I find it interesting that I received very few comments on my blog entry entitled DID: Think I Lost Time Again and that the comments noted the fact that my husband and son each thought I was yelling at the other in the middle of the night. Since the comments seemed to zero in on that point, I thought I would blog about yelling.
Before therapy, I never yelled. Seriously! I was the world’s biggest doormat. I wouldn’t occur to me to raise my voice to anyone.
Hub and I were married for over 10 years by the time I entered into therapy. Sure, we had disagreements like any other couple, but there was never any yelling involved. For the most part, I just went along with whatever he wanted until it came to issues with infertility and adoption. Hub wasn’t quite sure what to do with me because I was adamant that I wanted to become a mother by whatever (legal) avenue it took. Up until that point, I just went along with whatever he wanted to do. My son was two years old when I entered into therapy, so yelling wasn’t an issue with my son, either.
My homework every week for my therapist (T) was to work on setting boundaries. He wanted me to practice, practice, practice setting boundaries, and that was very hard for me to do. Because I had never had any boundaries in over three decades of life, this was very difficult for me. Setting boundaries happened in baby steps. I am much better about setting boundaries today than I was when I started, but I still find myself having trouble saying no and overextending myself rather than disappoint someone else.
As I healed and got better at setting boundaries, I found that enforcing my boundaries was my biggest problem, especially with family. I could say, “No,” but they wouldn’t hear me. I had taught my family over the years that I would do whatever they wanted, so they didn’t take me seriously when I said no. I would say, “I would rather not,” and then, “I don’t want to,” and then, “No,” and then a firm, “No,” and then a louder, “No,” until I reached the point of yelling, “I SAID I AM NOT GOING TO DO THIS, SO BACK THE F#$% OFF!!!!!” The other person’s response would be, “You don’t have to yell,” to which I would reply loudly, “CLEARLY, I DO!!!!”
Sadly, that dynamic hasn’t changed as much I would like over the years. When I set a boundary, family members (mostly hub and child) simply disregard it as if I never spoke. I will get more firm as I hold my ground, and then after the FIFTH time, I will yell loudly, which seems to be the first time either of them “hear” me. We continue to have the same ending to those conversations: “You don’t have to yell.” “CLEARLY, I DO!!!!”
If anyone has been in this place and has found a more effective way of getting family members to “hear” them when they set boundaries, I would love to hear other strategies. Things have improved with hub … It’s been a long time since I recall raising my voice to him. My child is another story. He has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities and is also stubborn, so we often have this exchange ending with my having to yell before he “hears” me.
Photo credit: Hekatekris