Tosca’s comments in bold font, Mine in regular font
I have been reading and re-reading your posts and reflecting on all that you have written and how it fully relates to my life, both past and present.
I know I wrote a few days ago and mentioned that I was going to write a few more thoughts but I actually have a few added questions if you would perhaps take a moment when you can to respond.
Childhood issues – MLCer
My WAP, as I have written previously, had a very difficult upbringing. His mother had a nervous breakdown due to WAPs fathers affairs with other women, some blatant, some covert. The day WAPs father finally walked out on them – wife and four children – was the day that she collapsed. There were days when the children visited her at ten hospital and the father would drive them there but stay in the car and let the children go in by themselves. Mother and Father were physically, emotionally and verbally abusive in front of the kids – WAP had to regularly separate them fro scratching each other. I never met WAPs mother but from what I understand she was extremely emotionally cold and told her children she never wanted them – never even wanted to marry – and that her primary function in life was to clean the house and cook the food. WAPs mother died before I met him, her heart wall caved in.
WAPs father is still alive and before BD I had a lot to do with him, we regularly visited him and I used to sit and talk with him, buy him gifts etc. He is a wonderful conversationalist. Interestingly WAP is so eager for his attention and love (WAP is 62, his dad is 89) but his Dad still is emotionally removed – goes to bed at 5pm every evening and if WAP was visiting him he was left all evening with no company and no apology.
WAPs father married again but also divorced again. He is still courting many women at his age and doesn’t look like he is going to slow down…
One thing I want to make clear again, is ALL these mid-life spouses had emotional problems of some kind, long before their transition came about. If everything were as it should be have been within the mid-life spouse, instead of the mid-life crisis happening, this time would have been an emotional adjustment, and none of this kind of upheaval would have happened.
Some of the things you speak of concerning your S/O’s mother, I remember my own mother saying at one time. She was wrong for saying these, but the fact was, that was how she felt. Things like this do a lot of emotional damage to an impressionable child who never asked to come into this world in the first place. However, these thoughtless comments can make a child think they are responsible for how a parent feels, when that is never true.
It was once said that a physical beating carries its own scars on the outside, because the wounds inflicted will heal in time, but an emotional beating leaves inside scars of an entirely different nature. These kinds of scars take much longer to heal, and more often, there are lingering “weeping wounds” that continue hurting a person long after the damage has been done. What your S/O saw and experienced within his childhood did serious emotional damage in ways you may never really understand, unless you, too, have walked in these same or similar shoes.
Apparently in his experiences with both parents, there was no emotional connection, no teaching of what love was, nothing to indicate the encouragement of any form of healthy emotional growth. There are many children who live in these kinds of households, don’t feel like they belong anywhere, and because of their deep fear of being hurt, they are unable to connect on a deeper level. They don’t have emotional trust, they’re simply too afraid to go beyond the superficial level of connection.
Because most of them don’t ever come to understand that being in love/loving someone wasn’t ever meant to last beyond the infatuation state, they’ll go from relationship to the next, when they perceive the relationship has begun to move from that aspect, into more of a settled kind of state, where the feelings aren’t so intense. Life gets in the way, they don’t get the kind of attention they crave, no longer get the special treatment they think they are entitled to, and so, they conclude the current relationship isn’t “perfect” enough for them, and their selfishness puts them on the prowl for perfection once more.
There are people like that–and when the mid-life transition begins working on them, they literally fall apart, and some of the same actions will occur again, except this time, the “children of their issues” will come to the fore, and remain in this position, instead of receding back like they’d always done before.
In normal situations– when people fight amongst themselves, or a situation becomes too difficult to handle, and a “threat” is perceived, a “child” will always show up to do the actual fighting, because coping mechanisms were born as a result of these various issues created in childhood. When the situation settles down, or maybe resolves, the “child” will either be completely resolved, and disappear back into the psyche, or they’ll recede back until such a time when they’re “called” upon to come forward again to “protect” the person, if an emotional “threat” becomes present at a later time.
When you read the various articles on childhood issues, one thing usually stands out. We become who we are as young adults, initially, because of how we were reared in childhood, how we were affected by our childhood experiences, and because parenting doesn’t come with a handbook, parents strive to raise children that become just like THEM.
This doesn’t mean that parents are inherently “bad” or anything like that-it all goes back to repeating emotional patterns from one generation to the next. There may be some variations, but ultimately, various ways to cope until a better way is learned, are used by each person, based on what they know, and what they have learned when children.
What people learn in their childhood, they usually do carry these various aspects/issues right into adulthood, where some or all emotional patterns are repeated UNTIL they learn a better way, or are actually forced, through circumstances, to learn a better way—in essence, as I explained in the article about full emotional maturation, people do the best they can with what they have, and they only cope in the way they have learned to cope…this came directly from one or both parents, whom they used as behavioral “models” for their own earlier growth.
Regardless of what kind and type of upbringing a person has gone through, the lessons of life remain the same–there are no variations on these. These lessons are designed to help bring a person into full emotional maturation, regardless of the kind of trial they have to face in order to hopefully bring this about within themselves.
