Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A Moment of Clarity

In this article Debbie Baisden writes about losing her husband.  Sadly, she had an epiphany that maybe she did not treat him as well as she should have.  Maybe she was a "butthole".

I found this article interesting because I have struggled with coming to terms with whether Sybil has a Cluster B personality disorder or simply being a butthole.  Is it possible that she really isn't defective, but just a person that likes to dish-out criticism?  I have thought about that possibility for some time.  I have to come to the conclusion that Sybil is on the Cluster B (NPD) spectrum.  She may not be a full blown narcissist, but she has many traits.

What is the difference?  I do not think a butthole wife would rage at her husband, emotionally manipulate him, and/or say hurtful things.  How can someone profess to love someone, yet say and do things that have been documented here?  A butthole wife would probably nag and complain about small things (why is leaving dirty socks on the floor a running refrain?).  However, I am not an expert on the matter.  I have never seen a non-dysfunctional marriage.  My parents' marriage was filled with arguments with mother raging at whomever was in close proximity.  I moved six hours away.  My own marriage is dysfunctional, as I have documented here.

The butthole wife is the wife that feels that whatever is bothering her at the time must be shared with whomever is nearby.  Since the husband is the one that is the closest, he must bear the brunt of her criticism.  However, the PD wife still dishes out the criticism, but it is not laced with love and respect.  For the PD, it is snark or rage or verbal abuse.  The butthole wife looks at the socks on the floor as, "he is making a mess and expects me to clean it."  This creates irritation.  The PD wife looks at the same socks and things, "he is making a mess, he must not love me, this fills me with anxiety, so I must rage at him to get even."  The PD takes it personally.  Those stupid socks on the floor are proof that he/she does not love me.  There is irritation but the overwhelming feeling is anxiety and fear.  The PD lives in a world of fear: fear of being discarded, fear of being ignored and marginalized, and the fear of not being THERE.

I will take a butthole wife any day over a PD wife.  For instance, Sybil has been acting really well for the last week or so.  This has my alarm bells ringing.  My cPTSD is off the charts.  I have lived through this before with moments of a kind, loving spouse with long stretches of rage and manipulation.  I think that is the fundamental difference.  While a butthole wife can be irritating as they get worked up over small, inconsequential things, she can move on and shake it off.  It does not color her overall treatment of her husband.  The PD wife must punish the husband for his transgressions.  He must feel the same pain that she feels.  If he does not, then he will be punished until he does.  He must feel unloved just as she does.

Anyway, this period of relative peace is leaving me unsettled.  Oddly, I feel more angst over this than the normal raging, manipulation, jabs, etc.  After all of this time, I know this is just an act.  Those metaphorical socks will make Sybil just know that I do not love her, and she will be triggered.  There is no respite: raging creates anxiety and peace creates anxiety.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Documenting More Vomitous

Here's the loving text Sybil sent me this morning:

Now, what egregious act did I do to warrant this loving text?  Well, I did not follow her wishes immediately.  It seems that, per Facebook, many hotels reservations in our area are being cancelled due to hurricane Florence.  My parents are supposed to come visit for Daughter's event.  Sybil has been like a "dog with a bone" about letting my parents know what the weather situation is in our area.  We are not in a direct line, and we are hundreds of miles away.  We are not even in the Carolinas.  I've been monitoring the weather situation and noticed that things are not supposed to happen here until my parents have already left the area.  Since I did not immediately send an email laying out our (her?) concerns, Sybil feels that I don't take her concerns seriously.

Now, I understand what Sybil is saying, but she spends way too much time on Facebook.  We have weather apps to check weather.  I know that weather forecasting is an inexact science, but it isn't without merit.  I think it is more secure than posts on Facebook from people that we do not even know.

I am able to look at the weather forecast and ascertain what is going to happen in our area.  I can look at the storm track and get an idea about how things will play out in our area.  Yes, it is an assumption, but it is a valid, logic assumption.  Sadly, Facebook posts and Sybil's feelings on the matter mean more.  I never said I would not email my parents about the weather (I, actually, agreed); it just is not a high priority.  I have many other things weighing on my mind than a few comments on Facebook.

