When I describe to others/coaches my husband’s behavior in our divorce, they often label his behavior “vindictive.” Although I don’t disagree that it is mean and seems to be specifically trying to harm me, “vindictive” seems to imply that I did something to deserve this type of behavior.

I’m not sure what I did and when I spend a lot of time/energy trying to figure it out I just feel badly. My husband and I do not talk anymore, but when we did I tried to apologize for any things I thought of that I did wrong.

Now hearing people say he is vindictive just leads to me feeling bad. I guess the model would be:

C: someone/coach says, “it sounds as if he is being vindictive.”
T: this means he is getting back at me for something which means I did something wrong and something is wrong with me
F: ashamed/fearful
A: try to think of what I did wrong, try to think of what I did right. Try to convince myself that I am bad or not bad, wrong or not wrong, that he is bad or not bad, wrong or not wrong. Try to figure out why he would be so mean. Think he is an awful person. Think I must be an awful person. Think I’m not an awful person, I just must be a naïve sucker who is easy to take advantage of. Think someone will discover the problem with me, even if I can’t figure it out.
I will be looked down on. Things will not go well for me.
R: I’m letting his behavior mean something about me? I’m letting him define me? I’m not defining me?

I feel less sure of each line as I move down the model.