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Thread: The Guilt Button

  1. #1
    eyeing you rabbit warrior kitsune's Avatar
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    The Guilt Button

    So, over on that other thread, it was pointed out to me, that ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Your guilt trip button is defective. Guilt should be about something you did. You shouldn't feel guilty about other people admitting they mistreated you. What you should feel is vindication and contempt. He's supposed to live with the guilt and shame of his transgression, not transfer it to you.
    I mused my guilt trip button seems to be hot-wired to my compassion button, but today, I noticed something new.

    I called my husband to ask if it was okay to take out €20 from our joint bank account because I noticed we were pretty close to maxing out and I wasn't sure if there were any important bills due to come in before his paycheck gets deposited. Out of habit, I asked what he was doing. He said he was shopping for something nice for me.

    I moved out of our apartment in December and into an itty bitty four-person shared apartment on the other side of town in the second poorest neighborhood of Hamburg. On January 1st, while walking the dog together, we got into an argument which ended in me getting punched in the face on a public street followed by the words, "You wanted me to hit you."

    So, tell me, why the hell do I feel guilty about him spending time out there buying something nice for me which we actually can't afford?

    Yes, I moved on. Yes, for the last three weeks, I have a boyfriend. I was definitely not looking, but Cupid shot that arrow in my back so that I couldn't even see it coming to defend myself.

    I feel guilty because I wonder if my husband would be buying me some big gift that I probably want if he knew I now have a boyfriend. So, it feels like I'm manipulating my husband by keeping my boyfriend a secret. And I have felt tremendous pressure to be honest with my husband about my love life. Meanwhile, best friends keep singing the chorus line "You moved out, it's none of his fucking business!" And I myself fear the husband will go on the warpath of divorce destruction if he knew. I've been trying to avoid that and thus everyone in Hamburg except my husband knows that I have a new boyfriend.

    Go ahead. Help me figure this out. Guilt trip button needs reprogramming. Please help brainstorm new coding.

    "
    'I cannot play with you,' the fox said. 'I am not tamed.'" - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince (1943)

    REMINDER TO SELF WHEN DEALING WITH THE RABBIT WARRIOR: "All warfare is based on deception." - Sun Tzu,
    The Art of War

  2. #2
    Member SheepDog's Avatar
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    This story pushes a button for me. Please know my thoughts are as much about me as about anything in your situation. Also, please know that I offer it for your consideration, and I honor your right to accept or ignore, or do whatever you like with my opinion.

    I see two people trying to control each other. This is total speculation, but I suspect that if you look back, you're likely to see a pattern of both of you trying to control each other. You each have different methods, of course, but the thing that jumps out at me is a need to control the other. This may not seem related to your question, but I think it is.

    My advice is to stop trying to control what he knows and what he does. If you have a boyfriend, then it sounds like you want to be divorced. Get started on that and stop trying to control his reaction. Get your own checking account and stop tying your livelihood to his. If your safety is a concern, then address that, too, but trying to control his aggression by keeping secrets is probably not the best approach.

    I know you're in a tough position, and I hope it goes well.

  3. #3
    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Fake it till you can make it.
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    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitsune View Post
    I called my husband to ask if it was okay to take out €20 from our joint bank account because I noticed we were pretty close to maxing out and I wasn't sure if there were any important bills due to come in before his paycheck gets deposited. Out of habit, I asked what he was doing. He said he was shopping for something nice for me.
    I moved out of our apartment in December and into an itty bitty four-person shared apartment on the other side of town in the second poorest neighborhood of Hamburg. On January 1st, while walking the dog together, we got into an argument which ended in me getting punched in the face on a public street followed by the words, "You wanted me to hit you."
    That's an oddly passive way of saying he punched you in the face, as if you're reluctant to blame him for his action. And he's also disinclined to accept blame for his action. By that one data point of him punching you in the face, unless possibly if you hit him first, I'm thinking you should quickly put the "we," the relationship, behind you, including getting your own checking account.


    So, tell me, why the hell do I feel guilty about him spending time out there buying something nice for me which we actually can't afford?

    Yes, I moved on. Yes, for the last three weeks, I have a boyfriend. I was definitely not looking, but Cupid shot that arrow in my back so that I couldn't even see it coming to defend myself.

    I feel guilty because I wonder if my husband would be buying me some big gift that I probably want if he knew I now have a boyfriend. So, it feels like I'm manipulating my husband by keeping my boyfriend a secret. And I have felt tremendous pressure to be honest with my husband about my love life. Meanwhile, best friends keep singing the chorus line "You moved out, it's none of his fucking business!" And I myself fear the husband will go on the warpath of divorce destruction if he knew. I've been trying to avoid that and thus everyone in Hamburg except my husband knows that I have a new boyfriend.

