Marie’s Signs of Being Abused
Fear/Anxiety, Unworthiness, Hopelessness
Marie’s Emotional Signs of Abuse
I felt something was ‘wrong’ for years but couldn’t put my finger on it and was so thoroughly confused and doubting myself that I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I just wrote it off as his anger and pain from the abuse he had suffered through. And confusion from my anxiety.
I started to put a name to it while helping my husband research the abuse he suffered. Then I saw it, emotional abuse. I still didn’t really place that in my life, I placed it in his life with his family (but there was a small voice whispering in my head, very small very quiet, and I ignored it, pushed it down inside of me). It wasn’t until he left me and the fog began to clear that I realized and understood, I was emotionally abused for over 22 years (by him and his family).
Marie’s Story of Abuse
I met my ex-husband when we were 16. We fell madly in love. He was wonderful, made me feel safe and accepted, loved. When he held me, I felt safe like in one of my dad’s hugs.
We got married in our twenties. I should have thought twice even then because he had already had screaming fits at me and had cheated on me numerous times. Never really blamed me out right for the cheating but ‘hinted’ at it. If I was a better girlfriend it wouldn’t have happened.
He would scream at me for things that didn’t make sense. The accusations were all over the place, I couldn’t keep up. At first I fought back, defended myself, etc. But after a while, I just shut up, went numb. It was better to let him have his tantrum and wait for the calm that came after I had accepted blame or accepted that I was messed up, or had sexual ‘issues’ because I was ‘raised by a man hater’. There was a little bit of truth to that ‘man hater’ statement, just enough, to make me wonder, was it true?
I remember just after we were married, I made a romantic dinner, got all dressed up, sexy dress and underwear, make up perfume. Candles on the table. The works. He was late coming home, very late. I fell asleep on the sofa. I started to wake when he came in, heard him sigh and in my mind thought ‘oh he sees the effort I put in, he’s going to walk over and wake me with a kiss or a gentle caress and an apology for being late’.
Nope! “Wake up!….WAKE UP!” kicks the sofa I’m on. I sat up, a little stunned that he was so frustrated. I really can’t remember how it was turned on me but he was angry with me…somehow. Why? I hadn’t done anything, in fact I did something nice. But somehow his anger was my fault. I was a bad wife. He then started telling me how sad I was (as a person) and he didn’t think he wanted to be married to me anymore. I took his freedom, I trapped him, he wanted to annul our marriage (told me he had looked into it) or get divorced ( but divorce would take too long, where we live you have to be separated for one year before you can get divorced, that would take too long).
I was so confused, deflated, hurt, etc. I just sat on the sofa crying, begging him not to say these things, not to leave, give me another chance. I don’t remember what happened after that. The next day the yelling continued and the neighbors called the police. He never hit me (ever) but they thought it sounded serious enough to call the police (it probably did, he sounds insane when he’s that mad). I still didn’t understand that this was a huge sign of trouble.
A couple of weeks later I found out he was having an affair. We had only been married for 8 months. She told him I trapped him, took his freedom. That no one could really be that nice, I must be manipulating him, etc. He stopped the affair, blamed her for manipulating him and never really said sorry, but gave excuses and then didn’t want to ever talk about it again. Even though he brought it up for years later, not blaming me, but telling me that I held it against him (which I had put that to pasture long ago, didn’t live in that anymore) Hmmm….feeling a bit guilty were we, boy-o?
There are many instances of the blame game, the yelling, the telling me I was gross and then telling me I had sexual issues (that one always came up! Why the hell would I want to open myself to someone yelling at me? Or couldn’t trust, he never listened to what I felt on the subject or that he scared me, I was just ‘messed up sexually’)
I not only had to deal with his anger and insecurities but I had to deal with his crazy family. I still (24 years later) can’t wrap my head around their understanding of reality. They are the textbook for crazy making. They always to come first in his life. I was accepted into the fold if I didn’t cause waves (didn’t talk to my husband about the abuses that I saw them put him through was one of the ‘waves’ they were scared of). I was a witness to their secret world of manipulation, selfishness, abuse, etc. I was a threat.
But they were sneaky about it, didn’t attack me outright, always very nice to me. Well his mother was, his brother hated me. I stood up to him once during a fight he and my husband were having, and I chased him out of the house threatening to charge him and sue his ass for assault/damages! Hahahaha…sorry but I am proud of that one! Just a few seeds of doubt planted in my husband’s head about me and then they’d water it and add a lot of manure. When we moved to a town 5 hours his mother and older brother told me I had broken up their family, ‘just kidding’. We ended up moving back to the city they lived in (those damn seeds growing in their BS!!!)
