This post has been in my head for a while now. I thought I’d put this up now because it’s nearly 5 months since C’s been gone and it’s been 2 months since I last got a nasty email from him. (The first of which was prompted by a post on this blog) ‘Cause, you know, I’m the cold hearted bitch for making him leave.
I’m not going to claim to know all the signs of an abusive relationship, neither am I saying “This is how to proceed”. But, if what I say here helps someone in a bad situation, then all the better for it.
I cant explain all the reasons behind how I got entangled in an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship or why I stayed so long. The relationship didnt start off that way. At first, it was really positive. We could talk about anything, he was very sweet, considerate, and affectionate. If a problem came up or if I felt scared, we could talk it out.
After about 6 months or so, things changed. Looking back on it, the change took place rather quickly instead of being a slow progression. Talking stopped, affection stopped, intimacy stopped, all the things that make a relationship stopped. At first I thought maybe he was just frustrated with his job, or he was going through some personal difficulty he didnt want to talk about.
Needless to say, things didnt improve. When I tried to talk about how the lack of relationship made me feel; the lack of any kind of affection, emotion, communication, etc. made me feel he would get angry and tell me that it was my fault this happened to our relationship. The message was: This is your drama and I dont deal with other people’s drama. This is your fault. This is the way things are and you need to get over it.
I was made to feel that there was something wrong with me for needing love, affection, kindness, and communication from the person I was in relationship with. I was made to feel that anything I was interested in from knitting, to politics, to food, to gay culture, was not worth his while and that I was dumb. He refused to meet any of my friends, to meet M, my best gay boyfriend, because he didnt want to meet any more stupid people.
I kept telling myself that if I just did the right thing, said the right thing, found the right combination, that the relationship would go back to the way it was.
It didnt matter that I was completely miserable, that my partner was not a friend I could confide in. I had to keep my feelings to myself. If I couldnt handle the stress of my emotions and broke down crying in the middle of the night, it was my drama. It only served to make C more angry, yell at me, and be a down right asshole. I was having some major difficulty with my family and was told not to talk about it. To keep it to myself. I was laid off from my job and was not allowed to talk about the stress I was going through worrying whether or not I’d find a new job before the economy tanked. (this was before the housing market crashed in 2008 but even I could see that the writing was on the wall in the summer of 2007).
I tried to leave. I tried to leave three times before finally being successful. Each time I was promised change and for a little while, things did change. Then after a few weeks, life would go back to the way it was before. I felt completely worthless, actually, I felt like I was worth less than nothing. I was constantly afraid of doing, saying, or acting in a way that would cause C to rage at me, to belittle and to berate me.
C had quit his job, ran out of money, and made me feel that his only option was to move in with me. I didnt want him to come. I tried to tell him I didnt want him to come because I would have nowhere to go to get away from him and the way he made me feel. When I tried to tell him this the response was that I was his only option, he had nowhere to go and no one to rely on. I was his girlfriend and he made me feel that it was my responsibility to take him in. He’d been living with me for a month when I spilled hot coffee on my face, burned my face, early in the morning before work. I cried out and he became enraged then yelled at me and berated me for an hour. How dare I wake him up.
If it hadnt been for Hawkeye, Donna, M and his partner, a fierce gal at work, and finally my Dad, I might still be in that miserable place of feeling that I was worth less than nothing. With their help and support I was finally able to make him leave, break off the relationship, and make it stick. This has been a huge learning experience for me. I think I know what to look for now and what to avoid and will be on my guard to prevent this from happening again.
These are some of the things I have learned:
If your partner is incapable of showing you any kindness, love, affection, tenderness, this is not your fault.
If your partner is incapable of communication without becoming enraged, it is not your fault.
If your partner is incapable of being emotionally engaged with you, it is not your fault.
You are not dumb, you are not worthless.
Your partner is projecting his feelings onto you. He wants to suck everything out of you to feed himself. He wants to break you down, keep his boot on your neck to lift himself up because he has nothing within himself to lift himself up. He is taking that from you. It’s Vampire like. Sucking life energy from you to feed himself and keep himself going.
It is not wrong to confide in your friends about what is going on. They are your friends, they love and care for you for who you are. If you are miserable or in a difficult relationship OF COURSE they want to know. They are your friends, they are there to help.
If you are unsuccessful in leaving the first, second, or third time, it does NOT mean you are stuck and that you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. You still have the ability to leave. Leaving takes courage, it does not mean you are a quitter.
No matter how much he says “I will change” he will not. He will never change and you cannot change him.
Emotional and psycholocigal abuse is just as damaging and just as serious and physical abuse. All abuse is about isolation and control. The more your partner can isolate you, the more he can beat you down, the easier you are to control. When he has control he can get what he wants, whatever that may be.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that is is absolutely not selfish to put yourself first. No matter what the jackass you are in relationship may want you to think. Putting myself first, putting my needs, wants, desires, first, saved me from an unhappy, miserable, and unchanging situation. Leaving C, was the only option. Leaving C, was the only thing to do. Leaving was the only way to make the situation end. Leaving was the only way to make the situation change. Yes, leaving was not just hard, but fucking hard. It needed to be so I could get out of an abusive situation and get on track to getting emotionally healthy. Leaving is not a sign of giving up or weakness. Sometimes, leaving just needs to happen.