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2005-12-08 - 10:02 a.m.

I have to write and get this out of my system as I am angry and hope to not carry this anger for too long!

We have a family Christas ritual which I hoped not to perpetuate. I am pretty sure this is one that Westely's family must have done annually, which I really don't care for and have attempted to not practice in our home.

It consists of Westley (THe DAD) bringing home a tree, and then having some crisis to get upset about which he uses as a "Reason" that he assumes JUSTIFIES his then controlling, angry, and dysfunctional behaviour. THE REAL ISSUE is that at moments like this when family ATTEMPTS to COLLABORATE and do something TOGETHER-- HE is NOT THE ONE IN FULL AND TOTAL CONTROL.

ITs really HARD to not be in control for him. He clearly feels threatened and freaked out by the flurry of excitement and creativity and all these other personalitys making CHOICES of how to do things. The collaboration of the family tree is really always a challenge for him!

IT angers me that an event which should be a joyful one of bringing family together could be so maligned!

In the past years he has found some excuse to yell. Let me think of those for a moment:
One year I was bringing the tree in the house wrong and he was only critcal yelling at me. I promptly stopped helping, said I won't accept being talked to and treated like that and said "Do it yourself"

Of course I felt I had stuck up for myself! That however was in one of the the EARLY years of marriage when I hadn't realized that outcome WAS EXACTLEY THE INTENDED ONE BY HIS MANIPULATIVE BEHAVIOUR which really is the dichotomy of "SHOW YOU LOVE ME BY DOING THIS WITH ME since I will be hurt if you don't want to do this special thing together", and the conflicting "BUT DO IT MY WAY OR I FEEL TOTALLY INVALIDATED as I HAVE SUCH A FRAGILE SENSE OF SELF, SO IN ACOMPANYING ME PLEASE DON'T ACTAULLY ACT LIKE YOUR A SEPERATE ENTITY AS I JUST CAN"T HANDLE THAT " along with the even more complicated "I AM HAPPIEST DOING THINGS MY WAY BY MYSELF SO JUST LEAVE ME ALONE SO I CAN DO THIS MY WAY AND NOT BE THREATENED AND CHALLENGED TO GROW"

This year we are intending on celebrating Christmas in VA with family there so we haven't gone out of the way to decorate here. We are looking forward to going to the VA house and decortating there when we arrive a few days before CHRISTMAS (OR I should say all PRETEND we look forward to that decorating... really we look forward to the time there that WILL BE relaxing when we are at our SISTER IN LAW's which is oddly one place Westley really does relax!)

In past I clearly recall Katerina and Soren and I all decorating the tree on another occassion when Westely and brought it in and then went off to do something. He came back and the kids had finished hanging all the ornaments he had actually told them they could hang. I think we had lights and were trying to untangle them.
He came in and was ENRAGED that we put the stuff on the tree OUT OF ORDER and insisted that LIGHTS HAVE TO GO ON FIRST.

OK now that may make sense. BUT it is entirely illogical and clearly NONSENSE that this point would be one which would be used as the catalyst for a rage episode to RUIN THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS for small children by yelling at them and then insisting that all the ornaments be taken down. I at that time refused to take them all down and I believe he did it himself and "FIXED" the tree.

So he was left with a PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE And the kids and I all AWAY from that living room as we had no interest in spending further time with him just then.

Now of course he may have found that REALAXING as we were all driven away- me consoling the children letting them know that there was nothing WRONG with the wonderful job they had done and apologizing they were so upset by his challenging anger problem. The learned VERY EARLY as have all the girls that DADDY's issue is his and they can love him and feel sad for his struggles and try to be supportive but NEVER FOR A MINUTE THINK THAT WHEN HE IS IN A RAGE IT HAS ANYTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THEM.

