Learning to negotiate, Love, Outside the Bedroom, Self-Questioning, Wonderboy

Emotional Container – Communication Is Key

I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy, some good advice and perspective out of you guys. This made me think, how it’s a good thing to have this blog, because of the support, but it could also be a bad thing. See, I’m trying to learn this new thing. New for me, for most of the people they’ve pretty much mastered it from age six. I’m trying to create an emotional container. My way of dealing with life has been to always throw all the anxiety right back out, because I could never handle any of it. This, according to my therapist, happens if the parents haven’t been able to deal with the child’s anxiety, but have instead reflected it right back out at them. I’ve been struggling with hiding my own emotions my whole life not to make others miserable. Including my parents. That’s only made me express my feelings through anger, becuse grief would’ve been too devastating.

The problem with trying to create this container, a safe place to keep the anxiety in and examine it until it loses some of its potence, is that I have this great place, this way to source my anxiety out of me an into the “void”. The internet. My blog.

I’ve been trying not to write here when I’m very angry or hurt.

I’ve been trying not to write here when I’m really sad.

Neither has really worked.

Maybe this blog ishould be thought of as my practice container. Maybe one day I don’t need to write here as much as I have. Maybe one day I won’t, or if I will, I will because it’s something I just want to do. But for now, I feel I let myself down. When I caught Wonderboy masturbating and was duly upset about it, I didn’t really even think about a different course of action. It was clear that I needed to write it down here. I wanted some perspective. But most of all I wanted it off my chest.

With some smaller things I have already managed to use my emotional container. I have managed not to lash out on people, who have made a start at a conflict with me. It helps me to think about the container. I know I have it, I just have to learn how to use it. It’s like a superpower to keep my cool, when I’m being attacked and just think what the other person is feeling and how are they interpreting me.

I actually managed to keep my cool when I talked to Wonderboy about the masturbation issue the next day. This was on thursday. Behold, my first big steps on forming an emotional container and handling conflict.

1. I was left in bed alone, frustrated and angry and hurt. But I didn’t go after Wonderboy, because I knew there would be no good conclusion that night. This was the first step. I studied the situation and decided it would be better to talk about it it the next day. We were both too tired, he didn’t understand why I was so upset and couldn’t face it, and I certainly wasn’t ready to understand him since I was so hurt. So I waited even though it made me feel horrible.

2. I didn’t text him or call him the next day while he was at work. I was so hurt and angry about it, that all I wanted to do was to send him a text message I hate you! I’m serious, you can stop laughing now. That’s the way my hurt feelings work. But I didn’t. I decided I’d go take a shower and then work. I’d go coup him up after work while I was visiting the same city, because my therapist is there too. I’d see him and we’ll sort through this then.

3. When he sent me a text message and I saw it was from him, my heart immediately started running, my mind wandering and andrenaline pumping. When this happened I decided that I wasn’t yet ready to face him – I didn’t read it. I waited for the emotional turmoil to subside. I waited until I was sure I wouldn’t react in a bad way, whatever he wrote. I opened the message and it was Hello? Is my honey there? I love you. Kisses and hugs. After waiting for my mind and heart to clear I could answer him I love you too. I was still hurt and he knew it, but I wanted to let him know that I still love him no matter how hurt I am.

4. When I picked him up, I kissed him, although I rejected a more sensual kiss he was trying to do. I wanted to show him that I’m not mad at him, but that things are still unsettled. One of the things about emotional container is that it frees me from having to always make conflicts go away as fast as humanly possible. I’ve done a lot of emotional work for others, because it’s been so insufferable for me to endure the conflict. I’ve always been the one to raise the subject, to guide the conversation and mostly I’ve been the one to offer surrender even at the expence of my own emotions. Not any more. I waited for him to bring it up. I was ready to wait for as long as it took.

5. He got to talking about it 15 minutes in the car. He said how funny it had been that I’d get so upset since it’s an okay thing for him to do. He explained how it’s been weeks and weeks that he’s felt absolutely no draw to masturbate, and I know it’s true. I also know that it’s not a good thing. It’s a sign of him being too stressed out to even want anything sexual. I nodded and said I understood. But then I retold my side of the story. That I was hurt because he had first rejected me. There was a start of an argument there, when he exclaimed that he couldn’t do anything more, if I wasn’t convinced already and that there was nothing wrong with what he’d done, which I agreed on.

I said that it had also hit me that he was watching porn, that that made me feel somewhat replaced by someone else. This made Wonderboy angry. He started interrupting my sentence and wouldn’t let me finish another. He yelled that I don’t know what he looks for in porn and how he imagines it and uses it. I asked calmly, how did he then. He didn’t answer for a long while and I asked if it was  too hard of a question. He answered that he obviously just couldn’t get me to understand and what was the point of trying, if I just judged him completely like this. I breathed in, wondering at it for a moment and then said that I wasn’t tryin gto judge him. That I was trying to understand and make things better.

Then I said that it probably would’ve been okay, if he’d only told me about it. That my feelings of being betrayed and left out had a lot to do with the fact that he went at it behind my back. I told him that it especially hurt, because it felt like he didn’t trust me at all. He agreed that he should’ve had the courage to tell me and that he would try to do so in the future. He had just not been able to, because he was too afraid he’d make me hurt more, when I was already so fragile from the infertility treatments.

I also told him that it had hurt me, when he left me alone and went to sleep in the other room. He explained that he couldn’t sleep with so much emotional turmoil going on and needed to find a safe haven to sleep, so he could go through with his long day (from 6 am to 7 pm) and maybe after that even really talk with me. As he did. I recognised that he had done the right thing for him, but that he should’ve communicated it with me. He just left without saying a word. He admitted that he was too hurt by me being hurt to try to communicate with me even though I hadn’t accused him of anything, I had just cried.

