Accepting my journey, my abuser and who I am

Aug. 4, 2013 _ Today, I’m sitting on my sunny back porch, tapping away on my laptop and enjoying the birds flying around my back yard.

My children are with me, safe and sound. My abuser is no where near me.

I am content today and not afraid and when I am feeling this way, I’m grateful.

I don’t always feel this way.

As you know, my ex-husband and the father of my children is an abuser and likely a narcissist, who has spent years and years lashing out at me in so many horrible ways. The worst experience by far, even worse than being strangled, was a frivolous custody suit he filed against me 5 years after our divorce. I was never so scared as I was in those months during that suit.

I had to imagine a future that sent my innocent boys to live the majority of the time with my abusive ex-husband, who has never done anything solely for the sake of his children unless it also suits his needs, narcissistic supply or was some necessary variable in some fabricated plot he was spinning.

But, all of that is past me now, or I should say FOR now. Who knows when he will strike against me or my children again.

I’ve learned, after 20 some years of life with an abuser, that I don’t control his actions in the slightest and therefore, I never know when he will attack again.

I accept that there is nothing I can do to alter my ex-husband’s choices, though for years I believed that I could. He is who is he is, a very dysfunctional and dangerous man, to himself and others and the best I can do is avoid him at all costs.

I used to try to “get back” my life before abuse and get back on the path I wanted to be on … marriage, grandchildren, growing old together …. yada yada yada.

I know now that my path is different than that. And finally, I’m OK with that.

I am grateful.

My path today includes lawyers, counselors, parenting plans, and careful walks with children who are confused by their family.

My path today includes learning to live well despite having PTSD. My path today includes feeling the feelings I have tried to stuff for so many years.

My path today is more about acceptance than I’ve ever had before.

I am a strong woman who is a survivor and I continue to find the good twisted up on this journey.

God, thank you for my children. Wow, I’m glad they are here. The abuse I took from their father sucked, but is so outweighed by the delight of these kids.

I set out today, with new resolve to work hard on this issue that faces our country. I want to spread the word, with other victims today, that domestic abuse needs to stop.

It starts with legislation that prevents abusers to have custody of their kids and prevents forced contact with victim and abuser. It includes shaming the abuser by his or her peers so that they don’t believe they can get away with it any more.

The path I am on now is one that includes pulling together as many people as I can to help end this horrible crime and put families back together.

Together, we can make a difference. Together our voices matter. Together, we victims of abuse, we survivors, can let others know that domestic abuse should not be tolerated anymore.

 

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship …

If you are reading this and your thoughts keep pulling you in one direction _ that something is truly wrong with your relationship beyond your understanding, then please keep reading.

Click here to read the signs of an abusive relationship.

No one wants to believe they are in an abusive relationship. No one wants to face this horrible pain. You might be in denial about the quality and state of your relationship.

I’m writing to you women (and of course male victims) this morning to tell you that you must work to face the truth, your life is at stake.

Here are somethings you might be telling yourself in order to stay in denial and hold out hope that your partner is not an abuser:

  • You love him
  • He is fine most of the time
  • He only gets mad when I get upset with him
  • He only gets physical when I yell at him
  • We have a difficult relationship and it is both of our faults
  • I need him
  • I don’t want to loose our life together
  • He can’t be an abuser …  he doesn’t drink or look the part or is too smart or … fill in the blank
  • If I were ….. fill in the blank … he wouldn’t abuse
  • We need more therapy
  • I need to follow the advice of my friends, pastor, family, my partner, self-help book, or … fill in the the blank
  • He is my children’s father
  • My children need him
  • This is as good as it gets

I ask you to read through my blog and if you can relate to any of it, then you most likely are with an abuser. The hard truth is that you will need to get out of it. There is no way, or magic therapy that will change him or the abuse.

You can’t change yourself, your behavior, your choices or anything that will make him stop abusing you. He is not abusing you because of your choices no matter what he is telling you. He is abusing you because of his choices.

And a person, man or woman, who will abuse another is not a person who understands or wants to give love. And you deserve a shot at finding someone who will really love you and knows how.

Unfortunately, there are many, many people in this world who do not have the capability to love. Capability is different that ability. Ability means that one may acquire the skill with training. Capability means that they have the capacity to learn it. Abusers do not. For a variety of reasons within their own souls, abusers have shut down or never had the capability to love you or anyone.

You have found a person who will hurt you without blinking, even if he is telling you he is sorry. The next time he has a choice to abuse or not to, he will be more likely to abuse. He is addicted to the quick fix of abuse and there is no 12-step treatment for this addition.

You have to ask yourself if you can continue living with this, because the abuse won’t stop, ever.

