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whitebutterfly11

Wondering if I'm Ready

43 posts in this topic

Forgive me, it's late and when it's late and I attempt to write, I get super metaphorical. Just sayin'. ;)

Living in a dysfunctional relationship inevitably makes us feel drained, foggy, exhausted, confused. It's the side effect of an abusive marriage/relationship, to feel like we aren't strong enough to get out. We've been trying to keep a relationship afloat that was meant to sink. In fact, it may be expected that we keep it above water, to the point where if we cannot keep it floating, it's our fault, we're "weak", we didn't try hard enough, or [insert lies and victim-blaming]. It's like expecting one person to prevent the ginormous Titanic from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. We might want to do it, but it's impossible for one person to conquer that feat unless she has super powers. 

But, there is a point, I think, when we realize that we don't need to hold up the weight of the world anymore. When the path of least resistance becomes letting go rather than desperately trying to save what cannot be saved. I think that's where the really difficult, cut-to-the-very-heart truth comes in, and it can feel painful. What right do we have to try and hold together something that is unraveling on its own? It feels like we're supposed to keep holding onto all the broken pieces, but what will that do for us? What does holding on do? It just leaves us standing still grasping onto broken, sinking things that are too sharp and heavy to bear up anymore. Then we can't really move forward because how can we when we're holding onto all of this?

At some point there is that shift where we realize that what we're trying to hold onto is only hurting us, and letting go is the only way we can keep moving.

I think it takes time, awareness, and coming to terms with some seriously painful truth to get to that shift. That all we have to do is release it. That's it. It's like letting go of the Titanic because it's already sinking and it weighs, like, tens of thousands of pounds. And it's dropping the broken pieces because they f-ing hurt. What seems unsurmountable is the concept of giving up the good fight. Except, it's not a "good" fight". There is nothing "good" or "worth it" about holding onto abuse. It's a losing battle. All we have to do is turn around and leave it behind. 

I say it, but I'm still right there, trying to accept it all. And I know it's not that simple. There are so many reasons why leaving an abuser seems impossible. 

Okay, enough metaphors. I apologize if it sounds loopy and makes no sense. Had to write it out. :)

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It's difficult for me to understand your delay. Because as soon as I understood abuse, through this forum and Bancroft's book, I didn't want to be used by him any longer. I didn't want to subject myself to abuse. When I was in that FOG and still trying to hold all the sharp painful pieces together, that was different. Once I knew him, I felt repulsed. All of it was false, just manipulation. It was so painful. And I couldn't pretend that I was ok. I wasn't ok. I couldn't spend more time with him or listen to him. I knew in myself I had to leave very soon before my anger was uncontrollable. I needed to get far far away from him and release all that anger, disappointment and pain (lots of therapy). 

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Kanga: I think part of me still believes I'm misinterpreting my situation as worse than it is. 

If I can convince that part that I'm not exaggerating, I think that it would kick me into getting out mode, or help me feel some sense of righteous indignation.

What I need is people in my immediate life showing me how he's abusing, if he still is. 

What I have, instead, is people telling me that everything is fine. My marriage is great, H is wonderful. And H himself hasn't abused me in years (that I can see).

If it's not true, I'm only one person who questions it. And it doesn't ever feel like enough.

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15 hours ago, Kanga said:

During my marriage, I went along with being emotionally hurt because I was afraid of being physically hurt. But I also think often I was taken aback by hurtful comments from him. Like by brain just couldn't compute that he said it. And from my childhood of this happening with my mother I think it was habitual for me to say nothing and be dumbfounded by emotional abuse. I was so fearful of losing the relationship with my mother because she was my only parent (my dad was not around). 

So for me at the core of it is the fear of losing the relationship. But now I know I'm not needy any longer. I have lost important relationships and survived. And created space in my life for healthy relationships including a healthy relationship with myself. 

 

I am terrible  at realizing what is going on "in the moment." Sometimes it takes me hours, days, weeks, months or even years to have that Ah-hah! flash of what was really going on, when something feels "off."  

I'm not sure why those connections don't happen. It's really a problem for me.

