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Session 4: Getting to the Heart

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CaptainRogers posted 4/8/2021 18:14 PM

After taking last week off, we did another double session today. This one was a little more "groundworky" as the counselor laid out the cycle in which we need to be thinking rather than the cycles we typically use. She used my wife's "abandonment" issues as the example.

Apparently, a few months ago, I had come home, dropped off the groceries, then went on another couple of errands. In that time, I either told the kids where I was going or I didn't. Couldn't tell you one way or another. I generally tell them what I'm doing, but that day it may not have happened.

My wife gets home, doesn't see me there, asks the kids where I am, they say they don't know. About an hour later, she is headed out and I'm coming back from my errands. She makes the assumption that I was angry and avoiding her (not actually asking the question) and behaves accordingly.

The counselor steps in to acknowledge the abandonment feelings and then asks the question...did you ask Cap what he was doing?


What did you do in response?

Made up my mind that if that's the way he wants to live, then so be it, I'll be by myself.

Do you think that you may have been wrong about his thoughts and why he wasn't at the house?

I don't know.

Let's explore this...

So, most of today's session was spent on retraining thought patterns. The entire purpose is to lay the groundwork for the big "discussion" coming in a few weeks. The counselor was quite straightforward to say that this week and then our next session in a couple of weeks will lead to having the discussion that we haven't yet truly had...how did the A affect Cap?

The counselor looked right at my wife and said "You have not wanted to hear this part, you have not been able to hear this part, but this is where it is leading. You need to sit here, listen to what effects all of this has had on your husband, and you need to FEEL what it has done. This isn't a punishment. This is for bringing you closer together. It HAS to be addressed. You cannot overlook this anymore. You have said that you want to heal this relationship, so this very hard piece is coming up. I will help you with correcting bad thought patterns. I will help you with whatever you need help with. But you have to face this."

A pretty interesting and, shall I even say, bold move for the MC to lay those cards on the table. She is direct and doesn't take any crap (from either of us, I will add.). Too many are the "touchy-feely" variety who wouldn't have said "we are going to do X...this is your notice." Did I mention that I like her?

In a similar vein, we also covered something from this week. My wife has an ear infection. Ultimately, I am the catalyst. She sleeps with earplugs because I snore. The earplugs have led to compacted earwax and viola, an infection.

So, on Sunday, my wife had asked me to look in her ear to see if I could see anything. She said that it was sore, like when you get a pimple on the inside. I looked and said that I could see a red spot, but couldn't see if it was a pimple or not.

Tuesday morning, my wife says that she didn't sleep well because she woke up at 2:00 and was dizzy. I said "well that sucks, were you able to go back to sleep?" She said "yes, around 4:00."

Apparently, yesterday, she went to the urgent care to find out that she has an ear infection. She dropped off her prescription in the early afternoon, then picked up the ear drops last night. When she went to get the drops she said "I'm going to the grocery store, be back in a little bit." I found that odd, but whatever. Didn't let my mind go down the "who is she meeting up with" rabbit hole. That's progress!

Anyway, she comes home and asks one of the kids to put the drops in her ears. Never does she say anything about going to the doctor, getting the prescription, none of it.

Today in the session, she brings it up as to how I wasn't demonstrating care for her. The counselor said "Did you say anything?"


Then how would Cap know that something was wrong?

I asked him to look on Sunday, then said I was dizzy Tuesday morning.

And how was he supposed to know from that? Did you make any requests?


How did you feel?

I wanted to tell him.

Did you?


So how did you feel?


So, let's look at this. You made a request for Cap to look at your ear, and then you made a statement about being dizzy. But you didn't tell him that you went to the doctor, nor did you tell him about the infection, nor did you tell him about the prescription.

That's right.

Why didn't you tell him?

I didn't want to bother him.

Wede you afraid that he would say the he couldn't take care of anything?

No, I knew he would take care of whatever I needed.

So you knew he would take care of you, but you didn't ask for anything, and then you felt abandoned.


Do you see that you abandoned yourself?