You have to ask yourself if this is want you signed up for and if not, can you accept this union knowing that you are  very vulnerable within this relationship.

If you are ready to face the truth that leaving is the only way out, then breath. It is going to be OK. Hard, but OK. And you can do this.

You need to focus your energies in getting out safely and setting up your future in the best way available to you.

First, if you are married, call an attorney, a good one who understands domestic abuse. Then call your domestic abuse crisis center, if your community has one. Tell your story to each and listen to their advice.

If you share the same home, secretly begin to collect things that can help you get out. Money, clothes, paperwork, documents, etc. Start to quietly create independence. Enroll in school. Buy a car. Get a job if you can.

Get documentation of the abuse if you can. Keep a diary, hidden of course. Tell a friend about the abuse. This is hard, but it will help you in the future. Tell your family.

Get into therapy and talk about the abuse.

Read a lot about abuse. It will help you understand what is happening and calm your fears that you are alone. You are not. And you are not crazy. Abuse is real, common, and devastating. You are a victim of something as if you were in a car accident or got ill.

Realize that your journey out will take effort, be bumpy and will take time. It is a process to emotional health after living in an abusive relationship, but you can do it and on the other side, it is so much better. And without a doubt, you need help. There are people who can help you. Once you start to tell what is happening, look for people who respond with love, understanding, a compassion. Stay away from those who ask you “why did you stay for so long?” or “maybe you should give it another try.”

If you have children with your abuser, then you must be very careful in what you say and do. And your first step of this process is to seek TRAINED domestic abuse counselors. Your crisis center is the most likely place to find proper help.

Most state courts do not understand domestic abuse and treat it as if it is the result of high conflict in the relationship and therefore, won’t want to take sides. Of course, that is wrong, but it is the way it is in court.

So you must find your inner peace and quiet your mothering instinct to protect your children at all costs. We have all said at one time or another “I would never let my children get hurt by….” Unfortunately, you will not have control over a lot of normal parenting responsibilities if your abuser decides to use the kids as a way to abuse you further.

Simply by filing a custody suit, your abuser has abused you again. The court will inadvertently begin to abuse you by taking matters into their own hands and require that all parenting decisions you make be weighed against laws and rules it imposes. This is unnatural to most mothers and hurtful and traumatic to all victims. But, you will need to accept this so you can find the path and strength to get you and your children through it.

The good news about the court is that it is predictable, unlike your abuser. So the quicker you learn about how family court works, the quicker you will see the pitfalls and avoid them. This is how you can really protect your children.

It is very unfair that you are now parenting with the court, lawyers, judges, parent coordinators, and so on, simply because your partner is an abuser. But, until the family laws change, this is the playing field.

Hang in there and keep moving forward. You are going to be OK and so are you children. I’m sorry for your tears and fears, but you deserve a real shot at a peaceful life. You deserve to live and to used a coined phrase, it gets better.

It really does.

You can recover from abuse, not without scars, but you can find peace and joy again. Please try to get there. You are worth it and you are special just the way you are. My prayers are with you.

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.

What is a narcissist?

Dec., 23, 2012 _  According to Wikipeada:

Symptoms of this disorder include[1]:

  • Reacting to criticism with angershame, or humiliation
  • Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
  • Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
  • Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
  • Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
  • Becoming jealous easily
  • Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
  • Being obsessed with oneself
  • Pursuing mainly selfish goals
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Becoming easily hurt and rejected
  • Setting goals that are unrealistic
  • Wanting “the best” of everything
  • Appearing unemotional

In addition to these symptoms, the person may also display dominance, arrogance, show superiority, and seek power.[6] The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder can be similar to the traits of individuals with strong self-esteem and confidence; differentiation occurs when the underlying psychological structures of these traits are considered pathological. Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently better than others. Yet, they have a fragile self-esteem and cannot handle criticism, and will often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. It is this sadistic tendency that is characteristic of narcissism as opposed to other psychological conditions affecting level of self-worth. [7]

On my way to health

Dec. 9, 2012_ In 1994, I married a man despite that he often lied to me, broke many promises, was irresponsible, unkempt, seemingly helpless, awkward in social situations, selfish and self-centered, unliked by my family, a loner, had a horrible relationship with his mother, lacked basic general knowledge of the daily responsibilities of life, such as how to care for things, and despite that we were already in “couples counseling.”

As I write this, I am shaking my head at my stupidity. Unbelievable that I could have jumped so willing off a cliff to my emotional near-death.

As soon as I hit the bottom of the abyss of my marriage, I began a very slow climb back to the top. I fell back many times and with a sense of hopelessness often, but, I did climb out, back to the top and past my abusive partner in crime.

