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Need Support. Finally leaving an abusive relationship.


Spuffy
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Hi I'm Spuffy.

I'm new to your site, and hope that I am in the right place. I cannot afford a therapist right now, and I am going to go to my first CODA meeting tomorrow night, but I thought that I would try to reach out into cyber space for support too.

I am in the process of ending a 5 year relationship with a man who at first seemed to be a good man with a bad temper. He was able to keep his real rage in check until 2 years ago, and it was such a shock and so hard to admit that I had allowed such a broken person into my heart and home, that it took me a while before I could accept it.

This is my second serious relationship in over 20 years, and the only other man that I have been intimate with since my ex husband. My ex husband had issues, but he NEVER talked to me the way that this man ended up doing, and he was never loud and cursing and angry. He just couldn't handle growing up and having a child with special needs, so he left us and went back to a rock band.

I waited a very long time 2 years (including celibacy and therapy) before I even tried to date again, and still I ended up with this mess.

In the last 2 years right after we got engaged he started to become very angry and volatile, going from 0-60 and then getting ANGRY after a few months he started also becoming extremely verbally abusive (which he was not before, just loud with occasional cursing) After a while it seemed as if I was engaged to Tony Soprano with the constant F bombs, and then even when he wasn't mad he seemed hostile. He also started to become very controlling and compulsive. With weird rituals like doing things over and over again, constantly making to do lists, and then going into a rage if things weren't done "The right way." I was getting lectures about how to sweep a floor, how to wash a car, how to shop, how to cook, how to dismount while making love!!

Eventually I told him that I thought that he should consider getting some help, because his behavior at best seemed out of the norm? I was also really starting to be effected by the demeaning comments and disrespect so he went on medication for anxiety. For a while it seemed to mellow his temper a bit, but the sexual side effects made him more angry, so he stopped taking the medication.

After a lot of forgiivng him over and over, the behavior finally escalated and he started to get physically abusive as well. Again, I was so surprised and hurt when it happened, It took me some time to process it. I have had years of therapy due to my violent home of origin, and I am not a weak passive type of person. I was shocked at the realization that I had let such a monster into my heart and home.

I wish I could say that I threw him out then, but it took me more time to really believe that I had fallen in love with someone like this. After the last fight we had and he threatened me again. I finally decided that this was not LOVE, because LOVE couldn't possibly hurt so much.

He had "left me" quite a few times over the last 2 years, but always came back remorseful. This time I refused to talk to him for 3 weeks, and when I did try to break up with him (like adults) he actually thought that we were going to sleep together and that everything was going to go "back to normal" I told him that I couldn't take it anymore. He left and said that if he had to he would break into my house to get his things.

I talked to the police dept and they told me that since he has only made threats that I can't do anything legal yet. I am worried. I do not want him rumaging through my house to pack his 2 years worth of things. including furniture. (We were getting married) I have no family, and no male friends to be here when he comes to get his things, and I don't want to be alone with him. He is a hunter and has several guns too.

I can't believe that I let this broken, angry man touch me, and eventually hurt me, and I really can't believe that my child was exposed to this. Although he was never around when we had really bad fights, and he was never in any physical danger, but given this man's escalating rage with me, I'm sure it was a matter of time before that might have eventually happened.

One reason that I stayed as long as I did (in my mind) was that this man initially really seemed to like and love my son as well, even with his several special needs. He was 11 when we met, and is 16 now, and with his diagnosis he will probably never be independent. I was impressed that this man wanted to take that on.

I would never have allowed my son around him had I known the way he would eventually act. I also had the presence of mind not to move in with this man, nor did I allow him to move in with me. He does have some things here, but I own the house and his name is not on anything.

Ok. That's my story. Can anyone relate? I have not been able to sleep or eat, or function, since the last big blow-up when I awoke from the abuse coma.. A month ago. I have a very limited income (partially due to the fact that I lent this idiot (well I guess I am the real idiot) a lot of money when I thought that we were building a life together so I cannot afford a therapist right now. I am terrified that he will never really go away, or that he will do something worse to hurt me now that I am rejecting him, and I'm certain in his mind betraying him.