More and more things are being pointed out and addressed like never before. Yes, it does sometimes feel like I'm simply sitting in on her individual sessions (especially today...I think that in the 2 hours, I may have had 5 minutes of talk time; the rest was the counselor and Mrs. Cap).

I see progress, I see a plan, and I see changes actually taking place in behaviors.

thatbpguy posted 4/8/2021 21:45 PM

You have a counselor worth her weight in gold.

gmc94 posted 4/9/2021 00:26 AM

Glad to hear that update, Cap. My WH is the exact same way WRT some weird expectation that I be a mind reader.

devotedman posted 4/9/2021 00:49 AM

I am greatly impressed by your therapist.

jb3199 posted 4/9/2021 06:03 AM

Timing plays such a crucial role in life.

Would Mrs. Cap have listened to this counselor 3 years ago? I'm guessing probably not, and a therapist who may be one of the rare birds would have simply flown the coup. Maybe today, in 2021, you would have been trying a new run-of-the-mill counselor.

But sometimes, all of the gears mesh. The combination of TIME, effort, and the right person in the right place at the right time, can have dramatic effects. Here's to hoping for the best.

CaptainRogers posted 4/9/2021 07:19 AM

Would Mrs. Cap have listened to this counselor 3 years ago?

You are 100% right that she wouldn't have been open, jb. She would have absolutely run away, whether physically or emotionally. She would have likely tried to say that the counselor was "abusing" her as well. It does appear as though there is a confluence of the right time, emotional state, amazing counselor, etc.

Last night, we had another round with honesty. Raw honesty.

She hugged me and said "We are a team. I'm sorry for all the years that I wasn't a teammate. I'm sorry for all the years that I didn't have your back. I love you and I am so glad that we are in this together."

She followed up with a phrase that our counselor will use, which is "Can you turn to Mrs. Cap and tell her what you're feeling?"

I was honest. I said "There's a small piece that hopes what you have said is true. Mostly, though, it is a lot of hurt and pain because of all the years it hasn't been true. [I could see that she didn't expect the unvarnished truth and was ready to pull away & retreat, so I continued] You don't need to own the hurt. That is my yard to take care of. You just keep saying things like that, showing me that it is real, and that hope will grow and the pain will wither. Thats taking care of the playground, pulling the weeds, replacing the equipment, that is mowing the grass, dragging the dirt and lining the field in such a way that I will want to come out to play with you.

She thanked me for being honest and for reassuring her that I wasn't requiring her to clean up my yard, but that I am in charge of that and she just needs to make sure she is thinking like a real teammate.

It's interesting because I used the analogy a few years ago about the teammates. I had told her that I understand that I have done stupid things and that I have deserved a fastball to the ribs. Mid back, right in the ribs. That hurts to breathe for days. And what I need to know is that after two of those in the same game, my teammate is willing to go after the pitcher. But what I've learned is that my teammate is the one telling the pitcher to do it again.

We shall see.

grubs posted 4/9/2021 09:43 AM

Yes, it does sometimes feel like I'm simply sitting in on her individual sessions (especially today...I think that in the 2 hours, I may have had 5 minutes of talk time; the rest was the counselor and Mrs. Cap).

I think your WW needs to have these hard conversations with the counselor in front of you with her avoidant tendencies and assumptions that you know what's going on in her head. Being told this in front of you rather in IC pins her to owning it.

Any clue where her abandonment fears stem from?

CaptainRogers posted 4/9/2021 11:04 AM

The abandonment is easy. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 (my wife was 13). My wife's sisters were 22 and 29 at the time. One was married and living in Switzerland. The other was married and living in the same small town. Anytime her mom was getting chemo/radiation/surgery, her dad went with her and my wife was generally left at home, though sometimes with an aunt/uncle. Mom passed away about 5 years later, dad poured himself into his business & my wife continued to be left alone. She never wanted for anything materially, but certainly did emotionally.

grubs posted 4/9/2021 12:01 PM

Ouch. Not only did she lose the mother, but the father emotionally in her teenage years into young adulthood. She learned the only one she can count on is herself since others will abandon her in need. Self fulfilling prophecy kicks in so she self sabotages by assuming you're a mind reader.
Hopefully between her IC and MC they can break that cycle.

