When I was with you, I felt frequently assaulted by verbal attacks (i.e. snapping and yelling). The unpredictable nature of these attacks kept me continually "on edge." I felt hurt and rejected whenever you were silent and refused to talk to me. However, in addition to these two major scenarios, there were many other things that you said and did, that also caused me to feel diminished and controlled. I felt like I was constantly being nagged, as if I were a little child. I felt hurt when you frequently "teased" me, claiming to be "just giving me a hard time." I felt that my thoughts and opinions were devalued. Many times I felt as if I were being frankly ordered around (e.g., whenever you would impatiently tell me with a scowl on your face, to do this or do that). These things really bothered me and hurt me. Yet if I dared to speak up and say something, you would simply criticize me for being "too sensitive."
1. No food in the bedroom.
2. Don't leave stuff in view in the car.
3. Don't stomp up/down the stairs.
4. Don't leave your dirty dishes in the sink.
5. Turn off the light--don't waste electricity.
6. Don't waste water (when doing dishes)
7. You only need half a napkin--don't waste paper.
8. Bring your dish up to the main plate/bowl--don't make a mess.
9. Wrap your pad in the original wrapper--don't waste toilet paper.
10. Get that hair off the table--that's gross.
11. Tuck your label in--can't you even dress yourself?
12. Get all the hairs off the bed.
13. Close the shades--do you want everyone to see you?
14. Turn off the light--it's hot in here.
15. Use a towel or sponge to wipe around the sink--don't waste paper.
16. Change your windshield wipers--they're giving me a headache.
17. Always keep your gas tank at least half full in cold weather.
18. No walking around the house in socks (or bare feet).
19. Did you clean the tub? Good girl!
20. Don't touch the toothpaste tube with your brush.
21. Don't touch the sink there--that's gross, that's where people spit!
22. Always keep everything in the same place--that way you'll always know where it is.
23. Zip up your pockets.
24. Zip up your bag compartments--you don't want anything to fall out.
25. Are you sure the clamp on the tubing is closed?
26. Point the needle straight down.
27. No wrinkles when making the bed.
28. When are you going to vacuum?
29. Don't throw away that can/bottle--recycle it.
30. Finish it--don't waste food.
31. Itís a red light ahead, take your foot off the gas! Donít waste gas!
32. Put down the toilet seat when you open that cabinet--do you want something to fall in?
33. You have to scrub really hard to get the dirt off your body.
34. Did you clean your ears? No?--That's gross!
35. Did you wash your hands?
36. Turn off the radio/heater/air conditioner before you turn off the engine.
37. Next time get one of those donut spares. (Was it necessary to say this 30 times?)
38. Dial the dimmer down before you turn it off.
39. Donít touch the flip entrance to the trash can when you throw something out.
40. Donít change that pad--you can still wear it, thereís hardly anything on it.
41. Nice turn signal (if I didnít put it on), or So now you put on your turn signal (if I put it on too late according to you).
42. You should file your nails. Do you want me to file them for you?
43. Cut your toenails!
44. Only get unscented tissues and toilet paper.
45. Let the pedestrian go first!
46. Wave to the other driver if they let you in.
47. Turn down your radio--the whole neighborhood can hear it.
48. Fold the paper back up perfectly--I canít stand it when itís messed up.
Belittling me and devaluing my thoughts and opinions:
1. The Edward "you just donít know about life" incident.
2. My saying that I liked most of Tom Cruiseís movies--I felt that you put down my opinion in front of Sherry--by the look on your face I could see that you thought it was preposterous for anyone to like those movies.
3. My liking "Jurassic Park"--you seemed to ridicule my opinion, as if it were just a fact that it wasnít a good movie.
4. Your constantly criticizing my haircuts when I was going to Christopher, and repeatedly putting me down for liking perms.
