Who wants to name their bad relationship “abusive”?

There are thousands of women, and men, out there living a silent hell in horribly abusive relationships, marriages and unions who haven’t let go of the hope for a happy life with their abuser.

These victims don’t want to face the truth about their partners because they don’t want to give up the hope for a loving relationship and for remarkably simple reasons, they believe their abusers are their only chance.

Victims tell themselves a variety of excuses for the abuse that keep them in the relationship. They believe:

  • Their partner has some sort of illness or condition like bi-polar or aneurism that is causing the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior;
  • They themselves are the cause, by putting high expectations or unreasonable demands on their abuser;
  • That couples counseling will solve the problem;
  • That circumstances are the cause, such as a negative job or difficult childhood;
  • That there is something they can do to heal, fix or make better the relationship/abuser.

And more subconsciously;

  • They are not good enough for better;
  • They are too demanding;
  • They will take any kind of love, no matter how unhealthy or diminished.

The dynamic of abuser and victim is not really complicated but is very misunderstood and is only now being investigated. Here is a great article that sheds light on the dance.

In order for the dance to stop and the dynamic to end, the victim must realize that these are not truths or causes and that the abuser will not change, not without a lot of self-sought help.

Abusers are of course broken human beings who are in their own dance within their thoughts to handle a very deep fear and insecurity. They make the choice to abuse as a way to deal with fear. Victims may see through to the heart of the abuser and have compassion, sympathy, even pity. So, the victim believes that there is something out there that can “cure” those dark and broken feelings within their abuser and they will try to find it.

Victims I know, myself included, decide not to throw away the abuser simply because they abuse. Instead, we held out in the hope that they would and could change.

I spent many years trying to find the trick or answer that would change my ex-husband so that we could have a normal life and raise our children in peace.

I didn’t give up for a very long time, because so much was at stake.

And with each year of failure, my self-esteem, already so damaged, slipped more and more.

My relationship was no where near what I had hoped for and was beginning to believe was impossible no matter what.

I lived in a delusion that controlled nearly every thought I had all because I thought this was my only shot at my dreams and didn’t want to loose it.

I paid a very high price to cling to something that never was. My ex-husband may have been able to fake the part of a husband and partner in love, but he never, not from day one, ever was.

Finally, I began to accept it and the truths about him. That he was completely self-centered and was never going to be a partner. That he would do anything, including hurt me in anyway, to get what he wanted or vend off his deeply inner pain. His fear and desire drove him every minute of his day and there would never be any room for others.

My ex-husband still lives this way, from the bits and pieces of his life that I see through co-parenting. He still abuses me, too, though not physically. I am not a person to him, but no one is. I am a tool that he uses to make himself feel better in the moment.

He doesn’t really care about the future, as much as he cares about himself in the moment.

I left him after 15 years together, 10 years of physical abuse and emotional abuse beyond comprehension. I struggled in disbelieve that anyone could care so little about their wife, mother of their children, another person. I was in shock and denial for a very long time, even after I divorced him.

Finally, I accept the simplicity of the situation: I married an abuser, who likely has a personality disorder that will never be “cured” and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in that dance. I want peace in my life more than the fantasy of the white picket fence life I had in my head. I want peace in my life more than I want a husband. I want peace in my life even more than I want food on my table.

Finally, I accept that there is nothing I can do for my abusive ex-husband except pray for him and those in his path. And it is best that I stay away from him in every way.

Finally, I accept that there is nothing I did to deserve this fate. I tried to make it work with a man who said he loved me and I gave it a very good try. I did my best, that was the choice I made. Then, I made another one. I couldn’t give anymore of my self to this person who would never give back. I didn’t want to be with someone who was so careless about my vulnerabilities. I longed for something real and better, but it was never going to be with this man.

I accept that leaving is messy and has a lot of hurdles. Unfortunately, the courts in most states don’t understand domestic abuse and so therefore add trauma to the already traumatic situation. Unfortunately, I was a stay-at-home mother, years out of the work force, so I had to make my way through the economic hardships that it caused.

I accept that I have traumatic stress from the years of anxiety he put me through and I need to continue to work with excellent therapy to heal from that and I accept that I have to co-parent with my abuser because the family court says I must.

I accept that our society is learning too slowly about domestic abuse and how it works and damages children, families, and even the fabric of our communities.

And, I accept that I am OK despite all the bad stuff. In fact, I am grateful for the life I have, my children, my friends and my successes. I am grateful to have a journey to travel and I am grateful that I have stopped putting energy into trying to get back on some path I thought I was walking.

If you are reading this and think that you might be in an abusive relationship, please get help. You need it and it will be better. If you are reading this and think you know someone who is being abuse, please reach out to them. It will be very bumpy if you do, but you are saving a life, maybe the lives of children. If you are reading this, and you are a lawmaker, please learn about what really does prevent domestic abuse and bring it to your state legislature.

And if you are reading this, and know an abuser, please help by letting them know you know and you don’t condone it. Abusers abuse because they can and have very little backlash for the choice. When they realize that their avenues of abuse are shutting down, that’s when they stop.

Abusers can be “shamed” into stopping. They can not be “loved” into it. It’s that simple.

