’s refusal to “lie down on the ground” because he needs to fuck something, anything, right then and there (this play is not flattering to men, either) decides simply to go visit the brothels, and is told “they are empty”, without ever explaining how this feat was accomplished. The implication is that the sex workers decided to join Lysistrata's sex strike and simply walked off the job. Ummm. Not bloody likely. Ever. Not in Aristophanes’ day and not in our day. And herein lies the 100% compliance problem.
So I’m rambling. But this was always supposed to be a “snap-shot” into my mind AND an attempt to remove the brain-worm RUNDMC planted there. Told you it was scary.
Women, in general, are solipsistic navel-gazers obsessed with their own personal feelings and individual circumstances.
Men, in general, are able to perceive a larger social structure, and instinctively understand how best to navigate that structure not only as an individual, but also as a collective to protect their group interests. Doing this requires emotional self-control and self-sacrifice. It requires the ability to practice teamwork not only on special occasions, but as a way of life.
Reading threads on NoFap (and everywhere else on the internet) about "Should you forgive your partner when they cheat?", the men resoundingly say NO, and one of the primary reasons they cite for kicking an unfaithful partner to the curb is that it protects men in general from becoming a group of people that you can get away with doing that to. They understand not only feelings, not only the short-term moment, not only the personal relationship, but their status as a group and the kind of legacy they want to leave their sons. Men know that to keep the value of their labor high (and therefore the value of themselves high), they have to actually walk away instead of parting with it cheaply. Women appear to have very little innate sense of this, and usually buckle down and cheapen themselves even further under adverse or unfavorable circumstances. The last thing on a woman's mind in the midst of marital distress is other womens' needs in addition to hers, and what's best for all of them.
People who are as self-centered and self-absorbed as children are always going to be dominated and outearned by people who can utilize teamwork and submit to the reality of big-picture thinking.
Thanks - thinking...thinking...thinking
So I have come to the end of one part of my journey. I still have a lot of recovery work to do in order to overcome the effects my husband’s SA has had on my life. Remnants of the PTSD remain, I still can’t even see my former self-confidence level on the horizon, I still have disgusting, dehumanizing behaviors in place (automatically scanning crowds and rooms for women and evaluating them based on their potential sexual utility to my husband – acting like an addict), and I still feel I must spend so much valuable time engaged in introspection trying to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. I resent this time and effort and would rather be doing almost anything else, but it feels necessary. I’ll know when it is time to stop.
But I am officially finished working with my husband. We spent three very productive days together last week, working together on some projects. I really enjoyed his company and felt that I saw real signs of improvement in him. We laughed a lot and had some great heart-to-heart talks. In one of these talks he mentioned that he felt that my “mistrustful attitude” toward him had become “toxic for him and for me”. At first, I thought I had misheard him – the words didn’t register. But as they settled in and I began to comprehend them, I got very upset. I admit that my response to this bullshit was delivered in a raised voice. I loudly pointed out that it was his untrustworthiness, and not my “mistrustful attitude” that had all along been toxic for him and for me. I guess my raised voice made him angry because it was at this point that he spat on me. Yes, you read that right. He spat on me. (A funny aside - when I told this story to Ghostwriter, he said something on the order of “Hmm. Even I didn’t foresee the need to set up a boundary about being spat on.” ) So, what did I do? I was surprisingly calm. Why? I suppose I was a little bit in shock. I’m not sure. I guess it might have been because that action didn’t seem any more disrespectful than the ways he has disrespected me all along (lying, ogling, etc). So it was nothing more than a new method of expressing his disrespect. I think I also appreciated the honesty and forthrightness of it. At least I wasn’t being deceived or placated or misdirected.
And in subsequent days, I’ve revisited the question of “Why have I put my self in this position?”
And once again, I’ve been haunted by the words of @RUNDMC. There was a post somewhere a while back where she said something I’m feeling too lazy to look for. It was something like, “We get more of what we allow.” Seems true. I’m also thinking of this :
Again – No question I did that and see that happening all over this site and in the world around me. Then there was this :
I still don’t know if I believe in “elemental evil”. I’m pretty sure I don’t. I can’t imagine that babies pop out of the womb, predetermined as either good or evil, but I admit there is much beyond my imagination. In any case, I’ll never know what is in his heart or mind. He might not either.
I always wondered how far I would let things go. Would I let him slap me? Punch me? Break my arm? It is easy to say, from the outside, that one would “never” tolerate this or that – but then you find yourself, exhausted and with a twisted mind and in a bit of denial yourself, rationalizing reasons to do just that.
Is it wrong to hold onto hope for someone even if they don’t have hope for themselves? Is it wrong to carry someone bent on self-destruction even if they are struggling to be dropped? Should we tackle someone threatening to jump off a building? Is it wrong to see the potential and the loveliness and the humanity in someone even if you have to conjure up evidence for it yourself? Is it wrong to say, “I believe something good is right around the corner, so I choose to stay the course.”? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. I suppose it might depend upon which side of @RUNDMC 's light/dark soul theory you come down on. I do know that the situation has become dark for me and I can’t put anymore energy into it. Over and out.
Time to act like a rocket and achieve escape velocity.
I also have to agree that, as shitty as the situation sounds, sometimes actions without subtlety are a blessing.
Sounds horrible, and undeserved.
Why do fights escalate? I've asked myself about that problem many times. That's almost the best question in the world to work on with professional therapy, were that a possibility. Because when both sides can manage to maintain a loving atmosphere, even when sharing difficult feelings, it's a great place to build success.
I'm intruding a bit here, so please do pardon me. There wasn't a lot of response and I think there's room for a couple other thoughts.
Submitting a first small thought. The more apt description of the presumed attitude might rather have been an unforgiving attitude. It's NOT that I'm renewing the accusation, but it's a theme many PA's describe in their relationships. Like the song says, Forgive is a mighty big word for a mighty small man.
Abuse is so difficult to categorize. On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, is it forgivable? How true it is that what we tolerate, we encourage; Don't encourage the intolerable! A thought as a seed... If it would take my wife begging me for forgiveness and offering certain concessions, then can I forgive her without that tangible evidence? A shortcut of sorts, to let me be free of the weight of grudge and recrimination. And, yes. Yes, I can take that shortcut, and have many times become familiar with that purest expression of love.