The Moonlight Dance

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The subconscious dance I participated in with my ex steals my thoughts today. I want to look deep inside the belly of the beast inside myself and paint a true portrait of my abusive marriage with my own blood.

I understand he feels betrayed and thinks I lied to him for years. I didn't know how to act differently and I didn't think to consider a different path.I don’t want his blood – I cannot pretend to know what he was doing or thinking all those years we were together. He is not up for analyzing. But I am.

Abuse does not happen in a vacuum, meaning that an abuser cannot be an abuser if there is no one to abuse. A victim cannot be a victim if there is no one to transfer authority to.

I did just that. I transferred my authority over ME to him a very long time ago. I gave me away. I chose to be the harmony instead of the melody. I chose to give up parts of myself in order to … to what?

At this point, I think I chose to give up my authenticity and authority over my SELF because I didn’t trust myself to do the “right” thing or be the “right” person. I looked outward into the world for validation that I was a good person. I looked to the expressions on the faces of those who I thought loved me to gauge my worth. I used society’s definition of the roles I chose to embody to determine whether or not I was living up to my potential.

So, when my ex-husband came along with all his assertiveness and black/white world view, I saw in him an easy gauge of my worth. HE could tell me if I was “right” or “good” and I could trust him because he loved me. It would be easy to become the person I wanted to be with such a strong motivator on my side.

An abuser cannot be an abuser if there is no one to abuse. A victim cannot be a victim if there is no one to transfer their authority over themselves to.I brought this problem into my marriage. I carried it with me for a very long time. It was only after I began to think that no one, not even ME, could be as malevolent and conniving as he thought I was. No one, not even me, could be so thoroughly mixed-up and wrong about so many things. That’s when I noticed that not only was he telling me what he thought of what I did, but he was also telling me WHY I had done such a thing.

That didn’t sit well with the tiny flame inside. I instinctively knew that if I acquiesced and gave myself over to the idea that he knew my motivations better than I did, then the flame inside of me would go out. I would cease to exist as a spirit and as an individual person. I would be only what he told me I was, nothing more. I would be him.

I can’t help but try to slip on his shoes for a moment and stand before me. I would give in my strong opinion to keep the peace. I would change my habits and actions to meet his opinion. I did my best to reflect the image he wanted to portray to the world. He says I was a good wife for the first eight years, then something changed. From his standpoint, he had the wife he’d always wanted and didn’t notice “how” he got her.

He didn’t have to notice because I didn’t challenge him; I didn’t challenge myself to find my voice. I kept my fears to myself or buried them so deep I couldn’t feel them. Because I deferred my presence to his, he thought I was more like him than I was; so when my differences crept out he felt betrayed.

It’s not that I cannot “understand” how he may have viewed the situation. I understand how he feels betrayed and that he feels I lied to him for years. From his point of view, he was betrayed and I did lie.

But from my standpoint, I couldn’t have done it any differently. I didn’t know to do it differently and I didn’t challenge myself to even consider a different path.

Unfortunately, I feel that too much damage has been done to me and by me. I feel that he and I danced so long under the shroud of moonlight that I can never dance in the sun with him. I partially have and will eventually entirely forgive him; the true test is to find it in my heart to forgive myself. I plan to dance in the sun as I discover how to look into the beast in my belly and paint with my own blood my journey to my salvation.

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About Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly passionately advocates against domestic violence through her writing and mentoring service. She loves helping women cope with abuse while in the relationship and supporting them as they leave the relationship and begin to heal. You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can buy her books from Amazon.

Comments

  1. In so many ways, my experience of myself and my ex and my marriage mirrors yours. But I have no intention of forgiving him; the past recedes and the pain recedes, to some extent and becomes a part of the cloth that I am, and perhaps, too, I forgive myself. But I forgiving him? I don’t think I could let him off; it’s not that I have a kernel within that I need to stoke, he has not earned it and does not deserve it.

  2. OMG Kellie, you have just described exactly what it is like! One day you realize that you are walking around with your head down all the time and you can’t, or won’t, do it anymore.

    Accepting responsibility for your own part in this is so key to moving on. The joke is that Lisa has a “thing” for military officers because she’s had two of them. So I have to accept that I have chosen, more than once, to have this kind of relationship, and that I ignored other signs of problems i.e. drunk women calling from bars, always taking cell phone calls outside. I accepted that it was “work related” because I was in a culture that put mission first. And somehow, I guess that I just accepted his responsibilities, the real and the made up, were more important than my needs.

    Forgiving? Until I can forgive, I still allow them to control me. Number two and I are friends. He’s a good man and a great soldier. He’s commited to a culture and understands now how his actions are influenced by what he does. But we can’t go back. Number one I forgive, and also feel sorry for at times. Forgiveness is harder because the abuse escalated and I spent more time with him. But for me to be free, I have to let it go.

    Great post, Kellie.

  3. You wrote: He didn’t have to notice because I didn’t challenge him; I didn’t challenge myself to find my voice.

    I also found it hard to find my voice. It took me a few years to wake up and see that his opinion of me was so ugly–that it could not be true. But I kept trying to “prove” to him I wasn’t that ugly person. Once I realized how co-dependent I was trying to earn his love and respect–something that would never happen, I learned how to respect myself and enforce my boundaries. I didn’t have to leave him–he left me. Once I would n’t dance with him any longer, he divorced me. It was a blessing–and more so because I don’t stay in those “ugly” partnerships for long. thank you for a great blog and great site–i will link mine to it.

  4. You describe it all very well…
    I didn’t lie, I didn’t KNOW, but I sure wasn’t ME.
    And we just kept triggering each other, opening up wounds and hurting each other.

    A powerful moment in MY life was reading in the book, The Four Agreements. As children we go towards love, but as adults we convince ourselves to go away from love and towards what is not love. I realized that what we were doing was not love… jealousy, control, causing pain, but not love.

    So I moved away from what was not love, and amazingly enough found love.

    thanks for sharing your story and your journey

  5. “He didn’t have to notice because I didn’t challenge him; I didn’t challenge myself to find my voice. I kept my fears to myself or buried them so deep I couldn’t feel them. Because I deferred my presence to his, he thought I was more like him than I was; so when my differences crept out he felt betrayed.”

    My experience EXACTLY. He is still saying that I “lied” to him, and that he “doesn’t know me.” We’ve been separated for 18 months now.

    • These abusers are so similar it’s eerie. My ex insists that I betrayed him, lied to him for years about who I was and what I wanted and that I loved him. All that after he told me half way through the marriage HE wanted out.

      Who was lying to whom?

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