My life has changed because of the abuse, and that is OK

July 16, 2013 _ Well, it has taken a very long time, but I’m here at a new place, one that finally feels good.

I am a domestic abuse victim and survivor, and I’m still surviving.

I was first abused emotionally by my then-boyfriend, and now ex-husband, in 1990ish. I was first abused physically in 1995, just before the birth of my first child.

My abuser has abused me ever since in many ways. And I have tried for the last 23 years to make it stop and to fix my situation. I wanted to be headed toward the white picket fence, children, long-lasting marriage and happily ever after.

But, I will never get there…. that train left the station a long time ago.

I am on a different path. One that I didn’t realize I was picking and one I didn’t want to be on.

I am a domestic abuse victim and survivor.

I am on a path that hurts a lot and causes sleepless nights and anxiety. I am on a path that sometimes causes confusion and fear. I am on the path that led to me giving my two precious gifts from God an asshole for a father. I am on a path that most people, normal people, don’t understand and many will never want to understand.

I am sometimes, lonely and alone more than I like. I am sometimes in the thick of abuse.

I am forever altered by this abuse. My brain chemistry has changed as a result. My thoughts have been forever changed. My children’s path is changed by this abuse as well and I ache daily for them.

Yet, I’m grateful.

No, not a path I designed on purpose. And yes, I miss the normal path I was on. I have thoughts of longing for what could have been.

But, I’m on a new path. And there are blessings around me.

I’m here.

I’m alive.

I have wonderful children who are doing great.

I have support.

I’m on a new path. I’m a domestic abuse victim and survivor and I’m here to tell you that it is OK.

I’m OK.

And I’m on my way to even being better.

I accept my path. I’m not normal. I’m different than most people my age because of it. But that isn’t bad.

I’ve learned so much about myself because of this journey. I’ve learned so much about people and life because of this path.

We are all on a path that didn’t lead us where we thought we’d go. Some of us ended up in a place that was more than we hoped, some of us ended up in tragic circumstances.

But, some of us are going forward no matter what and using what we learned on the path for good.

We all can.

I hope to explore these feelings further. I am not going to hide this fact anymore. I am a domestic abuse victim and survivor and I am still me, only better.

What does an abuser look like

July 6, 2013 _ If there is one thing I could do to help victims of domestic abuse, of course it would be to pull them away from the abuse … but, that really wouldn’t prevent further abuse, believe it or not.

Abuse is in the control of the abuser, not the victim or anyone else. But, I have learned from my own experience and others’ that abusers abuse because they can get away with it.

Studies show that most abusers are interested in maintaining control and power over someone for whatever reason that makes sense to them …. usually related to the fears created by a twisted sort of low self-esteem/sense of entitlement. Abusers believe that they are entitled to power all the time, but they suspect that they don’t have power because of some short-coming in their actions. Therefore, they are motivated to get power at any cost, including the sinking to moral and ethical lows such as abuse.

They may know that abuse is “wrong” in the eyes of society, but that conflicts with their deep feeling that they can do anything to gain the upper hand in a relationship and should. So, they only physically abuse those who won’t expose it or who will tolerate it. If an abuser hit their boss, they would not get the upper hand in that relationship. They’d get fired and they know that. If he hits his wife, she is not likely to expose it, because she has a vested interest in maintaining the relationship, especially if there are kids or financial dependency.

Abusers are so driven to maintain power and control over others, that they have many, many tricks to do so. Physical abuse is just one way.

It is so important that we understand abusers in our society because in doing so, we have the best chance of stopping it. Our society has the wrong picture in its head about who are abusers. We seem to think that abusers stand out, are poor, are uneducated, are mean and unhappy all the time, and don’t know that abuse is wrong.

But, the facts don’t support that. Most of the people in my life were shocked beyond belief to learn that my ex-husband was abusing me. He is a successfully, nationally known sports writer who is married, pays (mostly) his child support, is on television, radio, knows famous people and can be charming.

He is like that in public. In private, he is shallow, detached, lacks empathy, is self-centered and self-serving, closed and arrogant on his best days. On his worse, he is so deeply offended that his opinions, desires, wishes are not being completely honored that he will yell, hit, insult, and hate his family member.

This is so horrible and confusing for anyone who wants the intimacy of a family relationship. Family members of an abuser struggle with this behavior. We want something difference from him. Me and my children didn’t want to throw away our husband and father. We just didn’t want to be abused.

Abusers are everywhere and we all just keep trying to keep them in the box where we had them. As a wife, I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted a happy family and couple life … so despite the in-my-face evidence that my husband didn’t want the same thing, I kept forcing the facts into compartments that allowed for my fantasy. I wanted a happy marriage with the father of my children … so I had to find a way to make this work with my abuser. I tried years of therapy, relationship books, couples seminars, anger management, abusers intervention group, and on and on…. Until finally, I realized my fate. I wasn’t going to have a happy marriage with the father of my children and every day I pretended that, I was a day closer to death.

My abuser looked normal to everyone, albeit a bit opinionated. My friends and even some of my family want a fantasy too. They want to be free of conflict. Domestic abuse doesn’t allow for that. Holding an abuser accountable, means that you must force yourself out of the fantasy of peacefully co-existing with this person.

