I’m going to jot down a few things I’ve been learning in therapy. You might find this boring but I’m doing it mostly for my reference. I know I’m going to need to review these things from time to time. I tend to forget. Hopefully you will find something in here that can help you too. Doris asked me to share my knowledge with anyone I thought could use it. Just think of it as getting free therapy. You’re welcome. ūüôā

Doris does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT revolves around how one thinks…how one thinks about himself/herself and the world around them. All our thoughts control our feelings and our feelings in turn, control our emotions, physical feelings (heart racing, calm, anxiousness, happiness, etc) and our actions. Pretty simple, right? So if we can control our thoughts and express our feelings in the right way, this should lead to feeling better physically. Many times all these things can lead to physical ailments like anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, etc.

Often if one doesn’t express his/her feelings, he/she will harbor internal stress about it leading to things like acting out in anger. Have you ever bitten someone’s head off and realized later that it had nothing to do with the situation with that person but was more about something that happened to you earlier leaving you feeling angry? Yeah. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime. And I don’t feel good about it.

One KEY fact I’ve learned: I am NOT responsible for other people’s behavior. I can’t control how other people act. But what I CAN control are my own thoughts (and as I said before, my thoughts will eventually result in my actions). ¬†For example, my husband will often stomp around mad, slamming doors, and cussing because he is frustrated or angry about something. I have no idea why but my first thoughts are that I’ve done something wrong or something to make him angry. RUBBER BAND THERAPY: Now I wear a rubber band on my arm and if I have a thought that I am responsible for his behavior, I snap the rubber band. Not my problem! If he is angry about something, it is HIS¬†responsibility¬†to explain his feelings. Along with that, it is MY¬†responsibility¬†to tell him how his behavior makes me feel. It makes me feel scared, paranoid, and uncomfortable in my own home. And if I tell him often enough, he should eventually modify his behavior and NOT stomp around anymore. He should express his frustration or feelings before it leads to the stomping and slamming.

Here is another example. I woke up one Monday morning in a fine state of mind. I sat down to begin my work at my desk. I worked for about 10 hours that day on my payroll hours that were due in to my boss. My boss will generally review what I have and let me know any changes he wants made. I sent him the file I was working on even though it was not complete. I was assuming he would review it and get back to me with changes. What actually happened is that he distributed it to all the upper management of the company thinking it was ready to go. I was very upset because it made me look like I was¬†incompetent. I immediately began to feel incompetent and worthless. I started to get angry and cry. What should I have done? Well, first I know I’m not worthless or they wouldn’t pay me and keep me employed. I can’t control my boss’ action of sending the report. But I can look at the situation and decide next time, I should TELL my boss not to distribute the report until we’ve discussed it and it is finalized. I can’t change what has already happened; I can do better next time though.

Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake. Think about it and decide how you can do BETTER next time.

We also discussed another disagreement Luke and I had in July over buying a new¬†jet ski. Long story short, when I told him I did not agree with him buying a brand new jet ski and financing it for 5 years, he said, “I never get anything I want” and walked inside slamming the door. I told my therapist he acted like a child. She started to ask more about his upbringing. I explained how his dad left when he was 10 because he no longer wanted to be married anymore. And his mother, a¬†school teacher¬†was left to take care of the three boys alone. Doris piped in and said, “So I’m sure they had to sacrifice at times. Have ¬†you ever thought about how he might see this as yet another toy he can’t have?” I felt horrible. Don’t get me wrong…he’s still not getting it! But I did feel horrible.

Still…his behavior is out of my control and I shouldn’t take it personally. I am slowly retraining myself to STOP and consider the things I’m thinking. Is the thought unrealistic? Is it unhelpful? STOP! Snap the rubber band. Re-think it.

For example, my mistake at work. “Damn, DeAnna. That was stupid. Now you look like an idiot.” SNAP!! No. “Well, that didn’t work out very well. I can do better than that!” As for the¬†argument¬†with Luke, it’s not my fault he didn’t have the greatest childhood. Sure I feel for him but that doesn’t mean he is entitled to everything he wants in life now. He should consider what would make more sense for our family…like a small boat we can ALL fit in. Nonetheless, I can’t help his behavior. ¬†Make sense?


No Nookie for You

Apparently, my second refusal of intimacy has caused my husband to reflect on his behavior the last few weeks during my most recent bout with depression. This morning, he approached me and I again turned him down. So he left and went to the gym giving him time to “reflect” and release his aggression. His findings are quite interesting and very disheartening, I must say.¬† More proof that I married a very self-centered man.

Let me go back for just a minute. During my last round in therapy, I was told to read a book called The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner. Great book, by the way. After I finished it, I suggested Luke read it as my therapist recommended and he did. The book discusses our roles in relationships (not just marriage but families, friendships, all relationships) and how some people over function while others might under function. I am a classic under functioner and Luke is a classic over functioner. When I’m stressed or depressed, I shut down and do nothing. Luke on the other hand tries to fix everything and do everything to make things right. Should work out nicely, right? Not so much.

He came home from the gym and wanted to talk about all this. He said he realized he had a few explosions lately and shouldn’t have. As he describes, he tries to help out around the house as much as possible and keep me free of the kids but I obviously become a bit negative (IMAGINE THAT) when I’m depressed and my comments upset him. I asked for some examples of comments and was told it was my expression of the kids driving me nuts, wishing the kids would go away, how I’d rather be somewhere else, etc. He says he tries to overlook my negativity but it builds up in him and he finally explodes. Luke also asked that I just talk to him about it when I’m depressed. He doesn’t understand why I can’t just discuss it with him and be over it. He has obviously never experienced a true depression.

I asked if he’d ever been depressed…really, really depressed. He thought back to a time after breaking up with his previous girlfriend and fighting with his best friend. I asked if he felt like talking to people about it while that was going on. He said no. I explained that when I get depressed, I just want to close up, cry, sleep, and run away. I don’t want to talk to anyone and I really don’t want to talk to anyone about what I’m feeling and thinking because it only makes me cry more. The thoughts in my head aren’t really that complex; there was some sort of trigger that made me sad and I then start to feel worthless and hopeless. When that happens to me, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel; I don’t see a way out. And I can’t just turn it off or I most certainly would.

What I need most at that time is someone to hold me and tell me it’s ok. I need reassurance and comfort while I get through it. I need sensitivity to my state of mind but instead, I’m left alone, ignored, and finally exploded upon. He is not capable of empathy; he openly admits it. He’s not sensitive to others needs. I’m telling you, it’s worse than being alone. I feel I’m being punished for something I have no control over. So I return the punishment with the one thing I DO have control over…the nookie.