In 2005, I divorced the man I married, my abuser, my Narcissistic and co-parent and began my new life. In 2010, I began my true recovery process from the Post Traumatic Stress of my connection to this man. It has been a rough. I’ve cried a lot of tears and spent a lot of time devoted to thinking about him, someone I hated.

In 2012, about November actually, I began the process of closure and hopefully, back to my emotional health and my self.

Wow, 18 years. That took a long time for me to “get it…”

…That I am not to blame for his treatment of me but I am responsible for choosing to accept it. And that unless I made the decision and took action to not accept it, I was going to stay in a horrible place in my heart. Nothing would make me truly happy if I didn’t make some serious changes in my thinking.

I needed to:

1.) Recognize that how I am treated by anyone is not my doing most of the time. Oh sure, if I cut someone off on the road, they will likely give me the finger. But, by in large, how I am treated is more about how that person feels, fears, believes.

2.) Since I am not responsible how I’m treated, then I need to stop trying to control how I’m treated. I need to stop trying to play by the rules so that I can say “I’m doing everything right, why aren’t you treating me better?”

3.) I need to accept who I am and like who I am. I do not need to change, or hide myself, or strive to be “good” anymore.

4.) I need to have faith that when I am myself, that some one will like me, even love me, just the way that I am.

5.) I need to be grateful and joyful that God has given me traits and gifts that are uniquely me and that is something special.

6.) I need to stop hoping that the love of someone else will give me validation.

7.) I need to stop being scared that no one could ever love me for who I really am.

It took a long time and a lot of emotional work, but I believe that I am getting there. I no longer have a sense of tread, a bit in my stomach when I think about me and love.

When I was in college, I fell in love with a boy who approached me. He was gorgeous and kind and he treated me wonderfully. But, I kept everything about myself hidden because I was afraid that if I showed him who I was, he surely wouldn’t love me. He might even run.

Instead, he was confused and because of that confusion, he did run away.

I will always feel badly for his confusion.

I entered every relationship since then feeling scared to be myself when I was with someone I hoped would love me. It was exhausting and likely the reason I steered clear of dating.

My privacy also creeped into my “safe” relationships with women. Even my good, good friends knew that I was holding of myself back. I compensated by being the friend that could be counted on, who could help solve problems, who would listen. I was capable to no end.

But, I wasn’t authentic.

I was playing the role that I thought would relieve me of fear of abandonment. If I could be perfect, then my loved-one wouldn’t leave. When I look back at my relationship, even in middle school, I see that I was afraid of being hurt, rejected.

I had been rejected by my family in ways that I have described before, so I didn’t trust love. I knew that someone I loved could at will pull the rug out from under me, so I treaded lightly. I was skittish when faced with exposing my true thoughts.

It is no wonder that I don’t enjoy alcohol, because I don’t trust myself when I’ve lost control of my actions. I may accidentally offend someone and drive them away.

If I didn’t stay on top of my actions, then certainly I risked a high probability of being left and that was a pain I wanted to avoid.

So, when my ex-husband came around, interested in me. His obvious flaws were comforting to me. I could help him solve problems, be there for him, support him, be the girl that didn’t give him any shit. I prided myself of being non-judgmental and low-maintenance. When he treated me well, I believed it was because of how I acted toward him. When he treated me badly, I knew it was because I had failed to stay the perfect girlfriend and had to find a way to change.

Our therapists didn’t help matters either, because she used to speak to us about communication and compromise. Great if we are healthy people, but for two very unhealthy people, Narcissist and co-dependent that we were, that advice only fueled out dance.

I think it should be a prerequisite that before anyone goes through couples therapy that they first go through individual therapy and be diagnosed for any issues that might be harming the relationship. Because there is no point in couples therapy with unhealthy people.

Today, I know that I should have listened to my heart about my ex-husband. I should have spent time on my own stuff before I went into any relationship. But, I can’t turn back the clock and the good news is that in those 18 years, my sons were born and they are incredible and well worth my struggle. God wanted those boys born.

But, finding health is the purpose for all these blogs and I think I might finally be on the road. I want to thank all the people in my life and online who have listened to me and been patient with me. I am grateful.

Finding forgiveness doesn’t mean taking him back

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.

 

Control? What does that mean in a bad relationship

Dec. 1, 2012_ In 1990, I met the father of my children, my first and only husband, my partner, my abuser, the man who beat me so many times I can’t count, who left me with babies for days on end in good times and bad, who used me, cursed me and who lied to me maybe millions of times.

He was a wife batterer. He was a controller.

