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Why don't I stand up for myself?


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The past few days I have been wondering why the heck I let myself get taken advantage of by my ex for the better part of 20 years. Here's all the reasons I can think of at the moment:

- I feared that standing up to him would make him even nastier.

- Actually, standing up to him DID make him nastier - I think I mentally left the relationship when he told me to "GO FUCK YOURSELF" over a minor argument

- You were an expert at blaming (how is YOU forgetting my birthday MY fault?)

- You were an expert at making me feel guilty (but I HAVE to golf, or I will waste my golf membership!) Yah, right, I'll just sit here earning a living, supporting the family all by myself as I breastfeed while on the phone with a client and typing on the computer. You just go enjoy yourself =:mad:= (steam coming out of ears)

- I knew in my heart he would never change and that standing up for myself ultimately meant divorce, which I wasn't ready for (until I got suicidal, developed chronic back pain, physical and mental exhaustion, couldn't carry out my work duties and developed insomnia)

- Fear of abandonment - ie: if I end up yelling at him, he will hate me and leave (OK that problem's gone away since I dumped him)

- I hate fighting, because I couldn't stand listening to my parents' constant fighting when I was a kid.

- I have no personal boundaries

- I just don't care about stuff as much as he does (ie: who's family to spend Christmas with is just NOT that big a deal, so just do what you want)

- I don't know what I want so given that you do, we'll just go do what you want

- Even though you repulse me with your sheer lack of consideration for my feelings and your total lack of contribution to the family, I guess I should give in to your whining to have sex, or you'll cheat or leave

- I'm too busy taking care of others to stand up for what I need and want

- I don't even know what the hell I want because I've never had two seconds of free time to consider it.

- When I have stood up for myself since our separation, he somehow convinces a bunch of bully lawyers to side with his "woe is me, my ex must support me" attitude

- If I stand up for myself, it could result in years and years of endless torment because he's a pit bull through and through and will never ever give up.

- He fights dirty so I can't possibly come out unscathed (he lies, denies, threatens, manipulates and breaks the rules of "fair play", etc)

- He's got his bully backup so wrapped around his little finger, I'd need an army in order not to get slaughtered.

- He's too quick on his feet. His capacity for wickedness puts me in a "deer in the headlights" state

- I kept believing him when he said "I love you" in spite of his actions which were completely to the contrary

- I didn't want to be alone

- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - Note to self - doesn't work with Narcissists

- I felt sorry for him, he was such a screwup

- I stayed with him for the kids' sake

- Being a victim became a habit

Perhaps something useful will come out of this list after I sleep on it and prepare for battle.....

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Hi Random,

Thanks for your comments. They remind me of a quote I heard somewhere: "All the wrong people have self esteem". I don't blame myself too much anymore. There's no way on earth I could have foreseen that my ex would turn out so badly.

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I will repeat it was not your fault. Some people are just toxic!!

I have some of those same feelings about my husband, except he doesn't degrad me. He just makes me feel guilt for asking him to take time out of his busy life to spend time with his family. He manages to get upset everytime and then won't talk to me. He slams stuff around and gives the silent treatment. Guys like that suck. You should not have to tip toe around someone you made such a commitment to, and whom you have kids with.

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I guess my own words sank in, along with Allan's comments somewhere recently that talked about turning our anger "outward" to the perpetrator instead of "inward" by hurting ourselves. So I thought I'd go from being the "angry victim" to being the "angry normal person". I asked myself, "What would a successful, emotionally well balanced "normal" person do with a person who is hurting them? Then I thought of Jim Balsillie, head of RIM (maker of Blackberry's and one of Canada's most successful companies.) and what I imagine he'd do when his company gets sued because it gets sued all the time, I think just because there's money to get at.

Well, he'd go out and hire the best lawyers and let them do their job and not lose sleep over it, I think. He'd be STRATEGIC about it, he'd think smart, and he wouldn't go on antidepressants that dumb him down and make him ineffective.

