Why was everyone else proud of me, execpt my husband?
May 8, 2007 9:20 AM   Subscribe

My interaction with an armed robber prevented a possible tragedy at a crowded shop, but my husband has yet to acknowledge that.

I'm 25, female, never been robbed before. My husband and I were at a small neighborhood shop when a teenage came in with a gun. We were near the entrance so we became the "main hostages". There were over 30 people inside, several children.

This guy was definately not the sort of "pro", collected robber that controls the situation and goes fast. He had no clue and seemed very violent, threatening to shoot all the time and waving the gun. He may have been intoxicated.

I have always been terrified of other people's reaction to robberies and immediately thought someone might yell or try to run and cause the guy to shoot. Somehow, without even realizing, I took over the situation.

I talked to him, went to the cashier to get the money, handed it to the guy. Then someone offered a purse, which I went to get. The whole time I was asking him to be calm and assuring him everyone would give all they had. Everytime I came near to hand him something he yelled and pointed the gun to my stomach and face, asking for more money. As I went around "assisting" I talked to some of the more nervous people saying it would be over soon, and kept trying to convince him that we would all give everything so he could go quickly.
But he just wouldn't be satisfied.

This guy was so clueless and/or nervous he didn't even go gathering credit cards and wallets, he just stood there yelling for more. Then I realized I was wearing big gold earrings, and gave them to him. My husband gave his very expensive watch, and that seemed to finally satisfy the son-of-a-bitch so he yelled for everyone to cram into the back room. I directed everyone to go orderly and closed the door, and the he ran off.

And then I broke down.
I got down to the floor and couldn't get up even as people were leaving the tiny room to call the police and get themselves together. My husband had to pick me up and sit me down at a chair, and I remember the owner of the shop bringing me water. Some children were very scared and I tried to calm them down, but I couldn't get up because I trembled too much. I was completely terrified.

Then some people started coming up to me to thank me. And then more people, and only then did I realize what I had done. I was chocked and, I admit, proud of myself. But of all people, my husband was the one that never said a word to me. I saw he was very nervous and asked him if he was okay, tried to console him but I was still crying a lot. He wanted us to go but I had to wait for the police, and after I got calmer we went home.

I remember a buzz, people pointing and talking about me. I have to say, despite the horrible situation and how terrified I was, it felt great. I was so proud of myself.

It's been three weeks since it happened. We have talked about it a lot, and sometimes I still get nervous and cry a lot. Everytime I get scared he consoles me, he is very supportive in that sense. However, he has never said a word about what I did that thay. He did not mention my reaction, he did not say I did good, he did not say he was proud. My parents did, when they heard. My brother did. But not my husband.

When we tell friends what happened, he always mentions the facts, but never anything about my participation in it. I feel frustrated. I absolutely did not react the way I did during the robbery to prove myself as a hero, I hate heroes. It even took me a while to realize I had played a role at all. But now that I do realize, I want him to acknowledge me.

Am I ego tripping?
Do I have some sort of impromptu-hero "love me admire me" syndrome?
Why is he not proud of me?

Just to clarify, my husband is not a jealous person and would never feel any sort of envy towards me, he is in fact extremely proud of me and my achievements and always tells me so. Just not in this case.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm betting that your reaction scared the crap out of him. If I were he, I would have spent the whole time thinking please don't let her get shot, please don't let her get shot, pleasepleaseplease. One never knows how one is going to react in a situation like that, and I bet your reaction surprised him as much as it did you. His not talking much/at all about your role probably stems from his attempt to (subsconsciously?) avoid the terror he felt. He may also be a little or a lot angry with you. You might both want to consider some short-term counseling from the local victim's assistance groups in your area.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


My first thought is that he may have preferred you stayed quiet and tried to blend in more , because he thought your extra involvement made you more likely to become seriously hurt. He surely admires what you did , but at the same time might want to tell you you should have kept quiet because of his own selfish reasons of wanting to keep you alive and safe so he can enjoy you. The conflict between these two opposites might lead him to stay silent. Maybe.
posted by white light at 9:27 AM on May 8, 2007


He was probably worried that you would be dead within the next 5 seconds, during the whole ordeal. You might have been calm and collected (which I am metafilter green with envy of, BTW!) all the while, but he was probably a nervous wreck.

It's not easy to see someone you love state down the barrel of a gun (figuratively and literally).
posted by Solomon at 9:30 AM on May 8, 2007


I would mention it to him, in as non-confrontational language as possible. "I feel very hurt that you haven't said anything indicating you're proud of me for what I did during that robbery."