They all hear the mantra over and over again "DON't take on other people's issues. YOU can help them and love them and support them through their problems, but when someone is out of control it is not your problem or responsibility and you should never stick around to be mistreated. "


OK maybe they don't REALLY KNOW That. I just asked Sadie and Katie how people can be sick to test this: They talked about stomach throwing up because of eating durt. They said headache. I reiterated that people can be sick in their physical body and sometimes in their mind when they are not able to think clearly and act irrationally and inapproriate.

Sadie said "Like Daddy"

I said "Yes-and often they don't even realize that they are acting differently from other people"

I don't know if it has been FAIR or RIGHT of me to NAME this as a ILLNESS in discussing it to the children.

I suppose this is why MOST PEOPLE just leave when they have ABUSIVE behavior - WHETHER it is an illness or not. I don't want them to get the impression that IF SOMEONE's UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR IS DUE TO ILLNESS that makes it ACCEPTABLE.
But at the same time, I don't want them to THINK THAT DYSFUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR IS NORMAL, and I still think it better to try to TEACH THEM that it is dysfunctional when it crops up rather than EXIT.

I think of that ACE a counselor once told KAterina she had in her pocket to pull out when faced with a bully. SHe told her she could either ACCEPT the bullying and keep on being a target, CONFRONT the behaviour and see if it changes, or ESCAPE by just staying out of the path of the bully.

I guess I think that advice on the playground is also the same in FAMILY in WORK and all other situations-- even those of MENTAL ILLNESS OR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (ANd while I know we deal with one I am NOT SURE about the other... but I think it likely in SOME CAPACITY. OF COURSE all the domestic violence stuff says that ABUSERS are NOT MENTALLY ILL... but I don't really buy that. I really think IT IS ILLNESS to have such a need to control people!)

SO I continue to confront and hope for change. We have had SO MUCH GROWTH in SO MANY AREAS.

I am just really upset about the CHRISTMAS TREE ISSUE!

I did talk to WESTELY about this after the kids went to bed last night upset that they had to WAIT until the lighs could be put on until they could decorate the tree.

OH- and THIS YEAR's EXCUSE is in fact MUCH MORE RATIONAL Than all other previous year's excuses for being enraged! The anger in WESTELY was in fact JUSTIFIABLE This year in fact the consequence of WAITING to decorate may also not only be justifiable but SMART GOOD DETERRANT PARENTING to teach a lesson.

I recognize much of my RESPONSE to the events of last night are A RESPONSE TO THINGS OF THE PAST that are just REVISITED WHEN I HAVE THAT TOTAL DE JA VU experience of a few years ago!

But I also have to recognize that Westely was warrented in being upset this time. There is one key difference:

He didn't freak out when the girls helped with getting the tree set up. He didn't give orders about how to do EVERY DAMN step to me of bringing the tree from the car and criticize. NO - HE REALLY HAS GROWN and let go of much of his need for control over EVERY ASPECT OF EVERYTHING We DO TOGETHER.

But when he took out the lights which the girls and I brought up from the basement earlier today-- and he realized that RAITLIN HAD taken scizzors and CUT THE LIGHTS then he got angry!

And to be fair- He was angry and yelled about it, but not with any inappropiate use of language. He in fact remained his decorum when I INTERRUPTED HIM and he rationally talked to me about that ANNOYING and DEMEANING BAD BEHAVIOR on MY PART OF NOT TREATING HIM WITH RESPECT and HAVING TO CORRECT HIM!

So he really was fine in dealing with the kids and that consequence that they had to wait to fully decorate the tree.

BUT IT WAS THE REPEAT of him saying "THE LIGHTS HAVE TO GO ON FIRST" over and over that bugged me. He was so bent about that and wouldn't let the OLDER two girls put even one ornament on the tree so they went upstairs crying ! I felt like he COULD HAVE JUST LET THEM EACH PUT ONE DAMN ORNAMENT ON IT!

But they'll get over it!

BUt the REAL KICKER that upset me was that he ATTEMPTED to be controlling of me and started to ORDER ME AROUND to GET THE SCIZZORS NOW! I ignored him and said "Get them yourself"

I can't stand that ordering behavior!

