Saturday, 20 August 2011

Dealing with tantrums and uncontrollable anger!

I’m a little bit of an expert in this – since my ex had the habit of throwing tantrums to get what he wanted. I wrote a comment on John’s blog about “how to stop fighting with your spouse” and upon reflection realize that I could have done things a lot better. Hence, I try to share my wisdom and seek feedback from others on how to do even better.

Note: domestic abuse includes anything that creates fear such as throwing things and shouting/screaming. You don't have to actually cause physical harm to perpetrate domestic violence. If you have uncontrollable anger or wish to solve problems constructively there is help and you may well find treating an illness or other stressful problem helpful. You don't have to lose your family and be a criminal.   

Note: if someone is getting wound up don't stick around to argue a point and don't get angry and pursue someone to get your own back or "sort it out" on the spot - discretion is the best part of valour

Note: if someone is being abusive call the police if you cannot handle the situation safely and you are in imminent danger.  If someone is being beaten, call the police immeidately and tell them what is happening. Do not wait - people have died because others have not called the police. One punch can kill. The police are trained to handle difficult people.  

So to my learnings from half a life somewhat wasted:-

In the first place, I should not have accepted the bossy nature, temper and tantrums and found a new boyfriend/partner. HOWEVER, I had grown up with a very temperamental and abusive parent who thought that she was “doing the right thing” by repeating her own childhood experience. Do you detect the “cycle of abuse” thing here? Therefore, if you have issues in your life with other people,  I advise you to read, talk to other people and question your own experience. Remember, you will see things through the lens of your life – you will think your life is normal and simply not see the clues that other people have different and perhaps better lives.

Secondly, I should have detected the clues that my intended spouse thought domestic abuse was an acceptable way to solve problems, e.g. telling me that somebody else smashed crockery during an argument without saying it was a bad thing to do; a door broken in anger; and also a history of arguments in his own parental home.  I should have seen that a problem might exist and I should have spoken out – i.e. “I believe in solving problems peacefully and constructively. I will not marry someone that does not want this. Moreover, the first time you try temper with me you are toast!”

Thirdly, I should have maintained my power base and independence – own friends, own money, options other than staying with him. Once I had options he tried harder to behave in an acceptable way and sought medical help. I also attended a self defense class which was really useful in terms of learning how to avoid violence and how to handle attacks if they did happen (I have never needed to use violence to protect myself).

Fourthly, I should have set my boundaries firmly the first time he used anger/smashing things to control me. A social worker told me this. Also, Awesome says that domestic bullies are cowards and the thing to do is to tell them not to do it otherwise there will be consequences – such as being dragged off by the police or leaving the marriage. He says that a couple of experiences of negative consequences may be necessary.  Instead I ignored, what to me looked like a random act of violence, which he followed by boasting how he had showed me I could “not treat him like that” ….and the pattern was set.  

The first time he threw a tantrum I was so scared I could not think and simply did not know what to do. The learning from this is to read books, talk to people and practice assertion and conflict resolution skills BEFORE you face a test – assertion and conflict resolution will be useful in all aspects of your life. It is also helpful to swot up afterwards, but it takes longer to change ingrained behaviour.

Fifthly I should have looked into why he behaved as he did. I have several theories:
  • He thought throwing tantrums to control others was acceptable and worked well. It did seem to be part of his childhood and subgroup culture.  I countered this by quoting government literature on domestic violence and appealing to his desire to be a good and honourable person.
  • He tended to misinterpret facial expressions and meanings – anything remotely negative was seen as very critical and animated facial expressions were like red flags to a bull.   
  • I reinforced his use of anger to control me by doing what he wanted rather than speaking out or providing direct negative consequences.
  •  As he became chronically ill he could not cope with the frustrations of life and anyway was poorly equipped to solve problems. Hence, the tantrums became more frantic and less controlled. Gaining medical advice and solving a chronic health issue helped this cause.
Basically, he needed leadership to be the best person he could be and I was not able to lead until it was too late for a lot of things. Ironically he'd chosen me because of my quiet nature and natural inclination not to lead.... 

    ANYWAY, I wrote on John’s blog about my way of handling outbursts – I still think this is a good way to deal with anger that a person cannot control as it limits the damage and does not reward the behaviour. Remember this tactic should be combined with communicating boundaries, self empowerment and learning essential people skills.

