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Stop Breaking Her

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TheFallen posted 8/8/2020 10:51 AM

Over the last few weeks the relationship has been going through a lot. With my wife's insistence, I quit a job that required me to have a smartphone. She made it clear that I should have done that without needing her to prompt me.
I found another job that just required me to stand at a door for 7 hours. It required a smartphone to clock in, so my wife would drive me, clock me in with her phone, and then pick me up. This job made her much more secure, as acting out at work was something I did often. This job made it impossible for me to do that.
When she would pick me up from work and ask how the day went, I would complain. Complain about my legs hurting from standing for 7 hours. Complaining about how boring it was. Later on, she told me she would have really liked to hear "You know honey, this job is kind of boring, but I'm so glad to have the opportunity to do something that brings you safety."
Obviously, I really dropped the ball there. I should know better at this point in our relationship.

Jobs aside, I have continued to act in ways that completely break down my wife. It brought out her trauma in full force and she has ended up crying and yelling hysterically the last few days. This has been 100% due to my lack of providing her any comfort for any of her feelings.

As I've mentioned before and as many people have mentioned (especially my wife), I know exactly what I'm supposed to do. I've read the books. I've read the posts. I've been in 12-Step through about 5 different sponsors.

But every single morning over the last week or so, I've walked into the bedroom and started a conversation with:

"Hey. How are you feeling?"
I obviously know exactly how she's feeling. She's feeling like garbage.
And the conversation ends up with more of me saying "I'm sorry" when she's told me she doesn't want apologies, just changed behavior. Then I offer explanations when she's also expressed she doesn't need explanations. And it goes on like that until she has to force me to leave the room.

I don't want to just ignore her. But what I keep doing isn't helpful, either. I know the problem is with me. She just wants comfort and consistency. All I manage to get out is "I'm sure that must be hard" or "I can see how painful that is" or "I know I've caused that pain". But she doesn't need validation at this point. She needs to know I'm all in, willing and able to do anything, and absolutely devoted to her.

I've been defensive as far as a few days ago. I've made nasty comments like "Is this fun for you?".
I've made arguments about things completely unrelated to the relationship, and then gotten increasingly stubborn about it, ending in me acting like a complete man-child.

I keep placing her in more and more agony every single day. And yet I continue to do the same things, as if I enjoy what I'm doing to her.

Seeing her hurting is unbearable. But I just stand there. Or offer her nothing useful.

I know posting here probably isn't going to change anything. Like I've said, I know all the things I'm supposed to be doing. But when it comes down to it, I just freeze. That's something I have to deal with on my own. No one can coach me into stopping that.

But I just wanted to post here to get out of my own head. I have to accept the fact that if I do not stop, all I will do is break her further until there is nothing left.

FearfulAvoidance posted 8/8/2020 11:43 AM

I wish I had something thoughtful to say that would magically make you see the light, but I don't. If I did I'd be tattooing it on my forehead because what you are describing sounds a lot like how my home has been recently.
I can contribute a bit of my recent behaviour to my bipolar acting up, but the things you list, like the "Hey, how you feeling?" and the not knowing what to say other than validating statments - those things aren't bipolar, they are just me. And those are the things that end up doing the most damage after breaking our BS slowly over the years since dday.

The only thing I have to offer is Action.

She needs to know I'm all in, willing and able to do anything, and absolutely devoted to her.
Action is the ONLY way she will see that. Words are easy and have minimal impact at this point. I know you know this. Pretty sure all WS get to know this. But sometimes it is helpful to be reminded, much like your post reminded me. So thanks.

Thanksgiving2016 posted 8/8/2020 13:01 PM

This sounds scripted like she told you what to say. Not of your own accord. If that’s true any suggestions likely won’t help.

leavingorbit posted 8/8/2020 13:07 PM

You gotta be making changes for yourself, because you want to be a different person. Because you want to develop different values and relate differently to the world. You are right, you're in your own way.