Basically, the question for each INDIVIDUAL person is this: Can they develop enough strength to OVERCOME their past? Are they willing to learn from it? Are they willing to grow from it? Can they become able to take the change that leads to growth, that leads right into their becoming what God means for them to be, and make this work to their benefit? Are they willing to eventually look deeply and honestly within themselves, and view themselves in ways, being willing to target and fix the areas that are truly lacking, that will help them finally grow up fully?
The emotional aspect is always the last aspect we would think to develop, because our habitually learned emotional actions and reactions are so ingrained into our psyche that change becomes a “dirty word” as we become older. We fall back on what we “know”, rather than take the harder path to learning that leads to true growth. It’s much easier to fall back on these old habits, because it’s a “comfort zone” we are very reluctant to leave. We think we’re doing fine, when honestly, stagnation in our growth is detrimental to our well-being.
People who act like children, throw tantrums, run from commitment, acting out in such immature ways, (and the list is long and involved), are actually seriously miserable people, if you sit down and think about it.
Though change is terrifying, growth is painful, and becoming fully emotionally mature seems a million miles away, I can tell you from experience, that I’m a much more peaceful person within myself BECAUSE I did these things for myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t face hard things, I do, and sometimes it comes about every day. However, the difference lies within the tools I learned to pick up and use during the time of my own growth.
I learned during that time, that I can’t do one thing about what someone else does, but I can control my actions, reactions, responses, and I can set boundaries that may result in that person deciding to walk away, but because I learned to love myself MORE, I deal in a much better way than I did before I was forced onto this journey for myself.
What you need is here in the articles, Tosca–I think you’re looking for some correlation between his childhood upbringing and the mid-life crisis he is facing now. The question you’ve got to face, is not how you can understand him so much more–the question is, can you come to the point of understanding what it was in you that drew a man like him to begin with? The only way you’re going to be able to answer that, is through your own journey.
There’s no doubt in my own mind that your S/O’s upbringing has everything to do with what he’s facing in his crisis at this time, but if you understood it, what could you do about it? That’s right, nothing at all. You didn’t break him, therefore, you can’t fix him.
Regardless of how a mid-life spouse/S/O was raised in childhood, you cannot hope to “fix” or otherwise “control” what they do/don’t do. All you can decide for yourself is whether you are willing to stand and wait to see what happens, or choose to cut your losses, and move forward. However, either way you choose, you must needs to take the emotional journey for yourself, because you cannot do one thing for him, but everything for yourself.
You’re trying to understand something that you will not begin to really understand, until you get your focus OFF your S/O, get it onto yourself, begin your journey (in your case, pick up where you left off), deal with yourself, begin to heal, and only then, will you be able to see what is clearly wrong within your partner.
I’m not trying to avoid the question-I’m answering the question, and pointing you back into and toward yourself…because you know the answers that you’re asking for-these are already there, within yourself. All you would need to do is learn how to access these, and they do come during the emotional journey-you know this, because you’ve walked this road before, but you stopped somewhere for some reason, and put your journey on hold—that was not a good thing, Tosca.
This time you need to finish what you started so long ago, and keep going until you’re done in one aspect, then learn to continue as other aspects begin to open up for you.
Affairs – MLCer
WAP has a history of affairs – both in his first marriage and after divorce. This fact fills me with concern that this is not merely MLC but something far more deeply rooted and problematic.
By all accounts WAPs wife threw him out once she had discovered the affairs, his next relationship also failed for a similar reason. There is one women who WAP had defaulted to over a long period of time – I suspect she could also be in the mix even now AS WELL as OW…
I have no doubt that WAP is rotating the search for the unconditional love that his mother never gave him…in this way I believe that the current OW is no different.
WAP also has a history of looking at porn and is obsessed with social media and being on his computer – socially avoidant tactics and ones that are devoid of real intimacy.
A mid-life crisis will complicate an already complicated problem, Tosca. It seems to hit hardest the ones who were never able to attach to anyone. A mid-life crisis spouse/S/O and a person who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder have this aspect, plus so many other aspects in common.
People who are truly Narcissistic Personalities to begin with, have a even harder time when the mid-life transition begins its work on them. Sometimes they come through changed, sometimes they get stuck, and sometimes, their most painful of issue/issues are pushed back, or buried deep for a later time.
Some are harder to spot than others, Tosca, but every person has an emotional pattern that has been present since childhood, based on their upbringing. The fact is, failed relationships also carry a pattern, if a person looks hard enough, they’ll find it. Every mid-life person is on a quest, searching for unconditional love. They all have issues they need to face resolve and heal within themselves. Until they look within, for the answers that were there all along, they’ll remain lost.
The only exceptions are those who have already experienced these aspects and came through completely long before mid-life. In those cases, as they go through an Emotional Adjustment, they’re still presented with choices, a look back at the past, and the question of which direction they’ll take in the future. They’ll make this adjustment, then walk forward, until the next opportunity comes about within a different aspect.
