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.


Tracy Jo said...

Marjorie, I am so sorry you have gone through this & let me say that your story sounds just like mine. Your post touched me & this is such a big step for you to just say it out loud. I want you to know that there is light & there are good men. I found my way out of the took time and work but you are strong...I can tell by your writing. You will get there & out. I have a good man finally after many years & I still find myself thinking I am spoiled when the truth is...this is how life can & should be. We are all here in blog world if you need us. You deserve the best, we all do. Take care & I am sending you positive vibes! ~Tracy

Arlee Bird said...

I'm glad to see you back. I have been watching my sidebar and wondering why you haven't been posting anything.

Sorry that you have dealt with what you are going through, but it's good that you are opening your eyes and mind and beginning to assess your situation to understand it.

Relationships can be tough no matter what, but even more so the spousal or equivalent relationships. It's a complex situation because both parties have their own complex issues to deal with and mostly look within themselves to the extent that they miss most of what they should really be seeing. Balance has to be achieved to make a relationship work right--mutual respect, attempts to understand, willingness to accept flaws and provide support when needed. It's so complicated.

You are doing right to study the issue and try to unravel the mystery of it all. I wish you well in your journey.

Tossing It Out

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I am so sorry you have had to suffer the way you have, You have done the first step writing it down, I was living in Spain about four years ago, I was living close to my youngest son, I came to visit my other two children in the UK and met who I thought was "A perfect gentleman".
Well we corresponded for quite a while then decided to find a place together. All was well until he retired then the abuse started, battered and bruised continually, my daughter urged me to get out away from him. I did, I may get lonely from time to time but at least I can sleep at night knowing I wont get hit the next day,

Lovely to see you back.

Leovi said...

What we really scary accounts. Unfortunately many women and families have to go through these situations. All the best, sure you will find and I offer my full support. A hug.

Will Burke said...

Emotional abuse is so difficult to deal with, because it is so poorly defined. Looking back, you can say "That instance there; that was abusive," but in the moment, it's hard to tell just what's happening.
Like attracts like. When you honestly believe that you are worthy of respect, respectful relationships will come to you, and the disrespectful ones will fall away, sometimes with a lot of noise! Best of luck to you in your Hero's Quest!

Siv Maria said...

Welcome back, I have missed you. It was very brave of you to post this. My first marriage was very much like you described. I left the country because of it and never returned. I am now married to a wonderful man, so they are out there. I feel for you because I know you have taken the first step and hard as that was, there are many more yet to come. I wish you all the luck in the world. There is an award for you on my blog. I hope you stop by and pick it up.

shannon conley said...

You are so special to me and your so strong. I love you. I'm very happy you let that out. You are brilliant, beautiful and kind and you deserve much more in this life. Your spirit has been broken. I will be there to see you thru till the end . I love you. Always.

Hart Johnson said...

Marjorie-I love you so much. I know how much strength is takes to admit all this. And I know how hard it is to think about the logistics of leaving. You want everyone safe and healthy, but are financially stuck (possibly legally stuck). I've been through emotional abuse, but in my situation I was the financial power and so my ability to 'negotiate' (require therapy/rehab, etc.) worked (over about 3 years). Not all guys can be fixed...

For YOU... the nice guy has a requirement... it's that you don't NEED him. You need to become independent and self-sufficient without a guy, because otherwise you are trapped with no power, which can make an ass of 99% of the guys out there. Without that power, I'd bet closer to half of them can be good guys. it stinks, but I think that's the dynamic. you need an education. you need skills. You need a support system. Those things give you the ability to move on without someone, and only with the ability to move on without, can you really evaluate a 'with'. I wish you the VERY best. I hope you find all the resources you need.

Crystal Pistol said...

I am so sorry your heart is hurting. Divorce is painful no matter who is at fault. It is the end of the future you were planning for yourself.

My aunt who lost a child and later divorced her husband told me divorce is like a death. Having lost a young child to death I consider her am expert on the subject.

Healing is necessary. A great deal of time and healing. You will be okay and happy again if you want that. You are of great worth. No human being in this world has a right to make another feel like less than the divine creature she is.

You are a divine creature deserving of Love and respect.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story- its important that others see it and realize that not all abuse is physical or violent. I've been with manipulative and insecure men before when it gets to that level, the only solution is to get out. It sounds like you have a very realistic view of what is going on- you're a smart woman and I wish you lots of happiness in the future.

Angela Felsted said...

I think it is really courageous of you to write this. I also think that many of us engage in "abusive behaviors" without realizing we do, and that it's necessary to take a step back and really apply a cold eye to how we treat others.

I grew up in an emotionally abusive home and formed certain manipulative habits to survive inside it. Then, when I got older, I didn't know there was anything wrong with those habits, not until I went into codependency recovery and took the time to truly analyze my behaviors.

I understand what it's like to be in a relationship with someone who can never be wrong and can't apologize. That pretty much sums up the relationship I used to have with my mother. I was always wrong. Never right, always wrong. That wreaks havoc on you confidence and self-esteem. It's still that way now with her, but I keep a certain distance. It's the only way to keep my sanity.

I hope you get out of this situation soon. There is light on the other side.

Luana said...

Marjorie: Thank you for sharing your story. You are a brave, compassionate person. I believe that good things will be coming your way.

Lola X said...

Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

Lola x