New to the site?

New to the site? Follow my journey starting here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When do I get my hugs?

What Brad said to me yesterday after Cassie’s soccer game.  He’s been on this hugging kick lately and I can’t figure out why, and it’s really annoying.   He tried to hug me as we left and I told him again that I don’t want to hug him.    I told him I don’t think most divorced couples hug, and he disagreed with me.   Then I said “Well maybe they would hug after they haven’t seen each other for a while, but I see you almost every day.”   But, he says, he wants to be friends with me and he hugs his friends, so he wants to hug me.  

I told him there was a lot of unwanted touching in our relationship and I do not want any touching now.   That’s when he said “Well when do I get my hugs?”   I told him I wasn’t sure he was ever going to get them willingly, to which he replied “then I’ll just do it anyway.”  Really?  Forcing an unwanted hug makes you feel better, or in control, or what?   I have no idea.
 After going back and forth a bit, I told him the best way to improve our relationship right now is for him not to hug me.    He finally sort of seemed to accept this.   Then today he called to finalize some details for tomorrow and said that he had been thinking about what I said yesterday and the unwanted touching.  He said “you mean like when I would demand to touch your boobs?”   I didn’t know what to say, I was to taken aback, so I said “Yes, like that.”  
He seems to have forgotten all of the cornering, the shoving and grabbing, the coerced sex, the strangling.  He is a very large physical presence and his physical intimidation and sexual coercion was a very large part of our relationship.  I've decided, though, that it’s not worth arguing about.  He’s told me before and again just this last Friday that he only ever touched me to shut me up in front of the kids.  He admits he should not have touched me, but he says he did it to keep me from screaming and scaring the kids.   Yeah –that’s better – strangle their mother in front of them to keep them from seeing her scream and cry because of your abusive behavior.    The problem with his theory is that it is categorically not true, the worst incident happened when the kids were in the car.  A lot the incidents happened in our bedroom or after the kids were in bed.   Many of them did happen in front of the kids, and yes, sometimes I screamed at him to stop as he was yelling at me and chasing me down and making me crazy with his verbal abuse.  I guess it did not occur to him that walking away or backing down would have stopped my screaming immediately.  He has clearly invented a reality to deal with his abusive behavior.
Back to the hugging.   As of that moment on the phone, he seemed to sort of accept that I don’t want hugs and has his own version of why I don’t want them.  He is incapable of understanding the revulsion and the post-traumatic stress induced in me by each of his hugs.   Then he says to me that he’ll deal with it for now  (or something like that), but that he really needs the hugs because I am such an unemotional person, the only way he can think of to get positive emotions out of me is the hug.
What? Why does he need positive emotions from me?   I am barely enduring having to see him and he wants to be best friends, and needs postive feedback.  He says he wants to talk and be friends “like we used to be.”   The problem with that theory is that he repeatedly told me during our marriage that we “never talked” and that he did not like me, and he would never have been friends with me if we weren’t married.  He basically only dealt with me because he had to – or that was his story anyway.
It boggles my mind to think that he has fantasized some relationship between us that never existed, and he wants to get back to that mythical state.    I feel like saying “You’re lucky I talk to you at all under the circumstances,” but of course I can’t.  I hope he doesn't hug me anymore for a while, and I'll bite my lip when he discusses what our relationship was actually like.  Up is down and down is up in his world, but I know I’m right.  So I keep reminding myself which way is up to try to avoid tripping and falling down into his crazy world.  


  1. I would offer this suggestion for future dealings.

    You really only need three phrases - and you need them at hand so they are your kneejerk responses:

    1. It is every person's right to set their own boundaries.

    2. Your 'needs' do not outweigh my 'needs'.

    3. You are infringing on/crossing my boundaries.

    You don't need to explain yourself to him. And it won't do any good (which I suspect you know. It's not that he doesn't understand hugging you makes you uncomfortable. It's that YOUR comfort is really not his concern. It's a way of asserting his ongoing influence or power over you - even if he would never express it that way, or even realize that's what it's about. Probably, he just knows that HE would feel better if HE could make you hug him.)

    So - he says 'give me a hug.'
    you say 'I don't think so.'
    He says, 'why?'
    You say, #1 'It's every person's right to determine her own boundaries.'
    He says, 'But I want us to be friends!'
    You say, #2 'Your needs are not more important than my needs.'
    He says, 'But it's just a hug!'
    You say, #1 'It's every person's right to determine her own boundaries.'
    He says, 'It's because you're seeing someone.' (or some other ridiculous thing meant to engage you further).
    You say, #3. 'You are infringing on my boundaries. I am not discussing this with you.'

    It will go around in circles, but at least you'll come away feeling exasperated but not violated.

  2. And an important afterthought - your children may need some help in learning about appropriate boundaries, especially considering they're partly being raised by someone who has no respect for other people's autonomy. This can be very hard with kids, because they are kids and as such, they don't have full autonomy.

    You may need a professional's assistance for that.


Comments are intended for support and helpful discussion.