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Help please --- trying to stay focused

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Hi.  I'm trying soooo hard to stay focused on activity and accomplishments which I know I need in order to regain confidence and self-esteem, and also for the mental distraction - just sooo many negative thoughts haunt me...
It would be incredibly helpful to hear success stories.  I'm fascinated by the good that can come from bad, but having a very hard time letting go of how I wanted my life to be (a loving, emotionally mature partner to share the rest of my life with who wouldn't yell at me, or belittle me.  Someone who always assumes the best of me, instead of the worst.)  

I've realized I have a bit of PTSD from the years of verbal & mental abuse; and am constantly triggered these days - even when, thinking back, I see he's actually been "normal" lately  (aka: non-abusive).   He's gotten 100x better, but my stomach is in knots almost all the time.  Like right now I'm telling myself I need to eat, but my stomach hurts.   Hurts to think I've kind of wasted 20 years...  Hurts because I'm so afraid I won't be able to get strong enough mentally to seize the next 20.  I'm 51 now and feeling the clock ticking.  It scares the hell out of me; on top of the PTSD...  

What I REALLY need to do is figure out how to bring in a decent income for myself; taking control for confidence and options - with having options increasing my confidence also  (It isn't in my best interest to leave right now, for numerous reasons, financial being one).  The negative voices tell me I have no skills...  and they are stronger than the facts: I'm smart, an extremely quick learner, and have wonderful communication skills.  

But the negative voices also over-analyze every idea, telling me all the reasons they won't/can't work, and paralyze me. 

I'm trying to let the pain flow through me, but it hurts so friggin bad; especially the thoughts that I didn't deserve this.  I love kindness and empathy and compromise (teamwork), and it's who I work on daily to be, but he always saw my need to understand and contribute as not trusting and attacking.  Hence my user name: mythoughtsmattertoo

Our attorney referred to him as a bull in a china shop regarding business matters, and I'm realizing that's how he is in our personal life too.  His way is the right way and I'm unappreciative of "all he's done" if I think otherwise or have any emotions but happiness.


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I'm sorry you needed to find us, but I'm glad that you have.  We have some very wise posters here who know what it's like when you're trying to figure out how to make some money so you can leave, etc. 

In terms of success stories, they are many and varied. Stories can vary by whether someone has minor children, how long they've been married, what part of the world they live in, whether they've worked or stayed home, etc.  But abuse has similar effects on your confidence no matter where you live, whether you're young or old, a housewife or working outside the home, etc. No one should have to live with someone who causes their stomach to knot up in pain or to feel like they have to walk on eggshells.

If you want to read a success story check out a recent post on this forum.  Other people have left their ex-spouses and reported improved health, the rediscovery of old hobbies or finding new hobbies, improved relationships with friends, improved career success, etc.  

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I'm only six months out from my divorce. We were together for 20 years, married for 17 of them.Three little girls ages 3 - 7. 20 years of subtle but powerful belittlements, criticisms, gaslighting, cheating, rages, and eggshells. I lost myself and my ability to stand up for anything. I was a shell. 

Getting out was a hellish, confusing, scary process that for me lasted two years. I could not have done it without the support of my parents, a couple close friends (before he hacked into my phone and found my text conversations with them and then maneuvered to cut me off from them) and an old friend from high school (who is now way more than a friend) who basically dragged me out tooth and nail, refusing to let me fall back in... and LOTS of therapy. 

It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Ever. There is nothing close. Not trusting my own mind, memories, abilities, decisions, thoughts, even my own feelings. You ask yourself to do the hardest thing you've ever done, that takes more strength than you can imagine, at a point in your life when you cannot feel weaker. But I knew I needed a life that had laughter and light in it again. And I had to find it in me to fight for it. And it was a battle. It's not over - he has been tormenting me since the first week the divorce was final, and it has been awful, nerve wracking, confusing and triggering.


But it's so much better than it was, even as hard as it is now. 


Every day I get a little better - it took weeks to start feeling it - and in the beginning it was truly horrible. But I'm starting to understand that he is not in control of me anymore, and as I've gotten stronger, and slowly started to trust my own self again, he has gotten easier to read - his tactics and maneuvers and ploys are so much more obvious. And even as hard as it is to get up some days, because of the anxiety, ptsd, total exhaustion and still mental fog... EVERY DAY... it gets a tiny bit better... after years of every day remaining the same. 

