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learning to express my feelings

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  • 131 posts


Learning to express my feelings as feelings
My husband made a statement to me last night that made me anrgy and sad instantly, but i was unable to express either of these to him at the moment. He said that i never say how i feel and that i express thoughts or opinions as feelings. At first i was upset and started crying and couldn't speak as i rarely can when something upsets me greatly. i also button up and start obsessing over it in my mind, instead of staying and talking about it. when we were first together i would not say anything and when he upset me. I would write him some kind of note or letter and he would recieve it a couple of days later and than we would discuss it. eventualy we got to a point where i could say that i was upset to him but it is still a very long hard process for me and for him. When i get upset its like there is 110 foot electric wall between my mind and my mouth. i am very scared of how people will react to my feelings. so when he said this it was very depressing since i feel like i have come along way. i was angry wiht him because i thought he should have told me this sooner. And angry with my self because i should have noticed it sooner. It makes me sad because i don't want to be a person who doesn't decipher opinoions from feelings. After my inital shock wore off we continued our discussion. he asked why i would do this. at first i said i didn't know. Than i realized that my parents told me not to. When i was upset as a child they would  say things like "you are fine", "suck it up", or "stop being a baby." My expressing any emotion made them uncomfortable so it was off limits.  They also state thoughts or opnions as fact.  They think it so it must be true. Now i am sad and angry for different reasons.  Sad for a lot of reasons but mostly for the people in my life having to deal with that aspect of me.  It hurts me to think of how i may have made someone else feel. Angry because How could they?! what the fuck is wrong with them? didn't they do enough? they hurt me then but they had to make sure i would never listen to myself. I know it was part of the whole thing. i had to be scared or they would be unable to live their lives in the way they wanted. 
i moved away two and a half years ago and i thought i was doing great.  i go home a couple of times a year, smile, and head back to portland. I make it sound easy but it i s not. The week before i go, during, and, after i am wrecked. But i felt ok with it untill febuary when i had tanis.  Having tanis created great confusion for me concerning them. It made it impossible to gloss over. I just don't understand how they could do any of what they did to a child. Than i went to indiana in june for my sisters wedding, which was like that movie Pleasantville. When i left my world was in color.  I have seen what my mother is for a very long time. I think its the reason she is glad i am not around. She likes saying she has a daughter living in portland and she is doing great! Her children's successes r her own, but she wouldn't want to hear if it were going wrong. Prier to june i would be ok if she were not  in my life, if it weren't for the rest of my family. But going home in june removed many veils concerning my family. The most about my father,. I use to let him off the hook but i now realize he was apart of every moment. Tehy both make me feel ill and yet i will be staying with them in january for a week. I feel scared and insane. i have tried very hard to keep portland and indiana separate. i realize that that is not possible and to try only hurts myself and my husband and my baby.
I have addressed my mother once when i was 19 and  i was not ready by any stretch of the imagination. I spoke to my brother and sister on two separate occasions when i was 21 and they both said something like thanks for taking care of us. But than i left and now they don't want to talk about the past and say mom and dad do so much. My father and i have had several conversations through out my life most of which include him telling me to be the bigger person", or "you know your mom". He started telling me to be the bigger person when i was 11 or 12. i didn't think he knew about ther abuse untill i was about 12 when i fianlly told him and he told me to listen to my mother and than gave her some bullshit ultumatum. I stopped the physical abuse when i was 15 by telling her if she touched me or my siblings again  i would knock her out. she didn't touch us after that. these are the only times i have discussed any of this with my family. i have become great at putting on a happy face, but i can't any more and if i don't do something, when i go there in januaryy i will be a mess.  i need help. sorry if this is slopy and unfocused i haven'e really slept but i had to get it out.

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  • 14136 posts

I'm sad to hear your story, shantale. I hope you and your husband are able to work through this.[{]

I have three questions for you:

* What does your husband think of your family? Just from what you've reported here about your mother and father, it's really no wonder you are guarded and fearful of emotions. Does he help to protect you from them now?

* Have you and/or your husband had a chance to read "Real Time
Relationships" yet? I think this will help you a great deal in learning
to be honest about your emotions, but I also think it will help him.

* Why do you have to go back to them in January? Why do you say it's impossible to "keep Portland and Indiana separate"? What would be the downside of just not going? What is the benefit to you, of going to see people who make you feel frightened and sad?


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  • 257 posts

It sounds like you've made terrific progress so far, shantale.  Seeing the immorality and cruelty around you is a very important, difficult, and brilliant step to take.  I can understand where you're coming from, and I do think that being "in the moment" emotionally will do wonders for your personal relationship with your husband, child, and (ultimately) yourself.

