Tag Archives: emotional abuse

Katie – Violence Unsilenced

I haven’t been around lately. I think a part of it has been because again, I’ve been having a hard time calling the relationship with Sam abusive. However, I came across story on Violence Unsilenced that sounds so much like life with Sam.

Following is a link to Katie’s story on Violence Unsilenced
Katie.

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The things we forget for “love”

Oh        My        God .  This morning, I took a look at a copy of my transcript from the local university, where I studied for a couple years before transferring out of state.

Not only did my life with Sam erase nearly every bit of self-worth and self-confidence that I’d had, but I’d actually forgotten which classes I’d taken.  I’d forgotten that I had taken THREE college level math classes in high school that transferred over to credit at the university.  I’d forgotten that I was on the Dean’s List or Chancellor’s List EVERY semester while there. I mean, I remembered that I’d made the lists, but that I’d done it more than once – every semester.  No.  I didn’t remember that.  I was STUNNED when I saw my transcript.

I’d let him convince me that I wasn’t smart, that I was nothing.  I knew that I’d let him tell me that.  I’m recovering from believing him.

What I’m running into now is the idea of just how much I’ve actually forgotten.  Stuff that doesn’t pertain directly to Sam.  And it’s not just which classes I took, my grades.  Friends will reminisce about high school or college, about stuff we did, weekend trips we took.  There are, maybe not many, but a few (so far) that I don’t remember.  I do remember some when they tell the story – I think that’s normal.  Others are just blank.  Completely gone.  Not even an inkling of “oh, yeah, I vaguely remember…”

They’re not joking; they’re not lying; they’re not relaying drunken party stories.  I can understand forgetting some things.  Different events carry more weight for some than others.

For example: Jane may have been thrilled when I offered to drive her up to Portland to go shopping when she was having a terrible week.  It may have been a big deal to a freshman far from home for the first time, having a new friend from the dorm borrowing a truck from another friend to make the drive in an effort to cheer her up.  While for me… meh, it’s just a short trip, an excuse to not study for a few hours.  I didn’t remember it until she brought it up.  But when she brought it up, I did remember it.  “Oh, yeah!  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to put the truck into reverse the first time, because the shift pattern was worn off the gearshift.”

There are stories that sound like they should have made some sort of impression on me; like skipping studying to go to the beach, a car I was riding in nearly crashing during an ice storm, of which I have not even the dimmest glimmer of having experienced.

And the grades, man!  Don’t you think I should remember that I was getting straight A’s or A’s and B’s?  It’s not THAT long ago.  I can recall taking the classes, but I’m still wondering if maybe they sent me the wrong set of grades with my name on the top.

I’m curious.  Does living with an abusive alcoholic do that?  Is it some intense-weird survival mechanism?  Does it happen to quite a few survivors?

Like an unconscious thought process: He says you’re stupid, you know you’re not, but if you’re not, then he’s lying, and he’ll be mad at you for thinking he’s lying or (and) for you being smart, so remember that you’re stupid so he doesn’t get mad, so he doesn’t take it out on you…

So how to explain losing the other stuff?  Overwriting it with “How to Survive Your Alcoholic Abusive Boyfriend / Husband”  ?

Or is it just me?  Is it normal and I’m making mountains out of mole-hills?  (Pfffah. *waves hand dismissively*  You’re just getting old.  You’re not in your twenties any more, you know…)

I’m really curious if it happens to others.  I’ve got an appointment with my counselor tonight and will discuss this with her.  Maybe she can explain it.

Emotions

So.  It’s been a while.  I really need to write more.  This is my journal after all and getting everything out should help me work towards healing…  Right?

Well, the biggest news, I guess, is that I’m getting everything pulled together and think we’ll be heading back to court to revise the visitation arrangements for Sam.  Based on stunts he and the visitation supervisors pulled the weekend of 07/30/11.

I seriously do not understand anything he does.  Why?  Why?  Why would he think that he won’t be caught in his lies?  And they’re not even just to me – so really, he shouldn’t be able to blame it on me, right?  Will there ever be a time when he stops lying?  Have I said it here before, I don’t know: Sam couldn’t tell the truth if it crawled into his mouth and tried to jump out.  I don’t know why I keep forgetting that.  I don’t know why I revert to expecting that he’ll be truthful with some one – any one.  But I don’t think he can…  And here I sit spinning my wheels trying to figure something out that really isn’t logical and probably won’t ever be clear.

What I need to do is just accept that he lies.  Sam lies.  Actually, that reminds me of one of the songs about Joe by Corey in the movie “Say Anything”:  “Joe lies… Joe lies… Joe lies… when he cries.”  Funny.  (snerk) I haven’t thought of that movie in ages and funny, I’d always thought of myself as more like the character Diane Court rather than Corey, but here I am: Sam lies…

OK.  Back to me.  I’ve actually been pretty good so far this week (it’s only Tuesday…) I’ve signed up for a women’s only self-defense class at the local university and I’m looking to see what other evening classes I might want to take.  It’s crazy how excited I am about that.