    Go ahead. Help me figure this out. Guilt trip button needs reprogramming. Please help brainstorm new coding.
    I don't know why you still think in terms of "we" and why you'd be interested in a gift from him, after you've moved out, he has punched you in the face, and you have a new boyfriend.

    I say that with just picking up the story from here and not knowing any more history or context.

    EDIT: If you're considering a divorce, see an attorney. Possible advantages of starting the process are that you may be entitled to support from him while the divorce is pending and you may obtain a protective/restraining order against him, if you're concerned about your safety.

    TIP: Open your new account in a different banking institution to avoid the possibility of the bank removing money from your individual account to make up for overdrafts to the joint account. At least in the US that can happen and I've seen it happen.
    Last edited by Mike; 02-21-2016 at 12:55 PM.

  5. #5
    Scobblelotcher Sistamatic's Avatar
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    I agree with everything everyone is saying here.

    No matter how fucking impossible you may think it is, you have to make it so that your life and his no longer intersect. That needs to be your goal in every single thing you do. You wake up in the morning and you think, "how much progress is it humanly possible for me to make in toward the goal of no longer being in any way connected to him." You will not be happy and you will not be free until you achieve this goal. How can you stand to breathe knowing that you have to ask his permission to get money? How can take a gift from him and not feel a collar clamping around your neck?

    I'm sorry, but fact is often the opposite of tact. Here on the INTP forum, you will not get a lot of sympathy, you will get solutions. That's how INTPs care.

    Here's some things to think about:

    1. You know that cliche -- the one where a guy hits a woman and then buys her something pretty and says he'll never do it again, and she feels bad. If you take that gift from him, you are that woman. You may already be that woman. If so, it's not too late to change. Stop being that woman immediately. He punched you in the face. The end of the story.

    My first husband threw a 15 pound ashtray at me because I stayed up all night studying trying to go back to college and didn't do the shit he wanted me to do that day -- same week I came home from studying and found him with a woman on the couch. I ducked the ashtray. It went through the wall where my head was...I'd have likely had a cracked skull or worse if I hadn't ducked. It was the first time he ever tried to hurt me physically, though he was a master of making me feel like shit about myself. It was the last time. He went to work the next morning and I packed everything sentimentally valuable and left. Was I initially homeless? Yes. Did I leave behind the business we built? Yes. Broke? Yes. But I'll tell you what I wasn't. I was never ever alone with him or dependent on him again. He tried to hurt me. The end of the story. I was broke, homeless, stressed, and needing to start over...but I figured it out. I didn't need him for that. It wasn't his role anymore. I never forgave him and it doesn't matter because he isn't part of my universe anymore.

    2. If you take that gift from him knowing full well that you are intending to divorce him, you are sending mixed signals and dragging this thing out. Rip the bandaid off. Get out.

    3. If you share a bank account with him, he has power over you. If you have direct deposit at work, go immediately to open your own account and immediately ensure that your paycheck goes there and that you and you alone have any access to it. Get out.

    4. He punched you in the face. HE PUNCHED YOU IN THE FUCKING FACE...and he didn't know you had a boyfriend then. Never ever ever be within arms reach of him again. Never be alone with him again. Never. Not for any reason. He's going to find out eventually and he is going to fucking freak. You have to get him out of your life. This situation is insane.


    Step away from the cage, Kitsune. A fox on a leash -- as if.

    And let me remind you once more, lest your fears get the better of you. You are a nola girl. You are used to living below sea level. The only thing you need to thrive is your freedom.


    Edit: Additional thing to think about.

    If you do not take decisive steps to end this marriage, you will still be in this limbo a year from now. He isn't divorcing you, you are divorcing him. Get on with it, for both your sake's, and for the sake of you new beau. The hard parts of this that you are avoiding...like telling him it's over no matter what...that's not going to stop hanging over your horizon occluding all your possibilities until you make it go away.

    It won't be easy. But you have to do it. You have to. There is no getting out of it. There is no comfortable path forward, but there is a path forward. And it ain't gonna travel itself.

    The sooner you get this over with, the sooner it will be behind you.

    You got this.
    Last edited by Sistamatic; 02-20-2016 at 09:44 PM.
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  6. #6
    Bringer of Jollity MoneyJungle's Avatar
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    If you feel guilty anyway might I suggest throwing a brick at his car?

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

  7. #7
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    I'm so ashamed of the things I rationalized from my worst relationship that I can't even post it. But I know what it's like to feel unable to cut ties, I know what it's like to be emotionally blackmailed. He has the responsibility to continue existing in the world as an independent being. You're not put on this earth to guarantee anybody's happiness and hold their hand through life. People with less resources than him have dealt with adversity and survived, and now it's his turn to face the adversity of having nothing to do with you. He can sink or swim like everyone who came before him on this planet. It's a fact of life, and if he's not fit for life, it's completely his own problem.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

  8. #8
    Member helium's Avatar
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    From the other thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by kitsune View Post
    So, I guess it's like I want to throw forgiveness and nurturing his way to help him heal because I don't like seeing people I care(d) about hurting.
    The sense of guilt you feel may not be guilt so much as it is unease at having not forgiven. I'll try to explain what I mean by this.