My hope is that abuser will find it harder and harder to get away with abusing. That when an abuser is exposed, that we shun him, charge him, offer painful consequences, call him out and hold him and him alone responsible. Only then, will it stop. Today, unfortunately, an abuser can talk his way out of that responsibility and a lot of people buy it.

My ex-husband’s wife bought his story that he only hit me because I was such a bitch that he was driven to hit me and he is so ashamed. She has a vested interested in him being correct. My children want their dad to be great, so they try to sort through the pain of the truth. It pains me to watch it. Our friends who know want to believe that the person they know who is charming and fun and a great dad and husband, only abused because of some dynamic problem that brought out uncharacteristic behavior.

And most people still believe that domestic abuser are crazed monsters who looks and sounds the part. Hollywood paints the picture of this and we believe it. What a disservice to the victims of real domestic abuse.

 

 

What will stop DV

June 30, 2013_ After years of surviving the trauma of domestic abuse, both emotional and physical, and learning to manage the hurt, damage and pain of my walk being attached to a domestic abuser, I stand today wishing there was a way to make it all stop, for me and for every other victim of this senseless abuse.

Often, when my ex is in the throws of pulling us over the cliff of abuse, I feel a panicked instinct to hold back myself, my kids even my ex from going over the cliff of destruction that abuse causes everyone. My ex makes choices in the moment of his life and doesn’t always think through to the end of how his actions will effect others or even himself.

Abusers, and my ex is not an exception, don’t understand how to live in relationships with others so they watch others and play at being a role. Sometimes, when they have learned well, they can mimic a healthy relationship for a while. My ex has learned how to be a good employee for example and he does this “work” because he wants a certain outcome for himself _ the job that gives him positive feedback. He eats up two forms of feedback 1. Adoration and 2. Fear. That is what he is always seeking from the relationships in his life. Those in his orbit must give him one or the other or both. If they don’t, then he will work to get them to or he will eventually dump them and move on.

I work very hard to provide neither for my ex because I believe today that it is best for all of us, my children, him, his wife, if I am not in his orbit at all. Unfortunately, because of our children, I still am no matter what I do. So, I can never totally leave.

This journey is difficult and taxing on me and my kids. I am emotionally re-traumatized all the time because I care for the well-being of my children. I care that my ex will take us all over the cliff again and again for no good reason. When my ex sued me for custody of two teen-age children, I knew that he was making a horrible decision for himself and not just me and the kids.

I knew that he would not win all that he sought. I knew that had he spoken to me first about what he wanted, I would have come to a form of agreement. I knew that he would have to pay a boat load of money and I knew that the kids would resent the court order that would then dictate their lives. I knew that custody suits don’t leave anyone without scars and I knew that it was a horrible parenting decision to do it.

I also knew that the case would drag on for months and would end sometime in my oldest son’s 17th year, so close to 18th birthday when legal custody dissolves.

To me, the custody battle was a pointless, damaging jump over the cliff that would hurt all of us deeply.

I believe that to my ex-husband, it was an opportunity to dominate me causing me to fear him and it was an opportunity that would be lost with my child’s 18th birthday. He had to act fast in order to capitalize on our child’s minor age and get the last drop of abuse that he could out of me over this.

My ex also found a way to dominate another human being legally and that matters a lot to him. The one thing that kept him from abusing me physically or any other way, was if someone found out that he was breaking a taboo and stained his image. Abusers, and specifically narcissistic personality disorder abusers, link every choice they make back to their own thoughts on how they think others perceive them.

For a very long time, my ex didn’t want anyone to know that he would hit me. He believed that if he was labeled an abuser, he would loose his status in his society. He saw professional football players, many who he wrote about as an NFL national sports writer, get beat up in the press for their abuses of their girlfriends and wives, so he was afraid of that happening to him. He also was able to read that in polite circles, DV didn’t happen. So he didn’t want to be outed.

I didn’t want it outed either. First because I was trying to keep a fantasy going that we could be happy. Then, because I didn’t want my children to have a bad childhood. Until, I finally wised up and realized that silence is what keeps DV going.

In the quiet, hidden corners of relationships, abuse happens everyday because abusers know completely that they can get away with it … that it won’t sink their reputations.

My ex eventually told his new wife that he hit me, but he did it through tears of regret and his own victimization. Of course, I wasn’t there, but between court testimony and his own story he told me, he explained, I’m sure very effectively that he was essentially abused by me and found himself with no good choice but to hit.

An I imagine, because I’ve been there, that his wife is holding onto the fantasy that her husband is not a monster who would hit his wife.

And when his wife bought into the idea that I was evil, of course she would deem me an unfit mother and wonder why my ex wouldn’t want to protect his children from me with a custody fight. Of course, I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of their lives, but I did hear some pretty unbelievable spin during a court case and heard my ex’s wife speak through clenched teeth about my short-comings as a mom and ex-wife.

And of course, the reason why my ex was able to push and push a custody battle for teen-agers who had lived quiet well and happily for five years post divorce is because he could. Lawyers don’t care about the damage the suit would do to my children. Judges don’t question why a case has been filed even a tenth more than they just judge the allegations. But worse, friends and family don’t want to get involved in the dirty laundry of others.