How do I get over the guilt that I exposed my son to this? How do I get over the shame that I let this man treat me this way for even a day? a week? let alone the last 2 years?? How could I have been so duped?? Is it because he didn't show his true colors for such a long time? Or is it because I thought that he needed help and I didn't want to abandon him?

I am so sad that I allowed myself to be treated like this. I am very afraid of EVER trusting anyone again, or for that matter EVER trusting myself to not get into a similar situation. The only reason that I force myself out of bed every morning is because my son needs me to do so, otherwise...

My heart is so broken, but because of me, not him. I allowed this. Why? I am 48 years old in april. I am not in my twenties and don't have my whole life ahead of me to keep making these mistakes. How can I be sure that I won't meet someone else who hides who he truly is? How long do you need to wait before you trust someone? We didn't even jump into bed we waited 4 mos. before we did, Alll the other dates I had before this man wanted to have me for dessert! Also, with the celibacy for 2 years in between the relationships and the therapy? How did I let this happen? Why did I let this happen?

Although he lives an hour away, he works a mile and 1/2 away, so every day I am thinking, will he come over today? tonight? He works shift work so he could come over in the middle of the night.

Sorry for the epic novel.

Sad, sad, sad, and scared.. But reaching out.

Spuffy

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Hello, Spuffy, welcome! :) I hope you'll get the support you need.

You've done a great and very important thing: you left, you made the decision - and even before something really tragic happened. That's key. (Too many women cannot do even this and suffer much longer, with even more severe consequences on their families. You're rather an example of those who were "stronger than the average", I think.)

I suppose that questioning your past attitudes and choices is a natural part of this complicated process, but I'm sure that blaming yourself and over-thinking your "guilt" isn't good for you (and you son). Yes; you need to gain some insights and understanding in/of what happened and why, but mostly to be able to forgive yourself (for making mistakes (who doesn't make them??) and for being "naive" / "believing in positive changes" (a risk of being an optimist - but optimism has positive sides, too!)) and to identify the positive aspects of it.

When I think about the fear that your husband may come anytime to take his things, it seems to me that it would be much better for you to make an agreement with him (by e-mail, to avoid quarrels, I imagine...) about when he will come and for how long - then it wouldn't be unexpected, you will be prepared for it. Might you also pack most of his things for him, so that he could only come to pick them up, without the need to be in the house for too long?

And... how to trust again? You know; there's not an objective difference between the chances of somebody with your experiences and somebody without them: We all need to live with the same incertitudes about people and relationships. The only difference is that you realize more than others how bad the putative negative outcomes/scenarios may be - so it makes you more cautious and brings more fear. But I believe that you also have an advantage: You already know that if something similar happened to you - if you met a dangerous person - you'd be more quickly aware of what's happening and you wouldn't "allow things to go so far" again - you'd stop it much sooner and thus would avoid the same suffering. Don't you think so? ;) Due to your experiences, you're rationally better prepared for a new relationship. What I imagine you need to "do" now is "wait" some time for your heart to "heal" (at least from the acute pain) and for a general "recovery" from the whole experience - to process it in a way which will allow you to gain new strengths from it, not new fears. I know it's easy to say, but... I believe it's possible. (Even without a therapist, at least until you can afford one.)

And I wish you the best of luck!

Edited by LaLa3
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Thank you La La. I will take everything that you shared with me into consideration. I did try to to get a date set for my ex-fiance not husband this time! LOL at least I didn't make that mistake again.. He still thinks that I just need to calm down so that we can try to salvage the relationship. Unfortunately because I have forgiven him in the past he still thinks that I will relent this time as well. But I just can't anymore. Don't get me wrong, I won't even talk to him on the phone at all because when I hear his voice I still feel things that I wish that I didn't. It was not an easy choice but LOVE cannot hurt this much, so he is wrong about my changing my mind this time.

