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How to harmlessly share feelings?
My partner & I both have mental health issues and are on the autism spectrum.
There are some things I'd like improving in our relationship, related to how we spend time together & things we do together.
But every time I bring up these things I just seem to upset my partner.
There is some history.. I don't like to feel that I nag or ask for things too much so I often stopped bringing things up or avoid it being too often. But that led to me bottling things up which has led to a lot of breakdowns, over different issues or stressors, both to do with our relationship & things unrelated to it, which they often help me through.
Recently I had a big cry to them because something they'd said had triggered an old wound, but at the time I'd tried to just deal with it on my own cos it felt like an issue I have, rather than something they caused. Dealing with it on my own though hadn't worked & I ended up feeling it eat away at me and we talked it out a bit.
I felt good about it & decided to again try & bring things up as I feel them/remember them tonight. ( I have issues with remembering how I feel about things bc I'm used to pushing my thoughts aside, essentially gaslighting myself, & forgetting it until it happens again or until I've bottled things for so long I can't take it alone anymore. )
I sent them a simple message saying that I'd like to discuss X issue some time & didn't get a response nor did they seem to react. Checking in on them tho they were clearly upset but not saying anything. So I tried to clarify, & apologised, saying that I just wanted to mention it & have it something we think about for a little while rather than try to jump into a conversation about it at some point. So we have time to think about our feelings/what we wanna say. They stayed the same & I just started to feel really deeply guilty & upset, cos I just feel like no matter how I broach topics I upset them.
I ended up deleting the messages & apologising again, to let them know this isn't what I intended & that I'd walked away cos I needed to for me, not that they'd done anything wrong.
I know in the past how issues have come up has been thru tears, so I'm trying to be better... But still I just upset them.
I don't know what to do? I've tried asking them, but no dice...
How can I express myself without upsetting them? How can I healthily deal with being dissatisfied with aspect of our relationship without it feeling like I'm maybe blaming them?
Hi grey grey & welcome,
I understand how you feel. In past relationships I've bottled up feelings & let them fester, causing me anger. I don't do that as much now but I do have a wonderful partner who always looks for the goodv& is not argumentative. I nervous 1st time I tried to be open with feelings.
I start by him saying I was feeling a little upset & want to tell him how X made feel exaining I don't want to bottle it up as I know if I'll start to feel resentful. I acknowledge it's just the way I feel about X & I'm allowed to have these feelings (some are triggers). I tell him I want to discuss it because I love him & I value honesty, that I appreciate I can be open with him. I acknowledge at times I may feel a certain way unnecessarily but I can't help that, hence why I want to be able to be open about it. I thank him for allowing me to be myself & being able to share my feelings, even if he disagrees I feel better that I didn't let things brew.
Having said a this it's also up to your partner to be open minded, listen & acknowledge your feelings, not invalidate them. It's a 2 way street.
When you get 2 highly sensitive people together who feel so much, great challenges present themselves. On the other hand, putting 2 insensitive people together who don't feel much of anything and it's not going to be that much of a problem, in regard to emotion.
Myself, I'm a gal who's a major 'feeler'. I'm easily triggered to feel certain emotions. It's been a challenge over the years when it comes to mastering 'feeling my way through life'. By the way, I'm still working on it. I've found, when I'm with another feeler (of emotion) it pays to employ a sense of wonder, so that you can wonder constructively together. Both my 19yo daughter and 16yo son are sensitive to feeling also. Give you an example of constructive wonder: Instead of one of us saying 'You make me so angry', we might instead say 'I don't understand why this feeling of anger has suddenly come up so intensely. Do you have idea because I just can't work it out'. So, we'll brainstorm why the feeling's come up and what could have triggered it. Anger's a 'red flag' feeling definitely worth exploring, not suppressing or shutting down. With 'anger' being more of an umbrella word, covering a variety of emotions, after some brainstorming you can hit on a more precise feeling such as the feeling of 'being shut down' or the feeling of 'being ignored' or 'being degraded'. Over time, it becomes a bit like developing a 'dictionary' of feelings. You can go from defining feelings in general to defining very specific energies in motion (emotions). Each one has a subtly different feel to it.
The ability to feel the energy of or behind words is a rather amazing ability. When words are delivered to you, you can feel where they hit. Heartbreaking words, you can feel it hit your chest. Stressful ones, you can feel through your nervous system. Stomach churning ones, you can feel in your gut. Highly inspirational words will charge you up all over.
I can relate to your frustration. My husband typically doesn't like to feel a significant challenge. He'll often shut the challenge down, so as not to feel its emotional or physical impact. He doesn't like to feel his nervous system being triggered or his muscles tense up or the ache in his head that can come with a closed mind 🙂
Could you try triggering her to simply wonder why you feel the way you do? I've found, emotional detachment through pure analysis is a skill worth developing. You can analyse without feeling what you're analysing.
Thank you for being here and sharing this with us. I really love your question because it's something I've struggled a lot with as well.
I too tend to gaslight myself, bottle things up and have a really bad tendency to act like it's no big deal because I don't want to bother anyone. So it can be really hard to change all this, have hard conversations and be really vulnerable when it's sometimes easier to shut off.
There's probably two things that's helped me the most, one is preparing. So I try and think about the things that I want, I need and what I'm going to talk about. This is really important for me because I have to remember that I'm the one gaslighting myself, not being gaslighted- so knowing that it's 'your stuff' not 'his stuff' is really important. Thoughts aren't facts 🙂
The other thing that really helps me is work from Gottman who are couples therapists. Their techniques are a lot around 'I', so -
I feel _
I need/would like you to _ (Something positive)
Hope this helps. It's not always easy but you're not alone in this and it will get easier as time goes on.