ok, here we are again.

well, two years later, and i feel like i am pretty much back in the same boat as i was two years ago.  i learned on a domestic abuse forum i was on a while back to do an exercise where i list out on an index card each instance of abuse and categorize them by topic, like “manipulation” and “sexual abuse”.  i decided to jump start my current decision to leave my husband by listing out all 300 or so instances.  not every single one of them, but the most damaging and the most frequent.  not so much to share all the dirty laundry of our relationship with the world, but to hopefully help another person see that these things add up over a relatively short period of time.  also, my pile of index cards is growing, and i just plain don’t have a good place to keep them!

manipulation:

used our Progressive snapshot to check on where i was driving and called me on the phone to see what was taking me so long to get to my destination

i wrote him a letter to tell him how i feel about our problems, and he said “if you can’t tell me face to face what is wrong, then i don’t care what you have to say”

told me all the kids had to go to another one of the kids’ games, then when they all complained, told them that i was the one making them go.

tells me things then when i tell him he told me, he argues and tells me i told him, instead.

got mad at me when i didn’t want to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge and tried to tell me i was making the family look bad if i didn’t.

gets mad at me when we are out and he is drunk (and i’m not) and he wants to dance.  he guilts me into it almost every time.  even though when we do get out there, i am embarrassed and he doesn’t even dance with me, anyway.

asks me to call about something, tells me what to say/ask the entire time i am on the phone, then when i am done, he gets mad that i didn’t say/ask the right things.  yet he won’t call himself, because i am “better” at calling than he is.

tells me i am “always mad” about something.

went to a party and when we left, he said (drunk), “see, i left when you did and i didn’t get mad or anything.”  like i should be grateful that he wasn’t angry.

i wanted to get my tubes tied.  when we had sex, he would say things like, “i can’t wait until we can have sex all the time and not have to worry about getting pregnant.”  then, went behind my back and called our priest to tell him that i was doing this, and he didn’t want me to.  that was the first time i knew he didn’t want me to.

i told him i was going to counselling, and he told me that i would just use the time to tell the counselor terrible things about him. (more than one instance of this)

when we try to make plans, he is very vague, and never gives a straight answer, and then complains when the plans aren’t made.  he will string his answer out until we are frustrated (the kids and i) and then give his “permission” at the last minute, so it’s too late to make the plans we wanted to.

i asked him for years.  YEARS!!! to go to counselling.  said it would be the last resort before divorce.  then, when i finally told him we needed counselling or i wanted to file for divorce, waited six months to finally go with me.  i kept telling him to call, and he just wouldn’t.

got mad at me for not sleeping with him in a tiny little bed on vacation at his father’s house, and gave me the silent treatment all the next day.

one night i told him i didn’t want to cuddle because i was too hot and sweaty, and he said that i was “sad” for not wanting to cuddle, and that it wasn’t that hot.

when i was pregnant with our first child, we went out to eat.  he asked for the waitress’s phone number right in front of me and the couple we were eating with “just to see if i still can”

we broke up for a few months early on, and the whole summer we were broken up, he kept badgering me to move in with him as “friends” to “save money.”  he had broken up with me.  i hadn’t wanted to break up in the first place.

tells me it is my responsibility to “keep me (him) in line”  implying that if he is being abusive that it’s my fault for not telling him to knock it off.

accuses me of taking things all the time.  then, when i tell him i have no idea where the thing is, he says that’s “peculiar”.

told me that i should only write positive things in my journal, trying to censor me (after he read it and then lied to me about it).

we were going to put in new cabinets (still haven’t) and he said to me that i shouldn’t leave him after this, because it is expensive.

told me that if i stay with him, and he dies before me, i will inherit a lot of money.

tells me that he “never uses” Facebook or plays games on his phone, yet he does it every night.

WOW!!  that is all just one category.  i think i will publish the rest under multiple posts to keep from overwhelming you!  just trust your gut when you think you are being manipulated.  because you probably are.

 

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my Catholicism and domestic abuse…am i just being naive?

looking back over my last post, i feel like i must come across as incredibly naive.  maybe i am.  but i wouldn’t have stuck with this marriage for so long if i didn’t truly believe that there was hope.  i am a Catholic, and proud to believe that marriage vows are sacred.  but what does the Church believe about marriage and abuse?