Last weekend he tried to prod me into a fight by using my youngest daughter and a made up health scare... And for the first time in my life, I roared against him. I wasn't afraid of him - his circular logic and manipulations were easy for me to see finally, and I was sick of it and enraged that he would attempt to bring my littlest baby into it. I fought back, in a huge way,  and he backed down. I was physically spent afterwards. And I sobbed and cried afterwards - because I couldn't believe this is my life now - but also because I felt a little part of me spark back to life right then, and I was so relieved to see her again. 

I am slowly remembering how to paint, and sculpt, and I read a whole book a couple weeks ago. I hadn't been able to concentrate long enough to get through one for years. I am sleeping, and people tell me I look different. Younger. My mental focus and memory is still shaky, and I hope it comes back soon. But I can tell things are lining back up for me, slowly. 

But hoping for confidence before I left (or actually, before I resolved to start working towards leaving) was pointless. I couldn't rebuild it when I was still with him - maybe others can, but his voice, which had turned into my internal voice, was too strong. I had to get out first. Once I was out, the wonderful pieces of me that I had left scattered and buried along the path in my life all started to come back slowly... like scared little bunnies that were afraid of the wolf I had been walking with for so long, but they never stopped following me. 

If you don't have a good therapist, I strongly suggest finding one, it made all the difference for me. Meditation has helped me too - I was skeptical, but it really does help calm down my mind enough to start to feel focused - and that has helped me with my confidence. I listen to guided meditation podcasts - they are free and amazing. 

Good luck. It's so much better on the outside, but I know the road is scary. 

YOUR bunnies are still following you. ;)



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Welcome. :)

Even though making a decent income may feel like an impossible feat, there are definitely options for you. Sometimes it means going back to school for a little while and earning a degree, or certification, and that can mean finding a temporary job that pulls you through while you are in school. There are career tests you can take (even online right now) that can point you in the direction of your skillset and offer you some options. Abuse has that knack of affecting our self-confidence, but you can slowly build this back up by applying to jobs that look interesting and really exploring your talents. 

Success is definitely a process in escaping abuse. There are ups and downs along the way and times when we might be moving forward but we feel like we are falling backward. There is so much to detach from when dealing with an abuser, most of which we are unaware. Attachments to the relationship we've tried to invest our hope into for so long, attachments to the idea of an abuser changing, attachments to our need to forgive and allow more chances, attachment to the idea of the relationship we wanted to have. It takes time to work through these things and finally gain the inner perspective to make a choice that fits what we really need. 

I believe it's possible to have a healthy, abuse-free life, but it takes time and some painful processing and steps. The fact that you are here trying to look at it all speaks to your willingness to take some healthy steps for your own wellbeing. Reading other experiences, learning about abuse, navigating your way through the chaos, are all important parts of this process that will help you as you try to decide where to go next. 


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You wanted us to share our success? I did not want to leave at all. There was a switch that went off in me and I really felt I did not have a choice. I felt that is I stayed I would be losing myself even more. I felt that he could walk on me and I would be in an even worse spot giving him time to plan, gas light and plot. The person I knew had revenge and love aspects crossed. his gas lighting was very demining to me. I was not growing and I felt so incomplete in his so-called love. I knew he did not have the stamina to fix what he was causing. It hurt I did love him? I had to allow myself to be human and see I might not have known enough about myself at 18b years of age to understand what I needed to be happy. I lived in denial to what was going on because I could not fix it. I had CPTSD and was starting to get really sick. I developed fibromyalgia from stress. My body had enough my mind had to make peace with my soul and mind. The question to answer is when your retired old and gray will you do better on your own? Or when he is not working will you be miserable because you can stand the man you are married too? I have listened to a few women that had an opportunity to leave but stay for financial reasons. I guess they could not believe they knew how to care for themselves. Some women cherish shopping more than peace of mind? Well, they were sad because they felt stuck. A certain point in retirement that made it really impossible to leave. I really did not trust my EX would take me to the doctors and be honest that I was getting good care. I had a few situations wherein my abuse he felt he had the right to determine if I go to the doctors for me. 

1. when I pregnant and started delivering he said I was overreacting had plenty of time go to sleep he was tired. 