What's probably going on is that he has a couple issues of his own to work out. The human mind is not, however much we might want it to be, a solely rational organ, and he could be angry with you for putting yourself at risk. He could be angry at himself for not stepping in and helping you or trying to assume that risk himself. He might be ashamed or feel emasculated. He might be avoiding the memory or avoiding thought of your involvement because remembering it scares him again and he doesn't know how to deal with that fright but also doesn't want to make you feel bad. These are all possibilities that I don't think you've considered, from the way you worded your post.

So to answer your question: no, you're not ego-tripping or anything. You want acknowledgment from the most important person in your life, and that's normal.

However, you should also be sensitive to the fact that, though it may not be "envy," he is going to have his own set of very emotional responses to the event. It was traumatic, and responses to emotional trauma are hard.
posted by kavasa at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe his coping mechanism is that lack of acknowledgement? Perhaps he feels that he couldn't have done the same and thus is subconsciously blocking himself from congratulating you in order to avoid feelings of inadequacy? Maybe he disagrees with the steps you took because he thought it put you at risk, and doesn't want to say that because he doesn't want to deflate your self-esteem and pride? Maybe he worries that if he talks about his feelings about the incident, he'll start to cry (and he's been conditioned against crying)?

The only way to find out is to ask him. Straight out ask him. Even if you don't usually ask this sort of thing. Or just show him this post - give him time to compose a response.

He seems proud of you from what you say. Maybe, for him, talking about the incident and the facts is a way of conveying this pride, because your behaviour itself is obviously commendable. Like, if Superman saves your child, you tell people that Superman saved your child, not that Superman saved your child and you're PROUD of him for doing so.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2007


He might also be feeling guilty because admitting you did good in his mind is an admission that he did nothing. Not saying that's true, but it may have got him thinking about what if he were charged with protecting you the next time? What would he do if he failed you? He may feel like now there's precedent.

Work through this with short term counseling now, not later.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2007


Why is he not proud of me?

He probably is and also, he was probably terrified something would happen to you. I wonder how much of that horrible feeling of a loss barely adverted he's trying to digest to this day. Little is more upsetting than watching a loved one in peril and not being able to do anything about it.

But now that I do realize, I want him to acknowledge me.

So tell him that. But also, be prepared to be supportive of his feelings, he went through the same trauma as you, even if he hasn't shown any physical signs of it.
posted by jamaro at 9:33 AM on May 8, 2007


Maybe he was traumatized by the incident too and isn't showing it. Telling the bare-bones, "just-the-facts-ma'am" version might be his way of not dwelling on the memories. Have you asked him how he feels about the incident three weeks later?
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:34 AM on May 8, 2007


I think the emasculated reason is a good bet.

If I was married and my wife talked down a criminal while I just laid on the floor I would probably have a sense of emasculation and would probably not play up her role while talking with friends in fear of making myself look like a whimp.

That doesn't mean however that I wouldn't be proud of her and express such to her.

However how you wrote the question does seem to be a tad bit ego tripping but hey, I'm sure most of us would feel the same way.

I do have a problem with this statement though.

I absolutely did not react the way I did during the robbery to prove myself as a hero, I hate heroes.

Uh why the hell would you hate heroes? Seems to me they do pretty much only good, thus the name. You might want to address that personally.
posted by crewshell at 9:40 AM on May 8, 2007


He was scared shitless that you were at the pinnacle of harm's way. He, you and others are dealing with the aftermath of the event. People process shock and trauma in diffferent ways. Try not to hold it against him that he isn't saying what you want him to say. Give him time.
posted by ericb at 9:41 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe he hasn't said anything because he's not proud of you. Maybe he's angry that you risked yourself like that; maybe he's ashamed that you stepped up and he doesn't feel like he adequately protected you.

With that in mind, decide if you really want to talk about it. And if you're willing to hear him say he's angry at you, that he's frustrated with you and himself, then have the conversation. But if you're not, I suggest satisfying yourself with the support he's offering you now and work on moving on.
posted by headspace at 9:44 AM on May 8, 2007


Some great answers here. I don't have any more of a clue than anyone else (and I strongly recommend that both of you at least consider getting some kind of trauma counselling, as this was clearly a very stressful situation), but I agree with the others who suggested that your husband's lack of comment is probably more to do with the trauma of the entire situation rather than anything else.