I said that it’s not okay to not address my hurt feelings at all. I also told him that, if he hurts my feelings it’s his responsibility to handle the hurt feelings he gets, because I’m hurt. That’s not my problem. We have to address what has caused my hurt feelings. He has to be able to handle some bad emotions for a while and communicate through them just like I have. He can’t just expect for my pain to evaporate, because to him it’s pointless and without reason.

There’s always a reason for feeling hurt.

This is something I’ve learned in therapy. That I’m not actually over reacting, when I get hurt by something someone does or says. The fact that they don’t recognise and often don’t admit to hurting me doesn’t make my hurt feelings unreasonable or untrue. It’s usually just the fact that they don’t understand what actually hurt me. And it’s never so simple that you don’t have to discuss it. But if they aren’t even capable of doing that, if they can’t admit that they might have hurt you even if they didn’t mean to and they won’t discuss it and take any responsibility and acknowledge my pain. Then they can not have a real place in my life. Then they don’t actually care for me. Maybe they’ll be ready to take that step one day, but it’s not my responsibility to carry them and the pain they inflict upon me. It’s actually their problem.

This realisation probably has more to do with the sore situation with my big sister than Wonderboy, but affects all my relationships. I’ve noticed that Wonderboy can run and hide, because I always step up to the plate to sort things out. That he can harbour this image of me being unreasonably angry at him and because of that he can treat me badly – or just you know, Wonderboy style, be elusive and a bit cold. I’ve noticed this taking place during our conversation now, and I addressed it later in the aftercare of the talk. That he refelcts this huge weight on me and really actually makes me hurt and angry even when I’m not, because he treats me like I am. It’s positively impossible to keep your cool and be caring and listening, if your partner is going out of his way to show you how impossible you are and how you hurt his feelings – by actually just being in place of his imaginery wife, who he sees as being angry at him.

The next day I got angry just because of that and later I had to really discuss it with Wonderboy, because it was totally unfair of him to just turn his back on me, when I was actually trying to connect with him and find out what was wrong. His interpretation of the situation was so colored by his fears, which made him not see me at all. I used to reflect my past fucked up relationship shit on him, but I found a way to trust him, when we continuosly discussed it. I’m surprised that he still seems to harbour his old relationship fears and place them on me after so many years of work. But he he admit to doing it in the end and said he’d try to recognise it the next time it happens. There’s not really more I could ask.

The final result was to communicate more. That’s the resolve we made. There’s nothing we can do about sometimes hurting each other with our choices, but there’s a lot we can do to help each other handle it.

I found this, The End of Suffering by Eckhart Tolle, and it really hit me. According to Tolle suffering is powered by resistance and intepretation. The resistance comes from not surrendering and accepting things as they are. This is also where interpretation precedes actual presence. I realized that the main source of my pain is actually my interpretation, as it was Wonderboy’s. I am so hurt by not being able to conceive, because I thought it would be easy. I see others being able to do it and compare myself to them. I lose heart and think that we will never be able to do it. The same happened with the masturbation incident too. Somehow I couldn’t handle the fact he wanted to pleasure himself, because it made me think that he didn’t want me, didn’t love me enough, was replacing me with something else, was rejecting me. In fact he wasn’t replacing me and he would’ve wanted to be with me. So where did the suffering come from?

From myself.

This is the first big step to building my emotional container.

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7 thoughts on “Emotional Container – Communication Is Key

  1. Don’t you love epiphanies? Its like banging your head against a wall and then suddenly realizing that there’s a door right there next to where you’ve been cracking your skull open. The key thing I have to hold onto whenever that happens is the realization that a lot of things have to fall into place before you can truly understand them. You have to be ready to accept a new perspective or a new truth or a new fact about yourself. Its like I told Grace once, you can have Dr. Jung (Freud was a lunatic IMO…dude wanted to bang his Mom WAY too much) sitting across from you and if you aren’t ready to talk it won’t matter. You have to be ready for it to do any good.

    Anyway, well put entry and you brought us along for the ride. Thank you.

  2. I identify so much with this. I think I have a different way of managing it, but I share the anxiety about, well, anxiety and the feeling that I always have to be the one to make things right or fix things. And the having to learn that my emotions are valid. I really like the container idea – it’s something I’ve been working on myself but didn’t have a name for.

    Have you ever looked into Buddhism? Mindfulness is helpful for me when I remember to practice it. 🙂

  3. Sorry I haven’t been able to answer you guys earlier. I’ve been busy with work… and with Wonderboy. I’ll let you know more in a minute. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, though!

  4. Femsub,

    I’ve heard through the grapevine about mindfulness, but I’ve never really grasped any zen, buddhist or yoga way of thinking. I’m surprised I did understand Tolle, but that was probably because I was just dealing with such a thing and this was the key to it.

    The idea of the container helps me a lot. I work well with metaphors and symbols. It was a lot harder to battle all these feelings when I didn’t see what draws them together. Now I understand how the same problem – the lack of an emotional container – surfaces in all my emotional troubles. It’s my main problem. It feels like finding out there is such a thing as BDSM or that what I actually need is to submit in a certain way and that draws together all the things I like in sex. This works similarly. It helps to have a category.

  5. The key thing I have to hold onto whenever that happens is the realization that a lot of things have to fall into place before you can truly understand them.

    This is so important. It’s not like I could have experienced this at any point. I had to be ready to let go of some of the pain. I had to had grieved first. Surrendering I think is also grieving, if that is needed.

    The realization helps me some though, because in many cases my pain is mostly interpretation. I get hurt, because I feel that he doesn’t love me, when he does thing X. I’m afraid he’ll reject me or leave me. If I just accept what has happened as is and try to discuss it with him acknowledging my fears, everything is much easier.

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