Most people struggle with their own dramas that they don’t want to engage in others. It is a sad state of our society that we all don’t want to help each other out more. It is so easy to just sit and judge from the position of well, I may think what I think with limited informations, but I don’t want to engage.

As a victim of domestic trauma, I can’t tell you how little I am asked about it. I know it is because people don’t feel that it is an acceptable subject to discuss for any of us. I wish I could tell them, that I want to talk about it. It is helpful to do so and helps me feel it instead of bury it, where it continues to do damage.

I wish people would look at my ex and tell him to his face to stop hurting his ex-wife and children. If they did and didn’t buy any of his bullshit spin, then he would stop abusing. It really is that simple. Abusers abuse because they can. The day they will stop is the day that it because socially unacceptable to abuse …. even more than the legal status of abuse.

The day my ex will stop abusing me and his children will come when he is shunned by people, not even everyone, but by most for doing it. For every person that believes that giving him the benefit of the doubt is helpful, he grows stronger in his belief that he can get away with this very unhealthy coping skill. And that is all that it is for him, when he is struggling emotionally for whatever reason, dominating someone makes him feel better.

If you want to help in the fight to stop domestic abuse, then start by letting the abuser know that it is not OK with you how he chooses to cope with his pain.

Healing through feeling

June 22, 2013_ This morning my pain is intense and my PTSD has been triggered. My children are coming home tomorrow after two weeks with my abusive ex-husband and I am flooded with worry.

My anxiety is not the result of any fact that I know today. I haven’t received a call from my children that they have been physically abuse, or even emotionally hurt. But, my anxiety is high nevertheless.

When I have the time to dig into those feelings, I try to understand what is going on inside my head and my heart. I don’t want to. I would rather avoid facing the wounds inside of me that are caused by having a relationship with an abusive, narcissistic man. But, I know that if I don’t face it and let myself cry,  then I will not be healthy for who knows how long.

So, I sit in the morning quiet and let myself go there:

1. After 20 years plus with this man in my life, I am still in shock and want to believe that the bad half will go away or was all some joke and the good half will be back. I married this man and procreated with him because I wanted it to work, have a family, have what everyone else wants: A peaceful, happy family life to live out. I ignored all the signs, all the lies and hurtful actions of him early on or chalked it up to immaturity. Later, when it got really bad, I put on my “I can love him enough to fix him” hat and dragged us both through an army of therapists … rarely speaking about abuse but instead focused on cooperations, compromise and communication. I believed that the abuse was a symptom of our bad marriage. If the marriage got better, than the abuse would stop. It is hard to believe that I still cling to the idea that some how some way, he will change.

2. Mostly, though, I hear the far off voice in my head that explains how it will go… I will always be a target in the sights of an abuser because, I’m here. That brings me so much pain. Imagine what life would be like if your rapist lived around the corner and had court-ordered access to you. That is what is feels like for me every day. Sure, I can stuff it down a lot, or hide from the thoughts for periods of time, but mostly, I live with the dull ache of a trauma victim who can never quite feel safe. Most people who are not trauma victims or abuse victims believe, falsely, that I should be able to just get over it and move on. I wish with all my heart that I could. I’ve tried, hell, I keep trying. But it isn’t that easy or simple.

I live with an altered life than before meeting my ex-husband. I will always be vulnerable to his self-serving games in some degree and there is not much I can do about it. Because, and it has taken me years of therapy to understand this, I don’t control it. I can only accept it. My ex is an abuser and will always be and only he has control of that. No matter how much I try to get away from him, to run for safety, I will always be tied to him through out children. There is no final peaceful end zone. I now have one minor child and one who is 18 and just because the courts are no longer involved in our older child, doesn’t take away the vulnerability. My ex continues to manipulate our oldest for his own gain and at best, I can only watch in horror and hope that God and my love will help him handle it and understand it and not because co-dependent to a father who really only cares about himself.

3. My stepfather was emotionally abusive and treated my mother and her children badly for 25 years. As a child, I had hoped and believed that one day, the man would be exiled from our lives because my mother would wise up and leave the man. It never happened. Peace for me and my siblings finally came in only two ways: emotional detachment from my mother and the death of my mother. My mom died at a relatively young age and that is what finally brought the abuse by my stepfather to an end for me. I could finally turn away from him for good and never experience the abuse again. I was able to finally process and heal, but it came at such a great cost. I often will say that I would give anything to have my mother back, but I sometimes wonder if I would sell back the peace I have away from my stepfather’s abuse.

4. Most of our society, close friends, lawyers, judges, etc., don’t understand the abusive/victim relationship and just how emotionally damaging and unfair it is. Maybe it is because, like me, no one can quite believe that anyone, especially someone who looks normal, can be so cruel to another person, or a member of their own family. Whatever the reason, I can’t tell you how re-traumatizing it is to have to battle the misunderstanding of the hell that I deal with. Abusers are excellent at redirecting blame and dismissing and minimizing abuse. There is nothing more gut-wrenching that trying to sort through those feelings as a victim. I already blame myself of the abuse I suffer in more ways than I can write. When a loved one, or an attorney or counselor buys into the notion that it takes two to tango or that now that the marriage is over, the fighting should end, a victim just feels lost and hopeless all over again.

