Same house, worlds apart

I’m here, he’s over there, same house, same room, same sofa, worlds apart.

confused and lost in translation. what are you talking about. I don’t understand. Give me an example.

We know it hurts to use certain words like “you always….” and yet and we always use those words

Sometimes I’d rather say nothing at all in stead of risk you misunderstanding me and having to get on the wheel of pain round and round we go again

but nothing is ever on your on mind

everything is fine??

 

 


Wow – I found this draft in my folder, dated “a year ago” sometime. Sadly the words are still true.  We are not being good to each other. We barely tolerate each other. We attend couples counseling every week but nothing changes here at home. We are so on edge, so impatient, we can’t listen to each other. At some point I stopped looking in his eyes. Sadly I can’t recall when, and when I pointed it out last night, sadder yet, he hadn’t noticed. I stopped because the intensity of looking in eyes, anyone’s eyes, is too much for me to bear, and his are the worst. Too much stress, tension, pain, anger. Too much history there. I actually wondered if I became autistic with all of my eye avoidance, but it reflects my fear of intimacy, I understand it now. I glance at faces to get a quick read on expression, then away again or I get sucked into those emotions, it is too powerful without my shield. The counselors stole my shield, I used to be numb and now I feel it all. But I feel it less if I don’t look directly at others. And I feel protected, like I am hidden in plain sight, if my eyes are not making contact. I feel in control. I need that now, whatever and whenever I can get it.

I try to hope that one day Hubby and I will talk openly with one another, but I really don’t believe this is possible, not completely. I am too afraid to trigger his defense mechanisms and have him lash out at me. Or almost as awful is when I share something and get back silence or a grunt. I know he is trying. I am too. We care about each other. Why is it so hard to just talk?

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5 thoughts on “Same house, worlds apart

  1. There are so many layers of complications questions in this one. I’m going to go with my gut reaction, in that while I was reading this, it reminded me of a time when my (then) husband and I were not only not communicating (or having sex, or sharing any form of intimacy), but we had almost become strangers to one another, investing entirely too much energy on just keeping everything as quiet and empty as possible, to avoid conflict. A little like carefully stepping around land mines, while appearing to be walking normally through life.

    I could go on and on for quite a while, but in the interest of keeping it as concise as possible, it finally became clear to me that once I had been betrayed by him (or my perception was that he had betrayed my trust, by lashing out at me or attacking me when I was the most vulnerable), then I was no longer willing to ever be vulnerable again. Trust is such a huge thing for those that have been in an abusive situation, so losing trust with someone creates an atmosphere that doesn’t allow for any vulnerability, and very little honesty. We have to be willing to be vulnerable (and okay with the concept of getting hurt again, perhaps even worse than before), before we can begin to establish any sort of trust with this person again. This applies to any person, spouse or not.

    One of the things that helped us work through that “dead space” that existed between us, was to intentionally let the other person know that we were feeling very vulnerable, and asking them if they were willing to do their best to avoid causing harm to one another. Could we both agree that we both had been hurt by the other, and could we begin to form a new and deeper trust of one another? A trust that included the awareness that our words and actions are sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted by one or the other, and a trust that accepted that there would be times in the future when our words and thoughts and actions might be reactionary towards a perceived slight or injury.

    In other words, we had to agree to both be willing to be vulnerable again, and both be willing to do our best to protect the other person. We had to shift our energy from self-protection and self-survival mode, to an energy that began with our earnest desire to protect the other person. For us, during that time in our marriage, that was what trust signified. We had to be willing to protect the other person, and trust that they would do the same.

    As a survivor of abuse, we have learned how to endure that which cannot be endured. Part of that process is about walls and distance. If we want a different outcome, we have to be willing to do something different. Or we have to accept the alternative. For us, it meant not giving up on the idea that we might be able to rebuild that trust that we once shared. As the trust began to grow again, the intimacy soon followed. It’s much easier to be intimate with someone when you feel safe with them. Not so much if you know they have the ability to hurt you.

    Just as you defined a list of those things which you don’t want to do, it might be helpful to try to devise a list of those things that help make you feel safe. If you both assembled such a list, and shared it with one another, it might offer a common ground in a common language, and might give you a chance to feel like you are actually sharing something, as opposed to existing in different worlds under the same roof. Anything that might be something you can share (safely, and without fear of being hurt or attacked), offers you both a chance to begin building again.

    Sorry … I know I ramble on and on, but your posts often have me thinking of times in my marriage when I felt so alone within the marriage, or when I felt that he simply would never be willing to work at improving our situation, or when it was easier to just remain numb. They remind me how I had to work at making sure he understood how important it was that we be able to trust one another again, and how that began with us defining what helped us each feel safe within our relationship.

    As frustrating as it can be to have to invest a good amount of effort into learning how to communicate with one another again, I’m encouraged when you can acknowledge that you both want it to be different; you both want it to be better, so now it’s about small steps forward. You’ve already demonstrated a remarkable ability to observe and learn and adapt, so it seems reasonable to believe that you will both find your way through this temporary lack of communication. One step forward. Cautiously, and intentionally. Willingly.

    I trust you’ll keep moving forward.

    • First, thank you so much for this amazingly thoughtful response. I have read it several times already in different states of mind and moods to make sure I understand and could properly absorb your meaning without deflecting through my negativity filter.

      I am in a better place this week all around, some emotional turmoil and flashbacks have subsided leaving me able to think and feel as me again.

      I completely agree with what you said about being willing to be vulnerable, that is a huge part of this distance for both of us. We actually had a conversation like that, about trusting each other again, or if we never did we need to try to start.

      I am not numb, far from it. I am overwhelmed. I can’t keep up with the pain from grief and triggers and flashbacks and stuck points. I am facing my past with cpt and actively making changes in my thoughts and behaviors. It feels too much to work on being a couple too right now, when he is the source of so many triggers. He takes it all personally each time I react in fear, and lashes out angrily, leaving me feeling like a misunderstood freak. I am working as quickly as I can to reduce my symptoms and keep asking him to be gentle, show me some understanding and compassion, but he cannot yet. We will keep working. It is exhausting and painful, so yes, many days it seems easier to avoid each other while we lick our wounds alone.

      We actually talk often and it seems like we are close and understand each other, but this connection is fragile. It breaks at the first hurt, the first sign of mistrust. It is our dance. A war dance. For no one comes out of the complex ptsd battles without hurting others too.

  2. courageous retrospection!
    with a few fresh, calm breaths
    it’s possible to change channels
    and curiously find something
    interesting to talk about 🙂

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