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March 06, 2019 / Wednesday Chat with Bill

Bill: Brin: at the risk of prying - I noticed you said, "he should see that I distance myself more when he does this." This is a good example of what happens to all of us who have been wounded. We have a tendency to focus on what others "ought" to be doing, "should" be doing, and “could" do to make things better. Logically, it is correct but they are all statements we have no control over. As a result, we deepen our sense of powerlessness as we focus on situations that ought to be different but never change. Learning to think and act in ways that actually cause real change is one of the most challenging skills to develop.

Brin: Bill, what would you suggest then in this situation? I agree - learning to think/act in ways that can cause change is very challenging - after so many decades.

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March 06, 2019 / Wednesday Chat with Bill

Swan: Hi Bill, Brin is planning to be in chat tonight.

Bill: Hello Swan. Good news. Brin has a great attitude and it is inspiring to see her seeking God's best for her life.

Brin: Hi Bill & Swan. How are you both?

Brin: Bill thanks for your kind words.

Bill: Hello Brin. I am doing well. I have been able to spend time with 2 of my grandkids for the last two days so I am very encouraged at the moment.

Brin: Bill - how nice to be able to spend time with your grandkids. How old are they?

Bill: Brin: Thanks. I really do mean it. You are taking courageous steps to live free and it thrills me to be part of the journey.

Brin: Bill - thank you. I do really want to be free. Did you get my letter to my dad?

Swan: Bill - A topic that came up in chat this week is how children get angry with us when we show tolerance to our spouses. So many of us have had children issue ultimatums regarding their fathers and some have even cut contact with us when we don't comply. I know for me, my daughter got very upset with me, told me that I needed to move on with my life, that her father wasn't worth my concern or love. It really makes it hard when a child does that, it does make sense in a way, they worry that we are being taken advantage of or allowing our spouses to walk all over us, they believe they are trying to help, to protect us, but it does cause strife for all concerned. I am hoping the person that brought the topic up will come tonight as well, she wasn't sure she would be able to make it.

Swan: Hi Brin - I am doing well

Bill: Brin: Yes I did. I will be emailing you tomorrow and setting up our next appointment

Brin: Swan that is a concern. I remember my stepson told me once that I should move on because his dad (my ex-H) got married to OW already!

Bill: Swan: I am going to wait a few minutes to address the topic you brought up to see if the one who asked the question shows up. If not, I will enter that conversation. It should be interesting to see where it goes.

Swan: Bill - thanks, just wanted to give you a heads up on the topic in case they come tonight.

Swan: Brin - your stepson didn't want to see you keep getting hurt by his father, if I remember correctly he maintained a relationship with you even after the divorce for a period of time.

Brin: Swan & Bill, I had a disagreement with my H last night, after I asked him to please not leave silverware in the sink. He countered it with a criticism about me not keeping the kitchen counter clean where I make my breakfast etc. etc. When I ask him to do something a certain way, he usually gets even with me by criticizing me or irritating me with a counter request. I told him I feel like I live in a war zone. It seems that the only way he knows how to respond is with "combat" tactics and he takes my requests as a criticism so he attacks.

Brin: Swan, yes, both my stepsons continued to have a relationship with me which is a blessing. I know he meant well.

Swan: Brin - just wondering if there are periods of non communication between you and your husband before actions that create disagreements occur?

Brin: Swan, Yes, I have not been talking to H much. Mainly to avoid getting into disagreements.

Bill: All: As a prelude to the question about "just moving on," I want to remind all of us that one of the habits of health is focused on responsibility. In short, a healthy person takes on any responsibility that is truly ours with enthusiasm and dedication. At the same time, we choose not to take on responsibility that is not ours, trusting God to either lead the others to address it or protect us from the fallout. Unhealthy families consistently challenge each other to take on responsibility that is not ours while developing a convenient blindness to responsibility that is ours to focus on. To give you an example from my own experience, I have a friend who loves to give advice to everyone he knows and challenge them to "get their act together." At the same time, he is arrogant, underachieves and refuses to spend time with his son any time his son is difficult.

Swan: Brin - People who do not know how to communicate in positive ways or may feel defeated or as if they are giving in if they talk first, will often create a battle to open communication. There is a saying which I have found to be so true in so many people: There is good attention, there is bad attention and people will often accept bad attention over NO attention.

Brin: Swan, I agree with you. I feel so frustrated talking to him about anything so I just clam up unless something he does bothers me enough. And it's possible he "sets up traps" like leaving silverware in the sink to get me to say something which he will then attack.

Bill: Brin: The situation you are describing sounds more like baggage from the past that is being triggered than a discussion about the kitchen. Your H's defensive response doesn't sound to me like a logical evaluation of how you make breakfast. I also suspect the tone with which you asked about the silverware probably had some self-protective ingredients mixed in with the request. This is common behavior for people who have been through emotional trauma in the past. It surfaces in our present relationships because of the intensity of being in love.