    I always had my handbag ready to go with all I needed to start a new life – glasses, money, passport, camera, phone etc. I also kept it handy and tried to keep it in a place where it was both safe and where I had two exits and therefore could not be trapped. At the first sign of rage I would stop whatever I was doing, put the handbag on my shoulder and walk out. I found 30 minutes to 60 minutes was enough for him to calm down. I based my tactic on the practice of extinguishing bad behaviour in a child who is throwing a tantrum by simply ignoring the child.

    Walking away rather than engaging also ensures the person does not get wound up further and also does not do something rash that could be regretted later. He used to get to a stage where he was quite out of control and there was nothing that could be done except give him space. I am sure he would have destroyed more property and perhaps hurt me if I’d tried to argue with him when he was getting out of control.

    I always tried to have an escape route, but sometimes he cornered me. In that case I sought not to inflame the situation. I used to avert my eyes, keep my expression blank, adopt a non-aggressive stance and just agree or if it seemed prudent repeat quietly – “this is domestic abuse, you are bigger than me, I am frightened. Please stop. Please let me go.”

    I never had kids to protect, so I am not sure what you do if there are kids around. I expect one would bundle them up as well and go to a refuge until the rage issue was solved permanently. You would also have to teach them that domestic rage and abuse is not acceptable and teach them alternative and constructive ways to deal with problems.  

    Now I am sure most of my readers are going to think – “crumbs Candice, why were you so na├»ve and silly”. However, I’ve written this to inform other people who, just like the young Candice, really need to get their act together before half their life is wasted dealing with someone else’s anger issues.

    Note: I don't judge people with anger issues and recognise that with the wrong 'nature' and 'nuture' situation, we could all be the abusive one. Some folks are ill and just can't control their anger. However, hanging around to get abused helps no one. Also, if someone gets angry and then leaves to cool down, don't follow them up and attack/scold them. Let them come back when they are ready to talk quietly.      
    Queen Street Mall flowers August 2011 - there are always flowers and there is always hope! Just love the light in Queensland on these bright cold days. The Council have changed the flowers and they are still fresh and vibrant. 

    Wednesday, 17 August 2011

    Experiences of first sex

    I think it’s useful for people to reflect on how having sex the first time with another person will probably not be the perfect performance one hopes. Indeed, I’ve found sex to be surprisingly different with different men so I approach a first time with low expectations and an open mind.

    In contrast however, some of my male friends seem pretty wound up about making the experience perfect and feel very inadequate if they can’t maintain an erection. In my opinion, a lady that is looking for a long term relationship and who is not understanding and does not do her best to help the man relax and enjoy himself is really screening herself out of being long term relationship material.

    Another issue for me is that men (ha – sounds so ‘experienced’ but in reality I have had few partners) can get over excited (so much so they are shaking) and start rushing ahead and taking ‘liberties’ when I would hope they would take things a little slower. I understand they are probably feeling quite a lot of pent up ‘demand’ and am patient while trying to control the process to ensure my boundaries are not crossed.    

    A fellow blogger provides some very good insights into how a man might experience sex for the first time with a particular woman, especially if he has not had sex with another person for a long time:
    • Anxiety about performance affecting his erection and also difficulty orgasming. 
    • Using Viagra and still having issues with his erection due to attraction or anxiety issues
    • The difference between masturbation and real sex negatively impacting performance
    •  The challenges of using a condom when an erection is hard to maintain  
    • Lack of practice negatively impacting arousal and erection
    • Bad surprises when clothes come off including less than perfect body and unclean smells.   
     The writer claims women instinctively prefer men with sexual experience, as things are more likely to work well. This might be so, but I would maintain that a really nice man that is inexperienced may well be a really good prospect for a long term relationship and it would be worth taking the time to develop his sexual confidence.   

    How should I approach first time sex with an inexperienced man or someone who has not had sex for sometime? Well I guess I’d take things slowly – start with holding hands, graduate to kissing etc over several dates. I’d also discuss sexual history, expectations and what we should do together so we were on the same page. Of course I’d make sure he knew how very attractive I found him and do things to spoil him. I think it does not have to be said, but being freshly showered and well presented is essential.

    What do you guys think? Is there anything else that a woman should take into account when considering how she can get her new boyfriend to relax and enjoy sex, however it plays out?  

