[Alcoholism & Holidays Part II] If things escalate, PROTECT yourself

PART II: [NOTE: My job as a coach and facilitator is mostly to help folk’s minds see the errors in their own logic, so that their thinking does not continue to ramp up big emotional charges. However, in this publication of a text message to a client who had to make some big changes in her marriage, we agreed I would offer the best suggestions I had around the ways her marriage was moving into the realm of domestic violence. This is NOT advice meant for you to act on in your own situation unless it feels like a safe fit for you. [Seek professional help from a domestic violence counselor or legal help as needed.]
Debunk the Story Making you at Fault for his Violent Behavior
Your story about him (“He is not happy with me”) is the thing you can turn around:
a) I am not happy with me (in that moment), and
b) I am not happy with him (in that moment), and
c) He is happy with me (and maybe just not happy with himself).
Find Examples
Find examples to see how all three could be as true or truer than your original assumption.
I like that you are seeing that you have options about this and also about the drinking.  It may not feel like it, but you do.  Hang in there.

RE: your one-liner: I am frustrated with him because he takes more than he gives.

If your one-liner were to have been “I want him to stop taking more (from me) than he gives (to me),” you would want to find ways that you want yourself to “stop taking more from yourself than you give to yourself.”

Find three ways that you take more from yourself than you give to yourself.  Metaphorically, you take away more peace than you give when you believe your scary thoughts — that could be an example.  SO a living turnaround would be to catch yourself engaging in scary thoughts and to question the truth of them so you GIVE yourself more peace.  The examples don’t have to be abstract.
It could be that you take away more sleep from yourself than you give when you don’t set some limits around him coming to bed after drinking. Or you don’t pay yourself (save) enough for things you want just for you as you are always putting others’ needs first in the family, and so forth.  You can find at least one of these and think of actual measurable action steps you could take to start to live the turnaround.
Think of the turnaround as your prescription for happiness… as the gift that comes out of the symmetry of your situation.

When you have done your own inner work on needing him to change in order for you to be happy, you can set the tone that your love is NOT conditional (i.e., on-or-off, based on his behavior). And you can let him know that, in the meantime, you are not going to be a doormat or expose the kids to violence.

You have the choice to clearly ask for and “enforce” what you need to do to make your life work and take care of the little girl part of YOU as well, without communicating to others that they are bad or wrong or less than.  We’re all just doing the best we can, and when your job becomes to model taking care of yourself, without ostracizing others in the process, other are also less likely to entangle their garbage with yours.

Be a Role Model & Love Unconditionally

If you just let him know with all your heart how much you love him and how much you trust him to be OK and work it out, you will see more and more results like your recent small success.  It is hard but also really will set the tone for the relationship you SAY you want, and for him and the children. You are the decider of how you want to be in this marriage, and setting a loving, but also clear, tone is the best thing we can do in our marriages and with our kids.

You may decide you want NO violence in your house, not throwing drawers, not anything.

And you don’t have to be perfect yourself to ask for that.

If the two of you together are too overwhelmed by the situation to treat each other the way you want, then you may have to make big changes. For now, just keep looking at what you want (and what you have told yourself you need to settle for, since your childhood history left you not having role models for what the more safe, healthy options would even look like).
Remember, in the face of these behaviors, we can become little and clueless, and can’t even think what would be a reasonable solution. IT’S NOT EASY! But you can slow everything down and  put yourself in the hands of someone you feel totally safe with (me) who can model healthy responses by texting me communicates about those littlest parts of you. Know that there is a new “grownup” sheriff in town and you aren’t going to let those littlest parts suffer any more.
When someone is violent toward THINGS, children get the message loud and clear that it is their fault or that they are in the presence of danger. While she was amazing, there were times when my mom went around with a disgusted tone of voice, slamming cabinet doors and scaring everyone. What is throwing drawers and yelling if not a physical manifestation of anger?
Children (including you) Often Aren’t Assured It’s Not Their Fault

I would like to say that I think men have bigger challenges with anger and testosterone, but many moms carry so much frustration that they end up being the intimidating, angry, loud offenders in the house.

Whether the angry controlling one is a man or woman, the more “timid “other parent in some ways is the WORSE offender in children’s wounding, by not standing up to the violence. Because the other parent’s own trauma can make them feel little and clueless about how to handle the situation, no one tells the kids that the parent’s level of frustration is not their fault, and that the level of intensity is not about them. No one takes them out of the situation.  No one tells them that they are OK, stands up to the offender, and lets the kids know it is the grownup who needs to find other ways to deal with what is upsetting them.  No one gets them out of the house, but allows them to be exposed to the ranting and raving and blame.