Sigh. This morning's mini argument really isn't about some email to my parents.  Sybil needs attention and didn't feel like she was getting it.  Like a child that throws a tantrum, she has to have that supply.  I struggled to maintain Medium Chill.  I let her vomit forth her comments.  She twisted mine.  I realized this is circular and a tempest in a teapot.  I just made a script and stuck to it.  As we can see from the text above, Sybil was left unsatisfied with our conversation.  She felt compelled to fire off the last word.

I just want off this crazy train.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Running on Fumes




From Infogalactic:
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target's belief.[1][2]
Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film. It has been used in clinical and research literature.[3][4]
One of the things that have happened as I continue my journey out of the FOG is the realization of how I was manipulated and made to feel like a terrible person.  For years Sybil used a steady, relentless stream of manipulation to wear me down.  While I always knew that something didn't jive (hence the genesis of this blog), I could never put my finger on it.  Sybil was telling me how selfish I am; how inconsiderate I am; and how I didn't care about her.  In the beginning, I did not believe it.  How could that be true, I wondered.  I did everything I could: tried to be cognizant of her feelings, tried to take care of her needs, tried to help out at home, and did at least my fair share of raising the kids.  This was never enough.  I kept hearing, "More! More!"  A steady, constant stream of it made me question, "Am I doing enough?"

I was so deep into the FOG and so deeply gaslighted that I could not see what was before me.  I could not see the root problem.  What I have come to realize is that Sybil has worn be down and worn me out.  I have come to realize that I could never do enough.  Some people are inherently unhappy and will never be happy.  Instead of figuring out what needs to be done to be happy, these people would rather make everyone else unhappy.  Their currency is misery, since they are miserable.

It took me too long to see this.  I have heard it before and knew it.  Gaslighting made me unable to see that I was living it.  While I knew something was "off" with Sybil, I always thought I was root cause.  Over these last few months, now I know the problem is not her.  It is shameful how I let events determine me.  While I fought against it, I do not believe anyone can withstand it given enough time.  I do not know if it is a PD trait, but I know that it was unrelenting.

Now I feel very used and kind of discarded.  Sybil demands attention/affection, yet I get none; Sybil demands that I listen attentively and remember every detail, yet she does not pay attention to me; Sybil demands that I help out with kids, yet she is content to look at her phone while I do the work.  It was insidious.  I was totally unaware of the manipulation and using me for her own gains.  Now, I am constantly questioning any request.  Is it really something that is needed to do, or is it a way for Sybil to manipulate and control.  Sadly, many times it is the latter.

The constant jabs of criticism with no positive reinforcement has emptied my tank of caring.  As for love...I'm kind of running on empty.

UPDATE-

Last night had a another session with Sybil.  I just can't seem to stop JADEing.  It seems that "I just know that THIS time I'll get through."  Anyway, he bone of contention is that I don't "woo" her anymore; I don't act like a love struck boy chasing the girl.  Her biggest is that I don't try to talk to her and be open with her.  I explained that I understand where she is coming from, I know the pain she is experiencing, but I explained that how can I climb the walls or cross the chasm she has put in place.  Literal walls.  She has a pillow placed between us.  When I point out these facts, I get either silence (actual silence), or I get an over-the-top emotional response about I am not listening, I only care about myself, etc.  I explain that I care about us, but how can I "woo" someone that is either cold (I said a block of ice) or raging at me.  She never gives a compliment or says something nice to me.  I point out recent times I have.  Not enough! I must "woo" her and ignore all of the abuse and manipulation.  Narcissism is ugly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Visit With Sybil's Family

I am finally writing my Field Report of our visit to Sybil's family.  It has taken me awhile as other things getting in the way.  I could document Sybil and my latest blow-up, but I need to get this out.

We survived the visit to my in-laws.  We spent a lot of money on the trip because airfare from our smallish city to their large city is expensive, and there are six of us going.  While other members of our family have visited, I had not visited in about ten years.  I have to say that it was the most stressful visit I have ever had.

