Getting down to brass tacks

What brings up all this anger and rage?

Let me give you some personal examples, based on the letter I found. What letter you may ask? A letter I kept because I thought (foolishly) at the time because I felt bad when I read it and thought I would keep it to help me “improve”. Now after re-reading it, I’m just filled with rage. I can’t believe the entitlement in this letter – that he actually put down exactly how he guilt tripped me and made me feel responsible for his happiness. How the guilt allowed him to keep me unbalanced and constantly seeking his approval – approval he refused to give. It’s like he kept moving the tape so that I would never reach the finish line.

The utter gall of some people… the main point of the first part of his letter said that he couldn’t believe I would go out and have fun with my friends while he was stuck at home, working. Because I made him feel bad and depressed for not wanting to spend time with him, while he was telecommuting from home. Because you know you can spend quality time with a person while they are on a conference call. Because basically I should not want to spend time outside of the house without him. He went on and on how he didn’t feel wanted – because basically I’m a bad person for not wanting sex. Because it’s really sexy when you feel constant pressure for not performing – especially when you feel guilty about being a bad wife for wanting to go out to lunch with friends, or in this instance go skiing with friends from work. Because we can just ignore all the times I made suggestions for movies, museums, exploring the new place we moved to and they all got shot down. Every time I suggested something he didn’t “feel” like it. So I got invited out by work friends – and this makes me a terrible person.

You know what the kicker is? I never went out with friends. It was more rare than a blue moon I went out to lunch or shopping with friends. The only people I went out with were always mutual friends, never friends of mine from school or work. What makes this even more amazing is he really felt that entitled to all of my time – even while I was being yelled at for not keeping the house clean. Remember, if I couldn’t go out with friends while he was working from home, what do you think happens when I stay home? I get stuck in the office with him all day, which means I don’t actually do any housework. But it’s my fault for not wanting to be bitched at so I put off laundry/vacuuming/dishes/sweeping.

The second example is actually a combination of 2 separate events, sharing one thing in common: picking me up from someplace…in one instant work, the other from the hospital. The common theme for both is I got screamed at because he got lost. I didn’t give him good enough directions, so it was my fault he got lost. Picking me up from the hospital I wasn’t allowed more than a few phone calls so I never actually gave him directions but it was still my fault he got lost. He screamed at me until I got upset and gave the phone to a nurse and he yelled at her too. During the blizzard in the winter of 2010 he screamed at me until I was crying, waiting with my friend to be picked up. I remember her trying to comfort me, and me feeling mortified that she had to witness that. She could actually hear him scream at me through the phone.

Instead of just acknowledging he got lost and just asking for directions he decided to guilt trip me once again for getting him lost. It was my fault for making him angry because he got lost, and he needed to scream at me for it so I wouldn’t get him lost.

Why did I stay so long? Why not? I was pretty well isolated by those examples. I was embarrassed by his treatment of me, I didn’t want other people to be subject to his outbursts that were never actually over anything that serious. Except putting me in my place, erroding my self esteem and having me not spend time with friends or family – and putting me on an allowance. Yeah… financial abuse right at the tail end of the marriage. I think this whole shit show of a relationship hit all the emotional abuse highlights over the course of 9 years. Nine very long years.

I never had the words to describe what I was feeling. It took therapy and a lot of soul searching, and writing for me to have gotten to this point. I wanted to help ensure I wouldn’t pick another asshole in the future.

I have trouble forgiving myself for staying. For allowing myself to be subjected to this for too long… why? I didn’t want to throw away a relationship with all that history. At the time I still believed the best of him, even with the constant examples that he was NEVER going to change or change how he treated me.

Just because you have history with someone doesn’t mean you are obligated to stay. Hopefully you will realize that your partner doesn’t have your best interests at heart and realize that you need to protect yourself; they won’t. The likelihood of the changing is pretty slim… the only person you can change is you – and how you respond/react to that person.

I cut him out. We do not talk. Except for a birthday wish he sent in 2014 which I refused to respond to. I knew he did it to try to get back into my life to control and manipulate me again. That’s his m.o – he finds women who he believes he can control and conform into what he wants: a maid/mom who will put out and be okay with being disrespected.

Writing this all out is cathartic. I also hope that this helps anyone else men and women who may find themselves in a similarly abusive relationship, to see the person they are attached to and hopefully leave. There is definitely someone better out there for you.

loveisrespect.org

This is a great resource if you think you are in an abusive relationship or suspect a friend or loved one is. The site is geared towards teens in abusive relationships, however the information is universal across all abusive relationships at any age.