I am packing as much of his things that I can while he is not here as he is ginving me space (its been a month with no contact other than texting) but he will still have to come and get his motorcycle and tools and camping things that I can't really pack up because I am not even sure where everything is throughout the whole house attic, garage..

This is not going to be easy, or quickly taken care of, and he is not just going go away, but he does care about his job so if I have to I can use that as leverage if things get ugly. since he works 1/2 mile away. I hope that whatever happens I will be able to keep my son and myself safe. He is calm right now, so I am doing as much as I can to get his things packed while I have the space.

THANK YOU for responding I really appreciate that someone answered this.

Take care of you.

Spuffy.

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More thoughts in response to La La: ;)

I tend to me a very metacognitive person. I initially process things and then try to re-evaluate them to really digest them. (With all of these nerd tendancies I should be a heck of a lot better at math! ;) There is however, a fine line between doing this and over-analyzing things, but a few things that I re-read in your response struck me after further digestion. You said:

"And... how to trust again? You know; there's not an objective difference between the chances of somebody with your experiences and somebody without them: We all need to live with the same incertitudes about people and relationships. The only difference is that you realize more than others how bad the putative negative outcomes/scenarios may be - so it makes you more cautious and brings more fear. But I believe that you also have an advantage: You already know that if something similar happened to you if you met a dangerous person - you'd be more quickly aware of what's happening and you wouldn't "allow things to go so far" again - you'd stop it much sooner and thus would avoid the same suffering. Don't you think so? ;) Due to your experiences, you're rationally better prepared for a new relationship"

I fervently hope that this is true La La, unfortunately it took me 3 years before I could see the truth this time around, and when I honestly look back on the relationship I have to say that there were not many dark red flags that were consistent, a few pink ones ;) that is,until these last 2 years. I hope that if I ever do try to allow someone into my life again, I will be able to see things sooner and much clearer as you suggest in your generous post.

Some of why I feel that I need urgent support is that even though we have had no contact for a month, I stil feel as if I am having withdrawals. He was so good at hiding his rage for so long and I still have to keep fighting those feelings of wanting things to be the way they used to be between us, I shouldn't want that I should want more, but it is a very strong pull. I deliberately do not talk on the phone with him so that his voice won't stop my heart.

Recently I have found some research indicating neurological reasons that people find it hard to end even very dysfunctional relationships. The research has to do with the individual's brain mapping of their lover's voices. Much like the infant recognizing and mapping it's parents voices even in the womb. This research seems to indicate that the sound of one's lover's voice is addictiing to the other's brain just as much as the pheromones are, albeit on a subliminal level. This is certainly true for me However I still feel bad that I even miss him.I should think more of myself and want more for myself, and I am trying to do that every day, but I cannot deny the fact that I still struggle with this.

I am trying to channel all of this into something positive. Last Fall I wrote a play/mini musical about him called "Prince My Way" It was for my theater students ages 11-17. It was very funny, and very relevant (incognito of course). I read it to my now ex-fiance and he didn't even get that it was about him.. It was the begining of my long, laborious swim up through the thick and dark mosses, in the black, murky waters of de-nile...

This time I can feel my muse tugging at me again, leading me back to my keyboard. I started to visit your site and two others in hopes of having a positive writing outlet yet an interactive journaling experience.

I need to let the cold, biting wind of "loneliness" blow through me until it becomes the warm, strengthening wind of "aloneness." Having people such as yourself out there really helps. Thank you for your kindness, and especially your gentleness. On another site that I have visited a poster was telling all of us who are in or have been in abusive relationships to "get the hell out!" stop whining! change the situation! and LOVE ourselves.

I couldn't help commenting and telling her that most of us who have survived these relationships or are still in them, are trying EVERYDAY to figure out why we don't love ourselves, if we are even aware enough that we don't. We are frantically struggling everyday to believe that we are worth loving, even in loving the wrong people we are still seeking the fruit of love and not aware that we are seeking it in poisoned soil.

