Most of the abuse survivors I’ve spoken with are similar to me in many ways. We are deep thinkers, spiritual, and relentlessly search our souls to make sure we are honest with ourselves. I don’t know if I developed those qualities before or during the domestic abuse I experienced.
When I was a victim of abuse, I felt compelled to force my ex-husband to understand me through and through. I thought if Will truly knew me and my thoughts and motivations, he could at least act like he loved me. I knew I was good and lovable, but still, I considered how Will might react before doing or saying anything. I hoped to choose words and actions that would result in calm instead of chaos.
One wrong word or misinterpreted action caused my ex to act out viciously if not usually violently. At the time, I blamed my choice of words and actions for setting off my abuser. I blamed myself for his abuse. Sometimes, he verbally assaulted me because of something another person said or did, and still I blamed myself for letting it happen!
What I didn’t understand then was that if Will wanted to lash out at me, it did not matter what I said or did or how I said or did it. The purpose of yelling at me, accusing me of lying, telling me I was a horrid mother, insisting I was cheating and all the rest was to keep me off-balance. To keep me confused. To keep me explaining myself to him so he did not have to explain himself to me.
My ex-husband’s goal was always to trip me up, find my weaknesses, and discover new ways to hurt me. By keeping me weak, he stayed strong: I wouldn’t leave if I thought I would fail without him.
In hindsight, it is difficult to believe that I ever loved him and especially difficult to believe he ever loved me. He loved the idea of his wife but I could never ever be the wife he dreamed of.
Truly, he dreamed up a wife, a lover; he imagined how he would act as a wife and thought I could be the wife of his (sick) dreams because I already am a woman. He did not believe I should be <em>me</em>. He believed I should strive to be him (as he thought he would be if he were a wife). When I couldn’t be him, he punished me.
Love does not work that way. Will and I never had love. We had a bond for sure, but it was a bond forged by fear and impossible expectations, never love.