I agree with everything Greg said.  I think reading RTR and listening to some of the podcasts about it would be an absolutely terrific and relatively painless first step in learning to express your feelings better (I say "better" because you've already done a pretty good job of expressing yourself and your emotions in this post--have you shown it to her husband? I recommend doing that ASAP.)

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  • 131 posts

question one: My husband does notlike my family and would rather i not speak to them at all.  I stay in contact with them because my brother and sister both have small children that i am not ready to loose contact with. the moment i adress any of these issues i believe that they will no longer allow me to see them. my bother and his wife are catholic. My sister and her husband are more open, but my sister is always worried about upsetting my mom. she gets very angry with me when i do. david wants to protect me but it is hard for him since i struggle with the idea of not being apart of my nieces' and nephews' lives.

Question 2: We have listened to on truth, upb, and i am in the midst of rtr. i know it will be helpful, but getting through it is hard. i have found it to be very emotionally gruling.

Question 3:I amgoing back for a wedding of my friends and i am staying with my parents number one cause i am expected too. number two because i ahve very few people in my life from there now and the couple i do can not accomadate us. we can't afford to stay in a hotel. So i am not really going to see them they are just convienant. This is going to be the last time i go to indiana i think.


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david martin

david martin
  • 144 posts

I am Shantale's husband. I have read RTR, and have listened to various parts of it a few times with Shantale, but we have not sat down together and listened to all 12 hours or so together. It's hard to concentrate on something so intense with a baby running around demanding your attention. I have made an attempt to become more emotional honest since reading the book; it is very difficult. We have definitely both benefited greatly from the analysis provided but have not implemented the principles in our lives to the degree which we would like. I have RTRed some with my father, and only gotten deflection and hostility from him. Shantale and I have RTRed since she has posted this, but it is hard to break the cycle of self-censorship. We talked about the conversation we had which caused her to write this, and we RTRed after we listened to Stef's Baby Dream podcast and how it made me feel. I think we are improving in our attempts to apply these principles to our lives, but we are no where near close enough.

I think her mother is probably one of the worst people I have ever met. I have had two conversations with her in which I was open and honest. The first I pointed out she was trying to hold onto two opposing principles, and that she had to give up one to remain consistent. I pointed this out repeatedly before eventually telling her she was a hypocrite. At that point she sort of shrugged her shoulders and walked away. The second was a conversation about a range of topics, where I basically explained to her systematically what the consequences of her beliefs were; all I got back was that she thought i was trying to manipulate her words into things they weren't. When I told her i was just removing the bullshit from her ideas, that ended the conversation. Amusingly at the time, shantale's father told her mother that I was completely right and she was a fool. What a lovely marriage they have.

Her father is slightly less horrible, but he enabled her mother forever and looked the other way during all the terrible things she did. He is also horribly irresponsible and has endangered the life of his grandson on his other daughter's wedding day by driving around blackout wasted on painkillers. When I have brought up the massive abuse shantale and her siblings suffered at the hands of their mother, I think I causes something to snap in him. Since then he has been highly volatile and hostile towards her mother, but in an abusive manner. We thought for a while that he might actually be changing and desire to make himself a better person, but he just repeats the same "argument from armageddon" every time we bring up anarchy, and I don't think he will ever be able to cease his self destructive tendencies.

I have definitely advocated not speaking with her family again, but I completely understand her reluctance to do so because of our nieces and nephews. I do think that the only way to protect them is to show them that we don't think these people are good and moral, but instead of being able to tell them that they will only receive negative propaganda about us.

I am not going back with her to Indiana in January because we cannot afford to (her parents bought her ticket). I wish I could, we could stay with one of my friends instead of her parents if I could. She has gotten my mother to go to the wedding and come down and stay with her basically the whole time. My mom is a bad person, as I think i've made clear elsewhere, and I am working on talking through our history and my feelings there. We have discussed things quite a bit, and she has shown SOME desire to be honest and talk about things though, so I have given her some time to work things out in her head. I'm confident she will not change though. The point of inviting her down is basically to run interference between shantale's parents and shantale. My mother's presence will pacify them, and force them to refrain from the abuse. I'm not too happy about the situation, but I think it is better than shantale having to deal with her parent's alone.

I think shantale shouldn't go to the wedding at all, I don't like her friends who are getting married (Catholic and fake). I want to say more but the cafe we go to for internet access is kicking me out.

