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    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

No strength left

R

RockKitten

New member
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
2
Hello (and apologies from the start for the huge length of this post, which in fact has had to be split into 2 parts),

I come to this forum looking for some support in a difficult situation. I am a young professional, married for 3 years. My husband and I have been together for 9 years in total now, having met at University. He has never been an easy person to deal with, having a heap of issues from childhood, mostly revolving around his parents’ divorce when he was in his early teens, as well as issues with his father/father figures in general. All this has resulted in a lot of anger on his part, a lot of mistrust and suspicion of people and problems with self-assertion.

Three months ago, something started to take place which really upset me and finally prompted visits to a couples’ counsellor. What happened was that, one night when I was sleeping in bed with my husband, I turned over in my sleep and bumped him on the hip. This prompted him to ask me what was wrong, to which I replied that nothing was and I was sorry to bump him, that it had been an accident. Starting from that moment, I was immersed in a fortnight of utter hell. Every single night, my husband would wake me up from sleep and demand to know what was wrong. This would happen several times a night, he would say things like “What is wrong?” and “Why are you doing this”? He would get extremely angry and verbally aggressive, telling me to “grow up”, to “just stop it”. Several times he left the bedroom in a flurry and slept downstairs on the sofa or in the other bedroom. When, after several nights, he finally conceded to discussing with me what was going on (“You KNOW what’s going on!”), it transpired that he was under the impression that I was lying awake every night, waiting for him to fall asleep. A soon as I thought he had fallen asleep, I would do something to wake him up, albeit shifting position, breathing loudly or bumping him. Then he would wake up and, as far as he was aware, the cycle would repeat. That is why he had been asking me what was wrong, why I was continuously waking him up. Needless to say, this shocked me to my core, as the idea of me doing something like seemed to me utterly crazy. My own husband was convinced that I was so intent on undermining him and getting to him, that he was sure I was going to such incredible lengths to achieve it.

Any assurances from me that I had been fully asleep and not aware of any of this happening, never mind not having been lying awake just to have a chance of maliciously waking him, were to no avail. He would get angry every time I would tell him this and demonstrate complete contempt for my sworn ignorance of the situation. He would shout at me, telling me to stop lying. By the end of the fortnight of almost daily (nightly) accusations, discussions and tears, I was a complete emotional wreck. My husband kept telling me that, even if I was engaged in these malicious activities against him unconsciously (which he did not believe), that there must be an underlying reason, a deep desire to “exert power over him”.

As an aside, I should mention that issues of control and power have always been a sore point in our relationship. I am quite a forward and direct person and can be fairly domineering, a character trait which has been nurtured in me by the environment of my parental home, as well as (probably) my competitive job. I had never viewed it as a problem and indeed none of my friends or previous partners have had issues with anything like this. Despite these traits, I hasten to add, I am very quick to let others take the lead, should they show desire and ability to do so. I am a very organised individual and my brain is wired to always try to plan things out and think things through in advance. My husband has said that he finds it frustrating when, faced with a decision, I always seem to be the one making it and have my arguments for the cause well-constructed. Even if his opinion is the same as mine (as admittedly it often is), he becomes frustrated that in effect it is I that has “made the decision” (usually because I have forseen it and have been thinking about it for a while!), apparently leaving him in the lurch. Being aware of this, have tried very hard to include him in my thought processes, to encourage discussion of issues together and to present my views as views for consideration only, rather than being a “decision”. This works sometimes, however it is not possible to do for every single life situation, whereas my husband’s perception seems attuned to pick up on any instances of “bossiness” on my part. Furthermore, I am much quicker to think on my feet compared to him, whereas his strengths are in logical step-by-step thought and long, thorough research and planning of an issue. Therefore in a situation requiring a quick decision, he often feels swamped and overwhelmed, whereas I tend to relatively thrive. This gives rise to more aggravation for him, with him feeling, in his own words, emasculated.

To come back to the main issue, the night-time “adventures” settled spontaneously, I am not sure for what reason. My husband says that he thought that I had “stopped doing it”. I could not relax, though – every night the ghost of worry and the fear of being woken up by an angry, accusing face haunted me. We started work with a couples’ councillor, therapy being something that my husband had engaged in previously on a number of occasions over the years, whereas I had an aversion to it, for the usual lay reasons (“only psychos go to therapists, they are all crackpots and quacks” etc). Perhaps unsurprisingly on further introspection, I actually really enjoyed the sessions and found it a relief to be able to discuss what was happening with someone, which I had not been able to do previously. To my relief also, the therapist thought that I was not a crackpot (hooray, my neurotic ego said, for I had already blamed myself for all the evils, if only to feel a sense of control of the situation). The therapist thought that my husband had trust issues and had started discussions with us as to how we could address these together.