But yes, I think sometimes the initial shock is why. Then recently I was criticized for "shutting down" in the moment when someone was being abusive toward me. (Then it was blame-shifted onto me for "shutting down.") Somehow miraculously you're not supposed to do that? Be shocked? I said I was shocked. That wasn't good enough. It became all about my "walls." My "not being open" to hearing whatever happened after that (which btw did NOT "fix" the situation or negate the abuse). 

Dumfounded is a good word. That's how I feel. Just sitting there not-anything-ing.  And I can't even identify my feelings or what is wrong or what just happens and cannot for the life of me respond rationally - and my automatic go-to seems to be "defensive" (which even though it's often warranted, is viewed askance as "wrong"). 

I don't know why this happens. I suspect some of it is limbic response, fight/flight/paralysis. But I don't know why I can't even know what happened, figure it out - I can't explain... 

For example - and this is a very lightweight example - the other day I was in a meeting with my boss and a group from an agency that works for us. I told the agency I was leaving my job (my boss didn't tell ANYONE cuz I guess I'm not anything to her). They immediately asked me where I was going and said if I needed services like theirs in my new job, they do that stuff too.

I didn't really think about it although it did feel weird...  I think I was distracted by their having pushed me to tell them where I was going after I was purposely vague. But DAYS afterward.... DAYS... I realized, "Wow, that wasn't cool, that they were hitting me up to as a prospective client right in front of my boss/me, who were their current clients, during a meeting with us, their current clients."  And that wasn't the first time they'd done stuff like that, either. Not really professional, eh? They could have hit me up on LinkedIn later or something. They shouldn't prospect during a meeting (hey also there was food we'd paid for) with their current client.

Anyhoo - see, that's just a mild example. It's typical for me to take anywhere from hours to years to realize, "Hey, wait a minute - that was insulting." (Or denigrating, or negating, or disrespectful in any way.)

So I know I have tried to learn to "trust my gut" even if I can't put a clear finger on the "why" inside. The "whys" usually occur to me later - sometimes much, much later.

I wish there was a way to fix this. It's a problem. I can't ever address things in the moment, then it's stupid or weird or I lack the guts to bring it up later.

 

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11 hours ago, whitebutterfly11 said:

Forgive me, it's late and when it's late and I attempt to write, I get super metaphorical. Just sayin'. ;)

Living in a dysfunctional relationship inevitably makes us feel drained, foggy, exhausted, confused. It's the side effect of an abusive marriage/relationship, to feel like we aren't strong enough to get out. We've been trying to keep a relationship afloat that was meant to sink. In fact, it may be expected that we keep it above water, to the point where if we cannot keep it floating, it's our fault, we're "weak", we didn't try hard enough, or [insert lies and victim-blaming]. It's like expecting one person to prevent the ginormous Titanic from sinking to the bottom of the ocean. We might want to do it, but it's impossible for one person to conquer that feat unless she has super powers. 

But, there is a point, I think, when we realize that we don't need to hold up the weight of the world anymore. When the path of least resistance becomes letting go rather than desperately trying to save what cannot be saved. I think that's where the really difficult, cut-to-the-very-heart truth comes in, and it can feel painful. What right do we have to try and hold together something that is unraveling on its own? It feels like we're supposed to keep holding onto all the broken pieces, but what will that do for us? What does holding on do? It just leaves us standing still grasping onto broken, sinking things that are too sharp and heavy to bear up anymore. Then we can't really move forward because how can we when we're holding onto all of this?

At some point there is that shift where we realize that what we're trying to hold onto is only hurting us, and letting go is the only way we can keep moving.

I think it takes time, awareness, and coming to terms with some seriously painful truth to get to that shift. That all we have to do is release it. That's it. It's like letting go of the Titanic because it's already sinking and it weighs, like, tens of thousands of pounds. And it's dropping the broken pieces because they f-ing hurt. What seems unsurmountable is the concept of giving up the good fight. Except, it's not a "good" fight". There is nothing "good" or "worth it" about holding onto abuse. It's a losing battle. All we have to do is turn around and leave it behind. 

I say it, but I'm still right there, trying to accept it all. And I know it's not that simple. There are so many reasons why leaving an abuser seems impossible. 

Okay, enough metaphors. I apologize if it sounds loopy and makes no sense. Had to write it out. :)

This is beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes And it's a perfect analogy.