2. Needed to go to emergency room for extremely painful migraine. (chronic sufferer) He said for me to go he would stay home with the child he did not want to wake our kid to take me. I told him I needed medication. I had to lie to Emergency room staff that he drove me to get the care I needed to remove pain. When driving home I ran a red light and almost killed myself. Pulled over to sleep and woke up unaware of where I was two hours had passed. I felt so alone and embarrassed. 
3. Had fibromyalgia from the stress and when his family came to visit they were more important than me. I tried to go with them so I could have family memories. I asked him to pull over and I was throwing up all over on the side of the road. He said I can take you home if you want but now that puts him behind everyone else. I had to hold my peace and no one was really concerned about me. They cared more about the things they wanted to do. 

These types of things can mean the difference between living and dying? when you're in your geriatric stage you do not need an unsupportive spouse. So I have t say that was one of my smaller concerns I had to face in my decision to leave. 

I did not think I could manage without him. I had been kept in the background my skills were not growing. I have to say it was hard for me at first. I felt so scared that I was going to be on the edge of homelessness while trying to manage. I had to be willing to do a job that I might have hired others to do while with him. I do work very hard now but I am more whole now than ever before. I notice that my circle of sickness and fears has been removing themselves and being replaced with a very confident woman. The people that know me now and knew me then have said wow we almost don't even recognize you. Your talking from a place you know and shining. I never realized how much I relied on every word he said. I did feel I was not existing. So for me, I now know I will be alright. 

Was married 19 years and never wanted a divorce. I can imagine how tortured I would be today if I stayed. I was not healing! Just to have my soul and not be getting continually worse it was all worth it. I did love him but what I lived with was not love. After you separate they have a way of showing themselves. You know I can tell you it was the right decision to leave. I do not like the vision he forced on me. It was a conflict of who I was to live the way he required me to live. 

Hope it helps! 

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As you can read in the link to my story, in some ways I had it much easier than you, as I have no children. But I have had to deal with the financial issues as well for many years. I was in my mid-fifties when I ran out of money, you just can't work when you are the sole caregiver 24/7 to an Alzheimer's parent. But apart from that, I had literally no chance of getting a job again at my age. So I was forced to go to collect welfare. It took me a year to get it, as I did not qualify. I was living in my mom's house with her so I was ordered to put mom in a nursing home and sell the house. Only, I could not afford to put her in a home, even if I had wanted that. So no job, no income for years. I borrowed a lot privately just to pay the utility bills and feed mom. Without income, I did not qualify for a bank loan. I struck a deal with the bank to stop mortgage payments until the sale of the house. About a year before mom died, I finally found a place for her, and they were willing to take her without me paying monthly until the sale of the house. That gave me a little breathing space, as I finally got half a welfare income (which I had to pay back). It wasn't easy to live on that and not starve or freeze to death. But you learn a lot about economising and budgeting on the go. I stopped all subscriptions, TV, cable, landline, cell phone, newspaper, my car had already been sold years earlier and I renegotiated my energy contract. I just kept internet as my only means of communication, paying bills and applying for jobs. I called all mom's and my creditors and with every single one of them, I struck a deal. Sometimes it meant I paid 15 creditors every month $ 10, just to show my willingness. They were very black years. I haven't bought any clothes over about a decade, everything was threadbare and my shoes had no soles anymore. I could not afford public transport, so I got isolated from all my friends. No days off, no vacations, no museums or trips or eating out, some days I went hungry and of course no luxuries whatsoever. I found pride and some peace of mind in being creative and able to handle it. When I finally got it under control (with a huge amount of debts but making it through the month), I found a job. It was not regular, but a new foundation that needed a head clerk. As they were new, they could not pay me, so I kept being on welfare while I worked. They did pay for my travel expenses. The main thing that happened was I got my confidence and self esteem back. If I can find a job at age 56 again, then something in my resume must be attractive to people. Same goes for you. There is always some skill or experience attractive to employers. Take what you can get, even unskilled jobs, then go from there.

In my personal experience, it is extremely hard to find yourself and a life again, and getting rid of psychological issues, when you are still in.  I managed all things after I was out and it made me capable of actually handling things undisturbed by abuse. 

I wish you wisdom and you have my respect for how well you are coping. Good luck.

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