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/domestic-violence/when-i-call-for-help.cfm

As bishops, we condemn the use of the Bible to support abusive behavior in any form. A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love. Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God’s image. Jesus himself always respected the human dignity of women. Pope John Paul II reminds us that “Christ’s way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.”11…

“…Finally, we emphasize that no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. Some abused women believe that church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. They may hesitate to seek a separation or divorce. They may fear that they cannot re-marry in the Church. Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage. We encourage abused persons who have divorced to investigate the possibility of seeking an annulment. An annulment, which determines that the marriage bond is not valid, can frequently open the door to healing.”

so, to me, this is saying that i should fight for my marriage, that my husband is wrong to be abusive, and that once i have given him the chance to repent of his behavior, i am free to call him out and divorce his butt.  i choose to think of my hope and trust as products of my Catholic faith, and not naivete.  i am certainly not going to allow his treatment of me to ever escalate to it’s previous heights, but i will give him a chance to repent of his sins and give him a chance to prove to me, to God, and to himself that he can change.  but, if he doesn’t take full advantage of that, then it is on him, and i will have a clear conscience.

works in progress

we are still ok right now.  he is not all over me lovey dovey like he was, and we are back to playing on our phones before bed instead of talking.  he started work at a new location yesterday, and i know that he is tired and feeling the pressure of a “new” job, but we are ok.

i have always been one to believe that a marriage can be saved.  i hope that this is the case for me.  i still have so many doubts, and i am certainly more cognizant of his behavior than i ever have been before.  but i know in his sometimes warped way, he loves me.

now, i know that many people believe that abusers can’t love.  or that they don’t know what ‘true’ love is.  i don’t believe that.  i believe that someone can behave abusively, but that abusers can learn to understand love and how to express it before it’s too late.  a true narc or a sociopath, or a psychopath, obviously can learn to mimic love, and to act as if they are in love, in order to try and mask their true intentions.  but there are many men out there who just truly don’t know how to show love in a healthy way.

my husband did not have a very good example of a loving marital relationship when he was growing up.  his mother loved him as he grew older, but had tried to abort him.  then, in a warped sense of guilt, told him what she had done, as a way of explaining his resulting birth defects to him.  what mother would do that?!

so, he has always felt as if he was unwanted.  as a second grader, his mother left the family, and his parents divorced, then he was basically left alone much of the time, while his young father played softball and drank every night of the week.  as an older teen, his father worked nights, leaving him in charge of his siblings, and without a chaperone much of the time.

in my own life, my parents were either all over each other, or completely silent, and not even in the same room.  i remember taking trips with them, where they barely talked the entire time.  i spend a huge amount of time in my room alone, while my mother would sit at the kitchen table and cross stitch while smoking and drinking her coffee.  my dad would sit in the basement, watch tv, and since he worked from home, he would work and smoke and drink his Pepsi.  my entire senior year of high school, they were either yelling, or threatening divorce, or holed up in their bedroom making up.

when we did all spend time together, it was to do adult things like play poker or go see a movie.  i saw Halloween as a five year old at the drive-in.

so, obviously, we both have had questionable role models of what a loving, giving, trusting marriage is like.  we both tried so hard to make a good marriage, or at least, what we thought was a “good” marriage, that we didn’t try to love the other person.  we tried to jam the other person into this idealized role, and when they didn’t fit, we became angry.  i admit fault there.  i may not have been abusive myself, but i didn’t stand up for myself when i should have, and didn’t show him how a wife wants to be treated.  i let him walk all over me, then just blew up at him when i couldn’t take it any more.  i kept trying to get him to change, rather than changing my attitude and reactions to him.

i can honestly say, that when i stand up for myself now, and tell him how i feel, he may balk at first, but he is way more likely to listen than before, when i would just save it all up inside and then spew my anger out all in one big burst. i am learning more and more how to communicate my needs in a healthy way.  it’s awkward, but it has made a difference just in these short weeks.

don’t get me wrong, his behavior was abusive.  he treated me like crap, and was not a very good husband for a good many years of our relationship.  but now that he sees that i am willing to go as far as leaving him if i have to, he has woken up so to speak.  he doesn’t want to lose our children, our relationship, our friendship, and his status.  he wants to be a good father, good husband, good christian.  he just doesn’t always know how.  he still thinks that he can make insulting jokes and i will just laugh it off.  but now, when i tell him i don’t like it, he takes it seriously, and apologizes.  when he does or says something that hurts me, i tell him right then, or later before bed, but i don’t just jam my emotions down any more, and it feels so much better.