5. I really enjoyed that shrimp parmigian I ate in the restaurant in New York. (My getting sick suddenly was a reaction to the red wine, Iím sure). You scowled and put down my opinion every single time I said I liked that dish. "You just donít PUT seafood and cheese together!" I never said you had to eat it, I was simply stating that I liked it that one time-- yet you trashed my opinion as if it were stupid and absurd. I didnít care much for broccoli with mayonnaise--yet did I scowl and say "thatís gross" everytime you ate it?? Did I say "You just donít PUT broccoli and mayonnaise together!" and look at you everytime as if you were stupid to even consider it? It is rude to put down other peopleís preferences.
Please note that I am not saying that I expected you to share all my likes and dislikes, or to agree with all of my opinions. After all, we are two different people, and it is things like this that make us unique. What I am saying, is that it is not right to treat another personís opinion as if it were wrong or not valid. There is no such thing as a wrong opinion. Feelings and preferences are not debatable.
"Teasing" with an edge:
1. Constantly calling me a "klutz" anytime I dropped something or fumbled with something.
2. Teasing me about taking the last portion of food--Iíd ask you if you wanted it, youíd say "No, you go ahead," then youíd give me that look as I ate it. I told you several times I didnít appreciate this anymore and you would respond "Iím just giving you a hard time." Why did you persist on doing this after I told you it bothered me?
My world became narrow and limited. We could only do things together, with certain people, or by ourselves.
1. I felt like I couldnít do things alone with my friends, or by myself. For instance, I knew that you werenít really into going to concerts (and thatís perfectly okay). My going to concerts with my friends seemed to threaten you. You would sulk about being left out, about my doing something with other people without you. I had to either go just with you, or go alone. So I would invite you, but if you didnít really want to go, I certainly didnít want to drag you. Iíve gone to concerts by myself for years, ever since I was in high school, and I donít mind at all. Of course I would want you to come, but only if you really wanted to! So Iíd offer and also try to gently provide you with a way out. "You donít have to go if you donít want." Your response? Sulking, "You donít want me to go with you?" After a while it just became easier to skip going to concerts, than to have to deal with this. I take responsibility for cheating myself out of a lot of concerts I wanted to go to.
2. In addition to not being able to do things with my friends, I became aware of our diminishing social circle (you and I) due to your multiple tiffs and dislikes of various people. Kelly Oyler, Amy Hiller, Angela, Kathy Emsley --one by one they were crossed off our list. I wouldnít even want to suggest going to certain events because of your inevitable bitching about various people there.
3. You would sulk at just my mentioning of you doing something by yourself. For example, there were several card shows listed for an upcoming weekend that I was on call. I didnít want to hold you back if you really wanted to go, so I politely said, "Honey, if you want to go, feel free to, I just canít go this weekend." Your response? Again, to sulk "You donít want me to go with you." Jesus Christ, thatís not what the fuck I meant!!
4. Once I was alone in Chinatown around lunchtime and was hungry, so I decided to have lunch by myself. You sulked later about my eating alone. Canít I do anything without you?
5. Even after an episode in which you had yelled at me, I still couldnít do something without you, without your sulking about it later. For example, the times I went swimming and in-line skating alone, after you had snapped at me. After being yelled at for something stupid, I was supposed to still want to be in your company and do things with you?
6. How many times did I encourage you," You should start lifting weights again," or "You should go to the gym" (after all, you had a locker there), or "You should ride your bicycle more often." I just wanted you to be able to continue enjoying the things you used to do before you met me, if you wanted to. However, I felt like I could not pursue my interests and activities, without getting a lot of grief from you..
Even more double binds:
1. Whenever I got back home to my apartment at the end of the day, I never knew when to call you. It seemed that sometimes when I called you right away, youíd be in the middle of dinner or doing chores, and would be short and rude. Sometimes I just didnít feel like calling you right away, because I wanted to relax a bit first by myself (is this so terrible?) and/or I didnít want to disturb you during your dinner/chores. But if I waited until later in the evening to call you, you would say in an accusatory manner, "Youíve been home for how long? And you didnít call me??"
