|by Lord Leighton- a current favorite of mine|
After I told Pete that the cruel things he says to me are as painful as if he had hit me, he got really angry. We didn't talk for a few days. Then he sat me down a couple nights ago and said the following things.
He is not happy in our marriage, that for the last 3-4 years he has been getting deeper and deeper into a dark and awful place, and even though he knows he has made some bad choices, it is because of me that he is full of self-loathing and shame.
He said the way I continually disrespect him is not what God wants for him, and that as he looks back over the years he doesn't think he has been emotionally abusive or even reckless with my feelings.
He says my regular assaults on his character are dramatized and over-reactions and he can't be in a relationship with someone who treats him that way.
He says he can no longer and will no longer tell me anything about his recovery, he asked me to disable the restrictions on his phone so that I am completely uninvolved.
He said he has a perpetual knot in his stomach because of the way I demean him and blame everything on his addiction.
He said that no matter how hard he tries, it is never good enough for me.
I listened to him, and I actually felt calm. His demeanor was reasonable, collected and deliberate. (He didn't seem crazy at all, which makes it all the more confusing when I look back on it later, because one of us is crazy, and if it's not him, it's me, right?) He said it all and then when he was done he asked if I had anything to say. I told him I wasn't exactly clear on what he was asking of me but to let me know if he needed any boundaries and I would respect them.
I walked away, and then all my doubts started flooding my brain.
Am I over-reacting? Do I keep making things a bigger deal than they are? Do I assualt his character? Have I taken his blame too personally? Am I destroying our marriage?
Fortunately I've worked through these things before and I have good friends to talk me down. So I gradually talked myself through his arguments.
1- In the last 3-4 years there have been really good times, when Pete was in recovery and we were both willingly working toward a healthier relationship. Pete's life is not all darkness, he has many blessings and beautiful children. And I am never responsible for his happiness or unhappiness.
2- Pete has been at the very least, reckless with my feelings, and as far as emotional abuse, I don't want to split hairs. But he has blamed, manipulated, criticized and lost his temper with me in very hurtful ways. In the throes of his addiction he is also incapable of empathy and compassion, resulting in more hurtful accusations and a general lack of appreciation for my feelings.
3- I can not recall assaulting Pete's character. In the past six months the most I have mentioned about his addiction is my concern about his lack of recovery plan or recovery behaviors/actions. We have had less than a dozen conversations of this nature, and they consist mostly of me asking him questions about how he is doing/feeling, and then sharing with him my inability to re-establish trust when I don't feel ownership and empathy from him.
Additionally, it's okay if I don't trust him. It's okay if I am cautious. That is part of the wreckage of his addiction, and when he is recovery he recognizes that.
4- I have never insisted on being involved in his recovery, at least not in the last two years.
5- I have to admit that I do blame many of our marital struggles on his addiction. It is the root of so much pain for me, which means I have to work hard at forgiveness, trust, vulnerability, etc. But in the last few months I have spoken very little with him about porn, I have been more concerned with his mental well-being in general, and the way his issues affect me and our family.
6- In order for him to have any credibility when he uses the phrase "no matter how hard I try" I would have to be actually convinced that he was trying. I've seen him try hard, I've seen him make personal sacrifices of time and pride, I've seen him step out of his comfort zone, I've seen what it looks like when he is trying hard. And since we moved abroad, I haven't seen much of that at all.
These are the things I keep reminding myself. Ever since our "chat" Pete has been Mr. Nice Guy. Acting like nothing is wrong, treating me like I am a gentle, fragile flower. It feels so condescending and confusing and it makes me angry, which makes me feel even more like I am the crazy one and he is the reasonable, stable one.