The worst of the emotional abuse always came after he had been dealing with them for a spell. He would change after being around them, he wouldn’t believe me that it happened “you’re just too hypersensitive….you are just mental…it’s your anxiety disorder talking”. So, you see I wrote it off as ‘them’, they were the reason. If I could just get him away from them, he would be better! Of course, they had him under their insanity spell and he’d go back to them time after time, abuse after abuse, like an addict.
This went on for 22 years, then 2 years ago he said, enough! At first he stopped talking to his brother (the physical and emotional abuser) and then he started to ‘see’ that his mother had been emotionally abusing him as well. That one hurt him the most, his mother who he looked at as an angel fell to earth. He started to see the patterns, actually said the words “I was abused. I am abused” And I was right, then my abuse started to slowly disappear (I still didn’t see myself as abused, he was just angry). He was horrified at what he and his family had put me through. We started researching: sibling abuse (not much out there on that and that is horrible, so many suffering), emotional abuse, verbal, sexual abuse. You name it we looked into it.
I still didn’t quite admit to myself that my husband had been a perpetrator of abuse on me. I blamed his family completely (truthfully, they perpetuated a LOT of it by influencing and manipulating him, keeping him off balance and confused). He still had some tantrums sometimes (not directed at me), but actually stopped himself (it was a process and progressing nicely). He started to do a 180 degree turn for the better. We actually communicated honestly and truthfully. He apologized to me and told me he was so happy he had me in his life and thanked God that I hadn’t left. That I was an amazing, strong woman and he was grateful I was in his life.
We moved away again, he wasn’t speaking to his family at all. Then she ‘got back in’. All sweetness and light, and then more seeds planted….”I’m sure you’re regretting moving there.” No we aren’t. I had never seen my husband happier, calmer, the ‘vibe’ off him was peaceful, not tormented, angry, confused, in pain. But every time he spoke to her there was a little change in him for a bit. She would usually screw it up and offend him and he wouldn’t talk to her for a while but she learned from that and changed tactics.
The more she ‘got in’ the more he changed back into his old self. The anger started coming out again, the peacefulness and happiness was farther and farther apart. The accusations of being messed up started again. Our sex life went down the tubes and I went into a depression.
Fast forward a year, he’s been on and off re-connecting with his mother. He had trepidations about trusting her but she is his mom, he loves her. I could sometimes feel the disconnect with him and I. He would blame me. He got frustrated easily and the walking on eggshells started again and my depression and anxiety got worse.
Four months ago my mother in law sent my husband a message from one of his ex-girlfriends behind my back. She made a big deal out of hiding it from me, at first he was bothered by her acting this way (the behind my back stuff). This ex called him, they talked etc. She is married. Both of them told me that the talking is not a threat and they want both me and her husband to be okay with them talking. I should mention that this ex-girlfriend is adored by my mother in law, when I first started dating my husband she wouldn’t shut up about her.) My tummy was ‘going off’ but I smiled and tried to be supportive but did say that I did find this uncomfortable.
Three months ago, his Aunt died from cancer. He went back for the memorial. When he left, we had re-connected after the last episode with his mom and the ex-girlfriend and started talking honestly again and I said I wanted to make plans for our future. I wanted to get treatment for my depression, start marriage counseling (or something for us as a couple) and enjoy life with him and our son. The day after the memorial, he changed completely, nice enough to me but there was something…off.
The day he was supposed to come home, he went for lunch with his mother. Then all of a sudden he’s staying a little longer, less phone calls, etc. When he finally came home, I got nothing from him, just absent smiles, etc. Withholding affection, not speaking to me about anything but trivial things, not being out right mean just ‘not there’. I asked him to talk and he said, “We will, not right now, but we will. In the meantime I’m going to take my space’. Okaaay? (that had me, confused and scared, what was coming? A tirade, what?) Then for some reason he starts yelling at me that he is unhappy, like REALLY unhappy. I don’t do anything but lay on the sofa, I’m not working, I won’t go out. I’m sucking the life out of him AND I’ve embarrassed him at his friend’s house the month before. Apparently I had too much wine (a little but not too much, I know this) and I was belligerent to his friend’s girlfriend and he HAD to apologize for my behavior.’ Then right in the middle of this he throws his hands up and says “no, no this isn’t the way you speak to someone you love” and stops.
Good sign I think, even though I feel like I just got a verbal slap to the face! I stay calm outside but inside I’m scared, shaky, wobbly, etc. I give him his space for the next week and spend that time fretting about everything, trying to show him how awesome a wife and person I am. Also, anxious as hell that he was somehow right about my behavior at his friend’s, I don’t remember doing that, maybe I did get drunk and somehow blacked out? (My mind whispers…no, you didn’t, but I don’t listen, his voice is stronger.)