The last night we were there Sybil and sister got into a major argument.  Sybil's parents are in a tough spot: they are basically shut-ins as they take care of their ailing, handicapped child (Sybil's oldest sibling).  Lately, there has been major tension between Sybil's parents, which necessitated Sybil's sister driving to them at 3:00 in the morning.  When Sybil learned the length and breadth of the issue, she offered her help.  The sister fired back at her not to get involved.  Apparently, there was simmering resentment from her sister because the sister looked at that as Sybil making the issue about herself rather than the family crisis.  The sister pointed out how can Sybil drop everything (caring for a four year old, helping me run our business) go 800 miles away; it was not realistic.  The sister was "spot on".  When this transpired, Sybil was more than a little put out that she was the last to know and that she felt dismissed (a major no-no). Sybil denied ever being, at least, mildly irritated about not being in the loop.  That left me reeling: had I made up the whole thing, or was Sybil that much in denial about how she acts?  I turned to Son#1 for confirmation.  I asked if he thought Sybil was upset, and he seemed to recall that she was.  Anyway, the sister was yelling at Sybil...kind of giving Sybil a taste of her own medicine.

Now I know where Sybil gets her anger.  The mother and the older sister are crazy.  They have major anger issues.  They will take a minor issue and make it into something that leaves wounds.  Sybil acts the same way.  Ironically, none of them see the damage that their behavior does.  The mother does not see that raging about a few baby food jars being thrown away does not build love but destroys it.  By the way, having visited their house several times, I can tell you it is a wonder that she missed it.  They have clutter everywhere.  I'm sure the father was trying to clear just a small area of clutter.  Throwing away used, old baby jars is not some overt act that necessitates rage.  When I say rage, I mean throwing water onto the father, leaving the house with no word as to where she is going, lashing out enough that the father has to call his kids for help.  These people are elderly.  Yet, the mother feels totally justified in raging at the father because he did not communicate about baby food jars!  Naturally, they put on their best face for us.  That was nice, but knowing the back story made me feel a little uncomfortable.

The sister's rant the last night she was there was over the top.  While I admit to a little schadenfreude, waiting until the last night was an ambush and unfair to Sybil.  The sister, literally, waited until she about to leave, thus leaving no time for reconciliation.  Sadly, there will be an undercurrent of anger and resentment.  Per Son#2 who was in another room with the sister's teenage son, the sister acts this way often.

To sum up, all of the women in this family are crazy.  Literally.  What does this portend for me?  More of the same.  Sadly, Sybil admits that she is like her mother and expects for things to worsen, yet REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!  That is what is galling.  To be self-aware enough to see what lies in the future, but not caring enough for those you, supposedly, love to at least try to change.  I do not want to be like Sybil's father: an elderly man trying to live through the crazy.  However, that is corner in which I have painted myself.  I took divorce off of the table.  I make myself live through this because of some crazy sense of obligation.  If I end up like my elderly father-in-law, I will have no one to blame but myself.  Maybe I am the crazy one?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Documenting Another Sybil Episode

I am working on the Field Report of visiting Sybil's family, but that will have to wait.  I am compelled, instead, to write of the our latest episode (which is still going on after two days).

On Tuesday, we had a dinner meeting scheduled.  First of all, Sybil really does not need to go to these dinner meetings, but for years she has inserted herself in them.  Usually, I do not mind and, more often than not, I enjoy her company.  Anyway, so we have this meeting.  For circumstances beyond my control, Sybil had to stay home to watch Son#3 while I go work in our business all day.  That's fine...no biggee.  I come home to collect Sybil to go to this meeting only to find that she and Son#3 are going.  Also, Daughter (who has been at her job all day) and Son#1 (who, literally, just got home from work) are coming, too.  Now, remember this is a meeting that Sybil doesn't really have to attend.  Suddenly, all (Son#2 is away) are going to this meeting with two of the kids tired from work.  Why?  Well, Sybil has a hard time telling Son#3 "no".  He was determined to not be away from Mommy.  Instead of saying "no", she tried to negotiate with him by having his older siblings take him to another restaurant.  As he was winding up to pitch a fit, I remarked that maybe taking him is not really a good idea (business meeting, remember?).  To which she tells me it will be fine.  Son#3 is four years old.  That is the time they will start pushing against boundaries.  In my mind, this is a good place to have a boundary.  I am out-voted.

