Marriage and Fatherhood is on the line

I made a big thing about "my wife hits me" in another post. & it's legit - i've been hit/pushed/had things thrown at my head over the years. That was about 3 weeks ago & for all intents and purposes that emergency has died down. There was LOTS of fallout from that. I might get into some of that later.

The biggest thing to come out of that is that we entered a mediated conversation with a psychotherapist & this man is DOING. HIS. THING. The first talk w/my wife and I was BRILLIANT. The 3 of us shared unabashedly, he gave us that GOOD info and & from that new perspective, my wife and i were able to continue talking for another hour or 2 that same day. 2 convos later we had our 12 year old daughter on the call & she got the chance to express herself in a SUPER safe environment. we had another talk sunday & its getting to the real day-to-day shit that takes a convo from a 3 to an 11.

my wife has trauma around yelling/cursing/violence/poverty/homelessness due to her upbringing & especially since COVID, she's been on HIGH alert. i feel ashamed of this (the Dr said i don't get to feel ashamed of trauma tho), but i believe this is a safe place to say/name: that i subconsciously & even consciously use an "avoidant" strategy aggressively at home. over the years, i've learned i can get her to back down (ie & i get to avoid topics/responsibility/etc) by escalating easy problems into fights. she's FAR from an angel - but i'm owning MY disgusting, filthy shit of a personality here. When she's triggered or similar, i can f*ck off indefinitely until she calms down which can take days or longer.

so NOW we're in a place where he's identified BOTH of our traumas & i'm getting a new name attached to mine: "avoidant". i don't really like hearing it, but in my heart of hearts i can agree. he's explained "avoidant" to me, explained how/when it happened, led me to see how i do it and i see it EVERYWHERE - totally throughout my life. one thing i (actually, WE BOTH) have said for years & couldn't figure out was, i've never really acted this way with anybody before. & she "brings this out of me". like i adapted this shitty behavior to keep myself feeling.. what .. SAFE? it all seems so infantile & weak & small & broken. i know its all & none of those, AND WAY beyond that AND very, very human.

what i want is to have an awesome relationship with this woman that i love. i want to raise our beautiful daughter to be a joyful, self-regulating, confident, powerhouse of a woman that can use her will to create anything in her mind. i want our family to be a safe, nurturing & loving yet RIGOROUS environment where we function as a team & build castles & pyramids & staircases to the sky for each other. I want to continue to work (i'm an elementary music teacher) AS WELL AS build my drum/DJing/remixing businesses. we ALMOST have it - but for my part: I'M holding it back.

so we've made some rules:
NO physicality (hitting/pushing/proximity/etc)
NO cops
NO fighting (yelling/cussing/attitude/etc)
NO text fighting (see above)
ONLY talk about the other to the therapist or DIRECTLY to the other

I'm learning a lot all at once. Doc says i'm COMPELLED - i NEED to do X when i feel threatened (defend myself or check TF out or straight LEAVE). ok - so that insight and $2 gets me tea at the bodega. what do i do with that info now? i'm in a questioning/asking part of this & i know you guys are experts because you live with this f*ckery day in day out one way or the other: WTF is avoidance? WTF do i do, now? how do i catch it when it's happening? what do i do once i got a hold of it? how do i train myself to GAF/be open/to stay when EVERYTHING is screaming GTFOH/to check IN?

HELP!!
 

Rosebud

Not Active
Hi @WORD_SOUND_POWER , welcome to you. I apologize as did not read your other post yet, and am super pressed for time this second, and am not sure if this is at all helpful. But just to respond to this:

WTF is avoidance? WTF do i do, now? how do i catch it when it's happening? what do i do once i got a hold of it? how do i train myself to GAF/be open/to stay when EVERYTHING is screaming GTFOH/to check IN?.. HELP!!

I am not sure if your psychotherapist distinguished between avoidance, avoidant attachment, and avoidance as a symptom of ptsd (or trauma, I am not sure?) Am not sure if you/ both you and your wife have ptsd?

As best I understand it, avoidance is just that; easier to avoid than to face something. Same could be fibbing, etc. But it itself could be influenced by anxiety, or avoiding responsibility or consequences, or lying to hide facts (infidelity, addictions, etc, many things and reasons). It can also be a function of overwhelm, due to trauma, introversion, ill health, or being atypical neurologically. Avoidance due to trauma, at least ptsd as far as I only know, is avoiding things/ reminders/ memories etc of the trauma itself (or trying to). Not necessarily related directly (such as avoiding physical intimacy after SA or CSA (and it can go the other way too), or avoiding planes, trains etc), but also for example fireworks or loud noises after gunfire. And it can include aboiding eg crowds, as the element of control/ safety is reduced. It can avoid thoughts; like one Vet told me he originally avoided his granchild because he was afraid he would throw him into the ceiling fan over his head and kill him. Or throwing one's self in to overwork, hobbies, affairs, or anything else as a distraction to avoid intrusive thoughts.

Then there's avoiding conflict that can be a huge thing for many of us, including avoiding raised voices etc, as a function of past history, especially childhood. Included in that but mutaully exclusive to it is the attachment styles of fearful or dismissive avoidant (or both as a mix, disorganized, also called by other names). It is not 'wrong' but isn't very useful for most relationship's success. It comes from learning early not to reveal emotions (or even have them), and to rely on yourself pretty much complately. It can come from that kind of parenting and reinforcement, or enmeshment and fear of engulfment or control. Then there is also abandonment and neglect which is again another animal.