we are both works in progress.

what do you think?  are some abusers able to learn to love?  is it worth the wait?

can’t help feeling hopeful. that’s new.

so i am suspiciously hopeful that things could change for the better.  i am not entirely convinced, but am hopeful.

he still tries to manipulate me, but when i point it out, he is quick to try to explain himself, and doesn’t get defensive like he used to.  when i point things out to him that are borderline abusive, he will apologize and will ask me what i need for him to do to make it right.  he is loving, affectionate, has been helping me figure out what we need to do to go back to school, and has been helping out around the house.

but, i don’t know how long it will last.  i am doing my best to get along, because i feel like when it eventually goes to shit, which i feel it will, i want to know that i did all i possibly could to make things work.  i have a friend who divorced a few years ago.  her husband was also abusive, but at the time i didn’t know that.  she told me that she wanted him to go to counseling, but then later, he told me that when they finally went, she only went to one session, then filed for divorce.  that’s what i almost did.  now, i am glad i waited, because all i heard from her ex after their divorce was how she never tried harder.  until my own revelation about abuse, it never occurred to me that she was likely further abused during that one session, or after it, and that’s why she only went once.  i know for a fact that if i don’t give it a “good” try this time, it will be held over my head forever.

so, here i am.  making the best of things, enjoying this (probably temporary) honeymoon period, and biding my time.  i will go back to school in the fall, get a job, and get back some self esteem.

my children have benefited from his improvement, but i still see his treatment of them needs vast improvement.  that is my next issue to tackle.  he finally agreed that our nine year old needs to see a therapist, so i will try to set that up next week.  it’s so obvious when my husband treats them better, they are so happy and cooperative.  as soon as he starts getting angry, yells, or is critical, they begin to get angry and uncooperative.  i just wish he could see it as clearly as i can.

i try to keep positive, but i am just really waiting for the day when i can figure out how to live on my own.  it may take a year or so, but it will be worth it in the end.  i will use this time to work on myself, and to work on his relationship with the kids. i am hopeful that at least, he can repair his relationship with his children, even if we don’t last.  i would rather know that his relationship with his children is better, even if our relationship ends.

sucked me in again…it’s a cycle, damnit!

this has been cut and pasted from my online group emotional abuse forum.  i posted it earlier this evening and have received such wonderful validation that i feel renewed determination to get out of this hell and move on with my life.  hopefully the next time i post will be after my dick husband has been served!

God, I am such a fool.

I convinced my H to go to see the therapist, finally. That night, after I didn’t fall on my knees and tell him how proud and wonderful he was that he finally went, we got in a fight, and I basically said that if things didn’t majorly change, I would file for divorce (not telling him it is already set up). Partly, I felt he deserved a heads-up (??) and also, because I was curious of his reaction.

His reaction was:
— no divorce
— I would have to move out because he is not going anywhere
— he would not give me any money to start out new somewhere else, because he doesn’t want me to leave.
— told me that I would tell the kids terrible things about him
— basically said that me wanting a divorce was not the way to raise the kids even after I told him that I would be happier without all the pressure, thus would be a happier mom.

Then, he asked me to leave our bed (we had just turned the light off to go to sleep when this started), so I went into the living room.

He followed me, and spent a good hour or more telling me he loved me, needed me, didn’t mean to be abusive, hated that the kids were growing up the way they are because of him (all his words). He said he would do anything to get me to stay.

I pointed out that I had heard most of this before, and how many chances did he deserve, and he said “a lot”. Then he cried and cried and said that I needed to give him just one more chance, and he would “never” treat me that way again.

I gave in like a ninny and he took the next two days off work and we did stuff around the house, and he literally spent the entire time telling me that I could go back to school(something I said I needed if I was going to stay), if I wanted, I could go back to work, he promised he would fix up the house or we could buy a new one. He basically told me everything I have been wanting to hear for years.

Anyway, we went to the therapist together on Thursday. I thought, ok, either he will be abusive again, and I will leave anyway, or he will be good, and I will be able to relax.

It went well, he admitted that he had treated me badly, but I was scared to bring up anything abusive, because I knew I would have to ride home with him, and I didn’t want to have another marathon discussion.

