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Therapist Advice: List of “I Feel When...”

Forthelifeoftheparty's picture

So DH and I have been seeing a therapist. We have only seen her once but both really felt she was helpful. One of the things she has said which we have both agreed is valuable advice is to leave out the details of our grievances against each other and to talk about feelings in a vulnerable “I feel — when you...”

This is hard for me because I need to follow it the most. I am the type who cusses a lot and gets stuck in details during arguments. I am not a good arguer.

So here is my list..

I feel angry when DH chooses to take SD13 for more than EOW.

I feel angry when I see DH’s interactions with SD13 because I feel these interactions are false or unrealistic in some way.

I feel sad when I am around SD13 more than EOW because I have no power to guide or help her. 

I feel exposed and on display in SD13’s extended presence. 

I feel ashamed when I think about how I could have done better for myself. DH is my son’s father and I should be grateful for the life he has provided us.

I feel uncomfortable around SD13 if I am not in an overjoyous mood because I feel she takes it personally.

I feel exhausted by SD13’s presence because she rarely has anything interesting to say.

I feel guilty for thinking SD13 is dumb because I know she has not been allowed to develop normally.

I feel ashamed for the petty things I get mad about with DH, when I know it is actually something bigger I need to address headon. 

I feel angry when DH tries to leave me alone with SD13, whether in public or at home, because we have agreed she is his responsibility.

I feel weak and useless when I see SD13 interact socially with family because there was a time when I was good at encouraging her to be herself. She seems to be a collection of repeated phrases now. 

I feel embarrassed by SD13’s hygiene in public or at family gatherings.

I feel anxiety when SD13 picks up my toddler son because of herpoor hygiene.

I could go on and on and somehow I do feel better!

I feel like a failure because so many of DH’s family thought I would be able to help SD13.

I feel angry at DH’s extended family for heralding me as some kind of answer for SD13’s screwed up childhood.

I feel overwhelmed and confused when I see SD13 make others uncomfortable with her lack of boundaries. 

I feel fear that SD13 is going to be sexually active way too young and that she will become pregnant and become a financial burden on my future.

I feel often useless because I don’t make a lot of money and I am a SAHM. 

I feel guilty for having desires like nicer clothing because I do not make a lot of money and DH does.

I feel ashamed that I have not accomplished more financially even though I know I am a consistently excellent mom and am wonderfully useful to my son.

I feel hurt when I have an idea about home decorating or about how to make our home more organized and DH brings up mild and valid criticisms.

I feel embarrassed that I care so much what DH thinks of me. 

I feel ashamed of the times I have lost my temper



SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

No DH = no stepbrat

No favors.  No money. Disengage.

Don’t take her to your family events.

Forthelifeoftheparty's picture

Yes to all this. I’ve been doing this for awhile—the no money thing and the refusing to take her to my family events. It isn’t fun to have a child at family events and feel like you have to be guarded.

Maxwell09's picture

I might give this a try too. Sounds like a good way to get your grievances out of your own mind...but tell me, are you going to say this list in therapy? Does he get to respond? Do you get to hear his and respond? 

Forthelifeoftheparty's picture

I plan to say all this in therapy or maybe summarize and speak the biggest ones in front of the therapist.

DH gets to respond.

I emailed DH this actually earlier and it made him feel better. He replied with his own list, albeit shorter. And just reading that he felt uncomfortable with some of SD13’s behaviors without me prodding him made me feel so heard. I felt like I wasn’t crazy and it evaporated some of my anger towards him. DH isn’t oblivious. He is as hopeless and confused as me. His list proved that.  

ndc's picture

It's pretty clear from your list what the biggest issue in your marriage is. Are these things you're supposed to voice to your DH?  

Forthelifeoftheparty's picture

I did earlier tonight. Felt great. DH responded by saying he also feels uncomfortable about a lot of things with SD13. That he sees how uncomfortable SD13 makes me and that makes him even more uncomfortable. It makes him anxious because he is not sure how to change her behaviors or if it is even possible at this point and he wants me to be happy.  He admitted to choosing to ignore things because he does not know how to handle them.

big admissions. Big steps.

We both hope this therapist can give us a clearer path. 

justmakingthebest's picture

WOW! That is great that he recognizes these things, even if he is unsure on how to deal with them. So many burry their heads in the sand and refuse to admit there are issues at all- it must all be in the SM's head!

Hopefully this therapist can help you guys come to some sort of middle ground and help with boundaries for SD13 that make you comfortable in your home. 

Harry's picture

Be working to make SD a better person.  Daily showers, clean clothing, to start.  Then try to get her to interact with others the right way.  It is your DH child , he wants to see her.  And he should take care of her.  And try to have fun with her and also guide her. 

You have to stay at arms length or you will become the bad SM and let HD handle it.  

Forthelifeoftheparty's picture

DH does do those things.

Um, sorry but “making SD13 a better person” is not my responsibility. I have no idea who this child really is. 

Those positive things you mention are natural things I do with all children, things that I have had to mindfully stop doing with SD13 because my involvement and guidance only caused trouble.

Thumper's picture

Thank you for sharing your list.

Maybe you have not thought about this so I will share it with you.

Guilt--Guilt should be felt IF we acted illegally or immorally.

Women say they  feel guilty when we are actually feeling sad, shame, angry, conflicted ie "I feel guilty for not baking those cookies for the PTA meeting. I did it last time and no one else does but me"---"I feel guilty for not dog sitting the neighbors 2 dogs again while she takes a cruise. Why wont she ask someone else is she that cheap to board?" "I feel guilty for not going to ss14 base ball game, I am just tired of going so I go get a pedi instead."

You will usually find people who should feel guilt rarely do.

Thanks again for sharing.