If this is the product, then I think your late time is a good time for you to write. Don't put yourself down - it's awesome. Deserves to be pinned. Deserves to circle the internet as the truth. 

Beautifully written and utterly true.

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18 minutes ago, whitebutterfly11 said:

Kanga: I think part of me still believes I'm misinterpreting my situation as worse than it is. 

If I can convince that part that I'm not exaggerating, I think that it would kick me into getting out mode, or help me feel some sense of righteous indignation.

What I need is people in my immediate life showing me how he's abusing, if he still is. 

What I have, instead, is people telling me that everything is fine. My marriage is great, H is wonderful. And H himself hasn't abused me in years (that I can see).

If it's not true, I'm only one person who questions it. And it doesn't ever feel like enough.

 

And if you can break that seemingly indelible myth: "I have to believe he is abusive in order to leave"...

What could you do, if you could allow yourself to not have that requirement?

This is the crux of it I think right now. Not convincing yourself he's abusive or that you're not exaggerating - but allowing yourself to honor your own unhappiness.  

Allowing yourself the truth that it doesn't matter if you can convince yourself he's abusive.

But that would put the responsibility for leaving onto your own decision, your own choice. 

Are others' judgments more important to you than your own life and happiness?
Nope, because you left your religious circle and THAT was a big deal.

So the burden of deciding to leave (and not being "forced" to because he's abusive)...   

maybe that's it?

 

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(((Quaddie))) Thank you. I deeply appreciate your thoughts.

This:

51 minutes ago, Quaddie said:

 

So the burden of deciding to leave (and not being "forced" to because he's abusive)...   

maybe that's it?

 

... has truth to it. Like, how can I be the one to decide this? It happened to me, and I went through it against my will, and this whole time I've held it together and tried to make it work. The burden was mine for so many years to bear up the abuse, love the abuser, keep it together . . . and then in the last few years it's been the opposite of having to branch out and seriously fight for my own independence and sense of self. In essence, I feel like I've done all the work for over a decade and H has done nothing. Just a bit of whitewashing, minimal changes to at very least appear non-abusive. I've carried it all. I feel like an Atlas of sorts. And at the end of it, now that I'm totally exhausted, physically incapable, and mentally broken . . . I just want this last decision to not have to come from me. There's even an injustice to it, to have to bear the weight of a decision that I never wanted to make in the first place, over a marriage I could never have predicted would be like this. 

So there's some kind of surrendering that has to happen: "F it all, I guess I'll just have to do this, too."

H told me once he will never ask for a divorce. Never, ever. As if he's too good for it, maybe? Or he's too "principled" or "devoted" to ever think of divorce. It made me feel terrible inside, as if he had just tossed and anvil at me and asked me to carry it for him for the next forty years.

And yes, I think if I could just have a moment where I'm forced to get out because he's that abusive, or unreasonable it would help me feel like I'm doing this for the right reason. 

I'm not totally sure, but I appreciate your question and how it has helped me think it through.

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Oh whitebutterfly and quaddie, you are hitting my nail right on the head.  I'm coming from a religious background and H is all about being principled, etc.  And when I'm not dealing with physical violence, or ongoing threats and physical intimidation, I feel like I need justification to go through with my plans to leave.  its not exactly that I care what others think, but I feel like I'm throwing away a "good" man, if not a good marriage.  A "good" father, at least right now, mostly.  And I know that's a bunch of malarkey, I write it down and it makes me cringe.  But it's what is in my head, swirling around.  He's working hard, cleaning the house, playing with the kids, binge watching our favorite shows together, and I'm thinking, why am I leaving again?  And somewhere deep down I know, the violence will come again, and the utter lack of respect should be enough, but I want to be weak and feel forced to make such a drastic move.  I want to play the victim, which I have been, and yet, I've put up with it, so maybe it's time I just let go of that victim crown for good and start owning my situation as well as my decisions.  

I know I'm also very much wanting an external situation to come along and make this happen for me.  Let the FBI arrest come, let him go out in his blaze of glory and then I don't have to expose all our dirty little secrets, and don't have to face up to my own decisions.  My brain has seriously been contemplating sticking around for the winter, waiting for the FBI to resolve this for me.  And I sigh even as I type it, because I know it's a cowardly option, and I need to stop being weak and cowardly. 