    Forgiveness is certainly admirable. I'll go as far as saying forgiveness is necessary for maintaining good mental health. Not forgiving means there's a part of you still living actively in the past. It's not the same as harboring feelings of revenge, exactly, but it's right up there. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is acknowledging a wrong, then letting it go and moving on. I dare say you will not completely move ahead until you've forgiven the wrong as a wrong, but a wrong that is over and done with -- in the past.

    Nevertheless, forgiving is not forgetting. Barring dementia, you likely will remember what happened to you for the rest of your life, even if the memory starts to blur a bit around the edges. And remembering is a good thing, even if it's remembering something heinous. You don't want to forget what happened to you, lest you fail to learn from it -- that is, noticing similar patterns in the future and avoiding a repeat scenario. But if you do not forgive, you may as well have recorded it and kept it playing on loop, even if it's only background noise much of the time; and, like a car alarm in the distance, you may not notice it consciously every moment, but it'll start to grate at you. Forgiving is saying, "You don't owe me anything," and that sounds like precisely where you want to be -- away from the situation in its entirety with not so much as a debt to even loosely tie you to the wrong.

    The sort of guilt you described seems to me to be that of acknowledging a debt (not merely a wrong) and feeling bad about not accepting payment. Once you forgive, there is no debt to be acknowledged, therefore no reason for payment, much less a reason to feel bad about a payment or lack thereof. There is simply the wrong, which can't be changed, so you can leave it in the past where it belongs. Not forgiving the person who wronged you is effectively choosing to carry the wrong with you into your future, and I figure you don't want that.

    I don't think your guilt button is broken. I think a lack of forgiveness (which is very natural) is allowing the wound to fester, and guilt is the feeling you get when that wound gets poked.

  9. #9
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    @kitsune... wtf?

    1. @Mike hit the nail on the head with regard to your passive observation about a violent act. You even used passive voice. I suspect there are a few motives at work in doing that, but I think the one you need to test yourself for right now is: are you trying to psychologically distance yourself from being a woman whose husband punched her in the face, in anger, in public? On New Year's Day? And did nothing?

    I'm assuming you did nothing mind you--though I hope that if you weren't already moved out, that that was the catalyst to move out. If so: good move, albeit later than I would have liked. No, later than we would have liked, meaning the collective here, all your real friends, and you yourself if look close.

    2. You were looking for a boyfriend, and have been for some time. It's okay to admit that to yourself too, because you had reason. I'm not saying you were hanging out in nightclubs or on Tinder or anything like that though. What I'm saying is that for a year or two (or three--from what I've noticed), you've been longing for a better intimacy and struggling with staying married. You've been denying yourself the overt seeking, but underneath, you've been wishing and longing really really hard. If you look through your older posts, especially those revolving around relationships, you'll see it.

    It's okay. You held off until you severed the important internal ties, and really, all you'll be admitting to yourself is that you were lonely and unhappy because the person you were with wasn't nice to you.

    What he's trying to do now is reattach those ties. If you let him, it won't be better. At best it will be the same. But it will probably be worse. You deserve better than him--everyone does. Hell, even he deserves better than himself but he's what he's got and it's on him to unfuck himself. Protip: Don't entertain the idea he might, will, or did. Get rid of the rest of the ties, and forget about him--save for the calibration data for your tweaky alarm.

    But then, I'm of the opinion that any time an adult punches another adult in the face in anger, that's a big sign saying their relationship to one another, whatever it was, is over. I'm not super big on forgiving such things. I'm super not big on it to tell the truth.

    I just don't think it's a good idea to hang out with people that the thought of can make you flinch.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  10. #10
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Uhhh. I think guilt in disfunctional relationships often comes from the belief that you didn't really love your partner and somehow misled them into expecting a loving attitude that you're constantly accused of not having. Consequently wasting everyone's time and hurting your partner. So when you end it, you feel like you're retroactively confessing that yes, it's true, I don't love you and you may be right that I never have. At least that's what it looks like now.

    There is such a thing as self-fulfilling accusations. When someone tortures you about how inadequate and unloving you are on a constant basis, and portrays themselves as the victim of your inadequacy, you could start to believe it. You feel inadequate and guilty. And you can't love them that way. They weave their bond through guilt and blackmail because deep down, they don't think they can do it with love, they don't think they deserve to be loved. If they did, they wouldn't be policing your affection on a regular basis.

    Believing that you're good enough is a large part of why your partner will want to stick around with you. Nothing is more demotivating and unsexy than being with someone who doesn't think they deserve you, and all of the emotional manipulating that comes with that territory. Fuck that. That's a time bomb, and it will go off.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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