But, what do you do when that communication feels hurtful, and always seems to have a stabbing point at the end of every sentence?
Karen often get frustrated with me, because I am hesitant to simply speak my mind with her. "Use your words," she will tell me; time and time again. But using my words only opens the door to verbal lashing. In order to use my words, and say the things I want to say, or express the things I feel, means letting down my shield. So often, when I do, the words that come back are poisoned darts, aimed right for the most vulnerable areas of who I am.
The other thing that Karen often pushes back on me with, is "give me examples of...." That has been a difficult task for me. Not because there are no examples to present, but because one of the coping mechanisms that I have surrounded myself with over the past 8 years is the task of intentionally blocking out the hurtful examples she wants me to recall for her. It's a coping mechanism carried over from my childhood, and has been a crucial part of my psyche for far too long to just reprogram at this stage of life.
So often, I am able to forget and forgive, because I am so accomplished at forcing myself to forget.
If I kept a tally of every time my feelings felt hurt by something Karen said or did (actual or perceived), I would never survive our marriage.
So, instead of trying to specifically hang on to specific incidents to present in a "court of argument," I have been categorizing our conversations in order to better understand why it is that I leave so many conversations feeling hurt and discouraged.
I have come to the following realization.
When my feelings are hurt, it feels as if 75% (or more) of Karen's comments/statements in those conversations (with me) fall into one of the three following categories:
If the person, whose opinion I care most about, has no confidence in me... If the woman I love more than life itself doesn't respect me, or believe that I am able to be successful... Why should I believe in myself, or think I can be successful?
The fear of doing something wrong, or saying something wrong, is all the motivation I need to just do nothing at all.
Specifically that it is not what she wants/wanted done, or is not the way she would do it. The tone and attitude that is used in these comments are those that an angry mother uses when berating and chastising a young child for something like spilling their kool-aid on the carpet, pooping their diaper, or failing to learn a basic task.
I'm not a child. I don't need a mother. I need a partner that treats me as a partner and an equal. Treat me like a child, I'll react like a child. I'll just go off and hide anytime I think that there's a chance that I'll be criticized for the way I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing, or simply just not do anything at all. Sure, I'll get yelled at for not doing anything, but that's better than getting made to feel like an idiot for "doing it wrong."
Of the three types of comments that I receive on a consistent basis, the most common is this. I am constantly reminded that every interaction with my wife is "costing" her something. It is in some way either an inconvenience to her, or is being charged against me for later payback. Nothing is free. Nothing is given to me out of love, or a simple desire to just contribute to our happiness together. There is a calculated emotional or physical cost, that I am being charged against her time and devotion to our relationship.
Of everything that I stress about in my relationship, and what ends up hurting my heart most, it is this. I know that every time that I ask Karen to do something, thee will be an expectation to "pay it back." Or, at the very least, a statement made to let me know that I (and what I am communicating/asking) is an inconvenience to her.
Nothing I have ever experienced in my life has ever made me feel as lonely or worthless as this.
So, when I am asked for specific examples, I can't give them; because if I tried to remember and retain these things in my head, I would be crushed and unable to go on with the day to day life I live. I am able to come in the door with a smile, and give my love with free will, because I choose to push these things out of my head and block them from my mind.
I love Karen more than I have ever loved anyone in my entire life. Even when my heart tells me that it doesn't want to any more, I still don't know how to stop loving her. I don't always know why I love her so much, but it's the only true FACT of my life (other than the salvation of Jesus Christ) that I do know. And, it's something I don't ever want to change.
Maybe, some day, I'll find a way to change something about myself so that Karen will not feel the need to speak to me this way. I just have to find a way to make myself a better person for her, so that I deserve her love and respect.
Until I figure that out, I only know that I will continue to try to give myself to her completely, and with every bit of my being that I can figure out how to give.