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When I was married if I got sick and couldn't do everything my X would be inconvenienced and so would get angry. It really scared me to think about getting older with him and elderly. Being old and vulnerable and married to him terrified me. 

What if your abuser gets worse towards you as you get older and more vulnerable? It's only going to get harder for you to leave as you get older and have even less energy.

7 hours ago, whitebutterfly11 said:

 

And at the end of it, now that I'm totally exhausted, physically incapable, and mentally broken . . . I just want this last decision to not have to come from me. There's even an injustice to it, to have to bear the weight of a decision that I never wanted to make in the first place, 

He knows you don't want a divorce and is using that. He knows how hard it will be for you to do. You have to answer to everyone's judgement and he escapes that. He will probably play the victim.

He is abusive so he doesn't want to separate from you. He needs someone to diminish so he feels better about himself. He is content. 

I quoted you saying you are mentally broken. From your posts I don't think that's true. I think you have a great deal of knowledge and self awareness and you need to accept what's happened and why. 

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Yes, he's not going to make it "easy" for you to get out. He knows you don't want the burden of the decision, so he's trying not to give you the impetus you need... and he would never seek to lighten your load by graciously granting you your freedom. No, he'd make it hard. He'll make it like he's the angel (doesn't he always? the "perfect guy"?) and you are the impossible-to-please one. Like Kanga said, then he gets to play the victim. AND he gets to perpetuate that myth he's spread so grotesquely among your circles about your inner state. It's really disgusting.

He would not, could not be a "real" man who cares and gets tf out of your life if you're not happy with him. No, he has no such grace or conscience. No, he forces you to be the one to "abandon" him. He forces you to have to make the choice. 

If someone didn't want to be with me, I would not want to be with them. He's just using you to be his wife-object and manage his impression with his cold calculating .... almost-psychopath-ish... life navigation plan. You're a pawn. A PAWN. You're a figure on a game board, to him. 

The best "revenge" I guess would be to know he's forcing you to be the one, but to do it anyway. Even though it's not fair or just. Because any way you can get free, is the right way.

You deserve so much better. You deserve your energies to go into your art. Don't waste your beautiful talent and mind. Time passes so incredibly quickly, and speeds up fasterand faster - and before you know it, it'll be too late to follow your soul.

Honor your soul and your gifts. You were given them for a reason - not to waste in trying to satisfy an empty man, trying to fill a cracked vessel. You were not given your soul or your gifts to waste them in a futile pursuit of the nothingness of appearance, of facade. That's not why you were put here.

^  this is an aspect of it that I forget to talk about, but it was one of the most instrumental in my getting out.

 

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4 hours ago, Quaddie said:

 

You deserve so much better. You deserve your energies to go into your art. Don't waste your beautiful talent and mind. Time passes so incredibly quickly, and speeds up faster and faster - and before you know it, it'll be too late to follow your soul.

Honor your soul and your gifts. You were given them for a reason - not to waste in trying to satisfy an empty man, trying to fill a cracked vessel. You were not given your soul or your gifts to waste them in a futile pursuit of the nothingness of appearance, of facade. That's not why you were put here.

^  this is an aspect of it that I forget to talk about, but it was one of the most instrumental in my getting out.

(((Thank you))) I love this. It touched a deep place in my heart. The place that is genuinely struggling to live a day longer through this. Through it all I feel like there is something more I can't experience until I'm out. Some sort of potential I will never reach. It reminds me that we have one life and this is it.

It is time now. 

18 hours ago, Kanga said:

 

He knows you don't want a divorce and is using that. He knows how hard it will be for you to do. You have to answer to everyone's judgement and he escapes that. He will probably play the victim.

He is abusive so he doesn't want to separate from you. He needs someone to diminish so he feels better about himself. He is content. 

Yes, I agree with you. This is just an easy way for him to get the kind of heroic recognition he wants. I think his goal is to escape this as innocently as possible. Quaddie hit it too: he is deliberately making this agonizing for me. It's like he knows I'll either come out of this as the enemy or I'll die trying.

OMG. 

He's hoping I'll be one of those two things: the enemy, or dead (either physically or mentally). 

My goodness.

