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mistreated

The long journey

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mistreated

Hello, friends.  It has been a while and I hope that you are all doing well.  I am (((finally))) divorced.  I have most of the custody with the kids.  They have a DIsneyland Dad who tells them how I take all his money and I am to blame for everything.  I have stayed super busy trying to keep all of the hurt and disappointment at bay...but in the quiet, it always creeps back in.  All of the pain that, quite honestly, is too painful to relive and too much like the floods rising.  But I am reliving it...almost everyday with all of the doubt, all of the second guessing, all of the anger, all of the disappointment.  I was divorced in Nov of last year.  Of course, we went to trial.  At times I think life is so great-because it is, but now the kids and I are picking up the shattered pieces and trying to piece together a mess that, quite simply is just overwhelming right now.  Son has stepped right up as his role model has taught him to belittle and demean me.  His anger is directed all at me because "that's all he knows" and because his Dad blames me for everything wrong in the world.  It's like reliving it all over except now, I am starting to stand up for myself and it makes him angrier because he is just used to treating me as his slave/lady dog.  I honestly thought I was past being treated this way and then my son started in.  It's sad and horrifying and I am respected just about everywhere except for my own family.  So, every step forward seems to, at times, feel like 12 steps back in time and I don't even know where to start.  Both kids and I are in therapy.  Since we are finally dealing, it seems to be like taking giant steps back towards hell.  I know we need to deal with this or it will never go away, but how do we heal?  How do we teach our children to treat us better if all they have ever known is treating me like a slave and I didn't even treat myself any better by allowing this to go on for so long?  I ask, I demand, I give consequences....everything...and my son just thinks he is allowed to treat me like garbage and not listen.  I started seeing a new therapist yesterday.  I just can't get out of my mind how accurate her statement of "well, you obviously didn't believe that you should have been treated better or you wouldn't have accepted that treatment."  I'm not blaming me, but I did believe that I was pretty worthless and I am s.l.o.w.l.y not tolerating that anymore which is a big part of the upheaval in our home.  I used to just be quiet, keep the peace and do whatever to keep ex happy and not exploding.  Which, btw, is what my daughter's therapist told me I taught my daughter to do.  I will not morph into whomever Son wants me to be to keep his anger at bay, but I can't continue to live in fear of what has now becomes my tween's behavior to manipulate the situation into what he wants.  Now even sure where to start here, all thoughts are appreciated and welcome.  Thanks!  

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Over and Out

(((Hugs)))

It is very hard to heal.  It is hard to see the injuries done to the kids by abusers.

It's a process.  You will get there.  

You are doing the right thing by going to therapy.  However, I am not sure that your therapist really understands abuse dynamics.  Maybe they are not the right person to help a survivor.

You can't blame yourself for what you had to do to survive an abusive relationship.  You did not teach your daughter to accept abuse.  Your abuser taught her that, while you tried to survive.  You did not teach your son to abuse or encourage him to abuse you.  Your abuser did that.  You are slowly unravelling that indoctrination, while healing your own wounds.

You are stronger than you know.  You have taken amazing steps in getting away and seeking healing.  

You can do this.

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Bennu

I'm sorry. I'm working on picking up pieces myself. It might be too late for my daughter. She's turned into her father. She constantly criticizes and expects agreement on every issue or she berates you until you say you do. If you stand up for yourself you are abusing her. She won't talk to me now and other family members have problems with her too. I should have gotten her out of there sooner, but who knows if that would have made any difference? It's sad but sometimes there is nothing that you can do. You can't change someone else

 

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Bennu
2 minutes ago, Over and Out said:

 You did not teach your daughter to accept abuse.  Your abuser taught her that, while you tried to survive.  You did not teach your son to abuse or encourage him to abuse you.  Your abuser did that.

Very well said. Thank you

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Over and Out
47 minutes ago, Bennu said:

I'm sorry. I'm working on picking up pieces myself. It might be too late for my daughter. She's turned into her father. She constantly criticizes and expects agreement on every issue or she berates you until you say you do. If you stand up for yourself you are abusing her. She won't talk to me now and other family members have problems with her too. I should have gotten her out of there sooner, but who knows if that would have made any difference? It's sad but sometimes there is nothing that you can do. You can't change someone else

 

 

I am sad to read that.  You are both victims.  Your abuser harmed her as surely as he harmed you. One victim can't always save another.  

I'm scared what will happen in my kids future relationships.  I worry I didn't get out early enough.  However, I am working on accepting that I can't change the past.  It's hard, especially since I have spent over 20 years being told I am responsible both for anything bad and for everyone else's feelings, reactions and mental health.

(((hugs)))

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mistreated

Thank you, O&O and Bennu.