Brin: Swan, But then I think it backfires on him because I would then want to avoid him more.

Brin: Bill, what do you mean by self-protective ingredients mixed in with the request? I was upstairs while he was a floor below in the basement with his TV on. I said it then had to repeat it loudly because he said couldn't hear me. That probably didn't help. I guess I should have walked down to where he was to speak my request

Bill: Brin: It is a hard concept to grasp but people who have been wounded in the past attach being hurt with love. They fall in love and think life is going to be magical and joyous because they found someone they adore. It is surprising and agonizing when disappointment, criticism, conflict and anger become part of the relationship but it is actually predictable. The people who loved us the most when we were young also hurt us so it programs our soul to keep love and pain together. Logically, we would never choose this but it gets emotionally programmed into our soul. That is why it takes so much focused effort to unwind it as an adult.

Swan: Brin - it is when others set up traps that our learning how to establish and use boundaries can be helpful. When we "react" to someone else's behavior we in many senses give into the battle. I know for me, it is much easier to get sucked into the battle than to keep my mouth shut, but I am learning that I need to let go of things that others do that irritate me for myself not them, I need to have peace in my life and don't want to give that up for anyone. I have a boss right now that is a bully and a couple times his attacks got to me and I heard myself lipping off, but have been able to stop myself now and the incent is much easier to let go of. When I lip off, I seem to hold onto and play it over and over in my head repeatedly.

Bill: Brin: It is hard to explain from a distance but interpersonal communication is almost completely non-verbal. Studies indicate that 7-10% of the message we communicate in small settings is carried by the words we speak. The rest is carried by our body language and tone of voice. Few of us are aware of the tone in our voice because we focus on our words while the others in the room focus on the non-verbal’s. One of our defenses is to develop a "deaf ear" to our own tone of voice.

Swan: Brin - does it backfire on him or does this give him the higher ground attitude? I am thinking from what you have said, when he can draw you into the battle, he is then able to put all blame onto you and in his own mind free himself from any responsibility.

Brin: Bill, yes, it's hard to get. I do see that non-verbal’s play a big part. And he does go by my facial expressions and tone of voice.

Brin: Swan, He probably thinks he's free from responsibility. At the same time, he should see that I distance myself more when he does this.

Brin: Swan, I agree about keeping my mouth shut. I have been getting better at it. Last night, at the end, I just stopped responding when he said his last sentence/comment and he walked back downstairs to the basement.

Bill: Brin and Swan: Let me give you an example from my own life. My mom was the primary decision-maker in my home growing up but she was very wounded. Her big defense was to create her own view of reality. To give you just a couple of examples, she only eats white food because she has white skin and she told me I should not take a job on Navajo Road because I am not an Indian. Anyway, many of her decisions did not make sense to me. I have a trigger in my soul to this day that gets set off by females who do not make sense to me. I am okay with emotions and with inquisitiveness but if a female starts making conclusions from facts that don't connect I feel a panic rise up inside me and intensely feel I must fix it. Thankfully, Jesus has helped me improve in this area but it is still something I need to be diligently aware of before it takes on a life of its own.

Brin: Bill Thanks for sharing your example. I will have to look for examples in my life.

Swan: Brin - Sadly some people become addicted to chaos and much like a drug giving them a high, they get that same feeling when they relieve themselves of responsibility. I never could understand my mother in law and the chaos she would create. It caused so much strife, she often lost contact with children and grandchild for long periods of time, but when I was talking about some of these events when I was going to therapy, it started to become clear how she got a high from the hell she cast out on the entire family. She would put herself up on a pedestal, requiring family to pick sides and it usually included her taking to bed for days because she was "so" upset by what happened. And often what happened was also created by her.

Bill: Brin: at the risk of prying - I noticed you said, "he should see that I distance myself more when he does this." This is a good example of what happens to all of us who have been wounded. We have a tendency to focus on what others "ought" to be doing, "should" be doing, and “could" do to make things better. Logically, it is correct but they are all statements we have no control over. As a result, we deepen our sense of powerlessness as we focus on situations that ought to be different but never change. Learning to think and act in ways that actually cause real change is one of the most challenging skills to develop.

Brin: Swan That makes sense. Sometimes, I think my H likes arguments. Last week, I made a request to him and he turned it into "you only have negative things to say. You are like my father and your mother". That was hurtful, and I misheard thinking he said my father and my mother. He'd never met my father of course. Later, when I brought it up, he said he said "his father". But this statement had nothing to do with my request.

Brin: Bill, what would you suggest then in this situation? I agree - learning to think/act in ways that can cause change is very challenging - after so many decades.

Bill: Brin: this is what we will be working on. I will explain it in more detail on our next phone appointment.

