I need some advice and help. This kind of thing has come up before, and I am too much of a dunce to know how to handle this. Last night, I attended a rehearsal for a jazz performance group I play in, with DWG's blessings. I called her on the way out the driveway and immediately after the rehearsal and stopped and brought her some food on the way home. Later, while doing late night chores (at the barn, feeding the horses), she noticed that things in my car were moved around and not as she remembered them, including the night vision binoculars she had left in a specific place that we use to see where the horses are in the pasture at night, and some junk mail that was now on the floor in front. I could tell she was agitated, worn out, and feeling uncomfortable before, and then she lowered the boom, accusing me of seeing and having sex with my old affair partner. I tried to my best recollection to explain why things were moved around in the car, but she became angrier and angrier and more accusative. I had had a bad rehearsal and was tired and agitated myself, and I became defensive. That made her worse, which caused me to become angry instead of lovingly supportive. I have made a lot of progress in the last year (I think), and we have been resuming MB lessons. I suggested that she call our director in the morning to confirm I was at the rehearsal, but her anger and agitation just accelerated and pushed me into a state of frustration, and I became defensive. I had been doing much better handling these episodes, but this just knocked her waaay back. She stayed up all night in another room and has concluded that I am the same old GM and will never figure out things and never improve. I don't know how to make myself stop getting defensive and make myself become calm, comforting, and reassuring, especially when I am not at my best because of any frustrating circumstances going on at the time. I feel sure that this will settle down over the next few days, but DWG becomes so definitive and final in her judgement of me during these moments of weakness, that I become weaker and weaker and afraid of failure of our chances for recovery. I just feel like a failure at these times. How do I help her and make her understand that I am not the guy I was all those years, that I have EP's in place that are sacrosanct to me, and that I can be trusted? How do I not become sad and frightened, when I am accused of being dishonest, even though it is a logical fear she has because of those many terrible years? How do I keep that sadness, fear, and frustration I feel at those times from knocking me back down into a quivering bowl of jelly, unable to help her recover? I know HOW to do it, I guess. But I have a terrible time invoking that knowledge and overriding the gut feelings I have at the time.
OK Doc, here goes 'nuthin.
"and I became defensive"
Let's put you to work .... Explain to me EXACTLY what you were defending.
That is to say, WHAT principle/value were you defending?
If something is sooooooo important to you that you need to be defensive towards DWG, it better be an important VALUE or PRINCIPLE that you are speaking up about.
Try starting there.
After you answer that, then we can discuss the following:
How do I help her and make her understand that I am not the guy I was all those years, that I have EP's in place that are sacrosanct to me, and that I can be trusted? How
Because, unless you were defending an important principle/value, you are NOT fully the new GUY .... But still a work in progress becoming the new guy.
I need to think about that for a bit, because it seems like a crucial question. My first thought is that I was not really defending anything except myself against an accusation that was both untrue and dismissive of all the hard work I have put into purging my old demons, making myself into a loving, reliable, and trustworthy human being and husband devoted only to DWG, devoted to her recovery, and with strong and effective EP's that I wrote and take more seriously than life, itself. The principle, I guess, was my truthfulness and fidelity and devotion to her, my transparency, the hard work I have made in transforming myself and dedication to healing her and our marriage. These are all things that she has reason to doubt because of my long history of self-absorbed, resentful, immature, secretive, duplicitous, and digusting thinking and behavior that almost destroyed her and made her entire adult life into a nighmare of pain. In fact, I guess that answers my own question. The old GM spent 26 years being that guy, but only the last year and a half devoted to her and to being a grown-up, loving and faithful husband. And really only in the last 6-12 months have I truly learned to become the person she thought she married. That's not much, compared to her long agony. She made a false accusation that seemed to dismiss all that I have made my life's work to being, and because I have worked so hard to discard that old person so completely, it seemed threatening and dismissive, and I became defensive.
I guess that answers my own question. 6 months or a year is not much compared to her long history with me. So, I guess there really IS no principle or value I was defending other than the absolute level of my commitment to her. Though that seems like everything to me, to her it is a brief side-trip that she fears will inevitably lead back to my original path. To me, the idea of deceiving and betraying her ever again seems so ludicrous and so outrageously impossible for me now, that an accusation that I was doing just that, not possibly but definitely, threatened the fortress wall that I have so painstakingly built against that happening. I can tell you, Pepperband, without question that the chances of my ever being unfaithful, with the precautions I have in place, and with the agonizing changes I have undergone as a human being, are so remote, that the accusation that is so logical for her, is beyond comprehension for me.
Is that what you mean by principle or value? Maybe there is something else I am missing here. I want to know, if there is. In the meantime, no matter how late it is, or how tired I am, or how bad a day I have had, I will try to remember that my efforts and transformation are to her like a brief interlude about to end at any moment. Being defensive against an accusation like that is what is actually ludicrous and seems more like the old GM than the new one. I should not expect her to have much faith in me for a very long time.
You are the greatest, PB. Thanks for answering and getting me to think and understand this episode better. (I sound like Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"
Last edited by GreenMile; 06/29/10 04:01 PM.
FWH, age 63. 24 years of narcissistic behavior, infidelity, and emotional abandonment of my BS, age 57, DancesWithGoats (DWG). D-day two years ago, leading to emotional breakdown. Been working MB program and toward spiritual transformation and personal growth since then, with some slow but real progress. DWG still with no trust, but with grief starting to subside a bit.