I thought I was doing so well when all of this was stuffed so deep down.  But I am not.  Thank you for understanding the length of this process.  It just is still so painful.  My kids want to see their dad now.  After the onslaught of my son's panic and anxiety attacks after being forced to be alone with his dad, this is better.  I understand that all children love parents unconditionally.  So I am trying my hardest to support someone I despise more than anyone else in the world yet somehow still hurt when I think of the hope I had for my family.  I asked my daughter if she could think of a perfect world, what would it look like.  She replied that it would be that our family stayed together.  It hurt to the core.  It was deeper than hurting to the core.  Son said basically the same thing.  Their survival memory is that we were all so happy when we were all together and then life was terrible once EX moved out. They don't remember when they threatened to run away or hide if ex came over to see them without me. Son doesn't remember he was afraid to be alone with EX for months before EX moved out.  They didn't see that I had no idea who I had become & that the only reason we seemed so happy is because I was too afraid to speak out because I didin't want another temper tantrum from their dad.   They don't remember Exs anger, his temper...because he has "changed".  Great.  I am happy that he is better-I think the part time parent thing is better for him and he can deal better or maybe because I was the root of all evil and without me in the mix, he is suddenly happy with the world or maybe because he is trying to manipulate them into thinking the divorce and everything wrong in the world was my fault like everything else.  I don't know how to combat not speaking poorly of EX while stating the facts.  Somehow if I tell Son that EX won't pay for his new xxxx, it is somehow my fault because I "take all of his money."  and it's not because he takes his gf out, buys junk all the time, doesn't know how to save/spend $, etc.  It's my fault because I have worked 3 jobs , sacrificed my wants and  paid for xxx.  I don't know how I am supposed to handle these situations.  And then, yes, I feel selfish for wanting to have a voice and not being able to suck up the misery any longer.  I told Daughter I wanted the happily ever after more than anything and that is why I stayed for so long. So, yes...I do agree that i had no other choice than to morph and I actually think it took more strength to sacrifice myself than to stand up and deal with the consequences for my children and I.  But, I also agree that I did not have the strength or courage to speak up and get out. But...how could I after years of hearing what an idiot I was?  I had quit my careers for years and had no real income in a new area.  I might have appeared to have a choice, but in reality, I could not find a way out.  

I am not going to let my son treat others this way.  He is 12 and still living at my home.  It is about me because I am not tolerating being treated like garbage anymore, but it is also for his own good.  Every relationship he has will be this way and it is simply unacceptable and needs to stop.  I agree that I cannot change people, but he is my son and I need to give this everything I have and not give up on him.  I see so much goodness in him and he is hurting so much and it's coming out as anger...towards me-which sucks, I won't lie.  But my daughter needs to see me standing up for us and my son needs to know this is not how you treat those whom you love.

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Bennu

Give it all you have and I hope to hell it works. 

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mistreated

Bennu, thank you and I hope that your journey is getting easier.  The thing is that the second I stop hating Grinch I simultaneously see the hurt child that he is.  I do think he wishes he was better, just like my son.  He does show some glimpses of truly wanting to learn how to treat loved ones with kindness and respect.  I go through phases of being completely overwhelmed to seeing the possibility that there might be a glimmer of hope of ending this vicious cycle.  I don't know if I'm cut out for it, but I do know that I do not give up on what I put my mind to,,,so, it looks like I better rest up for the long haul. Thankfully, I have an incredible support system where I live.  My friends are mostly guys who just keep trying to help my kids and I.  I am lucky and blessed beyond words.  For this, I am truly thankful because my parents still want me as the 1950 housewife/slave that EX wanted adn those are/were some pretty influential people in my life that oppose who I am, so I need the support of like minded friends.  Thank you.

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Over and Out

Mistreated, since your son is only 12, you have lots of opportunity to help him form new habits.  Both my older son and my 17 yo daughter went through phases of being angry and trying their father's rude behaviours. My 14 yo daughter is trying it out at times now. Stay firm and don't let him bully you.  Don't give in, but don't reject him.  Keep showing you love him, but don't like that behaviour.  For me, this took the form of saying "I love you, but won't do x because I will not reward aggressive behaviour to me."  I walk away from tantrums.  I have to really push myself not to give in to anger. It's hard sometimes.  I demand polite, kind behaviour in my house.  I make sure that I show lots of love at other times.

I definitely noticed with my son and nephews that there is a phase during adolesence during which boys can be emotional and aggressive, starting somewhere between 12 and 14 and ending somewhere around 15-16.  Society doesn't give boys a lot of models to help them handle the emotions that come with surges of testosterone and other hormones.  This might be a contributor.  Your son may have seen how his dad handled emotion and think that's the only manly option.

Your son might also be acting out with you because you are the safe parent.  All his grief at changes, confusion, fear and anger might be coming out at you.  It's not safe to let that pressure off near his dad.  It's a weird, scary indication that you are a good parent.