My ex shifts the history of our life over and over to suit his current story. His story about himself play out in just a couple of ways, a. his is a miracle who somehow made it through a horrible childhood in which he was seriously mistreated by a drunken mother and absentee father so the standards for his conduct today are lower than everyone else. He should be applauded for everything that he has accomplished since he did it on his own and if he doesn’t know how to act within a family or a circle of friends, he has a good reason. OR b. he is so mistreated by (fill in the blank) that he is entitled to strike back with whatever means he has.

My ex doesn’t stop, ever, to think about how his actions effect anyone, ever, except how they might treat him as a result. He creates a stream of pity and awe from those who he wants to keep around in order to maintain a stream of “love” toward him. This is like the one way street of harvesting a crop. A farmer doesn’t fertilize the field because he wants the corn to feel better or be treated well. He spreads the BS so that the plants will produce for him. This is the same for the abuser.

He also stomps on anyone who he thinks he can in order to shore up his self-image of power and superiority. And only he knows the delicate dance of self-thinking and image project that is necessary to be both passive and aggressive  without ruining the whole think.

5. I used to play a pretty critical role in this dance, I still do in fact, but I’m not in control of most of it. But, when I was married and shortly after, I thought I was able to touch the right nerves to prevent abuse. But, I wasn’t. I used to get hit a lot when I was married. Soon after, my ex was afraid that I would tell what he did to me, so he switched his story to show the world that he was a great ex-husband .. he got pity from others and kept me from telling on him. He found a way to benefit from it all and I thought it worked. Our children had civil parents in divorce and that was my incredible hope for them.

The role I played, and now see, to keep it tolerable …. I would always real him in when I saw he was headed toward hurting me or the kids. I would talk to him and face him. I would confront him and “teach” him … because afterall he always played the role of poor nearly orphaned boy who didn’t know better. I believed him. So, I would coach him or instruct him that his actions, he may not realize, is hurting some people.

When he was unduly harsh in punishment with our children, I would calming speak to him about why that wasn’t a good idea from one single parent to another … and he, would listen, but never agree. I would then make some statement about what consequence might come, maybe to him, if he were to ever hit the kids. Dropping hints that he might not like a visit from the police.

Sometimes, I would try to appeal to his better nature of why he shouldn’t say move is “new” girlfriend into his house the day after he introduced her to our children. Or maybe he hasn’t thought about how that might look to a judge. Sometimes, I would stand firm on issues that I believed were absolutely in the worst interests of our children, like spending weeks away from home in his sole care, where they would have no escape if he began to hit.

But, these “games” were extremely draining and got a lot harder once he married and had a new supply of attention. It became harder for him to keep going with the story-line too. She was very insecure, understandably so, and couldn’t understand why he spent so much time touching base with me. So, the story had to change.

He started making false accusations toward me and picking fights that were based in fantasy. He screamed at me one day in a parking lot, that I had abused him. This was strange only because he never denied the abuse before. Not in front of attorneys, not in front of counselors, not even at a spouse abuse intervention group where he was suppose to be in therapy to stop hitting me.

I knew then, the I was in over my head. I couldn’t keep us with the speed of his spin or the level to which he would sink. I wouldn’t go there. I may have been playing a game with him, but it was with purpose to protect my children and stop abuse. I honored him when he seemed “healthy” and I played to get us to authenticity. I had hoped that by trying to see thinks his way, although I didn’t have faith in it, we could stay somewhat healthy as co-parents.

I set boundaries, not because I was some broken controlling bitch, but because without them, a lot was at stake for us all. I didn’t want to have to call the police and ruin all of our lives. I didn’t want my children to live with the result of going over a cliff because my ex didn’t have the best judgment.

But, judgment wasn’t the problem and trying to mitigate that deficiency was a mistake and pointless.

Instead seeing a woman trying to stay ahead of expected abuse, both emotional and physical, for herself and her children, society sees a woman who is crazy, holding onto the past, and bitter.

6. Family law is broken and society is responsible and that sucks. Call me what you want, bitter, resentful, damaged, crazy … it doesn’t hurt me as much as the reality that for me and my children, we will always have an abuser in our lives … a man who will may hurt us for any reason at any time and with no warning. A few miles from my home, my abuser lives and that thought can cause my anxiety to skyrocket. It is not fair that I am forced to co-parent with a man who has no limits to how he will hurt me if it suits him. But, it is true and I do not have the power to change it. When we first divorced, I moved 6 hours away from my abuser. Less than a year later, he moved three miles from my home, tried to socialize with my brand new friends, and lied to our old ones. He sued me twice, first for child support reduction despite his new job that more than doubled his income, and then for custody of our teenagers five years after our divorce. He abused me in this way because he could and still can. He is allowed to use the court to harass me as much as he wants and as long as he has friends and attorneys who tell him he is right then he will keep it up. I have to live with this daily and it sucks.

