Yesterday I started getting caught up on my reading. I’ve only about 50 books added to my Kindle that are waiting for me to read them. Mostly business related items, like Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. It is one of the most recommended books by very successful direct marketers so I’m reading it. But I took a break from it to start a recommended book on divorce, Crazy Time –Surviving Divorce And Building A New Life by Abigail Trafford. Sadly that one is not available on Kindle so I’m having to read it the old fashioned way, and from the library. But I am hooked in it and finding things that really do make sense as to why my marriage failed. And my brother’s marriage…and every other marriage I know of that has ended. Affairs are only symptoms, which I knew, of the issues within the marriage, like the deadlock power struggle.
It has made me sit back and really look again at what went wrong. I’ve admitted before, I am a strong personality and a force to be reckoned with if I’m pissed off. In the past I was good for firing off with both barrels and a back up round and leaving emotional and mental debris scattered around me. I also, as my ex pointed out to me in a text last night, always had to be right. No matter what, to the point of raising my voice to talk over someone to prove I was right. Frankly, pretty often though not always, I was right. But that isn’t the point, the point is I really did have some issues. Thanks to Lexapro I see that more clearly. However it does not mean that I don’t express disdain, dislike, and flat out hatred. It just means that I can now do that without ripping out someone’s jugular to do it. Now, I can let you know precisely how I feel, in a calm, even very quiet tone of voice, minus the mean and hateful words, and all with a smile on my face.
I took a DISC assessment personality test sometime back when my sister was still working for a local company. I learned what I probably already knew, I’m a dominant personality, a D-I per this test. Dominance with Influence to be exact. Here is the general breakdown per Wikipedia (my characteristics are changed to red font to make a point):
The assessments classify four aspects of behavior by testing a person’s preferences in word associations (compare with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). DISC is an acronym for:
- Dominance – relating to control, power and assertiveness
- Influence – relating to social situations and communication
- Steadiness (submission in Marston’s time) – relating to patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness
- Compliance (or caution, compliance in Marston’s time) – relating to structure and organization
These four dimensions can be grouped in a grid with “D” and “I” sharing the top row and representing extroverted aspects of the personality, and “C” and “S” below representing introverted aspects. “D” and “C” then share the left column and represent task-focused aspects, and “I” and “S” share the right column and represent social aspects. In this matrix, the vertical dimension represents a factor of “Assertive” or “Passive”, while the horizontal dimension represents “Open” vs. “Guarded”.
- Dominance: People who score high in the intensity of the “D” styles factor are very active in dealing with problems and challenges, while low “D” scores are people who want to do more research before committing to a decision. High “D” people are described as demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious, aggressive, and pioneering. Low D scores describe those who are conservative, low keyed, cooperative, calculating, undemanding, cautious, mild, agreeable, modest and peaceful.
- Influence:People with high “I” scores influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic. Those with low “I” scores influence more by data and facts, and not with feelings. They are described as reflective, factual, calculating, skeptical, logical, suspicious, matter of fact, pessimistic, and critical.
- Steadiness: People with high “S” styles scores want a steady pace, security, and do not like sudden change. High “S” individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced. Low “S” intensity scores are those who like change and variety. People with low “S” scores are described as restless, demonstrative, impatient, eager, or even impulsive.
- Compliance: People with high “C” styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High “C” people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful. Those with low “C” scores challenge the rules and want independence and are described as self-willed, stubborn, opinionated, unsystematic, arbitrary, and unconcerned with details.
When I first took this test I admit I wasn’t really happy with the outcome. That D part of me doesn’t exactly sound flattering. But then over time I came to embrace it…it is after all who I am. One cannot change that about themselves. But what I can do is learn to channel those things more carefully by being aware of my personality strengths. And they are strengths. I’m very open and assertive, which is why I dislike the term survivor being applied to me in anyway, I am NOT a passive individual. And I am proud of that.
The trouble with us DI types is that we tend to bowl over others to reach our goals. We don’t mean to hurt anyone but it happens because we ARE driven and aggressive. I’m learning to dig my heels in with my mouth shut but it will take time. I think the ex thinks taking a pill is going to CHANGE my personality and make me some kind of Glinda the good witch, all fairy godmother like, or Melanie Hamilton. Sorry sweetie, but I am who I am. No pill is going to do that. I’m a good person, with a heart of gold, but I when I want something I push until I get it. He wanted a Melanie Hamilton, but married Scarlett O’Hara.
Back to the book. It talks about the fact that there needs to be a seesaw of control/dominance in the marriage, a partnership. But people tend to deadlock. We did that. Let me quote the book:
“Take a good look at the breakup of your marriage. There’s a pattern here. You think your crisis has to do with right and wrong, villains and witches. That’s how you feel. You want justice, revenge-and your bones ache with guilt. Look again. It’s reassuring to discover there’s a pattern in breaking up, a Deadlock imperative to how relationships crumble.
What is striking to many family therapists is that it is the submissive partner who usually becomes the deceiver; the dominant spouse the denier. As the submissive spouse on the way to independence, you go outside the marriage and build up strength-and courage-to equalize the relationship. Like a Samson, who has finally grown some hair, you become assertive and rebel. The classic act of revolt is the marriage-breaking affair; initiating the divorce is a final act of defiance. You are the deceiver, the Divorce Seeker.
If you’re the dominant partner, you try through denial to hold on to some lost dream kingdom of marriage. That’s how you keep control. You don’t recognize the symptoms of change in the other spouse-the signals of dispair and rebellion……You seem taken by surprise: I can’t believe this. I thought the marriage was basically good. My spouse must be crazy”
THAT right there is my marriage. He is no villain, and despite what he’d say, I’m no witch. We were deadlocked. We never did have a partnership, there was no equalizing us. Interestingly enough, per the book, people switch roles in other relationships. I’d venture to say he is the dominant now. If he is smart he will learn to balance the power, switching between her and him as NEEDED. I see it in my most recent relationship, I had slipped easily in to a more submissive role to his dominance. However when push came to shove, he wasn’t bending. In 5 months it was a power deadlock already. I dodged a bullet that time. Now? Well as I go through this book I will be seeking information and learning. I need to find a partner, someone who can balance the power with me, an equal. Someone who has been through this sort of thing. Someone who can understand that their way isn’t the only way to achieve an end, and one that I can trust when I need them to take the control, but who isn’t going to tell me my choice or idea is stupid because it doesn’t happen to line up with their own.
For now I am happy alone. Frankly, I think I am about the happiest I have ever been in my life! I’m not entirely sure I care to ever have to seesaw things. The longer I’ve been divorced the more I’m determined that I don’t need anyone. I’m a complete person in my own right. I can have a friend with benefits when I need that, but remain single and happy. I CAN have my cake and eat it too.
I’ll let you know what I learn as I continue through this book, and so far I highly recommend it to anyone that has been married and divorced, including my ex, he might be surprised to learn it wasn’t all my fault. But right now it’s all about ME and learning about fixing me. My ex spouses and significant others are some other woman’s mess to contend with now. (THANK GOD!)