I know you weren't telling us this to get praise, but hey, I'm impressed by the way you acted. Well done you, you may well have helped everyone get out of there in one piece. But had I been there myself, I think I'd be facing so many different, and possibly conflicting, feelings that I might not think to comment on your role in the situation. Everyone reacts differently to stressful things, and you can't always predict your own behaviour when under extreme pressure like that.

And by the way, I wish you both a full recovery from your ordeal.
posted by different at 9:45 AM on May 8, 2007


He might also be feeling guilty because admitting you did good in his mind is an admission that he did nothing.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in this. No one knows for sure how they will react in such a life-or-death scenario, and he may be ashamed of his own response. Your heroism may only serve to highlight his sense of having failed - failed not only to act when the situation demanded it, but to protect you.
posted by itstheclamsname at 9:47 AM on May 8, 2007


I agree with folks saying he might be feeling guilty. The other thing is that he is most likely as traumatized as the rest of you and is having not the easiest time processing all of his feelings and thoughts about what happened, let alone your role in it. A lot of times when incredibly tramautic things happen, people can misremember and even forget very significant details for a period of time. Give him some more time. And, once time has passed bring this up to him.

And, by the way, you're a badass.
posted by sneakin at 9:50 AM on May 8, 2007


Does your husband usually play a caretaker/advisor role in your relationship? The fact that he is otherwise "extremely proud of your accomplishments" suggests to me that he might be. Is he usually the person to dole out praise to you, while his accomplishments are considered second nature? If so, then perhaps the role reversal does have him confused and disgruntled.

It can be hard to see someone close to you doing something better than you, when you used to consider being good at that thing part of your central identity. If he's used to being the capable one in your relationship, he might not know how to deal with your sudden exhibition of amazing bravery and competence.
posted by footnote at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Guessing at the underlying emotional motivations of Your Anonymousness' husband is a hit and miss thing at best. So take any guesses you'll get here with a grain of salt, including mine. Talking with him would be the only way to find out for sure. And try to find a counselor, or counselor-led support group.

He might feel guilty, as others have said.

Or, he might be more freaked out by the risk that you took.

Or, he might be a very factual / literal person. As in, the possibility that 30+ people might have been shot as doesn't register much with him, since there was no actual shooting or aiming at people other than yourself. Under that framework, you didn't prevent any injury. If the robber had taken a bead on someone, and you slapped the gun upwards as he was pulling the trigger, that might register as prevention to a very factual / literal person.

I'm not saying I agree with that angle on the situation, just putting it out there as a possibility.
posted by CKmtl at 10:08 AM on May 8, 2007


Nthing what everyone else said.

Also: Are you still wondering if you did the right thing? Is a piece of you wishing that you'd been able to talk the guy out of robbing you at all? Your hindsight has already kicked in enough that you recognize that this robber guy was not exactly a pro.

It would be completely normal for you to have a little nagging "I let him get away with robbing us," even though you're justifiably proud of yourself for managing to stay calm, and even though you recognize that cooperating was the best idea for everyone's safety. Maybe this is part of the reassurance you seek from your husband?
posted by desuetude at 10:10 AM on May 8, 2007


We are not your husband. Talk to your husband. Yes, you did a good job. Congratulations.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:15 AM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why don't you ask your husband? Not being snarky, but isn't he the most likely person to answer your questions about his motivation?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:18 AM on May 8, 2007


as others have said, i think he's ashamed - as stereotyped as it is, most men would probably like to believe they'd throw themselves between their wife and a gun.

saying he's proud of you would only emphasise his internal discomfort and draw attention to his own lack of action - something he's not yet ready to face inside.
posted by wayward vagabond at 10:27 AM on May 8, 2007


I think everyone above has covered the most likely answers, but another one I can think of is this:
Maybe he felt like you "helped" the robber too much and either still kind of feels that or is embarrassed that the thought ever even crossed his mind and doesn't want to discuss it. I definitely agree with what headspace wrote. Remember, you can't force him to feel a certain way.
posted by Durin's Bane at 10:36 AM on May 8, 2007


My take is a little different. I was also once in a situation where I took a physical risk to protect someone else from an attack and it turned out fine, luckily. I'm also related to a lot of cops, one of whom has taken at least two extreme, beyond-the-call of duty risks in their line of work that turned out alright. That's my perspective regarding my answer here.

It is much easier for your family and friends to be proud of you because they knew about it ONLY AFTER your intervention had been successful. The other folks in the store? Relieved that you had been successful because they were not hurt.

