Friday, September 2, 2011

Letting You All In on a Secret

Well, I'm back, and I've been putting off blogging for a lot of reasons, but mostly I've just been a little lazy. In case anyone wondered, Life really got in the way of my novel writing, and I put it up for a while. I got a good 12,000 words in. Not bad for a person who has never written anything that long... ever. I'll pick it up again eventually.

What I really am writing about today is to tell everyone something that I have come to realize in the last few months. Something that is both serious and enlightening. I only hope that what I am about to let you all in on will help someone else in however small a measure. So here it goes...

This is very hard for me to say. Arlee Bird from Tossing it Out once perceived about me that I am a very private person. That was just from looking at my self portraits. I thought about how right he was, but I never said so. I should have. Anyway, here it is... Really... I'm just going to say it.

Okay, I am a victim of abuse. That was hard to get out. Now I know what you all are thinking. You have all conjured up a mental image of what constitutes abuse in your mind and have assumed it's the kind you are thinking of. I am talking about something much more subtle. It was mostly always emotional and only sometimes physical and even though I always told myself (and was told) that I could never put up with certain things, unfortunately I have often looked back and wondered how the hell this happened. That I, who had said that I would never put up with these things have done just that.

I guess I have to go further back. I was 22. A year and a half before I had gotten out of what was an extremely abusive relationship where I was controlled and forbidden to even glance at another man. I had just gotten married to who I thought was the nicest man on the planet. Though if I look back there were warning signs that I completely ignored or simply didn't recognize. I already had two little girls from that previous relationship. I thought what a good man I had found that was willing to take me on with my two girls and to be their dad. So, for better or worse that is what he is.

I guess it really started about a week or two after we got married. He was very rude to my mother and when she called him on his rudeness he blew up and started yelling and being extremely belligerent and intimidating. I was so confused. Where had this person come from? He was extremely apologetic afterward, and I thought it was just the stress of being newly married, and after all it takes a while to get used to living with a person. That is what I told myself, but the blow-ups kept happening,and he became increasingly meaner to my daughters who were 2 and 1 at the time. I mean cussing at them and being extremely intimidating to them. I threatened divorce and he straightened up for a while. This became a pattern that I was too naive to see for years. He would blow up and become intimidating and then become apologetic and clean up his act for a while. It happened over and over and over again.

It's funny that as women some of us think that if a man isn't hitting us it isn't abuse. That is very wrong. We tell ourselves "Well, he only pushed me and that is only because I slapped him." He was defending himself. That is also wrong. A man may say he was defending himself, but let's be honest. How often is a man really intimidated by a woman's slaps? Sure he is annoyed. Maybe he is angry or infuriated that you had the nerve to slap him when he pointed out that you were a bitch or a whore (two really degrading words). How dare you lose your temper? After all we are supposed to be perfect and calmly listen to the "truths" he points out. Is he intimidated? The answer is no, but when he pushes you (which he claims is self defense) what it actually is is revenge. Are you intimidated and scared? Yes, you are. Will you think twice before slapping him again? Yes, you will.

If the physical stuff and the yelling and intimidation weren't enough there was the manipulative side to it all. Have you ever come out of an argument feeling like you lost? Well, that in itself isn't a problem unless it is every time. I would find myself wondering why I was losing every argument. I can't be wrong all the time can I? Why is it he comes out smelling like a rose and feeling superior every single time? It's because he was and is a MASTER of manipulation. He specializes in flipping things into the opposite of what they are. If, for example, I ask him why he didn't put away the things he used for his sandwich he would blow up and tell me about how I was being unreasonable and how I leave things out that I use all the time. Who was being unreasonable? Of course, he was for refusing to accept accountability for leaving the stuff out and for blowing everything out of proportion to the event. Then he flipped the conversation around by putting me on the defensive about how often I leave things out. Which might be a valid point if it were true. The only thing he has to do is insist that it is true. And here I am left questioning myself and feeling like I lost. This might not seem like abuse to some, but I assure you it is.

Manipulation, intimidation, and physical assault are on a list with another important element. Lies. Abusers lie all the time, and my husband is no exception. I won't go into all the lies he's ever told (and some of them are doozies). Suffice it to say he has used this one a lot. So much, in fact, that we would be here all day if I were to start enumerating them all. It makes it all the more insulting when he is confronted with a lie and denies it until he is blue in the face, and then accuses me of being the one in the wrong. It's absolutely infuriating.

Now you all might ask yourselves: What is the point? What does he have to gain? The answer is that an abuser has so many pay offs. First, (and this is very important) is control. Absolute control. They never have to ask permission, but you and your children do. He is the lord of the household. His wife and children are not people with feelings as acute as his but property. He also never has to be wrong. Nobody gets to disagree. He never has to take accountability for his actions. In short, the entire relationship is too rewarding for him to give up his abuse. He has learned to shove down his feelings of guilt for having hurt the people who love him, and he feels absolutely justified in his abuse (though he may act like abuse is wrong to others). He doesn't even think that he is abusive. He has his own idea of what abuse is and it is always worse than what he does.

Finally, I want to say that I know there are a lot of women out there who have it a lot worse. Though I am currently trying to become more independent so that I can get a divorce, some women may have a harder time and may be in danger if they try. If you are one of these women seek help. I would encourage any woman who feels she might be being abused to find a way to read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. He has an extensive background in dealing with abusers and gives the abused a real in-depth look into the minds of abusers. He also has advice for the abused. This book has really helped me.

So there it is. TMI perhaps, but I really hope I've helped someone out there who might not have a voice right now. I also am struggling with the hope that there are good men out there. Something I have been despairing of for years. Intellectually, I know that all men can't be abusive, but in my heart it feels like I'll never be happy. That I'll always be looking for something that doesn't exist. That I am damaged goods or have too much baggage or that I am not good enough to ever have anyone treat me like I am worth anything. I hope to be in a place one day that I feel the opposite of how I do now.

This has been a very emotional post for me and so I'll sign off for now. I'm off to read some blogs and bring myself back to the blogosphere and the land of the living.