Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fun with Therapy!

Did I get your attention?

Ok, great! My goal has been achieved. Isn't therapy always fun anyway? It not like they hand out "bullshit bingo" cards at the door (just to allow for some fun therapy action), but there is always a ton of enlightenment.

So, tonight my hubby and I attended couples counseling and I must say.... I've learned a lot about myself and it's not pretty but it is ME.

It's funny because this therapy thing has evolved over the last year into this. Originally we began attending therapy because we found out that my dad in law was dying and we felt it would be beneficial to have my son start getting therapy for this major life changing event; then when he passed away, we went through grief counseling (all of us). During this, I realized I could really use some parenting direction, so we started that.... My best friend (husband) was still attending grief counseling and started dealing with some issues that he has brought forward from childhood into adulthood and finally, our marriage. The issues surround "failure" and "confrontation".

This is where I come in.

We have a wonderful marriage; this man is my life. He is my best friend, my soul mate.... my one and only. He is everything and I adore him. Our only issue is communication regarding financial issues. We communicate wonderfully everywhere else, but here.... we lack.

My husband - for several years now - has maintained the bills, and budget for us. This has been due to my own anxiety over our financial status. The last year though, this has been just too much for one person. With the grief experienced over the loss of his father, work, raising a son, and all the other aspects of life.... it just became overwhelming. And, due to my anxiety about bills, and money... he had nowhere to turn.

What I've learned about my adorable sweet love, is that he doesn't ever want to say no to us (me or the kid). He wants us to have everything, and anything we want - even if we can't afford it. He "feels" like he's a failure if he can't get us whatever we want. He "feels" like he's letting us down and not giving us what we deserve. So, you can just imagine what happens next. Bills get out of control. I get angry and say REALLY mean things. Oh, and did I mention that hubby doesn't do well with confrontation? He shuts down. So, I get angry and yell... he shuts down and then just doesn't tell me when things are starting to snowball. Oh gosh, then.... more yelling. And this yelling? It's all coming from me. It's not productive or pretty. It makes him feel more of a failure, and then.... we just get more of the same.

So, tonight... the therapist asked a simple question. "Do you remember when you started to get anxious about bills and money"? And, my reaction... tears! OUT OF NOWHERE! And I don't even know why (at the time). My husband and I start addressing when we remember a change and miraculously, it's the same exact point in time. Right before we got married, I got really sick and was diagnosed with a lung disease; Sarcoidosis. I couldn't work and had to go out of state to a special lung hospital. Our bills just snowballed out of control and my Dad paid my debt (all of it). Now, here's the deal.... he said he would pay everything but he wanted me to send all my cards and bills to him so he could verify they were paid, then cut all the cards. I remember feeling like I was just this little kid, and couldn't be trusted. The therapist said it was "with strings" and I never really thought of it like that until tonight. It was control. He had to be in control.... even at 26 yrs old, he had control of my life again. It was a wonderful thing for my Dad to do, and I've always loved that he has helped me whenever I've needed him. I think that it's his way.... he has to "fix" things, and I can appreciate that. BUT, I was an adult and just needed a little help without any "strings". The therapist asked me what if I had told him no; I wouldn't send him the cards. What would the reaction have been? And honestly, I don't know. I don't tell him no. I don't know how to set boundaries with my Dad. He doesn't allow boundaries. My Dad calls me every week and I love that we have this great relationship now because it's not always been so open. The interesting thing that I have been evaluating tonight is this; if I don't answer the phone when he calls, he continues to call. He will call 3-4 more times and finally will give up. He then calls back the next day and wants to know where I was when he called. And, I lie. I was thinking about the questions that the therapist might ask me about this. She would ask, "what if you just answer and tell him you are busy and you'd like to talk to him later"? So, I thought about this.... He would just say, "oh".... and continue talking. He wouldn't accept that answer. And, I lie about not being home the next day because if I told him that I was home and didn't feel like talking, he might feel like I didn't think he was a priority in my life. The longer I think about it all though, I've realized.... he has to be in control.

He doesn't take no for an answer and guess what? I don't either.

I hate that about myself.

When we were discussing our issues earlier, my husband was talking about how sometimes I will ask about finances in an inopportune time and he explained how he'll ask to discuss it later.... I then get angry and insist on discussing it right then. She asked why and I explained because if I want to talk about something, I want to talk about it NOW! Hello? And so she said what would happen if he said no to me? And I explained it wouldn't happen because that wouldn't be ok with me. OK seriously? What's my deal? Who the hell do I think I am?

Here's an example of how this conversation would go........

Me... out of the blue: "Hey, what's going on with the bills? Are we good on money"?
Hubby: "How about I get all the info together and we discuss it later"?
Me: "Why can't we discuss it now"
Hubby: "Because I'm not comfortable going over that with you without all the facts"
Me: "Why not, what are you hiding"
Hubby: "I'm not hiding anything. You know I'm not good at just pulling numbers off the top of my head".
Me: "Then you should at least be able to give me an idea"
Hubby: "Everything's fine. Let's do this later"
Me: "I have a really weird feeling that you've got something you aren't telling me"
Hubby: "Not at all"
Me: "Well then, I don't understand why you can't do this now"
Hubby: "I just told you"
Me: "Whatever.... you know what?! I'll just takeover the bills and no one will get any money"!
Me: "I hate when you do this"!
Hubby: "I'm not doing anything"
Me: "EXACTLY"!!!!

Ok, so I can go on and on here but I think you get the point and really.... it's all me just yelling and you all might think I'm kind of sweet and I don't want to totally ruin any bit of love you may still have for me after you read this but it's ugly and doesn't really get us anywhere.

Here's the point. We don't ever move forward from this. We don't discuss the bills, I'm screamin' mad, and he's been verbally attacked and is just exhausted. So, in the end.... he get's what he wanted. We discuss it later, just with more hurt feelings.

I need to be in control; just like dear ole' Dad. But, I don't want to be like that. I'm mentally stronger than I have ever been. I'm not anxious and I'm ready. I want to be a partner in this. Not a dictator. Not a mother. Not a boss. Not a irrational tyrant. Just a partner. Ok, maybe a wife, a lover, a best friend, and a partner.... but his partner. Forever.


Zen Ventures said...

The best part of this is that you're working into resolving the issue and has taken steps to. My hubby does all our bills and budget too. I would have loved doing it but he has always done it way before we got marriage so I let him. He's not perfect but it gives him reason to be "useful". I'm like your hubby. I clam up when upset. My hubby does more of the yakking. Funny how it works but I commend you for taking the steps. It's a start. I hope you reach the end of this and be happy with it :)

wendy said...

Oh my. I could have written a similar post. Oh, wait. I did! LOL!

Kidding aside - I know some of what you are feeling in regards to your dad. I also know how it feels to make an ugly realization about yourself.

Just wanted you to know you're not alone.

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