But, though I understand completely that the bruises on my body after one of his episodes meant that I was a victim of violence and he was an attacker, I have always struggled with describing my ex-husband as someone who wants to control me.

I’ve read so many stories about abusers who wouldn’t let their victims out of the house, spend time with friends, work, handle money, and so on. But, my ex-husband never did that. My ex-husband didn’t try to control my every move, my waking hours, my whereabouts, my goings-on. So, he couldn’t be controlling, right? He didn’t fit the mold of an abuser, I thought.

That logical has kept me up at nights, spinning in my mind just how does this all compute. If my husband is an abuser, then shouldn’t I feel controlled? Shouldn’t he be checking up on me during the day to make sure I was doing or not doing whatever he wanted? Shouldn’t he be ordering me around? Shouldn’t he be paying attention to my whereabouts? Shouldn’t he care?

He didn’t.

He didn’t check up on me. He didn’t keep money, friend or family away from me. He didn’t restrict where I went, with who or when. He didn’t call me repeatedly. He didn’t follow me around. He wasn’t even jealous, suspicious or dramatic about my relationship with anyone.

He didn’t really show any concern about my daily life at all. He didn’t pay attention to me in the slightest.

How on earth could my husband be a controller? This didn’t compute. And in my darkest, silent hours, I still struggle trying to get my head around this puzzle. How could I call him a controlling abuser if he didn’t really care about me at all.

But, he is. And he does care about me. And he is controlling as hell. Just not about anything he doesn’t care about. And what he cares about …  is him.

My ex-husband cares only about how his world is functioning at every moment and like the Earth that has a moon in its orbit, my husband cares about me and my interactions with him when I’m hovering over his horizon or messing with his gravity.

My ex-husband to this day controls his world with precision.

He controls everything when it matters to him and nothing when it doesn’t.

When we were married, I was exhausted with my husband’s constant comments on everything we did or I did that effected him. He had something to say, an opinion to render, a learned position, a condescending explanation of how much better this would be or that would be if I would just stop the direction I was headed and follow the course he laid out.

Often, he would notice what I was making for dinner and he would chime in that green beans were a better choice than corn or bowls were necessary instead of plates, or when we should sit down or when the children should be excused.

For years, I didn’t realized the number of times he offered his opinion on every move I made because so often I trusted myself way more than I trusted him. I thought it was cute,  supportive and frankly wrong most of the time. I used to read his involvement as loving.

I would enjoy his input as a partner would. I felt we were in the foxhole of life together and I was happy that he wanted to participate. That was a bit of a new experience for me in my life. I had spent my adult years so far on my own and it was exciting to have someone who cared that much about “us”.

However, soon the constant corrections he offered became annoying. I knew his life story, or at least the version he told me. I compared it to mine and I was not impressed that he had much to add to what I already knew. Because of how I was raised, I could handle a lot on my own. I was a bit of a tomboy, too, so gender roles didn’t work for me either.

I could do a lot. I could cook, sew, clean, sure. But, I could also mow a lawn, drive a car well, fix a flat, paint a room, build a shelf, train a dog, take care of babies, handle money, and so on. My ex, who had lived with his alcoholic mother as an only child in the same two bedroom apartment his whole life, had never mowed a lawn, enjoyed a big Thanksgiving family gathering, swung a hammer, walked a dog, or any number of typical childhood experiences or early adulthood mistakes. He had never lived alone, either. I had for years.

When my ex offered his two cents on my endeavors, most of the time they weren’t worth rubbing together. He was smart, but he wasn’t street smart. He wasn’t even really book smart. He was however, very clever.

And like all evil monsters, he used his brain power for bad instead of good. Well, in truth, he used his mental fire power to stay ahead of his demons and control his world.

I didn’t feel like he was controlling me, because I wasn’t listening to him.

However, he was trying like hell to do it because every day of his life, he is trying to control his second to second existence. He is controlling for sure. He is trying to control his own thoughts. He is trying to control how people think of him, all people. He is trying to control his environment and how people react to him. He is trying to control the outcomes of events, minor and large.  He is trying to control his every moment and that takes a lot of energy.

His radar scans the worlds in orbits with him at the center. I was and am irrelevant to him when I am outside his detection. He doesn’t care one wit what I do then. But, when I orbit around into his range and suddenly affect his mood, desires, fears, image of himself, thoughts, whatever, then I become something to control.

And you know we all do that to some extend. We all are afraid of the unknown from time to time, or hope that we are liked or respected. We all want control over our own lives, at the very least.

But my ex-husband, is willing to do anything to have it.

