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.

Narcissists put people in two piles

Nov. 10, 2012 _ I have been writing this blog for more than two years as I try to friggin’ understand my head, heart and actions in the wake of my abuser’s abuse. And it sucks!

I’m so sick of needing to write about the way my abuser treats me and my children and I’m so tired of trying to figure it out. When will it every end!

But, this spot in cyper space has helped me in so many ways. I wake up early most mornings and most mornings since my ex-husband sued me for custody of our two wonderful, teenage children, I replay the events surrounding his actions toward me.

That would make him very happy.

Because as I’m learning, narcissists put people in two groups … those who shower the narcissist with admiration and those who the narcissist can dominate.

There are no other people in their world. If someone doesn’t fit in those two piles, he or she doesn’t exist in the narcissist’s world.

My ex has spent the last two years feeding off dominating me.

I know how that sounds. Like I’m the center of his world. I’m not. I am just the dumb schmuck who happened to provide him with the opportunity to put someone down. Narcissists need to put someone down in order to combat their deep down sense of insecurity. Narcissists need to dominate or be admired in order to feel good about who they think they are.

My ex spent the last two weeks fighting for extra time with our kids that he was not entitled to by our written court order and was ultimately enforced again by our judge. He didn’t ask for extra time. He demanded it as if he was suppose to have it all along. He didn’t have a specific reason. He just wanted it because he said he was owed it.

My ex wrote denigrating emails about my “typical lack of cooperation” and assign motives that were ridiculous when I simply asked him when he wanted our children for his weekend visits. He used that question as an opportunity to launch into a trumped-up argument that involved the judge, our attorneys and parent coordinator. He wrote 20 emails to all involved arguing that he was being slighted and I was a poison in the process just out to get him.

Until suddenly, he reversed course, and changed his mind with no apologies or personal responsibility.

Even after 20 years of my relationship with this man, I am still shocked by his behavior.

And all of this drama and unnecessary use of the legal system, time and cyperspace makes him very happy. He is grand in his own mind and he is proud of himself for having pulled so many people into his orbit. Like any fully developed narcissist.

And as Carly Simon knows, he probably thinks this blog is about him and he is smiling.

My sleepless early mornings are just the icing on the cake for him.

Narcissist need people only as reflectors of their own made up vision of themselves. Causing other’s pain, happiness, whatever, gives the Narcissist the validation that they have power over others. And that is what they seek.

I don’t know what the percentage of abusers are narcissist, but my guess is that it’s got to be high. Narcissist are perfect abusers, because they have no connection to people that is real. They think of people as pawns in their game, moons in their orbit. And who would regret banging around inanimate objects?

According to the trained psychology world, Narcissist are a group of people who are the least likely to be healed. It is an unfixable personality disorder and as they age they only get worse. Because as they age, the reflection they seek isn’t as powerful or relevant.

So, even though I’m tired of this blog. Tired of this constant abuse. Tired of this relationship. Tired of anything to do with my ex-husband. As long as we have children together, I’m stuck with it. And frankly, it could be worse.

So folks, I’m here, writing early in the morning, trying to find my way through this BS obstacle course hoping that one day I will process all of this, heal and move on.

Thanks for reading and thanks to all who have offered me support. Here’s praying for the day that I no longer need to be here.

Acceptance, please

Father, dear Lord

Quiet my mind, give me Peace

Stop the review of things unsaid,

thoughts kept within my head.

End the visions of angry eyes,

and a darken face out to hurt

anyone who doesn’t fit his narrative.

Let me face the reality.

Let me know the truth,

no matter how hard it is to believe.

He is bad and mean

and will hurt me in a minute

if it furthers his cause even a bit.

Let me accept the truth about him

and not give him more credit.

Let me accept my reality

and let me live without fear.

Do you suspect abuse in a loved-one’s life?

Dec. 1, 2011 _ Do you suspect that someone in your life is being abused? Do they seem numb, depressed, resentful, anxious about little things? Are they sporting bruises? Are they giving you strange stories of their personal life that don’t add up? Are they hinting that something is wrong? Do you know her partner and he is arrogant, distant, acts above it all? Does he seem to always be on the “right side” of arguments? Does he have trouble admitting wrong-doing, defeat in a debate, unwilling to listen to others?

If you think someone is being abused, do something. I know that it is hard and uncomfortable. I know that we would rather not get involved, but you just might save a life if you do.

Yes, your friend or love one might not respond well. In fact, it is highly likely that she will react badly. Victims of abuse by in large seek privacy about the abuse because they are in massive denial about it. Facing abuse is very hard and scary because it means a 100 percent complete life change for everyone. When was the last time you willing decided to completely change your life?

But know that you may be saving a life if you can overcome your fear.

If you are right, you may be the first step your friend takes toward freedom from abuse. It may take a lot more steps to get out, but you may have given her just enough help to make that first step.

If you are right, don’t let the abuser off the hook. Abusers enjoy believing their abuse is private and that they are getting away with it. Abusers want the image that non-abusers have, so they allow themselves to believe that they aren’t abusing. Confront an abuser, and there is a high likelihood that he will stop.