I would also like to remind everyone that abuse is not just when someone hits you.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been wrestling with a lot of anger I have, right now. This is the anger I didn’t have when I was getting divorced, because at the time I still felt incredibly guilty over the ending of the marriage.

Why guilty you may wonder? Because that’s how my ex operates. When you make someone feel guilty and at fault, it makes it that much easier to control them. I’m taking this directly from the site, because this is exactly how I felt during the whole shitty relationship.

  • You constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
  • You often feel confused and even crazy.
  • You’re always apologizing to your partner.
  • You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  • You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  • You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  • You have trouble making simple decisions.
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed. [I actually told my therapist this in the beginning of treatment – how I could be confident and assertive at work, but it was like flipping a switch when I got home]
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  • You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

Part of it also includes your significant other claiming to have had conversations that never happened, or telling you that you aren’t remembering things properly, as in things did not happen/did happen the way you remember but your S.O. tells you they did.

This is called gaslighting and it’s used to manipulate and control you. I always felt like something was off – but I could never articulate what that was. For me that was very strange, because as anyone who knows me at all will tell you I can literally talk your ears off. But for this, I had no words – I remember only being able to say I felt bad and couldn’t pinpoint why.

This is a 2 part-er and the second part will be posted later today, with direct examples of my own experience with my (newly realized) abusive ex.

Puzzle pieces

It’s almost like the fairy tale with Hansel and Gretel, leaving crumbs to find their way home. Or one of those thousand piece jigsaw puzzles that I would watch my dad work on when I was a little girl. (That’s where I get my love for puzzles).

I’m going round and round finding the pieces to myself again.

I’m having more good days and less bad days… but the bad days are still there.

I called my husband yesterday to come home early. I just couldn’t handle it. The harder I tried to keep it together, the less it was happening.

I’m trying to step back and be less obsessive and controlling. It’s difficult because it’s an ingrained habit – I’m so used to having things done the way I want them and when I want it done.

I’m trying to let myself be taken care of by my husband. This goes hand in hand with me wanting to be in control – and being able to let go. I’m trying! Writing helps a lot.

I like feeling needed, but so does he, and I’m bad about letting him feel it. I don’t tell him as often as I ought to.

Today was a lot better than yesterday. Any day I get to spend with my husband (even when we’re both exhausted) is a really good day.

Finding myself again

I’ve been working hard to feel better – writing in my journal again, taking time out just for me, scheduling a long overdue massage, and actually picking up my knitting again.

I missed the clarity that writing gives me. But I felt like it was this enormous weight that I had to overcome in order to do anything that I enjoyed doing. I kept putting it off until tomorrow… until I was so deep back into a black hole and I couldn’t find my way back out.

I wrote before that September was an awful month, and it was. My brother in law, an incredibly kind and loving man was unexpectedly gone far too soon.

I felt so incredibly alone during this time. I didn’t want to be doom and gloom, but I felt like I was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation. While I remained optimistic about his prognosis, I think I started to grieve, even as we remained in the hospital with him. There wasn’t anyone I could talk to about my fears, mainly because I didn’t want to dishearten his wife, my husband or his daughter. So I carried the weight alone – knowing what I do, and what I’ve done for years. Yes, I felt on the one hand incredibly fortunate to have the medical knowledge to help explain the process, but I felt burdened by it as well.

Have you ever felt burdened by knowledge you have, but others don’t?

I felt isolated, trying so hard to bolster my families spirits, and bottling up my own fear and sadness. I knew no one wanted to hear my fears. They would only serve to weigh down my family, and I didn’t want that. I also (perhaps foolishly) didn’t think they would be able to handle it. I wanted them to have hope, and realistic expectations of his illness and recovery.

So I continued on, alone.

And quietly, oh so quietly, continued breaking further and further into pieces.

Now, I’m slowly finding those pieces, and putting them back together again. I finally told my husband that I couldn’t handle ‘it’ anymore – taking care of everyone else and not myself.

It’s hard – some of those pieces are hidden in dark places; but this time there’s a candle to help light the way.

September is the worst month

After a sudden illness, my husband’s brother passed away, and then immediately upon return home, my dad ends up hospitalized. My dad is doing much better, but scared the crap out of me and my mom.

The stress has definitely taken a toll, and I haven’t been practicing good self care. I fortunately realized after a spectacular meltdown that I’m depressed again. The problem with depression is even though I know I dragged myself out of it before… I can’t seem to remember how. 