We don't know why we don't feel as good about ourselves as we should, and many of us have been in therapy for years and are older and STILL don't have an answer for this. None of us goes out in search of a man/men who treat us so badly.

Unfortunately this poster (again it was not on this site) also said that those of us who are in these relationships are also abusers as we abuse ourselves as we stay in them. Again ending her sentiment with "wake up and love yourselves!"

I went on to tell this poster that I was happy that she seemed to really KNOW what it was to love herself, and therefore it was unlikely that she would ever have to go through the same kind of pain, but that many of us are not yet that self aware and to tell us to get over it, is much the same as telling someone who is clinically depressed to "snap out of it!"

I can only speak for myself, however I doubt that I am alone in saying this. If I could I would. Every day I am still learning how to love myself, and I am still learning how to recognise those men or people that are eventually going to be abusive and avoid them. I did not set out to be abused. I did not know how to leave, nor did I even know that I should have left until I finally did. I did not enjoy being abused. AND I PRAY to GOD that I NEVER get into another of this kind of relationship again.

Thank you for your kindness and support. Understanding and accepting someone where they are is much more effective than making them feel worse than they already do for being there. Even though this person has nothing to do with this site the contrast between your love and her judgement was striking. And unfortunately there are many people out there still judging more than loving.

Thank you La La. for your loving approach.

Take care of you.

Spuffy

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Hello, Spuffy :)

I don't have enough time now, so I'll be only very brief, but I hope I'll write more later.

I'm very glad that you've felt the gentleness and caring in my post :). I also have to say that I enjoy your way of expressing yourself (it's sometimes almost poetic ;)) - it seems to me that writing this way about your feelings and thoughts might be helpful in the process of finding what self-love is, how to achieve it (-I struggled with this for many years myself, then my therapy seemed to "solve it", it seemed I was loving myself finally, but... later I've found out that it's not something that is "here for sure forever" and it can fluctuate in time, depending on the circumstances, ... so it's definitely not easy, neither "black and white"), ... and how to "recover". I also hope that you'll receive more helpful insights from others. (For instance, I don't have any experience with an abusive relationship, so my capacity to relate and give advise is quite limited by lack of experience.)

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Hello, Spuffy, and welcome to our community. :)

I'm sorry for my delayed response to your initial post. My brain has been a bit tired the past few days.

I'm sorry you did not feel supported on the other site you visited. I know, for me, support can help so much.

I think that learning to love yourself is a great idea, but it's true that this can be very challenging. Self-awareness is a good place to start. It helps me to be aware of my inner critical voice. I did notice that you were somewhat harsh with yourself in your first post. When you hear yourself saying "How could I let this happen?" it seems there is some part of you judging you. When I notice this type of self-talk in myself, I listen, but I also take a step back and then try to offer myself compassion. Imagine if you had a friend in your situation, how might you comfort and support your friend? Self-care can be a place to nurture and grow self-compassion. You've been through a difficult and painful time and you hurt. Try being very gentle and kind to yourself.

Have you thought about what attracted you to your latest partner and what needs he was meeting? What feeling and need is stirred by the sound of his voice? Could it be comfort? Attachment? You might find that as you work on your relationship with yourself and you learn to respect and care for yourself, you might also be attracted to people who treat you with kindness and respect. I hear you that change isn't easy. I'm still working on myself too.

What things in life bring you joy? Do you enjoy any activities? Calming techniques? How can you connect with your inner light and shine as the person you are? Maybe just some things to think about.

I'm sorry for your struggle and pain. :( I hope you are feeling better soon. We are here to listen and support you.

Take gentle care.

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Thank you La La and Irma Jean.

I agree that I was and am somewhat judgemental of myself and indeed I am hard on myself which is why I responded as I did to the other site poster regarding my not needing to be judged by someone else. This is something that I can remember as a deep programming from childhood. I was the one that never needed anything but to be looked at the wrong way and I would crumple. I didn't need to be yelled at or scolded, whereas in contrast my brother would dare my parents to hit him and dig his heels in rather than give up his position.