In that moment where what you did could have ended very badly, your husband had to be a witness to that. He didn't know that the situation would end well or with you dead/injured or with others dead/injured.

If something bad had happened to you and the others were unharmed, those others would still be proud of you because you saved them. Your husband might be devastated and angry. Your family and friends could have reactions all over the place.

It would be TOTALLY NORMAL for your husband to have very conflicted feelings about what happened. It would be totally normal for him to be proud of you AND very angry with you. This might make him silent because, perhaps, he is confused about his reaction to the situation.

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that he feels emasculated.

The cop I referred to above talked an armed gunman with hostages into moving close to an open window, reached in and grabbed the guy by the shirt and dragged him through the open window, then disarmed him. The guy had a young wife and two toddlers at home. His wife, when she was finally able to talk about it, was alternately proud and extremely angry. I believe she told him that if he ever did something like that again and survived, she would kill him. With distance and time, she was more proud than angry. But for a period of years after the incident, she wondered if she would be getting a phone call from his captain telling her, "He was a hero again today and he's dead" every time he left the house.

There is an element of foolhardiness in every brave thing that we do in our lives because it involves taking risks. It's okay for everyone involved, including you, to have conflicting emotions about what happened. Go easy on your husband. It sounds like he loves you and, in during this situation, may have had to visualize what it would be like watching you get shot. That had to have been as stressful just like what you did was stressful for you.

Congratulations for disarming the situation. And I'm glad you all made it out okay.
posted by jeanmari at 10:37 AM on May 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


Argh. Sorry for the poor grammar up there. I'm in a rush and distracted.
posted by jeanmari at 10:39 AM on May 8, 2007


I have been in a very similar situation recently. I kid you not. It was so similar that I am still wondering if you are not my girlfriend writing anonymously and changing some of the facts so I wouldn't recognize you. :-) (Are you?)

On my personal example, I saw some people after the fact congratulating my girlfriend for the courage for handling most of the interaction with the robber by herself. I am afraid I didn't do so (or did I? I don't remember), and I think I know why - It's because I was scared shitless of seeing her in the pinnacle of harm's way and there was absolutely nothing I could do to change that - I remember, in the middle of the adrenaline rush of the gun being waved around, I spoke a couple of times to the perpetrator to try to shift his attention to me, to no avail. Also, I don't like to talk much about the robbery itself. I can tell the story to friends, but if I talk about it to someone that was there with me, then it is a whole different experience as it changes perspective. So, after this day we haven't really discussed this incident in much detail.

Well, but if you are feeling this way, maybe I should go and give my girlfriend some appreciation for her courage now. But if you want my advice, I don't think you should feel bad for his reaction. It was a very traumatic thing, and it distorts the perception of reality for that specific time. Both your lives were on the line! You can't blame him for his inability to detach from the situation and see what you've done as if he were an uninvolved bystander.
posted by falameufilho at 10:44 AM on May 8, 2007


He may be trying to avoid the subject because, if he's actually angry that you put yourself at risk, he might be tempted to yell at you (unreasonably, but this is emotion we're talking about). He knows yelling is wrong and a little nonsensical, but he can't help that he feels a little crazy about the incident.

Just another hypothesis.
posted by amtho at 10:46 AM on May 8, 2007


Well, maybe I'll get flamed, but I'm going to buck the trend and question the value of what you did. There are a lot of assumptions in your post. Maybe it's because you didn't post every single detail, but there are some things that leap out at me even after reading it four times. You say you prevented a possible tragedy with your actions. Well, that's true. You also may have prevented the guy from turning around and walking out. You say you walked around to the cashier and all the people in the store taking their valuables and handing them over. Yet from your description the guy only started demanding these items after you started offering them. Nor was he satisfied, or even fully cognizant of what you were offering. So again, you may in fact have kept him present and involved at the scene longer than he would have been otherwise.

Primarily though, I keep coming back to this statement: I have always been terrified of other people's reaction to robberies and immediately thought someone might yell or try to run and cause the guy to shoot. Somehow, without even realizing, I took over the situation. Based on your description of the guy, it's nigh impossible to guess what might have caused him to shoot. So what happened is that out of your fear of and mistrust of the reactions of other people in the shop, you became that person--the person who acts on a bunch of assumptions and gets involved in the scene without much understanding of what's truly going on. There is a well-respected tenet of martial arts: do the least amount necessary. Sometimes that means completely disabling somebody. Sometimes it means asking them to leave. I see a lot of places in this recounting where less may have accomplished just as much if not more.