So as I was driving to my therapist's office this morning, I was feeling kind of punchy, and I had the thought, "I wonder if I'm going to bowl him over today?" I didn't have anything planned, other than to ask him about the complaint I had written up and showed him about the mediator (biased in favour of my ex). I had showed it to him because I didn't want anything in there to backfire on me and I wanted a "normal" person to give me some feedback with that in mind. So I guess that set the tone, because the rest of the session was about how I was going to use every legal means at my disposal to protect myself from the mediator, my ex, and the socialist marital laws that protect the spouse who doesn't feel like working, even if they have a fine degree and never did the "stay at home, sacrifice their career for the family thing."

Anyway, my therapist did notice a difference - He said I "seemed a bit better today, somehow more energized."

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Ugh men dont you just love them especially when they make you want to do not so nice things like knock some sense into them literally? in some ways i can relate to what youre going through. from personal experience i met my ex right after i graduated highschool(i feel like i just repeated myself with that lol) anyways back then he said what i thought at the time the right words to get my attention boy was i wrong. things went down hill a year after i met him. he cheated on me numerous times, kept me away from my family and friends(it was an interacial relationship) degraded me and made my self esteem so low that now i have to work twice as hard to get back up even though i divorced him two years ago.

The breaking point came for me to leave him with the help of my sister ever since then i never regretted making that choice. Ive had alot of suicidal thoughts because of him and at that time i couldnt leave him because i loved him and wanted to work it out. But after looking back he really didnt love me at all or if he did he stopped or didnt love me enough because honestly if he loved me he would have never put me through that.

The good thing is hes someone elses problem i no longer have to worry about him, i do have to try to get along with him for the sake of my daughter.The lesson i learned from that was ill never allow anyone put me through that again.

My advice is for you to keep going to therapy ask your therapist for ways to get stronger everyday. Once you get the strength, self esteem, and the courage then its time to do whats right for you and your children. hope this makes sense. I agree with chatterbox none of this is your fault and you dont deserve to get treated the way you are. no one does.

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Thanks Michmomof1. It is a new mindset standing up for yourself. A whole new vocabulary. It's like a part of my brain is being re-wired. I've heard this is what happens in psychotherapy. That reminds me - A bunch of neuroplasticity guys are trying to scientifically prove that psychotherapy actually changes the brain structure in humans. They've already done so in mice. It is really just "emotional learning" that you have to re-experience in its old unhelpful form, then replace it with a new helpful alternative and then experience it in the new better way to create a new emotional learning that actually creates new neural pathways in your brain that stick.

Glad to see you have managed to disentangle yourself from your toxic ex and remain in one piece!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Go for it Athena. You can do it.

I have experienced something new this week that has to do with that feeling of “standing up for one self”.

I usually feel scattered, not really compact and consistent. Giving so much away to others I feel that I am bits and pieces spread all over. I said a big “NO” to someone and this made me feel more together. My bits back to me. That felt nice. So I did it again. I kind of have an idea of what I can be. On my own. How great!!!

Keep it up! You did a lot for others. Now you are doing something for you.

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I read some of your posts and i feel quite silly with my last post.

I do hope you hang on in there and keep yourself together. Remember that there is someone else holding hope for you, so even if you feel hopeless, many real people in here are hoping for you. I am surely hoping and thinking of you.

The neural pathways will be transformed.

Flowers to you.

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It's so ironic that you pick up on this thread today. I just found out my ex is planning on completely screwing me and my kids. 2 1/2 years of mcollaborative/mediation out the window. My lawyer is useless. I'm beginning to think court may not be so bad. One would assume judges at least have An IOTA of intelligence, unlike marital lawyers. Going to go post in the urgent forum now:(::(:(.

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I am sorry Athena. I hope you find the strength to deal with this without going into self destruction.

I was happy for a friend of mine yesterday as she was in a similar situation to yours and she finally "got him" (as she said) after 3 years of fighting for justice.

You are not on your own. Whatever it happens, that shouldn't destroy you. I am hoping for you and wishing that you can turn things around for you. In yourself.

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