2. If I got out early from work and didnít call to arrange to pick you up, youíd sulk later. Yet sometimes when I did pick you up, youíd be snapping at me, criticizing my driving, etc. all the way home. Having a bad day at work (your usual excuse) is not a good excuse for verbally abusing your partner.
3. In general, you were a master at double binds! If I didnít help you with something, I was yelled at, yet if I did help you, I was criticized and yelled at for doing it "incorrectly"--e.g. making the bed, doing yardwork, shoveling snow, sticking Kitty. There was just no way I could win.
4. Whenever I would express a desire to go away on vacation with you (that is, fly somewhere), you would become depressed/angry about your financial situation. Just the mere mention of a trip would result in your angrily snapping, "I donít have the money!!" You also made it clear that you didnít want me to pay for you, as if I would be somehow insulting your pride if I did so. The upshot of this is that whenever I expressed the desire to to go somewhere with you, I would just end up being yelled at. Yet, when I decided to go to Florida with my sister, you also responded with rage. I suppose you would have been happiest if I never traveled again in my life, either with or without you.
5. This was perhaps the worst double bind of them all. When you were feeling depressed about something, e.g., your upcoming surgery or not being an immediate whiz at in-line skating, and I tried to comfort you, you pushed me away with anger and the seething silent treatment. However, if I just tried to leave you alone during these situations e.g., in that softball game when you kept striking out, I again got--surprise!!-- anger and the seething silent treatment!! Just what the fuck am I supposed to do??
Criticism disguised as help or advice:
1. Do your hair this way.
2. Do the dishes this way.
Using Sandy to "keep me in line":
You constantly complained angrily about Sandy, with the implication that if I ever even approached acting like her, I would really deserve to be yelled at. "Youíre being just like Sandy!!" was a great weapon to effectively silence me whenever I brought up certain matters for discussion.
1. If I simply said something about wanting to live together, you would shoot out, "You think just like Sandy! You think people have to live together to have a relationship!"
2. You practically lived at Sandyís (of your own free will, she did not force you), yet for the longest time you seemed incredibly reluctant to even spend one night at my place. How would you have felt in my shoes-- wouldnít you have at least wondered why?? Yet when I brought this up, you became enraged that I was "being like Sandy" and attacked me for trying to force you to stay over. I understand that you had your reasons for being hesitant to stay over--for example, guilt over leaving your mother. For you to have brought this up honestly, would have been one thing. However, snapping at me and accusing me of "being like Sandy!!" was another.
3. Several times you shot back at me, "Those were the exact same things Sandy said!" Did it ever occur to you, that perhaps I was saying the same things Sandy did, because I may have been finding myself in the same situations that Sandy did (e.g., being constantly snapped at)?
Becoming angry when I tried to communicate:
Sometimes, my attempts to communicate honestly with you got me nowhere.
1. One night as we lay in bed, I tried to talk with you about a problem we were having. I said very explicitly, "Iím not saying I want to break up with you." The next morning, at 5:31 AM, you stormed into the bathroom while I was still in there, snapped at me for being in there after 5:30, yelled at me for using the hot water, attacked me for being "cheap" (do you remember this at all??), told me to leave--in general, came at me with all guns blazing. I didnít even know what the hell was going on! I took you literally--after all, you were basically screaming at me to leave, so I started moving all my stuff downstairs--then when I told you goodbye in the bathroom you pulled me to you, begging me, "Donít leave!!" Later, you said that the reason for your attack, was that the night before, all you had heard was, "break up." Then, you blamed me for not having spoken loudly enough for you to hear me, even though at the time, you hadnít said a thing! Did I deserve to be attacked like that??
2. One morning after we had had a fight the night before, I realized that I had been wrong, and wanted to apologize to you. I felt awkward and ashamed, and I said, "Itís hard for me to say Iím sorry." This was a brutally honest statement on my part. However, the reward for my honesty, was being snapped at, "How come itís so hard for you to say youíre sorry!!?"