Compounded with this:

(I'm writing this because it just happened and I know I'll forget it by the end of the day because of PTSD fog brain):

I made the mistake of telling him today that I did well on my latest paper for school. I usually don't share these things with him, because he responds weirdly and it makes me feel off or deflated or something. But whatever, I did, and he at first puts on his smile nicey-nicey face and says: "Good for you, WB, all your professors love your writing."

Then, he pauses for a moment and says: "But, you know, it's probably a matter of comparison. The rest of the people in your class probably aren't as organized as you, and they don't have the English literature background you do, and so by comparison, when your professors read your paper, they are probably relieved to have someone who writes more clearly, so they give you the good grade."

I chewed on that for a moment and said (sarcastically): "So, if I were in a class with smart people, then my papers would be awful, in comparison?"

He then started to defend himself: "No, no, I don't mean that you'd necessarily do bad in a class like that, but I'm saying that by comparison your writing looks cleaner than the other people in your class."

Then he changed the subject and went and brought me snacks, as he always does, to "smooth things over".

This happens often, but it's usually waaay more underhanded than that. It's in inflections and eye contact and all the nonverbal cues. It's usually not even part of his conversations, exactly, but more in the way he presents. 

I can't explain it. 

But it feels very, very icky.

 

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Urgh that's so mean. What a jerk. He is feeling threatened and has to find some way of diminishing your achievement. But that's total BS. He hates you. I'm sorry. 

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Wow, that's AWFUL. Way to diminish your accomplishment and skill!  Holy crap. No, no no no nononononononono. Bite me, Mr. B.S. That's NOT how it works. Sheesh. 

He may think he's just somehow analyzing it in some logical way (although like I said, that's not how it works - teachers have a sum total of more than just one class worth of students to base their opinion on, duh...)...   But still, why cut you down? Why not be just, "You did great! Good for you! Proud of you!" without negating and discounting the accomplishment.

Oh yeah, because 1. he doesn't  want you to think well of yourself, and 2. he's afraid you will think well of yourself, and 3. he doesn't think of you as a separate, intelligent being.

grrrr angry!

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Yikes, that really IS icky and underhanded! As I was reading your story and came to the part where you responded by trying to call out his sly dig at your achievement (the "So, if I was in a class with smart people...." comment) I immediately thought "Oh man, my ex would have flipped out at that and started screaming about twisting his words around, totally showing his hand....this guy is so much more slick and insidious, what a snake". I would have left that  conversation feeling very mixed up indeed. And the added weirdness of giving you a gift of snacks after?? Barftopia. 

It really goes to show how alien the concept of just being kind and supportive is to them, isn't it. He could have quit while he was ahead and congratulated you with his comment about your profs loving your writing: There! Done! Decent human being skills! Incredible! But he just couldn't let you have it that easily; it's gotta knock you off balance and leave you bewildered. The worst kind of poison. Pure psychological abuse. 

I totally agree with Kanga and Quaddie's observations of how he had to neutralize your success because he felt threatened by it. Totally.

You be proud of that paper!! Be obnoxiously proud!! 

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Thank you for validating all of this ickiness for me! Wow, it totally helps to have other people's point of view. Honestly, I could write a novel about how much this sort of thing happens, but because he usually denies it and says "I wasn't trying to offend" I usually sweep it under the rug and write it off as Mr. BS's lame way of trying to give a compliment, or something equally as whitewashing.

Thank you. I've had a really good experience in graduate school so far, and he is getting squirmy about it.

As you've all mentioned thus far, it's definitely this sense of being threatened by any sort of success on my part, which he must diminish. 

My mother does the same exact thing to me.

Really choice people, huh?

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I'm familiar with that behavior too, whitebutterfly. That is exactly what he was doing. It was an intentional put down. I'm glad that you called him out on it.

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Oh yes, that's how my h does it too, usually.  Very, very logical and clinical and certainly not trying to offend, I mean how could you take offense to that, he would say.  Then he shakes his head, like he's talking down to a peeved little girl, and chuckles and pats me on the arm, or gropes me, and says something totally condescending, which to him means soothing.  And offers to watch a show or bring me snacks, exactly like mr BS.  And if I continue to display any sign of being upset, then it quickly escalates and turns around on me as if I've offended him.  Ugh.  Icky, snakey, and sucky.  

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