Actually looking back over the past week, I feel a bit all over the board.  I’m down, I’m up, I’m happy, I’m scared, I’m elated…  It doesn’t feel normal.  But then for years, my feelings weren’t really mine, I guess.  How I felt was determined by how much Sam did or did not drink.  It was determined by if Sam had a really bad day at work and therefore Max and I had to tiptoe around the house – in the dark usually – so that Sam didn’t direct that anger at us.  It was determined by if Sam’s new co-workers or new boss thought he was “God” (according to Sam) (not a god, mind you, God) – because if they did, it was OK to smile and laugh.

So I guess, this is normal?: feeling my own feelings because I actually feel them.  It feels strange.

And I Fall

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Do you remember the saying/game from childhood Ring Around the Rosies?

Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down

This week, I feel like I’m constantly falling down. Like I’m stuck skipping in circles and falling down over and over. I’m trying so hard to get to where I feel like I can handle work, parenting, finances…. And turn around to another set back. Instead of being circles, it’s a spin with a step forward, one or two to the side and several backwards.

I don’t expect the world to stop while I try to process and deal with the rapes, the abuse and alcoholism that came with the ‘relationship’ with Sam, but d-mn, I’d like to be able to take a breath or 2. not feel like I need to look over my shoulder for Sam.

Sometime? Soon? I don’t think I can keep up with everything at it’s current pace without falling further down than I already am.

It’s not a good sign that I wish I’d never realized that my relationship with Sam was not “normal.” That I wish I could pull the wool back over my eyes.

I think it’s weird to wish that I could just become catatonic. (Does one ‘become’ catatonic? I don’t know.) To not feel anything. Just sit there, stare at nothing, in my own little world… To fall down the well of conciousness, lost to reality?

Sometimes, I just want to fall.

Soul Mates (*gag*)

The term “soul mate” makes me want to hurl, but that’s a (relatively) recent development. I personally think it contributes a lot to the whole trying-to-keep-a-death-grip-thing on relationships even if they’re unhealthy. It’s the whole Hollywood story thing: true love will prevail. Or maybe Cinderella: some day my prince will come.

For the recent development part: I completely sucked myself into 2 very unhealthy relationships believing they were “the One”.

The first time I thought I’d found the One, there was an instant, visceral reaction the first time I saw him. I literally got weak in the knees and I think I forgot to breathe for a few seconds; he was so charismatic, confident, sexy. It was about the time the movie “The Butcher’s Wife” came out… (sorry, gag reflex kicked in again). He would tell me I was his soul mate, his split apart (… okay, back again). When he asked me to marry him, I was on cloud nine. The belief that he was the One lasted until he started very adamantly refusing to let me transfer to the private college where I’d won a merit scholarship. It’s amazing how quickly I decided that my soul mate would not refuse to let me study at one of the best universities in the West.

This did nothing to sway my conviction that there was a soul mate out there; I convinced myself that I had simply been wrong about the guy. Enter stage right: Sam.

Again, he was gorgeous, and while his good looks weren’t a slam to the solar plexus, he was very easy to admire. Not only gorgeous, but athletic; he knew so much about sports, sports medicine, seemed to be a steady kind of fellow…. (I say this knowing the first time I met him, he was sh-t-faced drunk. Ha.) He was nothing like my first fiancé. He was quiet, didn’t seem quite confident of his appearance and how he affected the girls around him.

And how I fooled myself with him. Initially, I felt so safe with him. I look back now and it was always his friends, his mates, who did anything to protect me. We’d go out and some drunk a– would take it into his head to follow me around relentlessly. It was his teammates who invariably stepped in and told the guy to get lost; Sam just sat there and drank, maybe he’d grin/smirk as he watched me try to get the guy to get lost.

At the start he was oh, so good at letting me think things were my decision. He didn’t want to drive to the game or to the party, so he’d ask who should drive and then mention casually, that such-and-such needed to be replaced on his car, it seemed like there might be a problem with the brakes…. So of course, I’d drive. That’s just a little example. Minor. Nothing. Constant.

Fast forward: It changed to subtly discouraging or just cutting out the options. This also seems so small, but my favorite pair of boots: tall, black, lace up Dr. Martins (think Abby from NCIS), mysteriously disappeared after I kept getting compliments from guys whenever I worn them. You multiply that and add it to the constant little verbal jabs from Sam intermixed with “loving” endearments, which in retrospect weren’t about me at all, but about him getting his rocks off, and life was so freaking confusing.