Brin: Bill sounds good.

Brin: Swan, Bill, Tomorrow night, I will be reading my testimony at my weekly Celebrate Recovery meeting. Hopefully, next time I share my testimony, I will have healed more ;)

Swan: Brin - "his father" may be a big key into a lot of his behavior. I personally never felt that I was anything like my mother in law, other siblings and people who knew her agreed, but my husband would often accuse me of being just like his mother when he wanted to "fight" communicate. So often we reflect the actions of others in our past onto to people currently in our lives when we are still living unhealthy, especially when we have not dealt with the scars created by those people onto us.

Swan: brin - good, that is a safe place to share.

Bill: All: Now for my thoughts on family and friends who get upset with us for "not moving on." There is a lot going on in these statements. First, the fact they are saying this means we are the safe people in their lives. They feel the stress and don't know what to do about it so they vent to whoever will listen. They haven't really thought through all the implications and don't realize that these type of relationships never end, they just get redefined. Kids and grandkids keep us connected for life so we have to have a way of working with it rather than just "moving on." Even harder is what often happens when we take their advice. Their suggestions are well-meaning but are often simplistic compared to the situation. When their advice is heeded and then doesn't work out the way they expected it, they feel guilty and awkward around everyone. I can't tell you how many times I have heard young people tell their parents to just get divorced rather than fight all the time, only to feel responsible for the breakup of the family after it happens. Our goal ought to be - let them have their say but follow God's lead in making decisions.

Bill: Brin: that is awesome you will be sharing your testimony. Every step counts and who knows what God will do with your words!

Brin: Swan, you hit it on the nail! He has deep wounds from his father who physically abused him badly. Until he heals from that and forgives his dad, he will continue to hurt the people close to him. He doesn't want to talk to his dad. He has deep resentment towards his dad.

Brin: Thank you Bill!

Bill: Brin: Your insight into your H is amazing. Pray for wisdom to see how your pain dovetails with his to keep both of you stirred up. As you change your responses, it will have a positive impact on his.

Brin: Bill Thanks. Will work on praying for wisdom.

Bill: Brin: Following up - I believe you have addressed the "obvious" responses in your life and God is now working on the subtle, more hidden hurts.

Swan: Bill - I had to sit down with my kids and ask them to please let me live my life as I choose, that I appreciate their love and concern, that I accept they believe I am making huge mistakes, but they are mine to make and I promised that I would not "come crying to them". I respected many things in their lives that I didn't agree with and ask that they now do the same for me. It took us time, but we finally came to a place of mutual respect and they don't give me the move on speech anymore. I guess I also proved that I wasn't self destructive in my stand, I don't talk about my husband constantly, I don't ask them about him, I don't dwell on what he is or isn't doing, I am simply living my life forward and one day should my husband catch up to me, then we will go from there, but until then I just live my life daily.

Brin: Bill - I see. I am scratching my head over what these subtle hurts are.

Brin: Swan, It's wonderful that you and your kids have come to this understanding, and that you are able to live your life day by day in a healthy way.

Swan: Brin - Take it from someone who has been there, we don't have to talk to our abuser in order to forgive them, sometimes letting go of an abusive relationship is healthy for both, but the resentment does need to be released.

Bill: Swan: I am so glad you are a part of this chat experience. You have garnered so much wisdom and you present with graceful conviction. Congrats on being able to redefine your interaction with your kids.

Brin: Bill, I agree about not needing to talk with the abuser and forgiveness and releasing resentment are key.

Swan: Bill - thanks, it was and can still be a hard path, but this site and the people here have helped me grow so much

Bill: Brin: God has wired us in such a way that we protect ourselves until we are ready to process the next step of growth. I am confident these "subtle" hurts will become clear soon and you will be amazed at the strength God will give you to overcome them.

Brin: Bill, Swan, I should get going. Thanks for being here and listening to me and sharing!

Brin: Thanks Bill. I am looking forward to all the healing I need!!!

Bill: Brin and Swan: Good night. Thanks for exploring important areas of growth. See you next week.

Swan: Brin - me as well, have a great week. I continue to keep you in prayer; one day at a time is all we can do.

Brin: Good night all and have a great rest of the week.

Brin: Thanks Swan. Will pray for you too!

Bill: Brin: at the risk of prying - I noticed you said, "he should see that I distance myself more when he does this." This is a good example of what happens to all of us who have been wounded. We have a tendency to focus on what others "ought" to be doing, "should" be doing, and “could" do to make things better. Logically, it is correct but they are all statements we have no control over. As a result, we deepen our sense of powerlessness as we focus on situations that ought to be different but never change. Learning to think and act in ways that actually cause real change is one of the most challenging skills to develop.

Brin: Bill, what would you suggest then in this situation? I agree - learning to think/act in ways that can cause change is very challenging - after so many decades.

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