Keep up your love and good work.  You sound like you are doing the right thing.

 

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mistreated

Thank you, O & O.  That helps a lot and it is reassuring that what I am attempting to do (staying firm while not letting him bully me) might have some saving grace.  I do believe he is "trying it out."  That was a perfect description because I know him better than anyone and he genuinely is loving and caring deep down.  It also might be the testosterone surge and I am the safe parent.  Nice observation and thank you for reminding me of that.  I need to get better at walking away.  The anger took over me a few times and, quite honestly, I did not like it and I  have never seen that side of me, but he was not listening to anything else.  I would walk away, lock myself and daughter in room and he would yell insults through the door.  It hit like a nail through my heart because it was just like his dad and I fought back that time.  It did not make me feel good.  It was horrible.

So, at my new therapist, the one who is covered by insurance, I said that I now have a safety plan with my 11 yr old daughter that when Son is blowing up/about to blow (we can see it a mile off) that she go to my room, lock the door and turn on head phones/loud music.  I told therapist and she said that Daughter is still involved and to leave her out with Son to see if she can calm him, help him.  I don't agree with this at all.  Son pulled a kitchen knife and held it up last time and it was so scary for Daughter that she was screaming hysterically and terrified.  What do you all think of my plan vs therapist's?

THX!!

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Bennu

Your therapist is crazy. I think that your daughter needs to be protected from bad behavior, not made to feel responsible for fixing it. I was brought up that way, responsible for calming my dad down. That's partly how I ended up staying with my ex for so long.

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mistreated

Thank you, my thoughts exactly.  I don't think this therapist has dealt with abuse.  She had some valid ideas and she is currently free (covered by my job) but this seems like more hell for my daughter.  

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Over and Out

Your therapist seems to be completely out of her depth and ignorant of abuse issues.

Your plan is better.  Your daughter does not need to be taught that she is responsible for calming abusive behaviour.  Your son does not need to be taught that others are responsible for his emotions, reactions or stopping his abuse. Those are exactly the mindsets that prop up abuse.  Your therapist should be dismantling ideas like that, not reinforcing them.

To let you know, D17 picked up knives and threatened herself and others a couple of times when she was younger.  (I mostly talked her down, though once I called the police when she was locked in a room and threatening herself - a safe option for a middle class white person in my country.) She would never do it now and would be appalled at the idea of anyone, including her, threatening us.  Your son may grow out of it, too.  

Maybe consider locking away any dangerous knives or other items for a while.  When D17 was actively suicidal, we had to lock away anything she could harm herself with (all blades, medications, razors, etc). It didn't always stop her self harm, since she could get stuff from shops if we weren't careful. However, it stopped impulsive threats.  We got a basic safe from the hardware store and hide the key.

 

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Quaddie

I agree with the others. Your therapist is putting your daughter in a dangerous situation and improperly triangulating the dynamics. Your daughter has a right to be safe on her own, alone. It's not her job to try to calm down your son. Your son is acting dangerously. You are right to support your daughter in having her own safety plan.

Even if it's through the free work program (like an EAP), you can call the number and tell them the one you're seeing isn't working out and switch to a different one. This therapist will do more harm than good. In my opinion, you are better off not seeing one at all. I've been through seeing the "wrong" counselor many times, and it adds new dimension to the levels of effed-up-ed-ness in one's head. 

Also, your son needs his own therapist and for the dangerous behavior probably qualifies for its own course (if it's an EAP where you get "x" number of sessions per "issue)... Call it something else and get him assigned someone for the self- or other-destructive behaviors. Don't link it to your abusive spouse when you tell them what the "issue" is. This is serious.

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mistreated

Quaddie, thank you.  I am actually wondering if these new therapists arw why things suddenly got so bad with my son and I.  I thought he recently started acting up because stuff was coming up in therapy that he was trying to process.  Now I'm wondering if he is getting bs advice, wrong approach.  We were really, really good until a few weeks ago.  

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Bennu

I wonder if that happened to my daughter before she got really bad. She told me some things that the therapist had said about our relationship. I had discussed our relationship with my own therapist as well and the things her therapist was saying was often opposite to what mine said. Mine was one who specialized in abuse.

I certainly remember therapists helping my ex make sure I believed everything was my fault.

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Confused714

I wanted to know how old your children are? How long did they witness the abuse?  I have a young son. I haven't left yet but he will be most likely the reason I do. I started therapy myself and hope it will help me do what I need to do. I don't want him to witness and learn that how to treat people. I can tell he is already reacting to it. 

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mistreated

Hi All,

Quick update to let you know that once my son stopped seeing that therapist, we returned to as normal as a mom and an early teen can return to.  Very close most of the time.  Thank you so much for pointing that out.

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