[This message edited by grubs at 12:44 PM, April 9th (Friday)]

Shockt posted 4/9/2021 12:34 PM

Wow, what a great session! Thanks for sharing. I'm a BS myself, but nevertheless can relate to your wife's "expecting/waiting for abandonment" behavior - rather than trying to take care of herself in a way that might get her what she wants/needs from you.

Notthevictem posted 4/9/2021 12:49 PM

Wow, it sounds like this session was a really good one. I hope any positive changes that come from this stick around.

sisoon posted 4/9/2021 14:12 PM

Even if your W does not step up for R in the end, I think you'll be very happy you did this.

CaptainRogers posted 4/9/2021 14:42 PM

I already am, sisoon! I already am.

ISurvivedSoFar posted 4/9/2021 15:23 PM

You've been validated and it must feel great!

CaptainRogers posted 4/9/2021 20:10 PM

It absolutely does, ISSF. It has been a long time coming!

CaptainRogers posted 4/9/2021 20:25 PM

She learned the only one she can count on is herself since others will abandon her in need.

Here's the crazy thing, grubs. The last 4 years of her mom's life, I was the one by my wife's (girlfriend at the time) side. We started "dating" when I was a freshman in HS. At that point, whenever her mom had to go to the cancer center for treatments, if she went, I went and stayed with her. Or, she would spend time at my house with my family. As we got older, I would come over to her house and spend time with her and her mom. And when her mom passed in the fall of 1991 (my senior year in HS, she had graduated in May), she called the school, I got the message, and I immediately signed myself out to go be with her at the house.

If there was ANYTHING that should have been learned it was that I would NOT abandon her like everyone else did. That I would demonstrate caring and a willingness to do whatever she needed to be comforted, cared for, etc.

Obviously, the damage from her dad had already been done, but when questioned yesterday about whether or not I would say "no" to her request, she had said that I would never say "no" to her request for help. But she still didn't ask...and walked right into her own abandonment.

[This message edited by CaptainRogers at 8:26 PM, April 9th (Friday)]

grubs posted 4/9/2021 21:17 PM

There's something else going on then. If you were there with her through that she should have bonded more strongly with you. Maybe your previous M issues triggered a pull back or fear that you were following in her families footsteps. Shrug. it sounds like you have a counselor now that will at least help her reprogram those broken thought processes. Even if she doesn't find the cause. The cause isn't as important as fixing it. So far it seems your WW is on board for that.

CaptainRogers posted 4/10/2021 05:19 AM

Oftentimes, her original "programming" of being independent, alone, etc. comes out. In an earlier session, the counselor asked about Mrs. Cap's "fears" which include being alone, being abandoned, being ignored, feeling disconnected. The counselor brought her back to the self-fulfilling part of feeling that way because of her own actions rather than it being from anything I did (in that moment) or have done (all through our relationship).

sisoon posted 4/10/2021 09:56 AM

If there was ANYTHING that should have been learned it was that I would NOT abandon her like everyone else did.
Alas, that's not how all of us work.

I used to fear abandonment. My W showed she wouldn't leave me for decades, and my biggest fear was still that she would leave. It took a lot of good therapy to resolve my fear.

Your comment strikes another chord with me. No matter how much love I showed my W, she felt unloved. She filtered everything I did or said through her self-hate and concluded I hated her, too. I remain grief-stricken that my W just didn't take in the love that was sent her way - not only by me, but also by friends, family, and her professional colleagues.

The A was bad. Knowing so much of my communication was misinterpreted for so long ... that is still a source of grief.

Poppy704 posted 4/10/2021 10:24 AM

Others tried to make this point in your previous post, while you may have been a lovely teenager, your misdeeds as a husband do not seem to be something that your wife got over completely. You were supposed to be the rock she depended o on and your porn addiction robbed her of that stability. Now you blame her for controlling you and feeling like it is her against the world. Simultaneously you sit on a very high horse and put yourself forward as an example within your church and community while maligning her for her anxiety. None of this reads as loving support and stability.

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