So many times, you angrily told me "Youíre contradicting yourself!!" However, look at your own behavior!
1. "Don't touch the toothpaste tube with your toothbrush!" I saw you do the very same thing right in front of me.
2. About inserts and the jasper pyramid--"I don't want competition in our relationship!" Yet when I excitedly showed you my McGwire and Griffey inserts out of happiness, not competition, you sulked, "Now there's one more thing I have to be jealous of."
3. Your constantly referring to the messiness or at least untidiness of my apartment. But look at your own room!
Even more contradictions, double standards, and things that just donít make sense:
1. You snapped, yelled, or spoke irritatedly at me constantly. If I complained, you would simply become nastier. Once at the Uniondale show, you snapped at me for looking through a bin of cards the wrong way (?). I asked you in a very even tone of voice, "What are you getting upset about? Why do you have to snap at me?" or something to that effect. I didnít even raise my voice at all. For the rest of the show you sulked, gave me the silent treatment, wouldnít talk to me, wouldnít look at me--in fact you simply walked away from me without responding when I tried to talk to you! Then as we were walking back to the car and I again asked you what was wrong, you said, "You yelled at me." You have carte blanche to snap and yell at me whenever you want, yet I canít even speak up for myself in a normal tone of voice?? If this isnít a double standard, I donít know what is.
2. When I started to eat dinner over your place and stay over a lot, I would leave you alone to do your after-dinner chores--clean Kittyís litter box, take out the trash, etc. This seemed to suit you, and I could stay out of your way. After two or three months of never going downstairs with you even once, one day I did, just because I wanted to be with you. You angrily snapped, "Why do you always have to follow me down here??!!"
3. It seemed to be really, really important to you to pay for yourself and not "mooch" off me. You expounded to me at length about this. It was almost as if a certain amount of your pride rested on this. One night we went to the club and I didnít pay the cover charge for you. About fifteen minutes later, you angrily said, "Why didnít you pay for me to get in?" There was just no fucking way for me to ever please you.
1. Your saying things like, "So who else has been sitting here?!" when you saw my passenger seat positioned differently.
2. Your making jealous comments about my potentially "picking up other women" when I was in DC visiting Mandy, when I had absolutely no intention of doing so.
3. What on earth were you so jealous of when I was talking with Rachel that one time during the blizzard? Did you think I was after her??
I am an absolutely monogamous person, and for you not to trust me shows that you do not know me. I always trusted you in this regard. I would like to point out, that even though you and Ned had a history of "fooling around," I was not in the least bit jealous those times you went to Pittsburgh with him!
Ordering and control of a sexual nature:
1. That night I was on call at the VA (January 1995), and you demanded that I describe to you that very second, how I had "taken care of myself." When I was embarassed and didnít respond immediately, you threw a sulking temper tantrum and hung up on me!
2. That night you came over to my house and wanted me to show you my vulva since you had just seen the gynecologist and you wanted to compare yours with mine. I just didnít feel like it (I donít like being ordered to do stuff like this) so you left in angry silent huff and refused to talk or even look at me.
3. The Friday-night-before-the-blizzard episode. I didnít do something complying with your sexual desires, so I was punished. To this day I still canít understand why you reacted the way you did, after we had just fucked for three hours. The silent rage of your response was completely unreasonable.
4. When we were waiting for Ellen in her hospital room, you asked me, "How come you never do that to me ?" regarding looking at each othersí crotches with lust. For one thing, thatís just not my style, and second of all, that wasnít exactly the most appropriate time to bring it up, with your mother in the same room. I was uncomfortable and didnít say anything, so you responded by very deliberately sulking for the next ten minutes and refusing to interact with me!
5. As recently as the very last night you ever stayed at my apartment--the Sunday morning after we got back from LA--you practically ordered me to demonstrate [censored]. When I didnít comply immediately you angrily shot out, "How come youíre so shy all of a sudden!!?"