Of course, do not do anything that will compromise your safety or your friend’s. Call 911 if you suspect the abuser will hurt someone again. Call a domestic abuse hotline if you don’t really know what to do. But don’t remain silent. Please.

You could be helping your friend and her kids from receiving another blow.

Abusers are very insecure people and don’t want to face their choice. When they know that you know what they have done, they won’t do it again. Silence is what keeps abusers free to abuse. It is a choice with the desired payoff. But they don’t abuse in front of others, because they would receive an undesirable outcome … the distain of others. My abuser once saw our neighbor through the window while he was hitting me. He stopped immediately and ran out of the house, I guess because he worried that the neighbor had seen him hitting me or heard me screaming and called the police.

It is against our natures to get  involved in people’s private lives and what goes on behind closed doors. But domestic abuse is not a private matter and it is time for it to come out in the open. It is the only way to stop the damage of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse takes many forms

Nov. 12, 2011 _ I lived in a violent marriage for 10 years. I was hit, pushed, thrown, shoved, knocked down, jumped on, sat on, kicked, stepped on, spat on and choked over the years at the hands of my then husband.

Six years ago, I filed and was granted a divorce and custody of my two children. My ex didn’t fight one bit of my divorce or the terms. He didn’t get an attorney and he didn’t come to the divorce hearing. He quietly agreed to the divorce because he was afraid for the abuse to go public and he knew that if he fought it, he might be exposed, or so I speculated.

My ex is an NFL sports writer who is known nationally and he didn’t want to jeopardize his career or facing the public about his abusive ways.

And when I left, he never hit me again.

However, in the six years that has followed, he has cursed me out more times than I can count. He has stood in my house, pissed off, and refused to leave. He has screamed at me from my front yard. He has sent me nasty, name-calling emails over and over. He has lied about me to others and created fantasies about me, my life and my fate based on little to no information. He has threatened me many times. He has shorted me on child support over a half a dozen times. He refused to pay me the state required child support amount for more than three years and eventually took me to court to try and get it reduced and lost. He has threatened me many times that he would sue me for custody of our two children.

In April he followed through with his threat and sued me for custody. After seven months of court motions and mediation (he walked out after 5 hours), depositions and many, many hours with attorneys, he eventually agreed to a settlement that gained him just two extra days a month with our children and he had to pay all attorney’s fees (tens of thousands of dollars).

It has been a very difficult seven months as I have faced the thought of a custody change and my teenagers lives changing abruptly at such crucial times in their journey.

My ex accused me of all sorts of things, namely that I was sabotaging his relationship with the children, despite his hit and miss parenting and inconsistent visitation. He rarely calls the children or communicates with them via all the various forms available, yet he blamed me for that.

Since the custody battle was settled, my ex has continued to argue with me over the phone, in person and through email. He continues to blame me and accuse me of deliberately hurting him and violating him. I quickly diverted his communication to only email and told him to follow our new court-ordered agreement to stay clear of me and communicate with me only through email and only about our children.

He made a point of continuing his rude emails and giving me paperwork in person when I dropped our children off for their scheduled visitation, I assume as a way to let me know that he will not be “controlled.”

Domestic abuse takes many forms, but according to all experts, its purpose is the same _ the abuser wants to control the victim and require the victim to do as he wishes, whenever he wishes it.

I also believe, though I really don’t know if this is universally true, that my ex is in a negative emotional state that is causing him a good deal of stress. I am not excusing his behavior, I am trying to be aware of it, because until his stress level is reduced, he will seek to abuse and gain superiority over others, namely me.

Domestic abuse makes many uncomfortable … but it’s wrong

Nov. 10, 2011 _ As a victim of domestic abuse and a controlling ex-husband, I have faced many different reactions from my abuser, family members and friends. Of course, my ex says he is sorry for the abuse he inflicted on me for 10 years of our 15-year relationship, but he usually qualifies his apology that I deserved it or brought it on.

Most of my friends and family have offered me support when they find out and are horrified when they learn what was really going on behind closed doors of my home. Some want details. Some don’t want to hear the details. Some are still in disbelief that the people they thought they knew well were in the middle of a drama that they can’t imagine. And sometimes, that disbelief can look and feel like a condemnation of the public disclosure and maybe even me.

I understand why people struggle getting their heads around a friend of family member either abusing or being abused. I had a hard time getting my head around it and I was there, getting beat up. It does seem surreal, and unbelievable. I never thought my ex would do such a thing, and keep doing it.

I saw the good traits of my ex and I wanted to focus on that. I excused his behavior over and over again and attributed his choice to hit to his poor upbringing and his mental and emotional illnesses. I offer felt compassion for him after he hit me, because I felt that he must have been in so much pain that he had to hit. Unfortunately, those feelings enabled me and kept me in a very dangerous situation that risked my life and the lives of my children.

Unfortunately, the feelings of others kept me there too. They didn’t know it, but I was worried how everyone would feel about it. I worried that my ex would loose his job, his friends, and that the people I loved and carried about would have to face something very bad. My silence kept all of that away.