This is not to say that I was weak, infact just the opposite as I frequently stood in between my giant angry mentally ill, abusive parents and did the "Rodney King" speech "Can't we all just get along" directly in the middle of the firing line. I also took a lot of abuse as a child from my father (you can fill in between the lines) so that my brother would not get beaten as much. I also had to take care of my mentally ill mother from age 8 until my brother and I were finally taken out the home and put into the system, which started another chapter of nightmares. I have since had years of therapy and feel as healed as anyone can be from those original chapters in my life, I was even told by two therapists that I was one of the resillient or "super children" as in my case I never blamed myself for the abuse or how my parents acted the way that most children do. I was frequently asking them what they did with my real parents and who they were. I wrote all the time about how nuts they both were and because of that, inspite of the heinousness of the abuse (I won't bore you with gory details) I was able to keep my personality from splitting, and for the most part come out psychically unscathed. This is not to say that there is not damage, but considering what I went through there is much less than there should be.

At any rate deep within the roots of said damage is my co-dependency, and one would suppose that this statement in itself should indicate some self awareness, yet frequently in my life time it has not. I still seem to find the same Sulphur Brick Road to Level 7 when it comes to men. Dante and me are closer than I want to be (The Devil you know?)

I thought about some of the questions that you posed Irma Jean. Regarding my attraction to the last man in particular. I concluded that in this man I initially found a lot of fun, and this was something that I hadn't had in my marriage and because of my son's long road to progress for a long time. Also in reflection I see that I had become surrounded by children, teenagers and college students, in my son, my students, my peers and to a great extent my ex-husband.

Initially, this latest incarnation of my self loathing choice of men, seemed years older than my current and past "peeps." At the same time he made me feel like a kid again! He also seemed to like my nerd-like tendancies which are often a complete disconnect from my artistic side. My ex never appreciated the weirdness that was me, at least after we married. I was always trying to find out why he had suddenly decided that I wasn't what he wanted only after we were married for 2 years. This man conversely was very interested in the weirdness of me, he commented often on how smart I was, where my ex had always made me feel stupid.

In many ways this last man was a breath of fresh air to someone who felt very much as if trapped in an iron lung, breathing stale loneliness for nearly 14 years of the marriage, and staying because of a commitment to marriage as a concept and the fact of a special needs child.

When I finally caught my ex husband in his double life and found out about all of the cheating I kicked him out and waited 2 years before I tried trusting someone again. This man in many ways brought me back to life. We had seemingly common interests, motorcycles, guns, music, theater, and he unlike my ex always wanted to keep in touch with me. Texting me from work, and calling me every night. We initally had 38 emails before we even spoke on the phone, and then we waited months before we became intimate. Ironically, I felt very cherished by this man and for the first 3 years, I really thought that he was much different than he turned out to be. I will say however that the one thing that he never did was cheat on me, and I'm certain that this is another reason that I stayed and tried to help him for as long as I did.

He also seemed to really want to take care of my son and I in a way that my ex had never done, truthfully in a way that no one had ever done for me. I have alsways been truly independent and have always been Ms. "Uberresponsibility" taking care of everyone (not myself enough of course) for a while 3 years, I felt that for the first time in my life I could let someone help me a little, and more importantly I could count on someone else. That I am also certain was another great pull for me to stay in the relationship even when it got as bad as it did. I kept hoping that if it had been that way once it could be that way again?

Even writing about this now I feel the stinging ants of tears biting through my eyes and into my cheeks, it really still hurts to remember how wonderful it felt at the time in contrast to how excruciating it feels now.

Recently he texted me that he missed me. I like a fool (or perhaps addict is more accurate a description) responded and asked him what he missed, while simultaneously telling him that I didn't miss the rage, the disrespect and the endless fighting. He responded that he missed being with someone who was so honest and loving, because he didn't feel that there were any people in his life that were like that now that I was no longer there.