Two months later, everything started again. First, my husband took the line of asking me to wake him up whenever he was breathing loudly or doing anything else to upset MY sleep. I did say to him that I rarely actually fully woke up in the night and had not been aware of him doing anything to wake me (apart from the times he did it to accuse me!). Nevertheless I tried to look at things positively and, being my usual female neurotic self, thought that maybe perhaps I was compromising him somehow at night and that everything was my fault in the end after all. I diligently tried to tell him, if I ever did happen to wake up at night, if he was breathing loudly (he does not snore). I only did this once and he seemed happy enough. A few nights later, I was awoken again with him, almost smoking with rage, staring down at me on the bed and demanding to know why I was “doing it” again. He screamed at me to “fucking grow up”. I had no words, I had no feelings left. I felt like I simply couldn’t carry on, like my life had just drained out of me. My husband proceeded to shout that it was my turn to leave, that he had enough of sleeping on the sofa when it was “my fault in the first place”. I stared at him from bed, silently, getting quite scared at this point. He then grabbed be and physically threw me out of the room, slamming the door after me and throwing my books from the bedside table at the door after me.

I went downstairs and lay on the sofa, terrified of moving, lest he should think that I was trying to wake him up by making noise downstairs. After a half hour, he came down, extremely sorry and apologetic, saying that he should never have behaved in this was. He said that he reminded himself of his father, who used to get furious like this at him. He brought down a mattress and slept downstairs next to me, because I refused to go back upstairs to bed (I was too scared and emotionally wrecked to face it). We took up this incident at our last session with the counsellor (unfortunately due to external circumstances we have stopped these sessions now). It transpired that my husband still thought that I was doing this and doing I maliciously, just to show him that I “had control over him”. He conceded to the therapist that this belief was entirely irrational that such behaviour did not fit my character and sounded really quite crazy, however he still maintained his belief in it. The therapist said that he thought my husband was trying to unconsciously create a self-fulfilling prophecy of me leaving him, which he is apparently unconsciously afraid of (funny that, considering that I have always been the one to “cling” to him despite all, to encourage us to work things out etc, whereas he has, several times, tried to push me away or leave. This has always happened in anger and always over fabricated “evidence” against me). Apparently, all this has to do with his feelings or rejection and abandonment as a child, when his father left the marriage. The therapist ended by saying that he thought that my husband had a lot of issues to resolve and that he should start by going to individual therapy sessions for a while, perhaps for a year or so and possibly bring me into them if needed later on.
 
R

RockKitten

New member
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
2
No strength left 2

It has now been two weeks since that day and we have not slept in the same bed (we usually only see each other at weekends anyway, as he lives in a different city, which is too far to commute to from our home). We have not slept in the same bed because I have been too terrified of going through the same thing again. I cannot stop thinking of it and I cry about it on occasion, because I feel so powerless and helpless. The therapist said that I had stuck it out through so much with him and had such patience to support him all the way, he said that I was the strong one, with the help of whom my husband could find his feet and work things out. He said that we were a great couple at the bottom of it and committed to each other and that this thing was temporary and with continued effort from both of us and mutual support, we would work everything out. Well, I certainly do not feel strong at the moment. There have been so many other instances over the years, from small daily hurts to major upsets, all revolving around my husband thinking that I am trying to wrong him, while all I have been trying to do it adapt myself to be as accommodating as I can, as gentle as I can, as understanding and patient as I can – to no apparent avail. In my husband’s conscious mind, he loves me and understands that all this is crazy. In his unconscious, I seem to be the root of all evil.

As a final thought, I just want to say that my husband is actually a really great guy. When not stressed out or angry (about 40% of the time), he is fun to be with, caring, very considerate and loving. We have a great love life. But living with him is like living with the hulk, and a hulk who takes things out on his partner at that. Not to be too self-important, I have to concede that his issues extend far beyond me, to encompass his family and his work colleagues. I think that it is just that I am the closest and the most “available” person and therefore often bear the brunt of his suspicion and discontent.

I do not know what I am trying to gain by posting this enormous essay here, perhaps I am just looking for a catarrhic process for myself, perhaps preparing a handy little summary to hand in to our next therapist, for I somehow do not doubt that we will see other specialists in the future as a couple (my husband maintains that I have a problem, which is causing me to behave in a malicious way towards him and that I need to address it). Perhaps more than that, I am trying to once again make sense of it all, as our geographical circumstances are changing and we are actually moving house to a place where we can live together permanently. And the prospect terrifies me. I should be happy, looking forward to spending all this time with my loved one and on the one hand, I am. On the other, however, the hulk looms large in my mind and I do not know if I will be able to face him and how to find the strength to do so.
 
L

lambchop

Member
Joined
May 26, 2010
Messages
9
hi

It must have been very hard but also in some ways satisfying to write down the turmoil that's been happening recently in your life. It can be very helpful to consciously write down your thoughts and put them in order, organise them and then see them back.

I have to say that, upon reading your story, it sounds like your partner does have some deep problems but it sounds more than that.

I'm no professional - I'm a carer of of my mum who has mental health problems and I am hesitant to suggest this but do you consider there's a chance that your husband has the same? In which case, he or you would need to see his GP to discuss his behaviour and get a professional opinion. I just don't think counselling is enough because the behaviour he has exhibited is very irrational.

I may be talking nonsense and you might completely disagree but, in any case, I hope that your husband will seek help and be helped by this and I truly hope you get your husband back.

Good luck.
 
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