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  • 638 posts

It's hard to concentrate on something so intense with a baby running around demanding your attention.

I feel ya. :) Have you considered breaking your listening times into pieces. It would work especially well if there was a nap time. 30 minutes a day means you'll be through RTR in 24 days. It's a thought.

Shantale and I have RTRed since she has posted this, but it is hard to break the cycle of self-censorship.

Have you considered sharing how you feel about RTRing with one another? I know, it's an onion, sharing how you feel about sharing how you feel... Still, it might be useful in getting at the causes underlying your resistance to it. RTR sounds complex at times. At it's most basic is simply being honest and open about what you re feeling to the best of your ability. No judging, only exploring the potential reasons and causes for those emotions with those who possess the curiosity and desire to explore your feelings with you.

I have definitely advocated not speaking with her family again, but I completely understand her reluctance to do so because of our nieces and nephews.

Well, I could be wrong and I don't know that it's reluctance so much as ambivalence. This is where asking her to share her feelings about her family with you would be useful I think. It's difficult but try not to "judge" what she says. Ask questions and be compassionate and curious about her responses. You see something that some part of her does not see or disagrees with. Just remember, you are not trying to manipulate her, but to understand her perspective and potentially share your perspective with her.

The same goes for the upcoming wedding. Consider asking her to RTR with you about her feelings surrounding the upcoming wedding and her desire to attend. Once again, compassionate and curious. You may find that your perspective changes more than hers. It has happened to me several times.

I wish you the best of luck.

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"False ideas never die; only their supporters eventually snuff it." - Hervé This


  • 131 posts

I think the breaking up the rtr in order to listen together is a wonderful idea. Thank you for that.

In regards to how i feel about my parents i don't even know how to begin. My mom will call me and i feel like i have to call her back. its like this string that yanks me in a direction i don't want to go. for instance this weekend she called me and i called her back and she was trying to put my nephew to sleep and said she would call me in 20 min or so. I didn't receive a call from here untill the next day, which is very irritateing because i didn't have time to talk to her because i was at work and had other things i wanted to take care of. so she leaves me three desparate to talk to me messages. In the messages she takes this angry, but attempting not to be tone which makes my skin crawl. In one message she askes me for davids birthday which i just gave to her about two weeks ago. this makes me angry because she always asks me the same questions over and over again and never retains the answer. In one messages she just says call me back i need to talk to you. And the third was similar but more detailed in that she repeats herself a couple of times to stay on my voicemail longer. What makes me angry with myself is that i told david before i listened to the messages that that is how she would be and that i didn't want to talk to her, but i "have" to. I know that i don't have to. i don't even want to, but i also know that i will continue to recieve these messages untill i return her call. My sister and her are trying to plan a first birthday party for tanis while i am home and she wants addresses for davids family. And to discuss a cake which i thought we already decided on. Not thought i already said my sister could make a) because she volunteered to and b) because i don't want them spending alot of money on it. So when i finally called her back today i was very frustrated. At first i atempted to address the fact that i already told her when davids birthday was. she said something lame like o i forgot to write it down. I wanted to scream and yell and tell her that she always does this, but instead i just said o an moved on. it makes me feel physically sick to think about having a confrontation with her. This is where that wall i mentioned earlier comes in. we discussed a few other things and than when we get off the phone she always says i love you and up untill about 6 months or so ago i would say it back even though i don't mean it. now i have taken to finding creative ways to ending the conversation so i don't have to say it. this is challenging and sometimes she will say it a couple times and i often end up hanging up on her while she is saying it. i realize this is not a healthy tactic for myself, but the fear i have in adrressing any emotions with her is pretty intence. That is just one example of my interactions with her,but they are all pretty much that way and we never discuss anything past how r u and tanis and our conversations last no longer than 5 min ever. she is always so desparate to talk but than it seems she is always trying to get off the phone with me.


As for the wedding. Steph is my oldest friend and basically the only one still left in indiana. she is the only person who has been there for me in some pretty bad times in my life. she is very caring and always willing to liten. and yes she is catholic. i have already decided this will be the last time i go to indiana and there are a couple of doors i need to close there. regarding other friends and my family. I have decided i am go to rtr with my parents, but i don't anticipate that will go well and i am planning to do it on my last day there. i have another friend who i have who can take me to the airport and i can spend the last night with in indianapolis. I think the wedding for me is maybe a last... i don't even know what i want to get out of this trip, except maybe a chance to say good bye to my neices and nephews. I would love to hear more thoughts on all of this. so far this has been helpful and i am thankful.

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