7. My ex is not well and won’t likely get well so this is my life. It casts a dark, muddy light on it that I would do just about anything to make go away, except the few actions that would work … walking away from my life or my children. I wouldn’t give up the children, their birth, their happiness for anything in the world. Nothing would cause me more pain. I have sacrificed my life in many ways for theirs. Oh not like some hero … far from it … I have been a mess many times with my children. Weak and broken and lost. But mostly I can be strong for them and I strive to be stronger every day. I want the best for them, even if I am unable to give it. I am never unwilling. I pray that God will protect them where I can not. I pray that God will lead me where I don’t know where to go. I seek professional help so that I can learn how to navigate this for them. I don’t want the only answer for peace to be death or an end.

8. My heart breaks for my children. My first born is such a sweet young man who only wants everyone to get along and doesn’t understand why that doesn’t happen. He wants his family to be normal and together and he doesn’t want any more trauma in his life. He is hoping that there is something he can do to make that happen … just like me so many years ago. He is on his own journey that will have more pain and that he won’t likely understand and I wish I could find the right words to help him, but I don’t know what they are.

My children didn’t get the best childhood that they deserved and I’m like any other mother out there …. I wanted them too. My guilt runs deep that I gave these children their father and then gave them a divorce and then didn’t stop the rest of it. I didn’t have the power to do it and I am so sad about that. My children are precious and special and when they get home tomorrow, they will have feelings that they don’t understand … what they are, I won’t likely know … but I can guess.

At best, they will long for a single household, married parents and peaceful family relationships. At worst, they will have to decompress from whatever emotional hoops their father put before them and now have to try to figure out if I am the enemy or the mother they have always loved.

So, I sit here this morning. Crying and writing. Trying to let out the feelings that keep me up at night and cloud my mind. I want to have the normal life that others don’t understand why I don’t have. I want to live in the moment and enjoy. I want to go back and start over and pick the person who is healthy and not an abuser. But, I can’t. I have to live with that mistake forever. And I have to fight the urge to run from my feelings and pretend. I have to fight trying to think my way out of this mess and just feel how bad it feels. I have to fight wanting to “do” something to fix it and just feel it.

And I have to live with the truth that I am different than others. I am not married to my soulmate or best friend. I am not without damage. I don’t trust people much, but so desperately want to. I have a deep disappointment that will never go away and I will loose people in my life because of it. Not many people want to hang out with someone who isn’t normal.

 

 

How to co-parent with an abusive, narcissist ex-husband

April 13, 2013 _ If you are reading this, you are most likely trying to figure out how to stay sane and keep your children safe because you are co-parenting with an abusive man.

I know that most of my readers stop by either because they know me, or because they have found me searching for help. I am going to speak to the latter today.

Dear Mothers of children of an abuser, I understand your anxiety. I’ve been there. I have two children with a narcissist abuser and have been trying to co-parent with him post divorce for 8 years. It isn’t fun. In fact, it has been the most difficult experience of my life. Worse than loosing my mother to cancer. Worse than anything I’ve ever been through and it has taken years of therapy, support from friends and family, journaling, courtroom battles, lawyers and so on to get where I am today _ finally finding acceptance and inner peace. You can get there too.

If you want to learn more about my personal story, please read through this blog site, email me or comment. I am happy to help you in anyway I can beyond this site. But today, I’m going to give you some quick tips on how to handle this challenge in your life.

Part I

Understand what you are dealing with. An abusive man will not change, ever. Period. So stop trying to help him, make him, figure him out. You must come to terms with this as quickly as you can. Denial is very dangerous in this dynamic. I know you believe that he has some good in him and that good, if nurtured by you, will come out. It won’t. I have been researching domestic abuse and narcissism for more than a year now and I have yet to find one story about an abuser who has changed their spots and lived happily ever after with their mate. You must let go of this pipe dream, albeit noble.

Letting go of the denial is the first step to grieving the loss of your dreams of a happy family, hope of a better future with your husband and the father of your children. But you must and time is of the essence.  As you begin to accept the truth that you will never be able to control your ex from stopping his horrible behavior toward you or your children. Basically, you can’t. You can set boundaries and involve the authorities on a small scale, but abusers are very good, better than you, can manipulating the system in their favor. So this is a fight you will likely loose.

And that realization leads to anger and depression. But, that too is part of the process of finding inner peace and a better life.

Once you have given your chance to feel all of these feelings, you will be on a much stronger road to recovery. You must allow yourself to cry and shout and basically wonder how you got into this mess. This stage is horrible. Talk to a trusted friend. Watch sad movies that cause you to cry. Listen to sad music. Feel it. It will help in the long run.

You need to get to acceptance as quickly as possible and the only way to get there is through the fire so to speak. Avoiding the pain will do you and your children no good.

Your ex-husband is a dangerous man and you need to be healthy to deal with him and help your children handle their father. Look at it this way, some people have to cope with chronic illness. Some people are born into devastating poverty. There are tragedies abound. I turn to God to cope with this fact. God promised us each a life to live, but not without challenges. He promises to walk with us as we faced those challenges. This is ours. We must walk with an abuser as we raise our children. I have a dear friend who’s child has autism. Another friend who’s child passed away when he was 2. Another friend who’s child has Asberge’s. My nephew has type 1 diabetes. These are all challenges they have had no choice in but have to face. Denial hurts their walk. It doesn’t help. They must accept their circumstance quickly in order to navigate it the best way possible. Our children have an abusive, narcissistic father. The best help you can give them, is to let go of the fantasy that he will change, or that the legal system will change, or that fairness will win out. Your life and your children’s lives matter more than maintaining a fantasy. Get over it and get real.