Caveat: Yes, I say all this without having been there or seen the situation unfold within the span of a few terrifying moments. I also say it without knowing what my reaction in a similar situation would be.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:46 AM on May 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


Sorry, to answer the question... If it's not clear from my response above, that's why I'd be angry with you.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:48 AM on May 8, 2007


There are some glib and superficial answers so I'll try to add some personal perspective for what it might be worth to you. Today happens to be a week shy from being two years since my brother-in-law was shot in a fight. My wife and I arrived by chance right after it happened before the police or paramedics. We saw he was hurt and got right on with CPR. From there we were working from the same checklist, has 911 been called? is anyone else hurt? where are my sister and her kids? where is the person who did this? what about our safety? It was the most awful thing I've ever seen, but somehow we were doing what needed to get done until help arrived. When the police were finishing up, the two officers that arrived first pulled us aside and commended both of us for having our heads on the whole time and making their job easier. They thanked us for what we did, which at the time didn't make any sense to me because we were just operating on instinct but now I see what they mean.

Until I read your question I hadn't thought of telling my wife that I was proud of her. We talked about it a lot and went through a little therapy but it never came up in those terms. I am proud of her, but I'm not surprised she handled herself so well that day. I wouldn't have picked her as the person to spend my life with if I didn't see those qualities in her before the poop hit the fan. Maybe that's how your husband feels: reassured that you have a cool and quick head and can make the right decision when it counts. Maybe he doesn't know how to praise you for being yourself and living up to what he sees in you.

I think it's one of those things you might have to talk to him about; if you can face down a nut with a gun, you can talk to your husband about your needs. He's sorting out his feelings too, so you're going to have to bring it up.

And finally, I'm glad to read that you are talking to him about what happened and sorting things through yourself. Have you considered counseling to help you sort through some of these feelings? You've been though a lot, recovering from a traumatic event can take some work and some time. Good luck to you both.
posted by peeedro at 10:53 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I definitely think you can't take his reaction personally. I was reading your story imagining myself in your position, or my husband in your position, and I'm pretty sure that if it was my husband, my comments afterwards would be more along the lines of "what the hell is wrong with you?" than "oh, my hero." But then that would make me the asshole, so I would just have to say nothing. And that always ends so well.

This is the sort of event where counseling now can make a huge difference in your potential diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder in 6 months (assuming 6 months is still part of the diagnostic criteria, I don't know). I would recommend a short course of therapy now, together and separately, for any couple who's been through a traumatic event like that together.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:58 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here, but it is possible that he feels that all the praise has gone to your head a bit and he's reluctant to push you even further in that direction. People can be pretty merciless when it comes to making fun of those who seem to be overstating their own accomplishments and he may be trying to protect you from that.

It's not always easy to balance responsibility to keep loved ones grounded with the responsibility to support their achievements. When someone's feeling low, you can cheer them on without feeling like you're setting them up for a fall, but when they're on a high it can be hard not to end up considering the possible negatives of pushing them further up.

To put it another way, I suggest the following: you did something impressive, your husband is proud of you for it, but you're ego-tripping a bit and your husband doesn't want to encourage that because he doesn't want to see you humiliated later. On the other hand, you feel like the achievement doesn't seem real to you until he acknowledges it.

I can't really advise you on how to handle this, but I hope the above provides some insight that may help you work something out.
posted by teleskiving at 10:59 AM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


2nd to cocoagirl.

Kudos for remaining calm under pressure, but let's not confuse an action having a desirable result (if it was) with the action itself being desirable.

It also strikes me as possible, from your description, that you significantly increased the robber's loot.

At any rate, it's entirely possible that your husband hasn't congratulated you because he thinks (either rationally or emotionally) what you did was stupid.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:59 AM on May 8, 2007


Instead of demanding acknowledgment, perhaps just ask "What do you think about my actions in the store during the robbery?" You might get the acknowledgment. You might not. But at least you'll know what he thinks.
posted by probablysteve at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Imagine that you are watching your husband while some nut waves a gun at him and threatens to shoot him. What are the strongest emotions you feel? I am guessing that your husband is more glad that you are still alive than proud, and would really rather you never do anything like that again. He's probably glad that no one else was hurt, but if you had been killed it probably would not make him feel one whit better that you had saved the lives of 30 people, even if there were parades in the street in your honor.

But that's just my opinion. Why don't you ask him?
posted by yohko at 11:11 AM on May 8, 2007


While you take care of yourself for your recent trauma, you should also remember that your husband also experienced a very traumatic event from his own, unique point of view.

