This is Amelia’s dilemma:
My husband suffers from morbid jealousy. I have twisted myself out of shape from the very beginning of our relationship (I am a caretaker and am in major self-discovery right now) and while I’ve made valiant efforts to stop twisting myself out of shape, or picking up responsibility for his feelings of fear, I still find that I am stuck in a place where I judge him and blame him for sabotaging our relationship.
I feel so lost and sad and trapped. I want to take ownership for MY feelings, leave his feelings to him, let go of blame and judgment, and feel free. How do I do this when I’m given a daily dose of jealousy, accusations, and fearful questioning with absolutely no merit? How does one love themselves while being in a relationship with someone who is so needy and clingy and afraid and jealous without being angry and resentful?
What stands out for me in Amelia’s question is this sentence: “How do I do this when I’m given a daily dose of jealousy, accusations, and fearful questioning with absolutely no merit?” The reason this sentence stands out for me is that it tells me that Amelia is LISTENING to this. My image as I read this is that she is standing or sitting there listening to her husband’s attack while explaining, defending, judging, and blaming him.
While she feels that she is mostly no longer giving herself up by twisting herself out of shape and taking responsibility for his feelings, she is still very much involved with him when he is acting out his jealousy. Which means that he is receiving a payoff for his behavior. The payoff is her attention on him—albeit negative attention. When someone is acting on motivations from the ego-wounded self, they will take any attention they can get.
How can Amelia change this pattern?
In order for Amelia to stop enabling her husband, she needs to lovingly disengage the moment her husband starts attacking her. She doesn’t realize that she is feeding his addiction by engaging with him when he is acting out his jealousy. As long as she engages with him in any way, he can continue to focus on her rather than focusing on learning to take responsibility for his own feelings.
Lovingly disengaging means walking away from the interaction with an open, loving heart rather than with anger, blame, or judgment. It means leaving to take loving care of herself rather than to punish her husband. It means compassionately embracing her pain at being treated unlovingly by him. It means keeping her heart open so that she can re-engage with him without resentment once he is open. She will continue to feel judgmental, angry, and resentful as long as she engages with him when he behaves this way.
As long as she engages with him when he is attacking her, she will also continue to feel like a victim of his behavior. It’s easy for her to feel like a victim of her husband—to feel “lost and sad and trapped,” when she isn’t loving herself by taking responsibility for her own feelings. As soon as she decides to take responsibility for her feelings rather than focusing on her husband taking responsibility for his feelings, she will no longer allow herself to be trapped by his jealous behavior.
Loving herself means disengaging the moment he acts out, freeing herself from being at the other end of his unloving behavior.