Part II

Get a great attorney and a wonderful understanding therapist. You need to get as much in the court system as possible. Do not try to be forgiving, kind, noble or understanding of your ex-husband plight. He wants you to believe that he is the victim, not you. Don’t feel guilty. That is your co-dependancy talking. Ignore advice or comments encouraging you to find ways to get along. It is not possible for any length of time. Instead, figure out ways to get as much covered by parenting plans, court order, etc. Don’t settle for anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Hang in there. You won’t win everything, but fight hard for what you think is right for your children. Think always of them and what will give them the best shot at a normal childhood. But always remember, they will have to deal with the challenges of their father. You won’t be successful in protecting them from that.

With a very, very detailed parenting plan you will be on the road to a peaceful life. Your ex will not likely violate a court order. Or if he does, you will have the court behind you and there are serious consequences to the violation. If he does violate, seek legal help immediately. Don’t hesitate. Remember the first time he hit you? Did you call the police? Mostly likely not and look how that worked out. Learn from the mistakes of our past. Involving the legal system whenever you can will cut down the episodes of violations because most abusers are wimps at heart and don’t want to get in trouble.

Also, you must follow the plan at all times. Do not make “an executive decision” for the sake of your kids. If you do, you will be seen as the problem and the courts will act accordingly. I know this is hard, because who knows their kids better than you. But, you must remember that once the courts are involved in custody of your children, you are not the final say over their upbringing. When this gets you down or angry, then reread Part I! Grieve and move on. Remember, we all have challenges.

Part III

If your ex-husband is a narcissist, like mine, then you need to understand his personality disorder or you may continue to be a victim of it. Abusers will abuse whomever they want. You are not the reason for their abuse, no matter what you have been told. Abusers want to dominate others at all times. They will never learn from their own experience. They will always spin events in their lives so that they are the winner. Read about narcism. Read about the dynamic. Read about your role in the relationship. It will help you know how to react.

I have found that limited contact is the best course. I am not able to eliminate contact with my ex because of court ordered communication. But, I have the “permission” to stay away from him as much as possible. And after years of trying to find a way to “get along” with him, I have finally found it is best to steer clear. I had to mourn a lot over this decision. Early on, I wanted contact so that I could watch over my children while they were with him. Later, I was sad that there was a part of my children’s family lives that didn’t include me. I had to realize that that was part of life. Not fair, but accurate. And the sooner I accepted the truths, the better I and my children would be.

Today, my 18 year old has to deal with his father, not me. The more I let that happen, the better for my son, who needs to learn the skills in dealing with a narcissist. He will have one in his life for as long as my ex is alive. My younger child has to handle it as well. My job for my children is to provide a listening ear and an understanding heart, but not to meddle in their relationship. It is hard, but it is best.

I do whatever I can to remain detached from my ex. Here are a few things I did that you might find helpful:

  • I got a new email address that I use for friends and family. My old email is just for my ex and spam! I check it only every few days or so and only when I’m emotionally ready.
  • I find ways to do exchange of children without seeing my ex. I ask friends or plan for school pickups, etc.
  • If I do have to pick up my children at their father’s house, I get on the phone while I’m in his driveway. I don’t make eye contact and I move as quickly as possible.
  • When my kids are with their dad, I communicate with them directly using their cell phones.
  • I don’t lie about the abuse I experienced when we were married. I share with people when necessary why I don’t want contact with my ex.

If I never have contact with my ex again, I am OK with that and I do think that is best.

Wanted: 50 stories of survival

April 1, 2013_ I’ve decided to write a book about survival. 50 stories of life after abuse from 50 survivors. No joke.

Writing has been my therapy as I live my life forever connected to a narcissistic abuser. I have be able to process here on this blog a lot of the pain and trauma caused by my ex-husband’s actions.

But, this problem of domestic abuse seems to be growing and that troubles me. I also struggle with the hopelessness of domestic abuse and the legal systems around the country that allow it.

So, I’ve decided to collect stories of abuse and survival from others and interview at least 10 lawmakers around the country about domestic abuse and try to figure out why so much of this is still a large problem.

If you would like me to consider your story or you would like to nominate someone else, please comment here. I need the person’s email address. Your comments will remain confidential. I will not publish anyone’s identifying information.

Also, if you know of a lawmaker who you think should be included in this project, please pass the name on.

Let’s work together to begin to understand this horrible issue and finally put an end to the abuse that dominates so many relationships.

If you can help by donating some funds to allow me to do this work, please consider making a contribution by clicking on the bottom at the top of the page.

Thank you.

Are all domestic abusers NPD?

March 17, 2013 _ I have been asking myself this questions for sometime now. Read about abuse and narcissist personality disorder and the two conditions look very similar.