And I am sure there is more. Including the different treatment of genders as per the acceptance of emotional expression.


So perhaps the 1st thing to do is find out more from him

i subconsciously & even consciously use an "avoidant" strategy aggressively at home. over the years, i've learned i can get her to back down (ie & i get to avoid topics/responsibility/etc) by escalating easy problems into fights.
That is why avoidance or the silent treatment can be called abusive. However, it's often because peopl are flooded, or overwhelmed, or don't want to make things worse. Please forgive yourself for it as it sounds like your wife was out of control.

But probably the simplest way to think of it, is what if the situation was reversed? It may be hard to imagine another 'normal' if you are avoidant in your attachment. But there are times you needed information and someone may not have returned it; a job interview, an important call. Then you see they chose not to. That may be how your wife felt (or may not be). But the key is it wasn't about a job or a phone call, to her it would have been her feelings, her welfare, the viability of your marriage, or something similar.

It also sounds however like you have both become more aware and are making a great start.

After being on both sides of the fence I will say like the advice goes here, nothing justifies being on the end of abuse. But just as equally, because of being on both sides of the fence and from what I've seen or others have told me throughout my life, I think the main ingredient that also has to be present is that willingness, desire and accountability of both people. And a generous heaping of humility, kindness, communication, commitment and love. (Though as 12 step groups say, not used as a weapon over you as that will not help and is not love, but rather being actually genuine.) Much as genuine apologies can be stepping stones to communication, or lack of them or what is perceived contrary driving a nails in to the coffin.Then you can hopefully get to the point of having that trust and tenderness with each other as you both heal. And form shared dreams together, as well as create the safety and joy your little girl needs to see.

Perhaps they key is more in understanding the behaviour? I know I often here, don't reach out, or sometimes do. But the key is actually part art and science. What does wisdom say? What does your heart say? There is no room for pride IMHO, but neither is there much to be gained from unforgiveness unless one or both people have already decided to leave. Like a friend of mine said, as a teacher then Principle; a 16 year old in her class had a laundry list of offences. I said, 'What did you do?' She said, "I made him the class monitor'. I said how did that go? "She said he was fantastic!" I said what made you think of that? And she said, "Well, I knew he wanted respect". (Not a relevant example, but you see what I mean.. intuiting, what is going on here, what are the emotions involved, and therefore what is helpful?)

I hope this doesn't confuse you more! If so I am sorry and please disregard. You sound like you are making great progress! sounds like you are both committed to ata least trying to overcome it, and for the well-being of your daughter.

Best wishes to you all.
 
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Rosebud

Not Active
And sorry, had to leave and missed the edit to clarify/ flesh out/ add-delete/ fix typos. Hope it makes sense! Oye. I'm not very good at expressing myself in 'words'.

I would say a key for you may be to start by seeing if you know what it was about the topics you avoided, that you needed to. And also to recognize under that kind of treatment from your wife people will do things they otherwise might not, either in desparation for peace and sanity and de-escalation (and to simply make it stop) or because they themselves feel misunderstood/ helpless or rejected and depressed. And fearful, especially with a child's welfare on the line.

There are lots of great articles and threads here and many will try to help! Perhaps start with the PTSD Cup Explanation or words or terms in the search function.
Good luck!
 
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arfie

MyPTSD Pro
I'm learning a lot all at once. Doc says i'm COMPELLED - i NEED to do X when i feel threatened (defend myself or check TF out or straight LEAVE). ok - so that insight and $2 gets me tea at the bodega. what do i do with that info now?

can you give me the address to that bodega where you can get tea for $2? i haven't seen tea that cheap in a goodly while.

attempted humor aside. . .

that is, indeed, allot to learn all in one sitting. it is even more to build cognitive links to so that the info will come reflexively in the heat of a crisis. my intellect pretty much shuts down during a mental health crisis and mere learning is not enough to keep me from reverting to my dysfunctional conditioning under duress, especially domestic duress.

healing is a process, not an isolated event. be gentle with yourself and patient with the process.
hope healing happens here.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I'm learning a lot all at once. Doc says i'm COMPELLED - i NEED to do X when i feel threatened (defend myself or check TF out or straight LEAVE). ok - so that insight and $2 gets me tea at the bodega. what do i do with that info now? i'm in a questioning/asking part of this & i know you guys are experts because you live with this f*ckery day in day out one way or the other: WTF is avoidance? WTF do i do, now? how do i catch it when it's happening? what do i do once i got a hold of it? how do i train myself to GAF/be open/to stay when EVERYTHING is screaming GTFOH/to check IN?
So - when PTSD sufferers talk about avoidance - we're talking about a specific symptom, relating to avoiding things that connect to the traumatic event that caused the PTSD. It can take a lot of different forms - the obvious ones are avoiding places or situations that connect to the trauma, but there's also avoidance of various interpersonal elements that might be evocative of a trauma-based dynamic - something involving dysfunctions in communication or behavior.

Like @Rosebud said - avoidance as a psychological concept is talked about in a number of different frameworks, not just the shape it takes when it's a PTSD symptom.

Did your therapist connect the avoidance to a specific trauma in your life? Or, did they mention other frameworks - some examples would be attachment styles, personality disorders, anxiety...anything along those lines? It'd help people give you better advice, if you can say more about it.
 
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