We go to the meeting.  We have a good meal and it was a good meeting.  The kids sat elsewhere in the restaurant, so Son#3 really did not have to come, see?  The kids left in a different car as the meeting was not over.

On the way home, I remarked that we should thank our older kids for doing that.  I stated that it was not a lot of fun for them, especially since they had just come home from work.  Sybil thought for a moment and asked if I meant that she was why.  Recognizing the trap, stated well, yes, maybe.  I stated that I felt that it was not a good idea to take a four year old to this meeting.  Sybil blew up.  She started yelling at me.  As we are in the car, there was no escape.  I held that she should have told Son#3 "no", and that it is ok for him to hear that word.  Her ranting went up a notch.  I mean didn't I see that she tried because she was trying to have her older kids take him to a different restaurant?  To which I stated that I said  that it was not a good idea to take him to this meeting, and NO ONE told me anything about a different restaurant.  Naturally, Sybil said I never said anything about not taking him.  Her rantings continued.  I instituted Medium Chill.  Held my tongue.  At the end she misquoted me, and I corrected her.  The conversation ended with her yelling in my face that I am a "Liar" and repeating the word "Liar" as she stormed off (we were at the office to do a couple of things).  Eventually, she calmed herself down enough so that we could get into the car and go home.  Not a word was said.

That was two days ago.  We have barely spoken since.  I am done with the abuse.  I, simply, will not tolerate it anymore.  After witnessing what I saw at her parents' house, it may be natural to her to spew forth venom, but I will not tolerate it. Enough!

It will be interesting to see how this weekend's activities go.  My parents are coming to town.  Also, my father's sister and her crew are coming over for a get together.  We are planning the food and stuff.  It should be pretty chill and fun.  Naturally, Sybil's last words to me this morning is that she will not attend this weekend's festivities.  I guess manipulation is still on the table?  The words I left her with were, "Ok, that is your decision."

--UPDATE--

Sybil did attend the event.  However, she made the kids and my parents feel uncomfortable beforehand.  To the point that my mother asked about it.  I did not lie, and I gave her the facts of the matter. The day before, she barely interacted with the family.  I am pretty sure that it was the intervention of Daughter that made her go to the main event.  I had already written her off.  Naturally, last night we had an argument until about 2:00 AM.  I'm operating on few hours of sleep.  Sadly, all that I ask is that she just say that I have a point; that I have something to say.  Nope.  Instead, all I get is Defend, Attach, Reverse Victim and Offender (DARVO).  Even after all of this time, I still have hope.  Crazy.  I am need of serious help.

--UPDATE--

Still going.  Sybil is the Energizer Bunny of resentment.  For the past several nights, she places a large pillow (the kind with armrests, so one can sit up in bed) between.  I guess is going to "build that wall".  At this point I do not care.  I will either remove the pillow or shove it aside, if it takes up over half of the bed.  Thank goodness our bed is King Size.  I guess I'm being stubborn, too.  As I see it, I did nothing to garner this treatment; therefore, I have nothing to feel contrite or shame over.  My punishment continues...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Does Craziness Run in Families

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
William Shakespeare

The whole nature versus nurture thing recently to mind. I've documented Sybil's issues here kind of ad nauseum. This blog is kind of a place for me to vomit up my frustrations of dealing with an irrational person that the only reality is her feelings. Learning to separate and wall-off my feelings/emotions in dealing with her is my life's work. It seems that this may be a learned behavior or possibly genetic. Two incidents have come to the fore:

Incident 1: Father-in-law was cleaning the garage and came upon some old baby bottles that mother-in-law was saving. They were from Sybil's brother's kids. Anyway, father-in-law thew them away without asking mother-in-law. Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do. Mother-in-law "punished" him for days. She stormed out of the house and walked off to parts unknown, she threw water on him, she totally went berserk. One would have thought he had thrown away priceless heirlooms not old bottles. Sybil states that the can understand why mother-in-law feels that way. Her dad did not ask first which makes her mother feel unloved. It isn't the bottles per se; it's the lack of taking into account the other person's feelings.