Do you feel like how you relate to the world serves you well? If you still see it as a passing grade, then you're not motivated to change internally. Gently, your wife is not your mom. I hope she's getting good support. If you don't want to change, then let her go. You are not helpless, even if you may be used to feeling that way.

TheFallen posted 8/8/2020 14:39 PM

@fearfulavoidance - glad that I could remind you of actions. It's true, that's the only thing I have left to work with in order to give us a chance at being happy.

@Thanksgiving2016 - no she was unaware I even came on SI today. I have a lot of self awareness, but I usually don't use that self awareness to my benefit.

@leavingorbit - I am actually not very happy with the way I relate to the world. And you are right about her not being my mom. She has had to tell me that on multiple occasions because of the way I act.

gmc94 posted 8/8/2020 15:15 PM

If you don't want to change, then let her go
IMO, this all that matters.

LadyG posted 8/8/2020 19:47 PM

I rarely read or reply on this Forum. I came by your post almost by accident.

My WH actually enjoyed Breaking Me. It gave him much pleasure seeing my pain in the beginning and during the A.

Even after the A, ended he patted himself on the back, like he had Won.

I left to try to rebuild myself. There’s nothing he can do to help me. If anything my WH hindered my recovery and only caused me more pain and prolonged my suffering.

He still only has remorse for himself.

TheFallen posted 8/8/2020 20:51 PM

@LadyG - I'm sorry that he treated you that way. You never deserved any of that. I believe I'm a narcissist and that has lead to me being so horrible to my wife. She says I have to get some kind of pleasure out of continuing to treat her horribly. I really don't enjoy what I do to her. But I understand where she's coming from. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

MrsWalloped posted 8/9/2020 10:10 AM

Obviously, I really dropped the ball there. I should know better at this point in our relationship.

Jobs aside, I have continued to act in ways that completely break down my wife. It brought out her trauma in full force and she has ended up crying and yelling hysterically the last few days. This has been 100% due to my lack of providing her any comfort for any of her feelings.

I know exactly what I'm supposed to do.

”Hey. How are you feeling?"
I obviously know exactly how she's feeling. She's feeling like garbage.

But what I keep doing isn't helpful, either. I know the problem is with me.

I've been defensive as far as a few days ago. I've made nasty comments like "Is this fun for you?".

I keep placing her in more and more agony every single day. And yet I continue to do the same things, as if I enjoy what I'm doing to her.

all I will do is break her further until there is nothing left.

I don’t know know what to make of this. The disconnect is so huge I can’t even wrap my head around this. You say you know the problem is you, that you’re causing her to be in agony, yet in the same breath you say you keep doing it as if you enjoy it. No semblance of change. No changing yourself in any way. Just hurting her. I’m not going to label you. I’m not equipped to do that. But my advice is to let her go and let her heal and be happy. She’s in pain and you’re not willing or able to do anything other than keep her in pain. Let her go.

maise posted 8/9/2020 11:54 AM

You’re still doing this for others and not yourself. You’re doing “just enough to get by” for whatever scraps of “acceptance” you can receive without actually going all in and doing this bc you want to become someone that YOU can be proud of. My guess is that you’re stuck in denial/shame and are likely too comfortable to really do the work.

JanaGreen posted 8/9/2020 12:03 PM

My WH actually enjoyed Breaking Me. It gave him much pleasure seeing my pain in the beginning and during the A.

I believe my ex did too. And I don't think that it was a conscious thing. I think that for him seeing me twisted up and agony over his behavior make him feel powerful. So he continued to do it. It was an ego boost for him. And again, I don't know if it is on a conscious level but I believe it is real. Fallen, do you think on a subconscious level you are getting some sort of satisfaction out of this? Do you think that it is making you feel more powerful and attractive for her to be broken and upset over your behavior?

siracha posted 8/9/2020 19:00 PM

Sometimes when people are intensely self loathing they develop complete contempt for the “fools” who keep trying to love them . Sounds like you really hate her for trying to stay with you. Be honest with her if thats the case.
People with abandonment issues start behaving badly when they think the other person has stopped loving them and might be headed for the door , you should also be honest with her if that is the case .
If you cant come up with anything honest then perhaps offer to pay for her divorce lawyer and her therapist and move on , dragging her through more of this terrible behavior Is unjustifiable