    Two very relaxed insects I saved from a quick end at the hands of Awesome!

    Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Happy and joyful with others...

    A lot of what he says resonates with me since we both had tough childhoods.  I was luckier though, since my father – a kind, gentle yet solitary man – made sure I had a few good years as a small child. After that many factors including lack of money to continue to employ nannies and the law which would have seen me removed from his care should he have complained, facilitated the abuse.

    Omega states that people advise attending social events to learn how to enjoy them.  While practice might help, I cannot see that a chain of painful experiences would help in any way to create positive feelings and motivation to attend further such gatherings.  I’ve noticed a lot of my introvert mates attend hobby clubs/groups and enjoy the company of their friends – this sounds much better as a way of building confidence than the torture of random social events.

    I often walk past venues full of happy, joyful people socializing with their friends after work. It’s easy to think that is the benchmark for all, but after deep reflection I’ve decided that it is not.

    Extroverts and people who can drink alcohol no doubt thrive in such environments. I’ve tried it and am unimpressed. I can’t hear what people are saying, I don’t drink alcohol and don’t understand the drinking culture and I don’t have the budget to match the consumption and generosity of other people. Overall, I find large gatherings stressful and unrewarding!    

    My strategies for surviving large gatherings include:
    • establishing the format and requirements of the gathering
    • dressing appropriately so as to blend in and not be noticed
    • finding  a purpose, such as organizing and caring for participants
    • going with or recruiting another more solitary person so as to not be embarrassed by being alone
    • putting on my ‘networking’ hat and going all out to widen my spread of contacts
     On the other hand, I really enjoy spending time with select other introverts. Almost always these are men that are similar to my father – very clever, accomplished, quiet and wise. Mostly we learn from each other and provide support as we can. As we get older and learn to enjoy quietness and just being in the company of one other, some of these social situations are just about being companionable and finding a quiet haven from a stressful life filled with demanding people.

    I’ve accepted that I am hardwired to only enjoy socializing with certain people in certain situations and often only one other person. Thus, I actively seek out compatible people and set up situations which we can both enjoy. Hence, it’s easy to be “happy and joyful”. 
    A lovely rose I photographed while enjoying one of my first outings with Awesome. 

    Friday, 12 August 2011

    Being part of the magic!

    Some years ago, as I searched for a way to a better life, I wrote a poem to a friend, asking him to leave the door open just a little on his happy life, so I could feel a tiny draft of that happy warm air escaping into the bitter cold of my dark existence.  

    I lived on a metaphorical glimpse through a steamed up window to a life that glowed with purpose and human warmth. I followed the long dark, cold path towards the promise of something better until, by a small miracle, I gained a coveted position in a prestigious institution.   

    At first I vicariously experienced the magic warmth of that desired life. I walked though the city dressed smartly, my hair clipped elegantly. I passed the barristers in wigs on their way to court and the wealthy swept past in their luxury brand-name cars. I felt excited and privileged just to be a nameless part of it all.   

    Then Awesome invited me inside his life to soak up some of that magic warmth and feel safe and happy, even if just for a little while. When you read this Dearest – again, thank you!

    I often walk at night admiring the icy stark beauty of the built environment in the inky, sparkly mirror of the Brisbane river....pure magic! 

    Tuesday, 2 August 2011

    Vanity thy name is Candice!

    Normally I maintain a high level of confidence re my appearance by telling (fooling?) myself that Eurasian women age much better than ‘white’ women. HA! - a weak foundation indeed!

    Just recently we met a close friend of Awsome and his date – OOOOO – blonde, dressed to glow, perfect makeup, outgoing, pretty! 

    Then I glanced at Billy’s online dating favourites list…oh my…blonde, youthful, perfect complexions…glamour shots all!

    Cue extreme case of feeling NOT glamorous, not worthy of such an Awesome man and definitely not competitive with all those gorgeous women! 

    It’s hard maintaining self-esteem with treacherous changes in hormones deteriorating what looks one has – finally I have to work on my appearance and not just rely on good skin, high cheekbones, proportional figure etc!


    The truth is when men judge my attractiveness they will compare me with my perceived cohort (40 somethings) and it will not help that I look relatively good for a 50 something…  
    I think this image captures my feelings right now .... shaken not stirred ...