He has been very attentive, telling me that he loves me constantly (totally love-bombing me) and yet, he is still being manipulative.

He wanted to cuddle, and I said I didn’t want to last night, and he made a sad face and was like, “I can’t help wanting to cuddle you all the time”, though he hadn’t hardly touched me or had sex with me in two months, just a few days before.

Yesterday he said something about how he was trying hard not to yell at the kids, and he was looking forward to me being the bad guy now, kind of laughing. Then last night, he drank about six beers, and yelled at them about how they “always” spill things, and how they “never” clean up well enough. Also, he did a similar thing today, where he spackled some holes in the walls and a little while after that, our 9 year old accidentally opened the door too hard and hit one of the holes, and my H was like, “he always slams his door open, and never pays attention to what he is doing.” Later he complained that “none” of our kids are good at cleaning up after themselves and that they have “terrible” listeningskills.

Um, they range in age from 2-19. Some of them need help with learning to listen and examples from us on how to clean. He even said that other people’s kids don’t act like our’s.

He has given me sob stories about his mom and how she left his dad and how it was so traumatic and terrible and how he will never forget her almost running over his dad in the car trying to get away from him. I said, “did it ever occur to you why she may have been trying to get away?” He didn’t really acknowledge that.

All of that in the 6 days since I said I would give him one more chance.

I am done, but now I don’t have the resources to move out and I don’t have the same plan in place I had before. I can have him served pretty much any time next week, but it will be much worse after I spent this week hugging and kissing him, telling him I do love him. Basically comforting him (again) and not pointing out his manipulation. I am terrified that I will not be able to do this again, and I will be suckered back in. He will just tell me that we need to go to counseling again.

I really feel like the only way to do this is to move out, but I can’t if I don’t have a place to live, and I really wanted to let the kids stay here at home without having to move them.

I may just have to try and rent an apartment and do it anyway, even if it isn’t convenient. I can apply for jobs this week, and I can take half out checking account money, which will only be about $1500, but will be a good start.

I feel like I am stuck even more now than I was before. I am so flipping mad at myself. I just can’t believe I let him do this to me again.

I felt like I could give him a chance and in the mean time, go back to school, get a job, etc and have a chance at a new us. Why did I really think it would change? Almost immediately I regretted it, but I thought that I was just so used to the way he was treating me before that this new attention was just uncomfortable. Now I realize my body was telling me that it was out of the ordinary because he had turned it on like a switch again.

therapy is a wonderful thing, unless it’s with your abuser.

therapy with a qualified domestic abuse therapist is amazing.

just having someone there to listen to you without judgement, anger, dismissal, fear, condescension, sarcasm…it’s a wonderful thing.

but…the thought of my abusive husband going to see a therapist on his own terrifies me.  what lies will he tell?  what kind of unconscious validation will he get from a therapist that only sees his side of things?

the urge to go with him is powerful.  but not recommended with an abusive relationship.

according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website,

“Therapy can be very effective for some couples who are working through difficult relationship issues. However, if abuse is present in the relationship, we do not recommend that couples seek counseling together.

……

The primary reason we don’t recommend couples counseling is that abuse is not a “relationship” problem. Couples counseling may imply that both partners contribute to the abusive behavior, when the choice to be abusive lies solely with the abusive partner. Focusing on communication or other relationship issues distracts from the abusive behavior, and may actually reinforce it in some cases. Additionally, a therapist may not be aware that abuse is present and inadvertently encourage the abuse to continue or escalate.

…..

A better option for abusive partners who want to change is a program designed specifically to address their abusive behaviors. These programs are often referred to as Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs (BIPPs), although what they are called can vary from state to state. BIPPs focus on teaching accountability and non-violent responses. These programs can be effective, but only if an abusive partner is truly committed, as real change is a difficult process that can take months or years.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, or if you are an abusive partner who wants to change, please give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 or chat online everyday from 7am-2am CST. Our advocates are here to support you and talk through your options.”

legal process, step three

the divorce petition is all written out.  the lawyer has been hired and is ready to serve husband in mid-january.

i am both incredibly relieved and totally, breathlessly terrified.

i should win an academy award for my convincing portrayal of the forgiving wife, but this shit will get real in two weeks.

if you are the praying type, please say a quick prayer for strength and peace with my decision.

happy new year!