Dec. 5, 2012_ Thanks to the internet and the many, many sites written by so many victims of domestic violence, I have learned so much about my own journey attached to a violent, raging, ex-husband.
During this period of my life, I have shared here the various ups and downs that I have faced posted divorce with my abuser.
Today, for the first time in years and countless posts ago, I feel OK. Maybe not healed, but well on my way. And it feels good.
My abuser, as you know if you have read my earlier posts, beat me for at least 10 years, lies to me to this day totaling many thousands of untruths, sued me twice, including for custody of our two teenagers. I feel like I have been through a very long-lasting hurricane, sometimes huddled into a small room in a fetal position, sometimes shouldered up against the barricades fighting for my life and unwilling to give up.
But, finally after reading one more blog from a survivor and one more visit with an exceptional therapist I think my closure and forgiveness is rising.
My ex is an emotionally unwell man. Likely suffering with a personality disorder. I’m no professional, but the signs of Narcissist Personality Disorder at clearly there with my ex. He had a childhood of neglect by his only functioning parent, an alcoholic to boot. One of the classic setups for Narcissism.
His disorder creates a reality that is a moving target daily. He can never settle his emotions in a healthy or productive way. His disorder is likely the reason he was physically abusive and emotional damaged. He hurt me because I wanted intimacy and his honesty. But, that need created fear in him and triggered his actions.
Because of my own baggage from childhood, I accepted his accusations of blame for his horrendous actions toward me and allowed myself to own the responsibility because I believed that my need was incorrect and wrong.
But, it wasn’t. It was in fact a normal human response. It was love.
I wanted to be a partner in life with my ex-husband and all that that meant. Through thick and thin. I wanted a best friend. I wanted someone to have my back. Just like everyone.
This was not too much to want, expect or ask for, as I was lead to believe.
But because I grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother abused by her two husbands, I believed that I needed to placate those who I wanted to love me in order to get their love. I believed that in order to have my mother’s time and company, I would have to behave a certain way to make it easy for her to love me.
My poor, late mother did love me. But, she was living in a hell trying to manage her own emotions, her own survival with her narcissists. In that emotional hurricane, her kids were sacrificed. She didn’t have the strength to save herself or her children. She slowly died in her heart as she lost the ability to handled the constant fear of living with one damaged husband after another. Two very emotionally broken men.
From my vantage point, a child’s view, I couldn’t see that my mother was so wrapped up in her own survival, her own damage as a result of abuse. I saw that my mother was turning away from me time and time again and I couldn’t understand why, except that it must be me.
It is not until this moment that I realize that my mother was just like me. Hurt and scared and alone and hopeless and so very worried that she had picked the wrong man to be her life partner. My mother fought to stay in denial because she couldn’t bring herself through the process of healing.
I have been through that process and it is very scary and painful and it takes a resolve to do it despite the pain. Because my parents were in the middle of their own narcissist dance, they couldn’t focus on their kids. My mother was robbed of so much as a result. She wanted to be a great mother, but she couldn’t. She was suffering so much, unable to see what was really driving her emotions and sucking the life from her.
My father and stepfather each drove my mother to emotional unhealth at a time when her mothering was necessary for her children. The disfunction was there for so long, that I’m not sure that I recognized it as wrong. Instead, I wished for something different, that felt better. I didn’t allow myself to hope that I would ever get better, that it even existed.
I allowed myself to take responsibility for the actions of others toward me. I took action to do what I could to make my relationship work, despite the other people in them. I didn’t question why someone mistreated me. I accepted the treatment and tried to change it. An impossible and crazy-making task.
For years, my anxiety ran through me and controlled me. I feared abandonment. I loved hard those around me. Loyal to a fault and willing to tolerate crap to the point that crap is all I got. I fought it only with my words but not with my actions. I yelled. I begged. I talked til I was blue in the face. In any attempt I could find to fix it and make it better so that we could get along.
The trouble is that too many of my choices in relationships did not include a healthy person willing to do the same.
I was a giver to many takers. I gave my time, my energy, my logic, my efforts to try to figure out why it didn’t work.
It was enough to make me nuts.
And had I not realized that something was very, very wrong with my thinking, I might have been too broken and exhausted to parent my wonderful and deserving children, just like my mother.
Surviving trauma is one thing. Living through it is another. And trauma is all consuming leaving little time for anyone else.
Today, in my understand of what my ex-husband’s narcissism has done to me and why I allowed it, I suddenly understand what my mother was going through and why she wasn’t able to be the mother I wanted her to be … and I knew she wanted to be.
I was so mad at her for not being there. I didn’t realize that she was suffering too.
Had someone told her that her abusers were emotional ill and unable to change, that she was not to blame, that she was a victim trying to survive, she might have found the peace that I am finding and the ability to be a better mother who is healthy enough to be there for her kids.
I hope that I have the time with my children, who are nearly grown, to show them my best for them and be the best mother I can be.
I forgive my mother. I forgive myself. I forgive my abuser. He doesn’t know what he is doing to others. He may never know or understand others feelings. He may always be so afraid of feelings that he is willing to hit another human being to get away from them. He too is a trauma victim in need of help.
I will pray for him tonight. I hope he doesn’t lash out at me again. I will stay away from him forever, because he is not safe. But, I will no longer hate him. Instead, I truly pity him for the life that he has and the hell that is in his heart. I will pray for my children that they will be unharmed by their only father, a man they want to love and be love by. I will pray that my scars will heal and that I will be the mother I want to be for my children and that they need and want. I will pray that my children’s scars will heal as well.
This disorder has hurt some many lives and yet personality disorders are only beginning to be understood by the medical community. I am grateful that I at least got some answers that have helped me heal.
I hope that I will turn to other when my abuser strike again and not turn against myself. I pray.