Wow, I’ve been getting into so many scrapes lately it’s a wonder I’m still standing. Maybe I should say it’s a wonder I’m still married. No, that’s not really true. Jay and I are 100% committed to each other, no matter how crazy the other gets. Anyway, I have a lot to post about. I will probably churn out three or four posts today with all this mess.
I am going to start by talking about my inability to properly discern the best way to act or respond in any given situation. I have been trying to do a little research, but haven’t gone very deep into this. I think that this may be a borderline trait, but I am unsure. Basically, I just flat out do not know what is appropriate and what is not. Not only do I not know the best way to speak or exactly what to say, I just don’t know how to behave.
All my life I have based my behavior on other people’s cues. I hate talking to people over the phone because I can’t see the person’s face. I have a hard time knowing how to respond to what they are saying when I can’t see them. When I interact with someone face to face, I know if I should make a joke, or look sad, or appear outraged, or show sympathy, or whatever. I just do not how know to interact with people and need to be shown by example.
Lately, I have been mimicking Jay’s behavior. I know that how I have been acting for so so so long is absolutely wrong. The more I learn in DBT, the more I realize that I have been behaving in completely unacceptable ways. I have just been doing what I thought I was supposed to do. Growing up, the only examples I had to follow were my birth family. The main influence being my mother. Jay has been saying most of our marriage that I act like my mother. This comment would always upset me as she is the LAST person I want to act like. I realize that it’s true, though. I saw her behavior, and I copied it. I have been acting like her because I didn’t know how else to act.
When I realized that I needed to throw all I knew about interacting in a relationship out the window, I think I unconsciously started using the behaviors I’ve seen from Jay. Turns out that was the wrong thing to do. He would get mad because of something I did (that I thought was ok because I learned it from him), and really let me have it. When I was finally able to utter a shocked, “But you do it, too!”, he would really hit the roof. He thought that I was saying my bad behavior was justified because he acted badly. In reality, though, I didn’t KNOW that he was behaving badly. I just thought that he was confident, secure, articulate and in control. I thought he was so strong because he never let anyone give him crap. I had no idea that the way he behaved may not be the best way for me to behave back at him.
This has happened with people at my work, too. I say or do something, not realizing there’s anything wrong with it, and am very surprised when someone asks me what the hell I’m thinking. Well, no one puts it like that. It’s more a case of someone saying, “Whoa, easy there! No need to be harsh!” I tend to sit back, stunned, and am able to stammer out an apology while I’m mentally kicking myself for putting my foot in my mouth YET AGAIN.
Jay has a hard time understanding all of this. He tells me that since I’m well-read and seem to have a good grasp of word definitions, I should be able to transfer that into relationships with other people. What can I say? I have borderline personality disorder. We tend to have difficulties dealing with other people.
I have really been trying to learn more about the interpersonal effectiveness skills. They are all about how to deal with other people. I’ve found this to be one of the hardest DBT skills to master, though. I have been trying to use GIVE, which tells you to be gentle, act interested, validate the other person, and use an easy manner when speaking. It doesn’t teach you how to control your tone, though. I need to act gentle while being pissed off and feeling anxious? Yeah, right. That will happen.
As far as I can tell, the interpersonal effectiveness skills won’t help me in knowing how to ACT properly, either. I could be wrong. I haven’t gotten very far into them. I am having a hard time really wrapping my head around this one. I am hoping that the more I learn about these skills, the better chance I will have of monitoring my behavior before it happens. I don’t know if that will even help. Lately I HAVE been thinking about how I act and what I say before I do it, but it’s STILL wrong. I think about it, decide it’s ok, and say or do it. I then have to have Jay explain to me why that was absolutely the WORST thing I could have done or said.
I guess I should be glad I have an understanding husband, though he is becoming increasingly more frustrated, understandably. I’m just going day by day and hoping each one is better than the last.