People's post-traumatic emotions and responses are inexplicable. Furthermore, these emotions do not need to be immediately explained in order for them to be improved. Trying to connect motives to your husband's current actions is not likely to be productive and comparing his current actions to the actions of others ("Why is everyone else...?") who experienced a totally unique personal trauma or no trauma at all is like comparing apples to oranges.

What is important right now that you love and support each other and that you both individually and as a couple seek out support networks other than each other as well. Have the conversations that you need to have with your husband and others to gain more peace, but always remember to give your husband the benefit of a doubt for a while and encourage him to do the same for you.

Odds are very good that he doesn't even know what his motives for the actions you describe are right now. He may also perceive his explanations totally differently than you do. That is to say, his perception of his retelling of the story may be that it is very favorable to you. In any event, the important thing is that you support each other right now.
posted by Skwirl at 11:43 AM on May 8, 2007


That must have been a terrifying situation. I have no idea how I would have reacted. I'm sure both of you have very complicated feelings about what happened that you might not understand yourselves.

That said, from a rational perspective, what you did is not necessarily completely praiseworthy. It's great that you stayed calm, but you put yourself at great risk to basically act as this guy's accomplice.

The people pointing and talking about you might not have been saying "Thank God, she saved my life!" They might have been wondering why you helped this guy take all their stuff.
posted by designbot at 11:51 AM on May 8, 2007


I'm going to go against the grain here: maybe he's pissed that you were so accommodating.

I have been in a similar situation, and when I think back on it I'm not angry at the thief or myself or the shopkeeper... I'm angry at the busybody that almost got people killed in her efforts to defuse the situation using skills she picked up from watching cop shows on TV. The thief was scared and jumpy and just wanted out of there fast, and this woman's efforts to be helpful ("here, take our wallets... and my husband's expensive watch") kept him in the store longer. Some people came to the door and ran when they saw what was going on, and the thief got very irate (he kept yelling "shut up!" but nobody was talking). While he was trying to figure out what to do now that the cops were soon to be involved I started to wonder if what had started out as a simple robbery was about to turn into a hostage situation or worse.

Fortunately the thief got back on track and got the hell out of there, something he might have done a minute or two earlier and a few wallets and a watch lighter if we hadn't had any heroes in the group. The woman made sure that everyone present (and then the cops and then the news reporters) all knew what she had done, and she described her experience using language very similar to the OP: "without even realizing, I took over the situation... I assisted the thief... and then I broke down... people started thanking me... and only then did I realize what I had done... I was so proud of myself". And then she couldn't understand why some of the people present didn't see it the way she did, people who were possibly exposed to more danger because of what she did, people who now needed to cancel all of their credit cards and get new ID thanks to her 'assistance'. She got the last laugh, though, because the news glommed on to her feel-good local-hero version of the story and disregarded any other perspectives.

I don't know how much (if any) of this is relevant to the OP, but I learned this from my own experience: of all the people in the room at the time of the robbery, the people least likely to have an objective recollection later are the thief, the shopkeeper, and the hero. So if you were one of those three, asking someone else who was present but less dynamically involved to validate your perspective is probably a losing battle.
posted by foobario at 11:59 AM on May 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


My first thought was that you aided and abetted a robbery. In your husband's shoes, I might very well be pissed at you for that.

Regardless, I concur with the consensus here that counseling is the way to go. You'll both be able to work through your trauma and reactions to it with someone there to both coax it out and to help smooth over any negative reactions you have to each other.
posted by stevis23 at 12:01 PM on May 8, 2007


Saying the following will help work through this situation with your husband:

"What do you think about what I did during the robbery?"
posted by jayder at 12:21 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't agree with those who are somewhat critical of your behavior, but I also don't know how praiseworthy it is. Determining whether it was the best move is very dependent on the personality and mood of the robber. For most of your audience it is an unknown.

You expect your husband's approval. If it is coming across that you do, then that alone can slow him in giving it. And I don't mean consciously on either of your parts. More than that, it seems like you are forcing your interpretation of events on to him. He might not agree that it was a smart move and there is no way for him to disagree without looking petty, jealous and attempting to mask his own cowardice. It was a big event for him too and it could feel oppressive not to be able to express his full thoughts on the matter.

jayder and probablysteve have good advice here.
posted by BigSky at 12:39 PM on May 8, 2007


I realize I'm breaking Occam's razor, but:
What if he is worried that you're experiencing shock about the event, and waiting for you to mention the whole thing? Maybe he's not confronting you for the same reasons you're not confronting him?

