STOP YELLING AT ME!
By Helena Montelius
If he yells at you and you perceive that that isn’t love-
you have hurt yourself;
And if you are yelling within you that he shouldn’t yell at you,
that is where the pain begins,
not with him yelling at you.
You’re arguing with reality, and you lose. ~Byron Katie
This was one of Katie’s quotes that I didn’t get when I first read it. What on Earth was she talking about? I had, during my entire marriage, been at war with my husbands yelling at me. Convinced that he was wrong and that he was verbally abusing me. And I was the crying victim; acting out my parent’s drama over and over again. Dad is angry and mean and mom is hurt and crying. I was convinced my dad had hurt me (and my mom) and that my husband was hurting me by yelling at me.
Everyone agreed with me; my friends, all the relationship coaches and books, even my husband agreed that he shouldn’t be yelling at me. And, yet he did; when he was upset, scared, stressed he would turn that into anger and…..yell!
It was deeply stressful to my nervous system; I often walked on egg shells wondering when he was going to get angry next. I was scared of my own husband. I withheld telling him things that I thought would upset him. Our daughter withheld things to not upset him; we would have secrets together. “Don’t tell dad.”
Then I would try to “get in my power” and channel some Kali energy; yeah! I am a powerful woman; I can yell too! Then we would be in yelling competitions; I would try to out-rage him! Occasionally that ended with a sort of stand-off where we got quiet, but more often than not, I would lose the yelling competition and fall back into being the crying victim. After that I would give him the silent treatment until he apologized and admitted he was the bad boy. Very exhausting! And heartbreaking to display this drama in front of our daughter. Because we were both hellbent on being right, no matter what the cost-even our own daughter!
As the pain of our stressful marriage intensified, I finally began to question and apply The Work inquiry to underlying beliefs around this drama.
First off: My husband shouldn’t be yelling at me. I questioned this thought with the 4 questions of The Work several times, and came to see that he should be yelling at me (the turnaround to the opposite, the last step of The Work) because he simply didn’t know another way when he was stressed. He should be yelling at me to wake me up; to force me to look within myself for the love I thought I needed from him. I realized it wasn’t a matter of right or wrong; what’s spiritually appropriate and what is not; it was simply reality. The wind blows, the dogs bark and my husband yells.
Whose business is it if my husband is yelling? That would be his business. My business is what I do with it. The turn-around to “He should be yelling at me” helped me get present in the moment, with what is. I can’t change my husband even though I desperately tried, I can change myself and my own inner response; that is within my power.
When I could finally let him off the hook, I began to notice my own inner yelling; it was much louder than his. I had been yelling so loudly that he should STOP YELLING! He should be different, he should be more kind, understanding, better communicator, more respectful of me. I wrote all those things down on a long needs-list; I questioned each item on that list (through the 4 Questions of The Work) and then turned it around to myself. I should be different (especially when it comes to my husband’s yelling), I need to be more kind, understanding, respectful of myself and communicate better with myself.
This began such a beautiful journey into myself. When he would yell, I would go to my room and start writing down my thoughts and be really kind to myself. Hold myself. Stroke myself. Tell myself everything I wanted to hear. Owning my own giant wound in this area and giving it healing compassion. Giving myself everything I had wanted from my husband.
Now, I was able to just be present and witness him yell; like a movie. “Wow, he looks really stressed out today!” And him yelling had become his business; it certainly had nothing to do with me! “Poor guy, must be tiring to yell so much,” I would think.
I kept diving deeper and deeper into self-love; questioning all my self-critical and self-judging beliefs. My husbands yelling had simply activated what I already believed about myself. As more of my self-critical thoughts dropped away, I would leave the room if my husband got going with the yelling, or go outside for a walk, or to pet my dogs on the porch. Or get in my car and drive away if he followed me out. I was done yelling at myself (and at him) and I was very bored with his yelling. I am certainly not perfect, but I had come to realize I didn’t deserve anyone talking to me that way, so I would just get out of his way. Sometimes I was able to simply sit in compassion and send him love as he was yelling. My husband was my guru for sure!
A lot of things happened in our life; we divorced, moved apart, and started sharing custody of our daughter. And the yelling continued. When I had fully divorced myself from all my painful concepts about myself and relationships with men, I stopped taking his calls. I just never knew when he was calling to dump some anger on me. I only communicated via text or e-mail with him and only talked to him about matters concerning our daughter. Any derogatory or angry texts I simply deleted. I did not listen to any voice mails he left. I blocked him on social media. I was truly done. As my daughter got older, I was able to simply communicate directly with her about practical things and eventually I didn’t have any contact with my ex-husband.
A new man showed up in my life and he sounded just like my own inner voice now; gentle, loving, and supportive of Helena. He speaks my mind: “You are awesome, Helena. I want to support you in everything you want to create. You are beautiful! I love you!” This has lasted for almost a decade now. I love that I hardly ever cry anymore, except during touching movies, and I have not raised my voice and no one has raised their voice to me in close to a decade. Such peace!
And I can now honestly say, that my own inner yelling (at myself and my ex) and the interpretations of what his yelling meant is what actually caused my deep pain and heartbreak. And you may think that everything is rosy now because I was lucky enough to meet a man that is not verbally abusive. For me it’s very clear that it is the other way around. I shifted and healed my inner reality and my current relationship is simply a reflection of that shift. If we ever have an issue, we each take time and work it through in ourselves before we talk about it together.
Years later my daughter and I had a “fika” (Swedish word for coffee, cinnamon buns and conversation) at a local café’ and my ex happened to walk in and all three of us had a fika and a nice conversation together. I am so grateful for our stressful marriage and his yelling because it pushed me into setting myself free and finding my source of love within.
I am all for staying in your marriage and working on things and/or being friends with your exes, I have several exes that I am great friends with, and for a while I tried my best; doing Christmas together for example. And for me, in my situation, being friends simply was not working. I am open to that maybe changing in the future. I have worked with many couples that had the same dynamic where both partners were able to do inquiry and start working on themselves and they were able to shift this dynamic, end the yelling and start a whole new way of communicating.
I am sharing the practices and inquiries that supported me in this journey through my Radical Love Shift- Dissolving the painful love stories through The Work of Byron Katie Class. You can find more info about that at www.lookwithininstitute.com
If you want to learn how to do The Work there are many free resources available at www.thework.com
Dear Helena, thank you for sharing this experience with us. The topic touches me profoundly as I have a father whose means of comunicating has been very challenging to me and my mother. I am on the way to finding more and more as I sit in Inquiry. Your sharing has inspired me.
With love, Xacinta.