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Old 01-26-2010, 08:01 AM   #1  
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Default OK, so hubby and I had a talk, and...

... I told him something has to change here and now, if this marriage (one year) is going to work long-term. And what must change is that I must be respected. This means no calling me "crazy" because I have a mental illness, etc. In his defense, he responded that he hadn't meant disrespect, but has a limited vocabulary and doesn't know any other word for when my symptoms are acting up. I suggested "symptomatic." Or, he can just describe the actions he doesn't feel comfortable with, without putting a value judgment on it.

Being respected also means listening to my input, taking my feelings seriously, and not making decisions for me. At the conclusion of it, he said that some words appearing neutral to him are going to appear inflammatory to me, and I agree to be forgiving if it's an innocent slip. Likewise, just because he doesn't demonstrate his emotions doesn't mean I can't, and he's going to have to tolerate an occasional display. Can't I put emotions aside and just think logically, he wonders? No, I answer. I have to work through the emotion first, and then I can think logically. He needs to let me do that. (And if I have to watch my tone of voice or else I'm acting "crazy," then by gosh, he'll need to watch his tone too!)

And here is where my thoughts are haywire. That word "respect" is loaded with baggage, at least for me. Hubby and I are both abuse survivors. I have never put my foot down and demanded respect before, at least not without being shot down right after with some variation of "who do you think you are?" It comes as a mild surprise that he didn't laugh in my face and give me that old saw about "respect is something you earn, not something you demand." Or, "I pay the bills around here, so what I say goes." It does look like he is willing to respect me.

Yes, there remains that ghost of a voice in the back of my head, asking what nerve I've got, demanding to be respected as if I'm--I'm--some kind of important person or something! In 45 years on this planet, I have never felt entitled to respect. I was always told you have to earn it, and of course, exactly how to earn it was a secret not to be revealed to me. Other people around me had apparently earned it; I had to respect them or ELSE! The whole concept was a one-way street. I was required to give it, but not entitled to receive it, no matter what. Not even my children had to respect me. If I said something, and another adult in the family disagreed with me, it never seemed to matter who actually gave birth to the children; I was overruled. My relatives would correct my children, with me standing right there, but then step in and undermine me if they felt *my* correction was unwarranted. (It just occurs to me that the one relative who did the most of this, has never been married and never fathered his own children.) Were I to have the audacity to demand respect, I would be openly ridiculed. "Well, listen to miss high and mighty who wants respect! That's a laugh!"

My husband didn't do that. But I still feel iffy about continuing to demand it. Have I earned it? How *does* one earn respect?

And is it something that should be earned, after all? Or shouldn't every human being on the planet be entitled to some measure of respect? Don't even death row inmates merit some human dignity? We talked this over, hubby and I, and we seem to have come to the conclusion that everybody deserves respect. It's disrespect that ends up being earned.
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Old 01-26-2010, 08:23 AM   #2  
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First of all, good job for finally standing up.

Second of all...I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to basic human respect. Any respect beyond that must be earned...but if you love someone, it usually goes hand in hand. However, just because someone doesn't SHOW you respect doesn't mean that they don't respect you or love an abuse survivor, he probably doesn't know how to show it himself. I'm sure you know your hubby loves you. It's important to work on improving our language towards each one appreciates being called crazy!! (I've gotten that one too...) The way we speak to and act towards each other can really change the vibe in a relationship and how both people feel.

I hope that things start looking up and some positive changes are made. Good luck!
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:21 PM   #3  
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It can be difficult to demand respect when you're not used to receiving it, and it definitely goes both ways. It sounds like we have some overlapping issues - I've definitely had the "it is disrespectful to call me crazy" conversation. At the same time, I have to be respectful that not everyone around me has, understands, or relates to my personal issues, so while people can do their best once they're aware of a limitation, it's disrespectful and unfair to expect it without discussing it first.

So I'm glad you had the conversation, and believe me, you'll be continuing to have it as you two work out just exactly what terms and ways of talking/arguing are acceptable to you both. It takes a lot of time to work out long-term solutions, and feelings do get hurt along the way, but if you approach with an attitude of compromise and tolerance while you work through it together, it'll make a world of difference.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:04 PM   #4  
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There was a little revamp of the conversation this morning. (He brought it up.) I reminded him that he's going to have to expect me get emotional sometimes, and yes, occasionally I will be out of control. I have an illness; those are the symptoms. We're both diabetic, so *this* analogy, he can understand: If I were having an insulin reaction, he wouldn't tell me to just get over it; he'd help see that my needs were met. It would be unreasonable to expect a diabetic to always have a normal blood glucose level, and it would be unreasonble to expect someone with a mental illness to always have normal behavior.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:17 AM   #5  
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Good for you for having the courage to stand up for yourself.

I'm a survivor of an abusive, alcoholic home too.

I've had problems my whole life with depression, and have been diagnosed with depression and severe PTSD from what was done to me as a child.

It's been hard for me to learn to stand up for myself, too. Sometimes I still struggle with it. And struggle with trying to figure out what "normal" is.

I find my way, I find my own path. And along the way there are some reasons to smile.

But I'll admit, I'm feeling grouchy today cuz it's the first day of my period and I'm always grouchy and down on that day. Some days are just down days, I guess that's how it goes.
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