Then a week later we go for a walk to get a coffee, I’m happy, it feels good to be with him just us and he drops a bomb. “I’m leaving, I’m not happy, I want this to be mature, no blame, etc.” I am gob-smacked! Why, why WHY? He wouldn’t say anything more other than he would be going back to the city his family lives in for a while. There is a tornado going around in my mind, I can’t grasp anything, total confusion. 3 days go by, I am distraught, confused, crying, begging. He won’t say anything but…”I need to do this, I need to be free, to have no responsibilities, or to consider others right now because I can’t even consider myself.”
Oh and that I had just been so complacent that I drove him away. WHAT? That’s what you demanded recently, me to be complacent again. He claims he’ll always love me, he wants to be friends, and this will make him a better father and better partner. He hasn’t said it’s a trial separation, or it’s totally over, nothing…just he’s leaving.
He takes some clothes and leaves. Leaving all of his stuff here, doesn’t give me the keys to the house. I don’t fight it because maybe, just maybe that means he’s coming back after a bit. He just needs some time. I feel humiliated, defeated, rejected, hopeless, alone and I don’t understand why this is happening. We were doing so much better; he was doing so much better, what the hell happened.
Through the pain and confusion the anger came in, how dare he. How dare he not even speak to me about what was going on, not let me have my dignity, I felt manipulated. And then that word rang in my head. I feel ‘abused’ again. He took control of all of it and wanted to keep the door open a crack, just in case he wanted back. I don’t think he expected me to start to regain me through this, I think he thinks he can put me on a shelf where I’ll wait for him until he’s ready or done having fun.
He’s been condescending every time we speak on the phone or very loving but talking to me like he’s all of a sudden Mr, Mature and I’m a messed up child, he still has his stuff here and won’t talk to me about logistics of the separation. I’ve tried to set boundaries but he shows up when he wants to get some stuff and still hasn’t given me the keys back. He still doesn’t know I’m gaining power and the spell is wearing off. I think, he thinks I’m just waiting and he can come back when life gets too hard and he can’t find a replacement for me.
I know it may sound like I’m accusing him of abuse because he left me. I’m not. I have so many examples of abuse in my memory banks that I have a hard time picking just a few for this post. 24 years is a lot of time for lots of things to be said and done. There were good times of course, he’s not evil, just really troubled (no excuses for his behaviors, just the truth, he’s a victim too, it’s a sad cycle and not enough done to stop it early). Maybe he will change, maybe he’ll grow up. His mother is moving out of the country, he has pissed off the rest of his family, he has a couple of friends but nothing else. He will have to stand on his own two feet. It will be good for him; he has been babied and had no consequences for his actions. Now, there are consequences. Maybe he’ll find a place to hide from himself. Or maybe he will look in the mirror and really see. I don’t know. I care and don’t care, you know?
After he left, I realized that I could breathe again and that made me start to think, really look at our relationship. I was incredibly hurt but there was a sense of peace, this made me start to analyze this, why was I feeling peace? The tension had been building back up again after he started communicating with his mother again and it was gone now. I started thinking about things. My head was getting clearer, calmer, clarity (wow, is that what it feels like, maybe I’m not crazy?). I started to remember all the cruel things said to me. How much he controlled me and then told me I had ‘issues’ that I had to deal with or it would ruin the relationship. How many times he turned things around on me to make it my fault: I was making our child into me. Never leaving the house, not having a life, not living. We couldn’t – not without him! What he wanted to do, where he wanted to go and when. I realized that I would have money now and it wouldn’t be spent of stupid things instead of on the bills and food or savings for some kind of future. It all came in like a flood. I started researching for myself and found, yes, I had been emotionally abused (I cried like mad that day, you know that full on ugly face cry and a few days after).
And no I wasn’t crazy. And no, it was normal to actually want him back ( I still don’t understand that, I still want him back, still day dream about him getting better and us being happy) I also realized that I’m a co-dependent. I don’t like any of these things and have gone back and forth with feeling ashamed by all of this. And then I feel strong, empowered. Back and forth, back and forth, but it’s getting better. I can breathe again.
I also now understand that I was raised to accept this kind of behavior. My father was emotionally abusive (I can say that now and not cringe) and my mother is a co-dependent. I was taught this too. I was groomed for this before I even met my husband. I handed over power and controls from the get go because that is what I thought I was supposed to do. When I started to get uncomfortable with that, I didn’t know how to change or how to change it. I suffered for many years without understanding why. Now I know. Knowledge is power. I have power. It wasn’t my fault! I can recover. I can learn to live for myself.
Oh and I find it interesting that I suffered from anxiety attacks from my pre-teens until…now. The two abusers (my father and my husband) in my life are gone and I haven’t had one attack since. I never had anxiety disorder. It all came from the abuse and now that it’s mostly gone (I say mostly because I still have to deal with my ex and am still learning how to do that in a healthy manner for me and my child), that’s gone and so is my depression. Hmmmm…interesting.
I can breathe.