I'm just saying - there are a number of reasons he's not mentioning this, and it's really a complex situation. Just talk to him.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2007


I just want to say: you did an amazing thing that most of us would never have the courage to do. I really, really admire you.

There is nothing wrong with wanting your husband to recognize this, so please completely put away the nagging notions that you are fishing for anything.
posted by loiseau at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2007


Since you didn't ask whether or not your participation was right/wrong/praiseworthy/stupid/etc., I won't even weigh in with my opinion. I would like to suggest that others also refrain from making judgments or take the judgments to meta.

Thoughts on why he hasn't mentioned being proud of you:

1. He could be really mad at you for what you did because - right or wrong - it did put you in harms way and he is having trouble coping with the anger over what you put him through. Maybe it is easier for him to be angry than confront the fears he faced that day.

2. Maybe he feels emasculated or ashamed because he wasn't hero and his wife saved the day. Maybe it is easier for him to deal with the resentment than confront his wounded macho pride.

3. People cope with trauma in different ways. Sometimes, they let the traumatic event weave its way into their identities and they become so wrapped up in the event that they can't let it go. I've heard of this happening with people who recover from potentially terminal illnesses (experiencing difficulty going from a life focused on surviving illness to becoming an illness survivor who needs to focus on life after illness) and those who care for people throughout illnesses (going from care-giver to person who needs to focus on their own life). I haven't heard of it happening as a result of a one-time event, but that isn't to say it can't happen. If that is going on with you to any extent, despite whether he is dealing with 1. or 2., it is possible that he is concerned about how you are dealing with it and/or that it has become very intertwined with your identity. Maybe he is ready to move beyond the trauma and you aren't allowing him to do so because it has become central to your identity (I am not sure that it has, just suggesting a possibility).

4. Maybe you are going though some ego trippy, instant-hero syndrome and need him to recognize or share your feelings about event. If that is the case, you need to realize that you did not experience the same event in the same way, so it makes sense that you two aren't reacting the same way. Maybe he still hasn't processed 1. or 2. and, whether he is is proud of you or not, is it possible that you've developed a bit of mentionitis about it and he is just tired of the topic?

5. Maybe he just isn't proud of you for whatever reason, or just doesn't think what you did is as heroic as you think it is. That doesn't mean to say he thinks it was stupid, or he is angry at you because he thinks you helped the robber or anything else. Perhaps he just sees it as the kind of thing anyone would do, or the kind of think he'd expect you to do. for the record, I am not saying that it is the kind of thing anyone would do, I am just trying to provide ideas about what he might be thinking

Since you are both obviously dealing with this event in separate ways, it might help you both to speak with professionals (separately) to allow you both to heal in the ways you each need to heal. For all you know, this dynamic (dealing with different roles in a shared traumatic experience in different ways + the need for participation to be recognized/praised) may be more common than you think. Only a trained professional can help you to understand what you are going through at the moment and how to cope with it. I would see a professional before asking your husband to share his feelings/opinions about the role you played in the robbery.
posted by necessitas at 3:19 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Perhaps he has PTSD. Therapist.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:20 PM on May 8, 2007


Perhaps he has PTSD. Therapist.

Not praising someone is not a symptom of PTSD.
posted by OmieWise at 4:54 PM on May 8, 2007


Other people in the store saw you as a stranger, possibly a hero, intervening on their behalf, but from your husband's perspective it was his wife putting herself in a situation where she could be killed. And then he saw you completely breakdown after the robber left. In his eyes, you put yourself in a dangerous situation and as a result you were in deep emotional pain. The roller coaster of emotions he went through was probably overwhelming, (not to stereotype, but most men are unskilled at dealing with emotions). Maybe he's still trying to process it all and his process is very different from yours.

I am a cop and I know I have to be careful when I relate stories to my family and boyfriend. When I talk about running after the armed robber or breaking up a fight, I have to remember that I am not just a cop to them, I am their daughter, their sister, their mom and they would be very angry if I was hurt. That does not make them any less proud at the job I do, it makes them human.
posted by maryruthless at 5:02 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


BTW - MeTa.
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on May 8, 2007


Not praising someone is not a symptom of PTSD.
posted by OmieWise


Not a direct symptom per se, but it very well could be an expression of behavior caused by PTSD.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:11 PM on May 8, 2007


If I were your husband, I wouldn't be proud of you because what you did sounds stupid. I've been been held at gunpoint, it never occurred to me to assist the creep in the process. Nobody got killed in either case, so who is to say what approach is best for any given situation. But my impression is that abject compliance is misguided and humiliating for many of the victims involved. In other words, you made getting robbed worse.