This isn't an untrue statement used to play on my sympathies. He is someone that has no friends, no family, and all that he had was me and my son. I suppose that should have been a red flag, or at least a magenta one, but my ex had one friend that lived thousands of miles away and he only talked to him on the phone, and many of my friends husbands also do not have lots of friends. Also, I could relate with having no family as I also do not have a family.

Consequently my son and I were all he had in his corner even in spite of the way that he treated us. The sick part of me that seems never to recover had to leap upon that opportunity and drive that point into him a little, and tell him that "he should have treated us better when we still wanted to stay with him, and not taken us for granted." He had no response other than the predictable "I get that now."

There was a time when I would have done anything for him I loved him (my understanding of love) more than I have ever allowed myself to love anyone, and I shared things with him that I have never shared with anyone else yet my reward for doing this was to be hurt.

Its really hard to reconcile that fact. If indeed self love is fluctuating as you said was your experience, than is self hate in kind?

I am still very vulnerable to relapse I can feel it. I can feel him still on my skin, even though I don't want to. I can still taste his breath, even though I haven't seen him for a month. I am doing as much as I can to avoid the pain, but I can't pretend that it isn't stabbing into my heart. And I am the one holding the stake aren't I?

In any case it is obvious that my muse is busting out all over through the keyboard and writing this out may be a way of finding a new path other than the Sulphur Brick Road to level 7. I save all of these and read them later. Maybe in the future I will be able to genuinely laugh at them?

Thank you both for responding. Not many people respond to my posts I don't know why, but mine are never the popular ones.

Feeling alone in this would be so much harder than it already is. You may not think that your words are that important, but for me they are like oxygen right now.

Still trying to get used to breathing fresh air.

Spuffy.

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I'm sorry you're in so much pain, Spuffy. :( You express yourself very well. I'm here and listening.

I struggle a great deal myself with any kind of loss and when it happens, I always want to express, express, express... I can relate to that need.

I hope expressing yourself here is helpful to you.

Does it help at all to connect with the loving aspects of yourself? Others often bring out our gifts, but our love is always within. Are you able to connect with that and comfort yourself in any way? You are a loving person and you opened up your heart to love and life. Any friends there to offer you a supportive ear?

I'm glad that I can be of some small comfort to you. Thank you for sharing that with me. Knowing that comforts me.

Take care.

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Spuffy, I'm here again only for few minutes, but I'd like to mention at least one thing: When you'll blame yourself again with the questions like "how could I have allowed that to happen for such a long time?", you may read this post of yours where you explain so well why you did what you did. Of course it was never black-and-white and there was a certain balance between the positive and negative influences he had on you. So you surely can, at least theoretically - when thinking about it as about an abstract concept (as we are too biased when thinking about our own lives...) - understand that it wasn't easy to decide what is the threshold for you, to what extent the positive things need to compensate the negative-ones, ... You probably also believed that he would change for better, as we are very prone to believe what we wish.

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Hello Irma and LALA.

Thank you both for ALL of your support. I have managed to get a therapist to work on a sliding scale, so I am going to take a break from posting for a while and try to sort through some of the debris..

I have saved everything that is written and will go back over it with her as well.

Thank you both! I really appreciate all that you have shared and I really felt welcome here. I will be back, hopefully with a renewed spirit.

HUGS!

Spuffy.

PS I do have some friends but they are all very busy or far away. I am also very busy usually (currently in between jobs) so when that changes and my usual level of busyiness commences, I'm certain that it will take some of the pressure off as well. At any rate, I am tired of being sad, so I am going to channel my feelings into another writing project and get back here after a while.,

Take care of you.

Spuffy

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Best of luck from me as well. It's great that you found a therapist you can work with. I hope things go well and your spirit is renewed.

I'm very happy to know you feel welcome here. :)

Take care and be well.

Edited by IrmaJean
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