So it has come to my attention again that I’ve seriously repressed my feelings in order to solve a conflict with my partner. This is how I’ve dealt with all the conflicts in my previous relationships, but I mistakenly thought I knew better now.
It happens like this : he does something that hurts me, angers me, disappoints me. I don’t address it right away, but mull it over in my head, trying to find a justification for my feelings. Am I right in feeling this way or am I overreacting? (Note to self: these are your feelings and deserve to be respected and heard, no matter if you find a “justification” or not.)
In the mean time, I give him the silent treatment. This ends up spoiling our time together, because he becomes silent and sulky in return, not knowing what the matter is. (Or he does know, but thinks he’s done nothing wrong, and thus doesn’t want to address it). Depending on how serious the matter is, I end up just forgetting about it, or crying while we’re in bed together and he can’t see my face. Then I hoarsely try to put some words together to tell him what the matter is, but I’m so embarrassed by my outburst that I usually let him sooth me and put the offending feelings to sleep. Then we are happy again, except that I always come to the conclusion that I’ve not actually tried to understand where these angry, sad feelings come from. Or I just blame my past boyfriends.
And not surprisingly, nothing has changed between us, the conflict hasn’t been resolved and I’m still haunted by these feelings. Meanwhile, he feels that I keep lingering on these issues too long and he becomes annoyed in return.
I don’t know who is more to blame: me for not respecting my feelings or him for not respecting my feelings. I guess it goes hand in hand, and that his behavior is a logical result of my behavior towards myself.
I’ve also rather painfully noticed that it’s almost an exact copy of how my parents “resolve” their conflicts. My father offends my mother in some way, she gives him the silent treatment and responds passively aggressive to him, until she can take the hurt, anger, disappointment no longer and bursts out in tears. She spills her heart to my father, who just sits there, without really saying anything useful, and then she feels better because she told him about it. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that my father does absolutely nothing to change the offending behavior and that it’s usually my mother who adapts herself to a situation which my father created and could be easily changed.
I don’t want to continue this damaging behavior, but it’s really difficult for me to stand up for myself without questioning and doubting my feelings. I need a logical, rational motive for my anger and I don’t know how to express myself if I can’t find one. It’s also not really a nice feeling knowing that I’ve been too “understanding” in the face of something I shouldn’t have been understanding about. But for now, it’s only hindsight that brings these revelations, in the moment itself I’m more worried with smoothing things over, which ultimately leads to him getting his way and me waking up in middle of the night from a rough sleep, crying and cursing.
In any case, there is hope, for in awareness of the negative habit lies the first step towards healing and change.
The Beauty of Anger (excitementandgrowth.com)
The Silent Treatment (happytogether2.wordpress.com)