Have you ever had that happen to you? It’s like on the tip of your tongue but so ephemeral and just beyond your grasp, no matter how hard you try to remember. 

Thankfully my therapist was able to see me, and we got started on a treatment plan. Even though I know this isn’t forever, I’m tired of crying at the drop of a hat and feeling yucky. 

It’s even more difficult because I remember the last time I felt like this… I didn’t think I’d ever have to feel like this again.

Vacation!

In 2 weeks, we will be in on vacation in South Carolina.

This will be my husband’s first visit, and my first time back in 6 years.

Looking back on this period of time back in 2010, I think this was the final turning point in marriage #1.

I had gone on vacation to this same place, with my family and without him (at the last minute he decided not to attend). This particular vacation came just a couple of weeks after he failed to return home 4th of July weekend – no call, no text – he just didn’t come home. He only said he was going to a friend’s house (no specifics – not who he was with or where it was going to be). When he finally did arrive home Sunday, I asked him why he didn’t call to let me know he was okay; (and this should have been the light bulb moment) he couldn’t give me an answer. He just decided not to.

This was also the vacation I reconnected with my cousin and her (now fiance) then boyfriend. It was so nice to have a friend, someone to talk to. I was finally getting to the point where divorce was imminent. (It still sucks though). Up until this point, I felt very isolated and embarrassed about my marriage failing.

When I came back, there was the divorce talk and it was a scary time for me. My life was changing – although to be honest it had been changing for the entirety of that short marriage. This was a period of uncertainty, stress and anxiety.

My beautiful family pulled together to support me through this trying time. (I include my dear friends who are like family in this umbrella).

You never know who is really in your corner until something dramatic happens, it’s true.

My life is still scary and anxiety inducing now, but that’s because I’m learning ECMO, (thankfully) and not because of personal issues. Learning to be an ECMO specialist is rewarding but still scary!

Vacation is coming at a wonderful time, because I so need a break from work. I also happen to really enjoy spending time with my new’ish husband. 🙂

 

 

Happily ever After?

So I read this article a little while ago, and it popped up again on an acquaintance of mines’ blog. He was writing about what he could have done differently based on the study in the article, about changing how he is in future relationships; i.e paying more attention to his partner’s ‘bids’ (in the article a bid is attention seeking behavior from one partner to the other) and not act with contempt towards a future partner.

Masters of Love

I get it, really I do. Just re-reading the article now, and his breakdown on how it relates to his failed marriage makes me reflect on my failed marriage, and my current marriage.

A great example of this was just this evening, while my husband and I were half listening to a movie on TV while I was browsing Amazon, and he was on his iPad. He was reading through some funny stuff and was showing me the best ones. Yes, I was doing my own thing but he thought it was hilarious and wanted to share. (And yes, they were pretty funny). Or watching Top Gear with him because he loves that show and racing. He likes to show me the crashes on replay. 🙂

Or when he brings a rose in from our rose bush for me and I see it when I come home in the morning.

And when I show him silly cat stuff, or wax poetic about WoW and the new Warcraft movie, and how Horde is sooooo much better than Alliance.

He totally humors me – because he knows it’s important to me.

The reason why I notice all these things, is because it’s amazing how noticeable it becomes in hindsight when it isn’t there (like the first time around). The reason why I list the most recent examples is because I sincerely hope that I will never stop noticing all these little things that show how important I am to my husband. I try to do the same for him in little ways as well.

I know it doesn’t need explicit acknowledgement, but I do notice.

I also realize now that withholding attention and affection is actually emotional abuse. Like I said, it’s easier to see it in retrospect when you’re looking back at an unhealthy relationship and able to see how what not to do, or traits you know to avoid in a future partner. One person that is always giving and the other person never gives in return, it’s a power imbalance. It caused me major anxiety, contributed to my depression and the sharp nose dive of my self esteem. It’s taken me years to realize that I did not cause that behavior. I had to learn that I can only choose how to respond to the obvious contempt and lack of respect my ex-husband had for me, and understand I did not make him act that way. I am responsible for my behavior and my reactions – I am not responsible for the choices he made. I didn’t make him cheat, he chose that without any help from me. How he chooses to rationalize has nothing to do with me, even though he chose to blame me for his actions. I’m still unclear how I coerced him into cheating but as I said, I’m not actually responsible for his choices.

You are responsible for yourself and that’s it. Don’t let anyone else lay blame on you for their bad decisions or poor choices. I sure as shit don’t have time for it, and neither do you.