He will say or do anything to keep me under his power. He will direct me, talk over me, lie to me, hit me, leave me, threaten me, bull shit me, walk away from me, accuse me, assign motive to my actions, lie about me, hurt me, yell at me, call me names, laugh at me, smile at me, lie to himself, throw me aside, tell me he loves me, do anything to maintain the higher ground, or at least think that he has it.

He will control his world and anyone who comes into it.

I am not an easy woman to control. I’m independent, capable, smart, educated, friendly, strong, responsible, worldly, a jack of all trades. Some may think that I’m stubborn. I also trust myself and don’t seek help, even when I need it. I don’t like the feeling that I need anything from anyone because it makes me feel vulnerable and unlikeable, even unlovable. This is not an ego thing. I am not prideful. I truly would love the support and advice of someone who cares. I am untrusting that anyone will WANT to come to my aid, that I am worth that to anyone. I take care of myself, because I believed for so long that no one else would. This makes for an interesting dynamic and an abuser.

At first, his control over me was completely foreign to me. I didn’t know what it was. I had never experienced anyone taking such an interest in what I thought or did. Then I started to like his involvement because it was better than the void of disinterest when my ex’s radar beam was pointed in the opposite direction and I was invisible to him.

Then, I became annoyed. He seemed to always take the position that he knew better than me, even when it was clear that he didn’t.

Then, I was resentful and angry, especially since he spent so little time at home and didn’t care very much when he was. And after all, he was solving our emotional turmoil with abuse.

His control of me, or lack there of, confused him and upset him. When he wanted what he wanted and if I was in his way, he would pull out his bag of tricks and begin to work me and the common situation until he got what he wanted, and he always did. Even when he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, he would spin it in his head to believe that what he got was what he wanted all along. But, not in a way of accepting … you know “you win some, you loose some,” But in a “No one is going to get over on me,” way.

Even today, as we are forced to co-parent our children, he will do anything to make sure that he feels like he is the puppet master pulling the strings, that he is in-charge. When he doesn’t feel like he is, he zigs to the left or the right and keeps seeking a way to feel his own power. It has got to be exhausting.

My ex loves control, and we all do at times. But, my ex can not accept that somethings are not in his control. That makes him crazy. He plays a daily psychological game with himself that he is dominant over everything. That the world has nothing on him. That he is the master of his world in the worse possible way.

He will do anything to maintain that belief system.

Including hit me, file a custody suit against me, blame me or anyone for anything negative in his life, take little responsibility for his actions, choices, repercussions.

Knowing this, I try to stay out of his radar, but its hard to do. First, we have minor children together, so this makes it difficult to have zero interaction. Second, I can’t anticipate where is beam of radar is turning next. I can’t try to anticipate crazy. Who knows what will get his attention.

The years I spent with him, I wasted many, many hours of my life trying to figure him out and figure out what he wanted. I put so much energy into him, that I didn’t put much into my own life. No wonder why I was so unhappy and unhealthy. My choice sucked. I struggle even know as I write this, that I am still wasting time on him.

When I decided it was time that I make a better choice, I had to accept, though it took me years of therapy, that my ex would always have some power over me because I was not willing to play this game by his rules. I was not willing to hurt anyone at all cost to win.

I had to accept that I will likely forever be involved with a controlling abuser and there was nothing much more I could do about it.

Like someone who has had cancer and constantly wonders or worries if the bad cells will come back, I am haunted by the knowledge that my abuser is out there, capable of doing devastating harm to me, my children, my life, if I happen to get to close to his atmosphere.

The years I spent worrying about how to avoid getting hurt by him and the efforts I have made to achieve a harmonious existence with him sometimes seems like a waste of my time, my life. But, regrets don’t change much.

I fight today to find peace, despite my bad relationship with the father of my children and know that I can’t change it. I work to keep my distance as much as I can. No phone calls. No meetings, unless we are with a counselor. I don’t even make eye contact when we are in the same room. Again, still spending energy on him.

I try to find grace when confronted with one of his only current ways of engaging with me … emails. I try hard not to respond to his rants and accusations. I try hard to avoid comment whenever possible. I’m trying to find my way around space without brushing up against him, without coming into his focus. But, I don’t want to spend too much of my shortening life on this dance that took so much of my time in the past.

It isn’t easy.

I struggle with it.

I am co-dependent by nature and so breaking away isn’t a picnic.

But, with the help of a great therapist and this blog and friends and family and the smiles of my wonderful children, I’m getting there. I hope someday soon I won’t wake up needing to write about this relationship and the pain it has caused me. I hope one day to find a relaxed existence that doesn’t include a moments through about him. I hope to no longer need to control my world for fear that if I don’t, disaster will fall. I don’t want to be as exhausted as my ex. I want to be me. Happy. At peace. One day I will.