Sharing My Pain and Looking for Empathy – The Challenge is Real – Part 4

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Ladies!  Spring is officially in the air and it makes my heart SO happy!  Never mind that it’s supposed to snow early tomorrow morning here in Denver.

Moving right along… ahem.

This series has taken on a life of it’s own so it will do you some good to read the first three posts here, here and here.  Once you’ve done that – you are all set and ready to go.

I talked to Jason briefly this morning and asked him – what did he do that Sunday evening, now many fortnights ago, that helped him get through to me – heart and soul?  How did he communicate what he was feeling without me spiraling into shame? (More on this in a bit.)  Furthermore, how did he use his anger for good?

I could sum up what he said in one word – vulnerability.  I know – not the best of news is it.

And this is where things can get super complicated – because when we are working toward expressing our hurt and pain towards our husbands – are you kidding me?!  The LAST thing on this earth that I wanted to do in the thick of my healing journey was to be vulnerable with Jason.  Who wants to get hurt and then set themselves up to potentially get hurt again?!  This is so not even natural or part of our human nature – now is it.

I love to refer to Brene Brown’s work when talking about vulnerability – what she says is pretty powerful –

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.  Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” p4  Rising Strong

And courage is exactly what we need – now isn’t it?  Because when we choose to be vulnerable – we are choosing to risk, choosing to potentially get hurt, and choosing to let go of the outcome.

To add some context to this – I want to share two things that Jason said this morning that he thinks might have helped him get to me in his anger:

He was super emotional.  Probably because he was utterly exhausted from his EMB weekend, yes.  But also because he hadn’t been honest with me about some of the parenting struggles he was experiencing.  So after several attempts of trying to communicate to me – I think he realized he wasn’t getting through to me and he couldn’t take it anymore.  The flood gates opened and out it all came – tears, anger, sadness, despair.

Keep in mind – the anger he expressed wasn’t protective, pushing me out.  The anger he expressed was vulnerable (there were tears, there were words like – “I am desperate”) and allowed me into his heart.

He was also very clear about what a big deal this was.  In fact, I think he used words like – “I’m dying inside”.  {That will wake a girl up, let me tell you.}

Do you see how Jason didn’t hold back with being vulnerable?  He showed up, he was all in.

For some of you reading this – you might know deep down this is your next step – to let down some of the walls and allow your husband in even more.  To show him what a big deal this (whatever “this” might be) is.  This vulnerability can come via tears or it might come via an intimate anger – or both.

For others, please hear me say – being vulnerable isn’t necessarily your next step.  Think this through and talk to your go-to girls and ask them what they think.

And last – a word about shame.  I mentioned at the top of this post that Jason communicated what he was feeling without me spiraling into shame.  Although there are things that Jason could have said that might have caused the feelings of inadequacy to surface, know that me holding myself above the shame pit is on me, not on him.

And the same applies to our husbands – it isn’t our responsibility to make sure that we don’t hit their shame button.  Sure, we can choose our words wisely.  AND – it’s incredibly important to work toward being fully known in a vulnerable way and surrendering how he is going to take it.  Again, it’s not your responsibility to keep him from going to a place of shame.

{This might be a topic to revisit in the next post – how the early struggles in our journey – with Jason automatically going to a place of shame with any argument, any discussion – little did we know – was laying the foundation for him to have the tools to overcome the shame in the years to come.  And remember – it’s that shame that was one of the triggers for him to choose to act out.  So working through the shame is incredibly important.  Don’t take that away from your husband!}

As always, would love to hear your thoughts.

xo – Shelley



4 thoughts on “Sharing My Pain and Looking for Empathy – The Challenge is Real – Part 4

  1. caroline

    April 28, 2018  |  01:57 am

    This is a wonderful story of forward movement Shelley. Very encouraging, thanks for letting us in on it. I understand you still have the actual issues to sort out here, but even being able to have this conversation…well, it says so much about the hard work you’ve both done. He must have felt very safe with you in order to share his heart like that.

    I wanted to second your warning that the betraying husband may not be able to hold a hurting wife’s vulnerability… yet…or ever. There must be some level of trustworthiness going on, otherwise we are just floodlighting or worse, pouring fuel on the blazing fire.

    When I showed my raw hurt and anger it broke my husbands heart, and it’s largely out of that brokenness that our healing as a couple has been able to grow. BUT, (and this is a huge but) he had already begun the delicate process of trying to earn my trust with transparency and accountability. He had stopped acting out, created boundaries for himself, verbalized that bottom line promise to “do whatever it takes”, and he was in the process of giving the full disclosure after many partial disclosures.

    Honestly, I think prior to that situation all my vulnerability had mostly been used against me. Years worth of honesty and openness was being carefully collected as evidence that I was high maintenance, selfish, crazy, narrow minded, paranoid, a difficult spouse, etc. He has even confessed to baiting me and picking fights to create the distance he needed for avoiding sex. While he was pursuing his addiction, I was not actually safe being vulnerable with him. It was very much like handing him rocks to throw back at me.

    So in a way, in the new exchange of vulnerability I was following his lead. He was vulnerable by saying “I did all this crap, now lets stay together anyway.” and I answered by saying “WHAAAAAAT?” Only louder and longer. Neither knew exactly how the other would react, but we now wanted the same thing, (A real marriage) and we instinctively knew some risks had to be taken if we were going to have ANYTHING of value.

    SO….wives…we still listen best with our eyes…are there some signs of humanity still there? Match that level.

  2. Teresa

    May 1, 2018  |  02:24 pm

    I found more evidents in my house from my husband cheating on me and he tells me he doesn’t know who left it. He refuses to admit. I decided to leave a letter and told him I needed to create a boundary between us I have only been gone one night and he wants me to come home. That letter meant nothing. Needing pray.

  3. Chelle

    May 30, 2018  |  12:56 pm

    It’s amazing to hear the story of your lives continuing to unfold . You lived a lifetime of pain before your children were born , and now you are in the thick of parenting while still growing and stretching in your own lives as well as pouring into the lives of so many others .
    Thank you for this series , I struggle with being vulnerable and so does my husband , I realize he needs much more work in this area for me to feel a freedom to do so .
    It helps to know that when I am vulnerable and his shame button is pushed that it’s not for me to own , but that he has more work to do and it will help him grow ♥️

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 1, 2018  |  03:07 pm

      You always have a way of encouraging others. Thank you, friend. xo

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