- Stay Away from the Desperation Doormat, Take Back your Power and Thrive
- Get Off the Doormat and Risk Now for Later
How do you not become a doormat when you want so desperately for your family to be together?
In the beginning, an easy way to become a doormat is to allow desperation to control you and chase any and every possible solution that will pacify your MLCer. There are so many things that you think you can do to make a difference…If I’m nice or if I do everything he asks…
I get it; I felt that way too. The problem with the desperation approach is that often you discard logic and rationale and do the first, fastest and easiest thing that comes to mind. It’s sort of like when your 3-year-old wants that shiny toy at the checkout counter and you buy it to stop a tantrum, but in the end, you create bigger problems.
Desperation stems from fear and anxiety, so instead of me telling you to stop being desperate, let’s talk about some of the consequences of acting from desperation.
On the Doormat, You Act from Fear, Anxiety and Desperation…
- You don’t think through your actions.
- You try to stop the immediate pain without considering how your actions might appear to your spouse or other unforeseen consequences.
- You sacrifice what feels right and give in to demands to pacify your MLCer.
- You stop putting yourself first.
- Your anger and frustration trigger is more sensitive.
Deep breathing is your friend. Consider the following scene:
After an angry argument about the alienator, your MLCer says they’re leaving (and you know they’ll be going to the alienator’s house), what do you do in those minutes or moments before they walk out the door? Do place yourself on the doormat and give away your power?
You may desperately (there’s that word again) be trying to think of something you can do to stop your spouse from leaving. Maybe with guilt-words that remind them of marital vows and duty, or threatening words—perhaps bringing the kids into the argument. Or you may try something physical like sobbing, grabbing their keys, standing in front of the door…
Now let’s unpack those actions and think about how they might look to your MLCer.
Guilt Words…marital vows, duty
Do you feel safe when someone pressures you with guilt? Or do you feel angry and resistant. How about duty and expectations, do you like it when people push you into the you should path? This is manipulating a response by holding a proverbial gun to their head, and typically a person will feel trapped, so now your MLCer wants to leave even more than before!
If you walk out that door, you’d better say goodbye to the kids, because…
Maybe that finishes with a comment about how they’re destroying their relationship—which may be true, or you may finish with a threat to keep the children away from them. Though it may be true that their relationship with the children will be strained at the least, this is not the time to say it and your words may be twisted or interpreted as having the second threat between the lines. This is unfair fighting and sounds like parental alienation. Your MLCer may be both scared and angry, but it’s unlikely to stop them from leaving for the same reasons I mentioned above.
Originally, I wrote crying, but it’s possible to cry and remain in control. Sad tears of regret and pain are to be expected. Sobbing is big gasps of desperation tears with sniffles—and if you have sniffles while crying, you may try to minimize them, but sobbing is a more manipulative attempt to draw attention to your being the victim.
How attractive is that? It’s not the way to convince anyone to want to be in your presence. Maybe you’re thinking of appealing to the MLCer’s rescue complex rather than being attractive. No, that won’t work either. What they see is someone who they’ve failed to rescue and so they’ll leave to rescue someone new.
Grabbing the keys
This is just controlling behavior and your highlighting that you’re an obstacle preventing them from getting to the fantasy. Are you going to hide their keys forever? What will happen once they get the keys back? Sure, maybe they’ll have calmed down a bit…for now. But if that’s the case, you’re merely postponing the event.
What should you do instead?
It takes a lot of courage to calmly tell your spouse goodbye and let them know you’ll miss them. That’s a response to work toward. Practice it—start with breathing deeply to calm yourself. But if that sort of action is still on the other side of your fear and desperation, work on diffusing instead. You still need to accept their actions and in this scenario, an MLCer is likely to keep walking out that door, but your solutions need to meet you where you’re at in your abilities.
I want you to get to a place where your desperation to save your marriage leads you to take risks instead of fall back onto what is easy by giving in to your MLCer’s demands. I was so desperate to save my marriage that I quickly went to some of my last resorts. Those were things I’d always been curious about, but not quite felt I could take the risk in case they wouldn’t work. I began hypnotherapy. Later I took a class to learn Reiki and eventually I took my hypnotherapy so far as to take a course on that as well. I also took community classes on energy, metaphysics, intuition… My desperation was so great that I chose to look inward for help—I did my Mirror-Work.
I’m going to review a situation between Chuck and me that happened about 7 months after Bomb Drop. It shows how he didn’t respond as he had on other occasions—while in MLC. I was confused, but my Mirror-Work was paying off; I remained calm and though confused, I didn’t let the situation get me down.
Chuck and I were meeting up to go mountain biking together—he was living with the alienator and so, yes, we were sneaking around. I’d been advised to set boundaries and that he was being abusive—he was cake-eating; he’d even told me that he had the best of both worlds. I’d been planning and practicing for a boundary discussion; I was going to remove the world with me in it. We were riding to the trails together in the car when I brought it up.
HE FLIPPED OUT. I remained calm and explained that he was taking advantage of me and the alienator and it was abusive. I explained that I needed to protect my heart.
He said he was already thinking of coming home and how we were handling it was working fine. Notice the attempt to guilt and frighten me back to giving him what he wanted. If I caused trouble, it would be my fault if he didn’t come home.
While setting up our bikes I suggested we rewind to before the discussion when he was calmer. I feared backing up on the boundary, but felt that by approaching from a place of calm, I might be able to make it a negotiation.
Now I still advise doing this, but I want you to understand that it does not mean it will work. It didn’t work—at least not in that moment!
Chuck threatened to file again, and he said that everyone said I would get this way—Bitchy. He sneered when he said that word. I gently placed my hands on his chest as a calming gesture and suggested a rewind again, then I reverted to phrases that had worked before with him—put yourself in my place, I have a right to be upset, how would you feel…
BIGGER FLIP OUT!
He screamed like a girl and threatened to call the police because I had my hands on him.
Calmly calling bluff: Okay do that, call the police.
You’re weird/crazy. Why do YOU want ME to call the police?
I suggested we stop and go back, but he still wanted to go mountain biking. There’s more to the story, but basically, he calmed down during the ride.
That argument wasn’t a big win for me where he took in what I said and told me I was making good points. I left confused and reviewing all my actions for ways to bring us back to where we’d been before that day.
I wasn’t ready for the big boundaries that accompany the courage to wish your MLCer well as you tell them goodbye. But I was practicing calm. I used calming words, tone and actions—that failed attempt in placing my hands on his chest. When those failed, I didn’t allow myself to become upset and lose my calm. I spent the ride regrouping and reviewing in my brain. Had something gone wrong or was this just an example of the irrationality and unpredictability of an MLCer? I was able to diffuse the situation, though I’m not sure I recognized it at the time. Diffusing doesn’t mean you win the argument or get your way. It means the fire goes out. They’ll still be in MLC and do what they’re going to do, but the argument deflates—for the present.
This post has become rather long, so I’ll continue this topic in the next post.