I am an observer, not a participant in my abuse. Almost.
During the course of any conversation, I keep my observations on Will’s behavior and word choice to myself. I no longer “name the abuse technique” even when he’s in his Nice Guy persona. When he’s Nice Guy, he acts very apologetic for the fact that I “got my feelings hurt”(never that he “hurt my feelings”) and tries to convince me that I’m misunderstanding his words, reading into them, etc.
If you’ve read the list of verbal abuse techniques, then you may recognize that in the above example, Will did not apologize and is trying to make me doubt my perceptions, or at the very least, believe his perception instead of my own.
Instead of participating in my abuse by disagreeing, I say to myself, “Oh, he’s trying to make me doubt myself,” or “Hey – he’s telling me what I think!” And then I listen to him, but I don’t listen from my heart. I listen from an observation point outside of myself.
What I Hope to Accomplish:
I want to protect myself and the boys from further injury. To do that, I must find a way to live with the abuse without escalating the abuse. I don’t know how long I’ll stay, but finding a way to deal with my husband while empowering myself and my children is imperative. (Is it even possible?)
In addition, I’ve lived for years in the middle of a game I didn’t know I was playing. I didn’t realize that my husband abused me verbally, mentally, and emotionally. I want an opportunity to study this monster, to study HIM. I deserve to understand his motives and control techniques so I can recognize them and react to them appropriately in the future.
Are his words designed to keep up the status quo? Is he seeking to escalate the abuse so he can justify the rage he’s feeling inside? Does he want to remind me who is in control? WHY is he using the technique he chose, and how have I reacted to it in the past?
Most importantly, what is the best way to react to it in the future? After all, we have children together. I will need to deal with this man (or helping my boys deal with him) in one form or fashion for the foreseeable future.
This is much more difficult than I anticipated. I pinch my lips together so I don’t say anything in response to his nonsense. I look away. I walk away. I don’t yell because it doesn’t do any good. I just go inside my head and observe him.
He gets really nasty. He wants me to yell, scream, or cry. He wants the status quo back. He escalates the abuse to physical intimidation. He wants the power he once held over me.
But he can’t have it back. I am in control of what I do, say, and think. I choose to think of him as a lab rat from which to learn.
There is an increase in the “nice guy” persona and a little more peace in my home. That sounds really good until you factor in my willingness to think that the abuse has ended because my husband is behaving sweetly.
In all honesty, I haven’t had the time to truly see if this technique works because Will deployed about a month into this strategy. The time before he left was peaceful, and I was employing this strategy. HOWEVER, Will could have been purposely nice because he doesn’t want me to do anything drastic or leave him while he’s deployed.
So, the results are not truly decided at this point.
After his six month military deployment:
He’s returned from deployment. It is VERY difficult for me to stay in observation mode. Being an observer means that I cannot truly “connect” to my husband, and I believe “connecting” to my spouse is of premium importance. If I cannot allow myself to connect with him, then why be married?
Therefore, I am finding that I must be an emotional chameleon. I must learn to turn off my emotions and the thought train they trigger when I recognize abuse to protect myself and begin “observation mode”.
This is not going to work for the long haul. I do not want to live my life connecting and disconnecting from the one I married. But for now and until I leave or he knocks off the abuse, it will have to work.