Incident 2: We are planning a big visit to Sybil's parents' house soon.  Sybil sent a text to her sister indicating that it would be nice to see her siblings.  Her sister replied with a nasty text basically calling out Sybil on expecting too much from her siblings.  The tone and wording were drama inducing.

Are personality disorders (PDs) genetic or learned?  Personally, I lean towards learned.  I believe Sybil learned and repeated many of the same techniques that her mother and sister use: over the top reactions to innocuous situations, lack of empathy on how their responses affect others, uncaring on how their emotional outbursts affect others, total lack of responsibility of "keeping their side of the road clean", etc.  I think that no one held the mother accountable for how she treated others.  Therefore, Sybil and sister learned that this treatment of others is justified.  It explains why Sybil is always surprised that I react angrily to her bullshit.  After all, Sybil is just trying to have a conversation.

If PDs are genetic, I do not think that Sybil and her sister (also sister's daughter) would have signs of it.  Genetic diseases tend to skip a generation or not affect everyone in the family.  Also, for it to affect the women of the family is really rare.  Therefore, I posit that PDs are learned.  Interestingly, co-dependents are the other side of the coin.  Co-dependents are created by PDs, and PDs are created by other PDs.  Also, our daughter does not exhibit too much PD behavior.  I think that maybe our past fighting and my standing up to her may have ameliorated that.  The sister's daughter exhibits PD traits, so maybe the husband did not stand up to her as much.  I have no way to know, since I do not live with her.

Interesting case study.  More thoughts to come.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nearing an Existential Crisis

"Do you want to become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?"


As I approach the magical age of 50, I look back and would like to just kick my ass. I have reached the age where I'm looking backwards more than I'm looking forwards.  So many decisions led to me to this point in my life.  There were opportunities for a deep, loving relationship that I pissed away for one reason or another.  I am left with my time with Sybil which seems to have been marked by constant strife with intermittent moments of happiness.  When things are going well, she seems to find a way to ruin it.  Naturally, it is never her fault.  
My approaching existential crisis is: why continue?  I'm not depressed or anything.  I'm just tired.  I'm tired of Sybil's petty arguments; I'm tired of her constant negativity to me; I'm tired of her constant criticism with nothing positive to add. Let's face it...I'm tired.  I need to create some space between us or I'm going to go insane. In some way, that is why I started this blog so many years ago.  I felt prompted to poor out by problems and document them.  Now, I feel that I am coming to hate her; I am coming to hate myself for staying.
Ultimately, this situation is all mine.  While I can blame Sybil for her issues (probable narcissistic personality disorder?), I am the one with a strong sense of obligation (co-dependence?).  I am the one that stayed.  I subconsciously knew there was something off about her a long time ago.  (Side note: when we fairly newly married, our oldest was only a few month old.  I had an aquarium with fish that I had previous to our marriage.  Sybil got it in her head that the fish would make the baby sick, and we needed to get rid of the fish.  I knew there were no-fish-to-human diseases and did not think too much of it.  One day I came home to find my fish gone and my aquarium half empty.)  I knew then something was wrong with her. I passed it off as some sort of cultural thing.  I really thought it was no big deal.  I convinced myself to stay because we had a child, then another child, and then another one.  Ironically, I was the very early stages of preparing myself to leave, and my strong sense of obligation worked against me when we had our fourth child.

Therefore, I really have no one to blame for this continual hell that is our marriage.  We have strife punctuated my moments of happiness.  Anyway, I am working on myself to get through the darkness.  I am working to create a firewall for my heart to keep her out.  Sadness grips me as I type this.  She is my wife; I am not supposed to feel this way.  Alas, I do not plan on leaving.  If she left, I would not be heart broken.