(Domestic violence counselors will tell you that throwing things and punching walls and slamming doors and yelling and those kind of things are violent because they communicate to the other that it’s not OK to stand up to them–or you could be next.)

I can’t predict the future, and am not giving you advice, but in order to advocate for yourself and your kids, you may have to draw some very hard lines. And honor them. You may need to make a plan to leave if things escalate, or an advance plan that he has to leave if this happens again. Take care of yourself and your kids. What you do or don’t do will be more clear as you move forward.  The trick is really just asking the questions and then sitting still to find how your pain is trying to give you another way to see it.
Back to turnarounds: they help you see how your story about him is a reflection of what is going on inside you–the ways you are treating yourself or him, or the way he is treating you–but that you are blind to because of over-focus on his behavior. I think you can have a conversation in advance and let him know that if there is yelling or throwing things or any kinds of threats or coercion (i.e., using what you need as leverage against you, including withholding his affection or attention or cooperation), then you need to get yourself out of the line of fire.
Get OUT of the Line of Fire of Abuse or Violence of ANY Kind
You may want to have a calm conversation when it is not happening and let him know in advance that if he does that, here is what you will do. Get him to be part of that agreement in the name of protecting you and the kids–i.e., if he cares as much as he says he does, he will want to be part of a plan that protects you all from violence, even if it is committed by him. It can be that you agree he has to leave and stay somewhere else for at least three days when this happens, or until you let him know you feel safe enough for him to come back.

Ask Him to StopHaving had that conversation, if it happens again, ask him to stop and let him know it is not about your interpretation vs his of what is violent. If you feel threatened and let him know, that is enough. (It may take practice for you to recognize it, since it has been so minimized in your household.)  If he can’t stop, he needs to remove himself. You want someone who is going to advocate for you when you feel unsafe. You don’t want to have to justify why you feel unsafe, but want him to stop what he is doing immediately. The back-up plan that you both discuss in advance is that if he doesn’t remove himself, you will remove yourself and the kids.

When you lay this out in advance, then he is choosing–knowing in advance what the consequences are–and is not forcing you into an in-the-moment decision about what to do. It has already been decided during calm, lucid moments. You just need to follow through. Domestic violence literature will tell you to have some things ready so that you can be on your own for a while… make a plan that accounts for the needs of yourself and your kids, plan on a place to stay, open a safe deposit box with all important documents (leave copies in your old box). Even if it’s making sure that whoever you would stay with is aware that you may show up unannounced and will provide you with a key.

Again, this is not ADVICE to you. It is just an example of one option; my role here is never to give advice but to help you find your own path.  You can’t be in control of what he does, only of what you do. And at this point you don’t even need to worry about showing him that you love him unconditionally. He has to “get” that on his own, i.e., you proving unconditional love to him in order to have him be in less pain or behave better is not necessarily going to have that effect.

P.S. If you’re dealing with intense dynamics within yourself or your family, feel free to reach out and have a free strategy session with me. We are about to start another cohort to go through our Get-YOU-Back Bootcamp together. Given what an important and life-changing digital course this is–complete with multiple touchpoints of LIVE support from me and 1-1 coaching within group calls, we have decided to meet with people in advance of signing on to make sure this life-changing six-week introductory immersion in the NO-MATTER-WHAT Way (the process I teach) is a good fit for you, and you are truly motivated to grab the happy changes it offers.The focus is HOW to end self-criticism, self-abandonment, and self-compromise in your marriage and other high-stakes relationships, especially the one with yourself! If you are ready to create real change in the patterns that separate you from yourself, others, and all life’s possibilities–even after years of inner work–then it is never too late to uplevel your peace and happiness by coming home to a place of sweet Self-Solidarity. This course teaches you HOW to turn your inner critic into the champion of your happiness, and turn your greatest challenges into your greatest breakthroughs.

If you want to learn more or see if you are a good fit for the Get-YOU-Back Bootcamp, just CLICK HERE TO BOOK A CALL  or email me at support@shawnmahshie.com to book a call soon. You are also welcome to write PRIVATE in the subject line and tell me as much as you want about your own stressful situation, whether or not it relates to the topic of this email.