As I recover from abuse and the trauma that it has caused me, I want my story to be useful to others. As I write and read and learn, I see that my abuser is very likely suffering from NPD and that explains a whole lot about our story together and the mess that it was.

Living with someone who has NPD means never being able to get balanced. I lived for years completely unbalanced and off centered. It sucked.

I thought for a long time that it was because I didn’t know when the next physical blow was coming for next. But I realized years later, that the lies he told me were just has off-putting as the hits he landed on my body.

He made and still makes a career of trying to keep others off balance so that he can keep the upper hand.

That does a number on anyone around him.

Learning about NPD enabled me to finally find a path around his craziness and to bring my sanity back. Like before, I am still vulnerable to attacks by anyone. Everyone is. But, today, I can process them much quicker and avoid long periods of confusion and self-blame. I can get my balance back a lot quicker.

Writing helps me find my center.

What do you do? Let me know and help others in the process.

How Lance Armstrong is just like any other narcissist, including my ex

Jan. 19, 2013 _ Lance Armstrong’s public apology for lying and bullying for many, many years doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’ve seen how narcissism works up close and stepping up to the mic and declaring “I did it” isn’t that big a deal for people with that condition.

My ex has made repeated apologies to me throughout our relationship about how bad he felt for hitting me, lying to me, leaving me, and so on. He has written me letters confessing these sins to me. He has declared in a deposition that he hit me and generally mistreated me.

The trouble is, that my ex’s apologies don’t mean that his mistreatment is over. Nope, not at all. Every single time that my ex hit me or physically abused me, he would apologize from “deep within his heart.” However, he never cried while owning up to slamming me against a wall, choking me while I was 9 months pregnant, disappearing for 3 weeks leaving me with two young children. You would think that after committing those horrendous acts against his wife and the mother of his children, he would have some sign of remorse emotionally. But, he never did.

He could create the sentences that flowed through his mouth that sounded sincere, but like a person with a false smile, you can see the lack of real emotion in his eyes. During the clips of Lance Armstrong’s interview, you could see the stone within in his gaze, too.

It’s not that a narcissist isn’t sorry, though they aren’t, its that they don’t understand the emotion in the first place. They have learned that when their lies are exposed, a certain behavior is required in order to spin the turn of events into something they can use to put them back on top.

Narcissist are very talented and fight nearly to the death to maintain their position of power, image and control, and when it looks like they have been exposed and knocked down to the dirt (where some belong), they don’t slither off to a place never to be seen again. They come back.

Narcissist don’t learn or never feel contrite. They feel temporarily offset and they go off to recalculate their actions to find their way back into the game.

An apology is just empty words spit out like an actor on the stage reciting Shakespeare. Wonderfully written with the emotion of a man dead 400 years ago, but not the sentiments of the speaker.

I expect Armstrong to find a way to earn public attention again after this. Maybe he will be allowed back into sport. Maybe he will become a TV personality. A reality TV show, perhaps. Maybe he will become a commentator on some Xtreme sport show or the E! channel. I’m sure he will be writing a book about it all.

My ex had apologies down to a science. I believed them for nearly 20 years! And I have a very high IQ. But, funny how the apologies never, never ever lead to a change in behavior. He always abused again. Still does in fact, just not physically.

Apologies are a necessary tool, equal to violence, lies, anything that helps the abuser maintain his dominance. And afterall, narcissist’s apologies are a twisted form of victimizing themselves. Remember Lance’s words “I have to live with that for the rest of my life.” he told Oprah…. Big freakin deal. Try living with what his victims have to live with. Victims of real trauma caused by Lance Armstrong.

Lance is like two personalities, one who did it and one who has to live with the consequences of it. Neither is sorry for what he did. He is sorry that he got caught. Sorry that he has to admit a mistake. But, now that the spinning is underway in Lance’s head, you can bet that he is eating up the attention.

My ex told me once, while fighting with me about our kids, that he told his new wife “through tears” that he beat me and that she was oh so understanding as he cried to her one night at their kitchen table about what he has to live with. Wow. He never cried with me about what he did TO ME by CHOICE year after year. And of course, after that tearful confession to his wife, he then sued me for custody of our teenagers. Um, how sorry are you if you are willing to put me and our children through the trauma of a custody suit. (Which he lost, by the way.)

Oh, I’m not angry about it despite how it sounds and frankly I feel very sorry for his wife. She has got to be struggling with his crazy-making behavior. But, narcissist can always find a way out of their consequences and can con very smart people into believing their bull shit.

If Lance is really sorry for his actions and lies and bullying, then he should fade into the woodwork and let those people he tried so hard to destroy heal. Instead, he grabs the limelight we all so willing shine his way and does yet another dance. Rest assured, Lance will not fade away yet. He is still to interesting to the voyeurs in us.

Me too. I watched all of 3 minutes of his interview with Oprah before I thought, “what the hell am I giving this asshole my precious time” and turned it off.

I know that doesn’t make me an expert on his interview. But the truth is, I’ve heard his apology a hundred times before. I could quote it word by word.

Narcissist will stay around trying to suck the air out of the room as long as we give them the venue to do so and as long as we fantasize that they will change. Few do. Instead they go down fighting to stay on top anyway they can with no shame.