TheFallen posted 8/9/2020 23:02 PM

Thank you again for the responses everyone. I've thought about a lot of different things, but one thing I know for sure is that I do not enjoy hurting her in any way. I have sat alone, usually at work or in my car, and thought about how much she was hurting. Its made me break down and cry. And I don't do those things for any other reason than that I hate thinking about her in pain.
I definitely hate myself. I have a lot of low self-esteem for sure. I allow myself to get stressed by things and then completely shut down when the time comes to take responsibility. I have done this for most of my life about everything from getting a job to paying bills. I don't know why I am the way I am, but honestly it doesn't even matter. What matters is what I do. And when I do nothing it just makes my work that much harder.

MrsWalloped posted 8/10/2020 07:11 AM

Your last post is exactly what I meant by there being this huge disconnect. You post all this stuff about how you know the problem is you, and you’re hurting her, and you cry about it. Yet you keep doing it! So what if you spend time alone thinking about it and crying about it? If nothing changes then all of that is meaningless. As a WW I cried a lot after DDay. A lot. I spent a lot of time alone thinking and crying. But if that’s all I did then I’d be divorced today. I’m not patting myself on the back, but I put on my big girl pants and got to work.

Forget about how you feel and what you’re thinking and how much you’re crying. Start posting what you’re actually doing about it. And if you can’t or won’t, then stop hurting her and let her go.

Pippin posted 8/10/2020 08:27 AM

Hi TheFallen, do you know why you freeze up or your actions don't match your intentions? It will help you to change if you understand what's getting in the way. For example - are you frustrated that you can't change her feelings in the moment, and without a neat resolution you give up? Are you really bad at dealing with conflict? No experience working through discomfort? It might be hard for you to put your finger on what the problem is, so really try to sit with it for a bit to understand what is blocking you, at a neutral time and then also when it's happening - notice what is foremost on your mind.

You can and should prepare/train for these conversations ahead of time. If you have conversation starters at your fingertips like "I am wondering if you woke up this morning immediately remembering or if it took some time" or "you seem so upset. I know I can't fix it right now but I won't leave you alone with your feelings" or whatever. And all of those things that are advised as daily practices - meditation, slow breathing etc - those are to PRACTICE for when you are stressed in these moments, to keep your wits about you.

It gets easier the more you do it. Be curious about your feelings and responses and be courageous. I'll bump the shame/justice thread again for you - remember she isn't helped by your shame. She is helped by your healing.

HouseOfPlane posted 8/10/2020 08:46 AM

TheFallen, you sure do spend a lot of time talking about what you've done.

What are you going to do the rest of today? Tomorrow?

Thanksgiving2016 posted 8/10/2020 09:30 AM

What you really mean is you don’t use the self awareness for her benefit. I think you enjoy making her miserable.

TheFallen posted 8/10/2020 09:57 AM

.

[This message edited by TheFallen at 10:08 AM, August 10th (Monday)]

MrCleanSlate posted 8/10/2020 10:44 AM

Fallen,

I feel for you. It is one thing to start to understand and appreciate your shortcomings and the impact on others, and quite another to build up the courage to act and change.

It took me years to quit smoking even though it was bad for me. I see many at AA meetings that fall off the wagon when they know better.

My BW didn't want words, she wanted actions. I had to change. You have to change. But you need to change for yourself. You need to want it. You need to let go of the outcome and work on yourself.

So many waywards talk the talk but deep down many have a really hard time changing. It takes effort.

Have you started Step 1 (SA)?

maise posted 8/10/2020 11:50 AM

^^ yes. That was my thought exactly on step 1. While it seems as simple as “admitting you’re powerless” what I gather is that you’re still trying to control it instead of actually accepting and stepping into what step 1 is truly about.

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