On the part of the mid-life spouse–in spite of past poor emotional patterns/past wrong ways of coping, poor choices, the clear inability to take responsibility for one’s part when relationships breakdown, the fact is, when a person refuses to face the personal issues/childhood wounds they’re supposed to face within themselves, resolve these full, change, grow, and become what God means for them to be as a result, they don’t go away–they compound, the pressure increases within, and as the mid-life time comes about, everything they had managed to avoid, will catch up, and overrun the mid-life person.
The only difference is that this time,(mid-life transition), it’s for keeps-you’ll either face it, do the inner work required of you, go through the change, growth and become what you were meant to become in the first place, or your life will become (pardon the expression, but it’s the truth) a living Hell, as there IS such a thing as Hell on Earth. You could say that most people have spent the first half of their lives running away from themselves. However at mid-life, everything catches up with them, overruns them, and in order to hopefully mature as a result of this experience, emotional pain commences in a whole different way than before.
This is where the mid-life crisis becomes a true emotional, mental, spiritual, and even in some aspects, physical battle that must be fought on every front. Unfortunately, you have people who, in spite of the fact their coping mechanisms are now failing at mid-life, still try the same thing–looking for an outside solution to fix what is really, an inside problem.
It is up to THEM and them alone, to choose to fix themselves. There’s no doubt your S/O has been using other people, including you, to try and “fix” himself all this time. Each time he ended a relationship, he “fixed” his pain by getting into another relationship, until that relationship went sour–and of course, because he didn’t think that he was at fault, he buried his emotional pain, pushed it back, and repeated the pattern. However, this time it won’t work because his emotional pain won’t end UNTIL he confronts himself in this honest way, Tosca.
Once more, whether he does or doesn’t isn’t up to you, it’s up to him. He’s had his problems, his fear of commitment, evidenced by the fact that he never married you. He didn’t marry, because marriage changes things in such a drastic way, and marriage called upon him to give something he was unable to give—his heart.
The only two choices you really have are to choose to stand still without getting stuck, or to move forward for yourself. It’s up to you, but either way you go, your own journey is still yet to be finished.
I was very interested to read your newly posted article about projection.
WAP has been utterly silent for 2 months but prior to that was spewing and projecting blame such as:
” I do not understand why Tosca has not emailed me (this is after just one day after BD email and after EXPRESSLY informing me that he didn’t want me to contact him) – I dont understand it. She has shown no remorse, no sadness, no regret, no understanding – nothing. How odd!”
To clarify for other people that may also read my reply to you, Tosca-this was definitely projection on his part. It is interesting that you did what he asked you to do, but then, projected himself completely onto you. He couldn’t own his responsibility, and because he was unable to separate himself-to see where he ended, and you began, in his own mind, he made YOU responsible for what was honestly his problem.
Mid-life spouses will do that, because they’re avoiding themselves at all costs-and if they can convince the left-behind spouse to buy into this shifting of blame, they’re not forced to face themselves in this manner.
then – during one of the days in which I was trying to move our belongings out of our home/his house
” I am highly distressed Tosca to find that you have been stealing my possessions. Whilst I assume this is a mistake I want your written confirmation this evening that you will return the following items:
1) My stock pot ( bought for only £5)
2) Four forks and four knives that I bought with my supermarket vouchers
3) My shampoo and conditioner from my bath
No telling what that was really about, but they’ll usually make accusations over something they have done before, or it was done to them in the past by someone else. You can’t spend a lot of time analyzing everything they say and do–if you did, you’d go insane, so you learn to take what they say with a grain of salt, detach, and see them for what they are, poor confused souls, who are lost in the fog of their mid-life crisis.
You do learn not to argue with them, and sometimes, no matter what you do, it’s wrong in the first place, so you learn to do what’s best for yourself, and give them emotional room to rant, while you find something else to do. Rebellious children often escalate in their behavior, and the mid-life spouse is no different.
Best to stay away, increase the emotional distance, and learn to overcome your fear of losing what has already been lost-and prepare to continue moving forward for yourself. That’s all you can do at the moment.
Since then – absolute silence…
There has also been absolute silence from all our mutual friends and his family (D and I are particularly feeling the loss of his sons, whom we were very close to. Also his best friend who has been a wonderful support to me over the years).
Again, nothing you can do, except let them go, and let God have the whole situation, Tosca.
I am trying to read and rest and reflect HB but today has been hard. I went to Mass and prayed for hope, strength, courage and patience.
I love WAP but it is painful to keep in the place I am in…
Thankyou for your support.
I understand, because I’ve been there, too, Tosca. I know God allows things to happen for a reason. Things will get easier once you learn to let him go, and you get to a better place within this grieving process you are in. You’re grieving what could have been, and never was. You’re also grieving the loss of the relationship, because at this time, you’ve suffered a loss that is the same as a death–and it is a death of life as you once knew it, and there are many endings you’re needing to sort through at this point.
Time heals all wounds, and in time, things will become better for you.