Blame, blame, and more blame

When I had a few sessions of counselling on my own almost exactly a year ago, I had said to Sandra, the counsellor, that I wanted to stop caring. She took that negatively, not how I had meant it. Maybe there was an element of fuck you, I don’t care any more in it, but fundamentally, I wanted to be able to let the things that stress me, just wash over me, not get caught in the net of angst. Now, I find myself thinking what, if anything, will enable me to let go of the blame that I pile at my Wife’s feet?

After the previous nights Skype call with Kirsty, Our current counsellor, I had wanted to explore this, and She had a free appointment a couple of days later. I wanted to talk about blame. I wanted to talk about moving past it. I wanted to talk about my need to hear apologies from my Wife without them being suffixed by But. To examine whether, when We fight, my Wife’s complaints that I don’t listen are related. (It’s not intentional on my part, but I am aware that I have a tenancy to get lost in my own thoughts at times like that.)

Kirsty and I didn’t talk so much about why, and yet again I ended up blaming my Wife for this, that and the other. Citing control and examples of how often She has done something I blame Her for that seems relatively simple to deconstruct.

I trotted out a little of my unqualified observations – that my Wife has spent Her entire adult life in managerial roles, whilst I have always worked in teams serving clients’ needs (and found that inherently rewarding, though not necessarily a primary motivation). It’s easy to see behavioural patterns there.
There was my Wife’s politics, that are not difficult to interpret as fuelled by a sense of victim-hood, and how, when She is called out as an oppressor, She retaliates by inverting the challenge – the oppressor is being oppressed. Again, with background knowledge, there are blatant connections to make.
I quoted The Toast Incident*.

From all this Kirsty diagnosed a Parent / Child dynamic. When I recounted how Dr Ruth, our previous counsellor, had identified the same, Kirsty asked if We had had to do any work on that. I couldn’t recall anything. That wan’t to say We hadn’t been so instructed – maybe that’s just symptomatic of me not having taken things is. Not listening.

Kirsty asked how We deal with conflict situations?
My Wife gets angry. Increasingly so. Our conversation about having a conversation about sex was a prime example. These days She responds with anger and I walk away.
How had I dealt with issues in the past? Possibly I hadn’t needed to. Possibly it was easier to let it wash over me and not care, as there had been enough else in the relationship to counterbalance it. But with our marriage being in such a moribund state, the bad shit just feels worse.

Control in sex came up briefly. I related how I had stopped initiating sex within a year or two of our relationship starting, because I expected my advances to meet with rejection. My Wife was in charge when it came to sex. And predictably so – I knew exactly how sex was going to go most of the time [Ed: Let’s not forget those occasions when AM’s Wife has surprised him!] from the moment my Wife went to the bathroom to pee, to the point where I would inevitably do something wrong. The word I associate with Our sex life is “No”: not now, not there, not like that. I’m always waiting to get something wrong. I noted that it was easy to see another manifestation of the Parent / Child dynamic (emphasising that it was not remotely oedipal) and Kirsty seemed to concur, pointing out that that is a two sided coin.
It is a valid, if somewhat unsettling concept, to think that I am responsible in part for that dynamic, and I do feel a little defensive as a result – it is only a short step from victim blame – but a flame without oxygen does not last long.

But we had diverged a long way form what I wanted to talk about. Blame. I tried to pull us back on track.
Kirsty acknowledged that, but said it was all useful info for her, and much of the control, blame, parent/child dynamic all fits together. [Ed: It’s not rocket science, this counselling lark, y’know!]

As we were running out of time, I felt obliged to point out how, with 6 sessions down between Us, and half of those being between just Kirsty and Me, I was aware of the danger of Me starting to drive the narrative. Kirsty intimated how She would quite like to talk to my Wife in a 1-2-1, for balance, and that She would suggest it. I felt awkward that it might seem as though I was behind that move, but Kirsty assured Me that this was a normal practice for Her and that my Wife had raised the possibility when She had first contacted Kirsty. So there should be no comeback.

Did we get to the bottom of my inability to forgive and forget? No. Not remotely.
I would like to return to the subject, though having started to examine the elephant in the room – sex – I do not want to see us getting distracted from that. Because if We are never to have sex again, I want out of the marriage, so there is no point trying to fix other problems in isolation.

Who will be involved in the conversation We currently have booked with Kirsty this week will be interesting to see.

* The Toast Incident: About 8 or 9yrs ago I was getting the family breakfast – toast all round. My Wife came into the kitchen and I asked if I could get Her any toast. She declined and said She’d get Her own breakfast. The next day I was getting the family breakfast again – toast all round again. Again my Wife came into the kitchen and again I asked if I could get Her any toast. Again She declined and said She’d get Her own breakfast. The third day, I was getting the family breakfast – toast all round. My Wife came into the kitchen. I didn’t offer to get Her anything. She asked “Where’s mine?”

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