You think you're a hero but you sound like self-congratulatory fool. Maybe your husband doesn't want to hurt your feelings by saying so?
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:40 PM on May 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Not a direct symptom per se, but it very well could be an expression of behavior caused by PTSD.

No, you're wrong.

Not only is not offering praise not a symptom, direct or indirect, of PTSD, there is nothing in the question that remotely suggests that anyone is suffering from PTSD. In fact, if you read the criteria, rather than simply speculate wildly with no knowledge or expertise, you'll find that there are several aspects of the description that make it impossible for the boyfriend to fit the criteria for PTSD. (Not enough time has passed, he has been willing to talk about the event, etc, etc, etgivemeafuckingbreak.)

When did we give up our humanity in favor of diagnoses? This constant AskMe rush to assume the worst about mental health is horrifying and counter productive. It's in no one's best interest, and frequently, as in this case, simply wrong.
posted by OmieWise at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


PTSD is something much stronger than simply not mentioning your spouse's participation in a robbery, and it's much stronger than not congratulating your spouse for behaviour that took place during the a robbery. DSM entries aren't meant to be semantically nitpicked at to fit a situation.

OmieWise is correct.
posted by CKmtl at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2007


I was in about the *exact* same situation a couple of months ago. I don't think the guy was intoxicated, though, and later when he was arrested with 4 others we found out they had a lot of experience, so I assume it was a bit safer for us at least from the "he was a pro" point view.

Both my boyfriend and I interacted with this guy, because we were close to the entrance like you were. I'm sure my boyfriend thought about protecting me and an 11-year-old nephew that was with us, and in my mind I had the added concern of trying to shift the guy's attention to me because this was in my father's restaurant and I did not want the robber to recognize my father as the owner, and possibly target him more violently. Oh, and it was the second time this same scumbag robbed us, same weekday, same time, same m.o.

I'm sorry, I'm rambling about my own situation. I'm not sure how to help as in the "everyone being proud" aspect, my father and my boyfriend both acknoledged that I was incredibly calm. And also both my boyfriend and I were directly in harm's way all the time, so there was no one "hero". What I can say to you is that I completely relate to you and I understand from the bottom of my heart why you reacted the way you did, and where that strenght came from. And also the surprise you felt afterwards, the "what did I just do?". Later, what really got me nervous was thinking about all that could have gone wrong. I was a mess, crying and trembling for the next two or three hours, but my boyfriend reacted differently, he was more collected, though very very angry. That actually lasted for a few days, I had these flash backs and got freaked out, he stayed angry and we wound up deciding to leave Brazil. My terrifying flashbacks stopped after the gang was arrested.

One other way to look at it, and that might be on your husband's mind: what kept me on edge for the following days after the robbery was the fact that the guys were still at large and might come back a third time, and my father or my brother (who also works at the restaurant) could be there and might not react as calmly as my boyfriend and I did, and things might not go as smoothly. That was actually more than a simple concern in my mind, it was a huge paralising fear. Has the guy that robbed you been arrested yet? That may be part of your hsuband's problem.

Oh, and I understand what you say about about being proud of yourself. Some people also congratulated me and it was very empowering, in a weird, I-wish-it-never-had-happened way.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2007


One other thing.
Based on my own experience, I'd advise you to be prepared: in a few weeks you may start feeling really stupid and ashamed about what you did, instead of proud. It really sucks.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2007


Omiewise, I was agreeing with you that compliments, or lack thereof, aren't symptoms of anything. I was attempting to point out the subtleties of how otherwise benign things can sometimes be expressions of overlying behaviors (and I agree with you that it is no so in this case). I didn't make the claim about PTSD and I don't agree with it personally. And more so since you've provided the helpful follow up information (eh, I learned something!)
posted by iamkimiam at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2007


Yes, sorry, I was perhaps a bit strident in my response. I think that was fueled by the uses that the term PTSD gets put to, not only on AskMe, but in American society in general. Some of the recent studies of "trauma debriefing," for instance, have suggested that it does more harm than good.

But those issues are my own, and my profession's, and not yours, and I should have been more measured in my response.
posted by OmieWise at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2007


Oh, you see, it wasn't my girlfriend after all. Hi babe!
posted by falameufilho at 12:44 PM on May 9, 2007


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