LAter on I DID TALK to WEstely about the whole TREE TRAMA that HE GOES THROUGH EVERY YEAR. I ASked him if it is WORTH IT TO BE SO UPSET over what amounts to an .89 cent string of lights that were ruined (they are on sale now!) I told him his issue with the tree is analagous to the story we heard on the radio of some guy who broke up with a gal as she was so irritating SHE MADE A PB and J sandwich wrong!
I have to go get Raitlin from preschool now so this theraputic writing is done!
WHEW I FEEL BETTER!!!!! And thank GOD CHRISTAMS is only once a year!

FOLLOW UP: The NEXT night we thankfully DID HAVE a lovely celebration of trimming the tree ALL TOGETHER. It started WITH WESTLEY Coming home with lights that he put on the tree while the girls ate popcorn out of a huge tin he brought them with STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE On it. Then they all put up their ornaments and we all danced together. IT WAS REALLY FUN and more like the IDEAL moment of tree triming! And I BROKE OPEN THE SAFE to retrieve my confiscated scissors when I needed them to wrap presents to mail on time for CHRISTMAS since I AM NOT A CHILD and can handle appropriately using them. I felt this was justified on my part since a. I didn't consent to my scissors being taken from my desk drawer and locked up in a place I HAVE NO ACCESS to them. To not be argumentative in the moment I OBJECTED to the location while being supportive of the IDEA OF THIS As a responsible way to manage them and keep them AWAY FROM THE GIRLS (in particular the three year old who loves to Cut anything she can) b. They are in fact my scissors c. I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for EVERY MISBEHAVIOR of the little girls EVEN WHEN THEY ARE IN MY CARE. I SHOULDN't be treated like a child AS WELL becasue I AM NOT A PERFECT PARENT and one of the four manages to misbehave when I am busy taking care of dinner, or another kid, or WHATEVER the circumstances were. (IN this case I took the scissors out to cut open a package of HAM and I hadn't noticed that Raitlin took them from the counter and cut the CHRISTMAS lights we had out in the kitchen getting ready for the tree to be here that DAD was getting! OOPS! THANK GOD THOSE LIGHTS WERE NOT PLUGGED IN! I thought it WAS OK considering she COULD HAVE BEEN HURT for him to lock all the scissors but at the same time I think it ALSO OK for me to get MINE AND RESPONSIBLY PUT THEM AWAY WHEN DONE! d. I have an alternative SAFE PLACE for the scissors where I will keep them THAT ALLOWS ME ACCESS (the locked SHARED medicine cabinet in OUR ADULT BATHROOM IN OUR SHARED BEDROOM) THIS IS MORE APPROPRIATE THAN WESTELY's SAFE which I don't have access to unless I violate his privacy and break it open! e. I in fact have never violated his privacy and broken his safe open before- but since one of the little girls knocked it to the ground once a few years ago and it popped open I THOUGHT IT MIGHT JUST BE EASY TO OPEN , and since my scissors were TAKEN FROM ME and locked there WHEN I OBJECTED I FEEL JUSTIFIED IN HAVING DONE THIS TO GET THEM BACK. LAWS OF TRESPASS ARE SUCH THAT YOU CAN GO ONTO PROPERY TO RETREIVE ILL BEGOTTEN GOODS! I think this is similar enough since I entered the SACRED STUDY and popped open the safe (very easily with only a mere wiggle with a screwdriver- maybe since KAtie compromised the thing years ago when she dropped it. That came in handy then as when she did it out fell an ANGER MANAGEMENT MANUAL along with the directions and info of a class WESTELY ATTENDED which I found tremendously funny at the time as he was being SECRETIVE about having had to go. He did in fact TELL ME ABOUT The class soon after anyway thankfully! ) Since WESTELY wasn't open to NEGOTIATION and acted unilaterally in response to the scissors incident, I am acting unilaterally in response to his lack or respect for my personal property and wishes. That's how it works. When one WANTS RESPECT AND NEGOTIATION they have to ALSO OFFER THE SAME.

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