At the end, it was h-ll to pay if I did anything that he didn’t think of, and sometimes if he did think of it. I’d get the cold shoulder; would have to deal with him brooding, pouting, ignoring my very presence; he’d pick fights; he’d coerce s-x; he’d force s-x. When he decided that I needed to be ignored, I could stand right in front of him and ask him how his day went and get nothing from him. No response, no eye flick up to my face to even register that he’d heard me. If I stood in front of the TV that he was watching he wouldn’t even shift to the side to be able to see around me, but keep staring “at” the TV through me.

16 years we were together. 16 years…. The first few were great; the middle years were okay; the last 8 – definitely the last 6 – after Max was born – were hell. 8 years. How did I put up with it?

Throughout the relationship with Sam, my favorite saying was by Blaise Pascal “La coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas.” (“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”) From this side of the verbally and sexually abusive relationship with Sam, IMHO, if you can relate to that quote, and use it to gloss over the cr-p parts of any relationship often, as I did, it’s safe to say it’s not a good relationship to be in.

I really like the definition of “soul mate” that I read on another board: some one who comes into your life to teach you something and then leaves. Makes it a bit easier to swallow that I thought Sam was my soul mate, because I definitely learned a few things during my relationship with him; things I do not care to have to re-learn, thank you very much. Now if he would just leave.

The Realization

Looking for or accepting help for myself can be so hard.  The first counselor I went to I was actually asking how to communicate with Sam, because, I’d heard it so often from him, the problem with our relationship was that I didn’t try hard enough to talk with him, or be with him or, anticipate what he wanted enough.  After the first session with her, the first counselor would gently suggest Al-Anon; we’d talk about addictions for a little bit then she kept changing the subject back to me and how I felt.  Honestly, I was a bit PO’d and really confused.  I didn’t know how I felt!  Why would she even ask that? It wasn’t relevant.  I wasn’t relevant.  I needed to be taught how to communicate clearly with Sam. She wasn’t helping me learn to do that.

It took quite a while before I realized that learning to communicate with Sam wasn’t really what I needed to do. But I did/do need help re-learning that what I think and and how I feel matter. I actually needed help seeing that I was not in touch with my feelings at all, but with how to deal with Sam and his moods.

For the longest time, my “feelings” were directly dependent on how Sam was that day. Was he drinking? Was he in a mellow mood (i.e. would he leave me and our son alone while he sat on the couch in the dark and drank until he passed out)? Or would he drink just enough to get belligerent and start in on me for some perceived slight?

The most two common ones (but by no means the only ones) were: if I was reading, he would come into the room and growl at me that I was showing off – that I was reading to make him feel stupid. Or he’d yell from the front living room at me in the back bedroom to turn the f-ing vacuum cleaner off so he could hear the f-ing game, and that I was being rude on purpose. On days like that, God forbid I should actually leave the back bedroom to get food because that was me being rude and interrupting his game with my “racket” in the kitchen.

As I tried to speak to my first counselor more about my need to be able to communicate with Sam, I explained to her more and more ways I thought that I had been unclear, or how I had made Sam mad without realizing that what I was saying was wrong. No matter what I said to Sam or how I said it, I was wrong. One day, when I explained yet another way I had failed to clearly communicate with Sam and his reaction, she suggested that I contact the local women’s aid shelter, AWAIC, or rape counselors, STAR. I was stunned. I was SURE that she was giving me those contacts because she wanted me to see just how bad other women had it. I thought that she wanted me to see what ‘real’ abuse or rape was. I thought she was trying to ‘teach me a lesson,’ along the same lines that Sam would, about how normal my relationship with Sam was and prove that I had nothing to complain about.

(Does any one else see how twisted that was for me to think that way? Probably. I’m probably the only one surprised by the realization.)

Now, when I look back at life with Sam, I can’t believe what I lived through and that I thought it was normal. I can’t believe how surprised I was when I went to AWAIC and spoke with a counselor and instead of her telling me that I didn’t need to be there, she told me that what I had lived through was abuse. She asked me to think about contacting STAR.

As I’ve been dealing with my issues around Sam and our relationship, I can see that I’d been dealing with depression for a very large portion of my relationship with Sam. Maybe not BECAUSE of Sam, but definitely connected to that relationship.  I went back through an old journal and found entries where I begged to no longer feel anything – no matter how that came about.  Looking back, I am astounded that I’m still here.

And still for a while, I refused help on actually dealing with the depression.  I refused to acknowledge that the relationship was abusive; that when Sam ignored my telling him “No”, even though I was his wife, it was still rape.

The realization that I did nothing to warrant being treated the way Sam did and that even as a wife, I had every right to expect my “No” to mean no, has been hard to get my head around. There are days when I KNOW that without a doubt, without a whisper of denial. Then there are days, when that whisper shows up “But he was your husband. You have no right to be upset about how your husband used you or treated you.” That whisper can be so hard to ignore.