Also, I wasn’t strong enough to face it myself and face how some people might react badly toward me. Afterall, I was already blaming myself for the abuse. Now my loved ones might, too. There were so many powerful emotions and thoughts that drove me to stay for so many years and to continue even after divorce to put up with abusive, controlling behavior from my ex.

Thankfully, I no longer live day to day in that emotion. I am not always strong, but I always find a way back to the facts. The first and for most is that I did not cause the abuse. My ex abuses me because he gets an emotional payoff to do so. He is addicted to the feeling he gets when he feels the power of controlling others. He chooses to abuse all on his own. He is not a good person who is pushed to the brink. He is a very unhealthy person and he deals with his inside demons with abuse the same way that others eat or drink their feelings. He is self-medicating. And I nor anyone else is put on this Earth to be used in that way. These are very important perspectives that I try to keep in mind.

But here are some other facts that should be in the forefront:

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 18-44 _ MORE than car accidents, mugging and rapes COMBINED.

One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds.

3-4 million women are beaten in their homes from husbands, ex-husband, or male lovers.

85% of domestic violence victims are women.

1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Domestic abusers offer use their children as a way to control their ex’s after divorce and 70% of domestic abusers ultimately abuse their children.

Most women attempt to make many changes in the dynamics of their family in order to make the abuse stop, but it doesn’t because the batterer is making a behavioral choice that only he can control.

The cycle of violence

I’ve had to reeducate myself lately on the cycle of violence for an abuser. As you have read, my ex husband has come on stronger and stronger of late and I am living with some of the fears I did when I was married to him.

I have believed that my ex is under pressure in his current marriage as his wife seeks control and is frustrated by how much control I seemly have in her life. And when he is under pressure, I’ve believed that he looses control of himself and lashes out.

But I have it wrong.

And the cycle of violence wheel has helped me understand again what is really going on and why I have to be careful.

The cycle works like this: The abuser has a violent episode, then there is an absence of violence, then tension builds, then it escalates, then there is a violent episode. In my situation, my ex’s violent episodes (as far as I know) was when we were separated and getting divorced, then he went for a year or two without violence and not much tension, then the tension began building when I started to demand child support owed and held to boundaries regarding the children, now it is escalating as he makes threats to me about the custody, the kids’ schedule, child support. He complains that he is the victim and is being treated poorly. He complains that he is under pressure.

When I look at my ex husband’s behavior in those terms, it worries me at where he will end up. I am not so worried for myself, but for my kids. I hope that his behavior doesn’t continue on the cycle and that he gets some help, but it doesn’t look good. I wish that I could tell his wife that she is in danger too, but she won’t listen to me and will believe that I am just trying to stir the pot.

I am sad that my 11 year marriage with the man who fathered my children is such a pile of bad memories and that in divorce, we can’t find peace and compromise. But, abusers don’t want compromise, unless it means that they get what they want. Abusers choose to hit, threaten and so on because they want control over another person. Abusers don’t care about compromising and give and take, they are only concern about what they can get. They hit so that they can get what they want.

I have made the mistake of trying to work with my ex because I believed that any two people can work things out if they try. But the key word is “two”… and my abuser like most abusers sees only one person.

I recommend this website for more information about domestic abuse, it is really good : http://www.turningpointservices.org/domesticviolence.htm

Some days are just worse than others

Being connected to an abuser can be a very bad roller coaster ride. Sometimes life is a gentle ride, with maybe a little rocking.

Currently, I have been riding into an upsetting dip and sickening twist as my ex husband has been struggling with his abusive nature as he faces life challenges he is ill-equiped to handle.

When my ex got married again about a year ago, he entered into a lifestyle that he wants but can’t navigate and he is reverting to his old ways of control, deceit and abuse. As his current wife brings to the table expectations, desires and personal issues, my ex is floundering. Of course, I do not know the specifics and intimacies of their relationship, nor do I want to, but my ex’s behavior is very familiar and I am a familiar target.

This last week has been very difficult and my stomach is upset, I’m not sleeping and my stress level is rising as he battles with me over anything he can, money, the schedule, anything. His wife has pushed him to gain more control over me and my feeling is that she sees his lack of success as some sort of evidence that she is loosing control over her world.

But, in the last week, my ex has stood on my driveway, wound up in anger, telling me he was calling the police on me unless I handed over the kids to him that minute. He has sent me emails blaming me for ruining his stepdaughter’s college graduation. He has dismissed our 15-year-old’s final exams as “easy” and nothing to worry about and no reason why our academically ambition teen-ager should study or go to bed on time before the tests.

It is difficult to be involved with someone so unhealthy and it upsets me so much that this is my children’s father. But, as my father says. It is what it is.

So I’m praying a lot. I speak to my attorney a lot more than I can afford. And I cry on a lot of people’s shoulders.

So far, I am grateful for every avenue of release I can find, this blog being one of them. My friend just told me to stay strong, hold to my boundaries and don’t let my ex bully me anymore. I am trying, because my head knows that she is right. But I must admit, today is worse that most.