Nov. 30, 2011 _ My ex-husband has been abusing me in one form or another for nearly 20 years. Within that period was a 10-year period of physical abuse, but the emotional abuse has been on-going and in many ways, much more painful.
We aren’t poor, stupid or friendless. We are “normal” people, who have “made it.”
But, we are not normal.
We have each made a place in this world that includes good jobs, wealth, children, homes, cars, friends and family, and so on. But, that doesn’t change that my life, the lives of my children and I suspect my ex-husband’s life will never been normal.
I live with an almost daily ache that can permeate everything in my life if I let it. In the wee hours of the morning, I can suddenly wake from horrible dreams that involved my ex screaming at me or worse. I rarely get back to sleep after one of those dream as the voice in my head relives some of the more frightening incidents. Sometimes when I am making parenting decisions, I consider how my volatile and jealous ex will react if he knew what I was doing. Sometime my children withhold information from their father because they fear his temper.
I can fall into a depression thinking about my own stupidity that I married this man in the first place or that it seems I will never be free of his abuse, lies and manipulations.
I worry about how he is treating my children and the effect that his mental unhealthiness will have on their minds and hearts as they grow up. I worry that my youngest will get hit by his Dad and I won’t be around to protect them.
Some days I am giddy with happiness that I got out of the marriage, but so sad that I could not give my children two parents in one home. Some days that giddiness slides away when I realize that he has figured out another of my vulnerabilities that he can exploit and the following paranoia can grab me hard.
I worry that his new wife, who reacts so strongly against me, will turn against my children in an effort to combat me. I worry that my ex will throw his own children under the bus to gain ground with his new wife, as he has done to me.
I can spend a whole day battling the need to call my ex and beg for peace or to help him get the emotional help that he needs to get healthy.
I entertain feelings of tread, revenge, anger, resentment, pain, and sadness and of course anxiety that something will happen to me or my kids.
I worry that I am not equipped to parent my kids through the various feelings that they have being the children of a very unhealthy parent.
I worry about my former mother-in-law, who is often the victim of my ex-husband’s rathe and has suffered for years at his hands and sharp tongue. And I worry that my ex is not providing a good example for our children on how to treat people.
I have continued therapy and support groups over the years to help me manage these feeling that sometimes makes me feel exhausted and fed up with dealing with this ongoing problem.
And despite this massive amount of emotional damage, I deal with so many people who “don’t want to take sides” and still seem to think that domestic abuse is some sort of couple’s argument that escalated just a little too far. I watch even lawyers and authority back away from getting involved in domestic abuse because they don’t want to take the time to figure out if the women is telling the truth, despite the statistics that show so few of the cases are trumped up.
I see very smart people, including my ex, who try very hard to compartmentalize his abuse and try to separate it from all the “good” things he has done. As if the mental illness and internal voice that gives him the right to hit someone, somehow goes away and his not part of his character when he pushes his kids to over achieve or interacts with his second wife or reports to his boss or writes an article about another NFL player who beats up a girlfriend.
I watch some of my own family members get pissed that I have brought out this dirty little secret and no longer keep it behind my home’s front door, where they think it belongs. I have watch some friends turn away from me because they don’t want to believe that the couple they knew was a lie and the reality is ugly and not easy to deal with.
I have had to have the authorities get involved in the parenting of my teenage children because my ex has used the court system to abuse me now that he doesn’t use violence to control me. I know that I’m a good mother, a pretty good one in fact. Involved, thoughtful, a good provider, not perfect, but respectful of my children. But, I’ve been accused of being a bad mother who doesn’t deserve custody by ex and his wife and I had to face them in court more than once as they aggressively attacked me in front of the law.
None of these feelings feel good. In fact, they suck.
Yet, I’m happy. Despite it all, I’m happy. I’m happy that I got my children out of the horrible environment. I’m happy that despite two attempts in court, my ex has not prevailed in his accusations against me. I’m happy that I have so many friends and family members who have stepped up to give their support of me, and have been willing to accept the reality of my family and have not been afraid to get real.
I am grateful to my sister who is the only person in my life who confronted my ex and put him on notice years ago and let him know that she was not going to tolerated his abuse of her family. She has come to my emotional aid in person and on the phone more times than I can count. I am grateful that I have more friends and family members who have supported me. I am grateful to the many bloggers who have shared their stories so that I understand my ex, myself and abuse more than ever before.
I am also hopeful that the laws in this country will change and domestic violence will be treated as it should and those abusers like my ex will be held accountable. So that he will stop.
I am hopeful that no one else will ever go through the pain of domestic abuse and I am hopeful that my life will only get better as I move away from the years of abuse.
I am hopeful that my children will not grow up with mental and emotional illness and will never hit their partners.
I am hopeful that all the agencies and law enforcement will change the thinking of others and realize that abuse is assault and battery, a crime, and very destructive. It is not the result of a wife yelling at a husband or a wife needling a man. It is a horrible choice made by a very unhealthy person that needs to be held accountable for the choice. And frankly, needs to be treated differently than the “normal” person.