Archives for posts with tag: emotional abuse

Well, it’s been an interesting start to 2016.

Firstly, it all kicked off with yet another argument where I am blamed, the latest being I am trying to take the children away from him.  He seems to overlook the fact that we are talking about ‘children’ aged 19 and 22, who are more than able to make their own decisions.  He kept shouting that I should leave because everything is OK when I’m not there.  And I thought ‘you know, you’re right, I should leave – for my own peace of mind and well-being’ so I did.  I went to stay at my stepmother’s as she was away.

Then, I lost the house I was buying as the vendor decided he wasn’t going to sell.

Then, I got an email from my solicitor saying the Consent Order for the financial arrangement had been approved by the judge and she could now apply for my decree absolute.

Whilst at my stepmother’s, it gave me the time and space to think.  It was lovely returning there after work and being able to relax.  For the first time in ages, I looked forward to going home.  Annd I realised I couldn’t return to the marital home.

My sister works for the estate agents who are selling our house and so I asked them if they could find me a property to rent.  I have a problem going through the normal channels as I’m self employed and can’t provide the required work references.  Her boss has very, very kindly offered me a property he is refurbishing for rental, and at well below the market rental value.  He says he knows I will leave it looking as pristine as it is when I move in because my house is the most immaculate property he has ever taken on.  I move in next week and I am so excited.  It’s is Wimbledon, a very expensive and desirable area that I wouldn’t otherwise even have the slightest chance of living in so it’s going to be an interesting and enjoyable experience.

And because I feel so excited and positive, I know one hundred percent that it is the right thing to do.  I know the girls will visit me;  I am sure they will stay from time to time.  I’ll be able to forget the nonsense and focus on finding somewhere to buy and on becoming myself again.

In the meantime, I am staying with another.

And learning to be me.

 

 

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I find it hard to believe that a whole year has passed and I am still in the same situation, perhaps a bit further down the road but nowhere near as far as I thought I’d be.

I met a friend this week.  In 2015, she managed to get divorced, sell her house, get remarried and buy a house.  And me?  I’m still trying to get divorced, still trying to sell my house, still trying to buy a house.  This time last year, when I looked forward to this time this year, I thought I would be in a different place.  I never dreamt I would be in the same position.

Some things have changed, however.  This time last year, I felt fearful of what the future would hold, how I would feel when my house finally went on the market, whether I would have regrets.  Everything was scary and uncertain.

Everything is still uncertain, but I’m no longer fearful.  I feel positive that I will be able to deal with whatever course the next few months take.  I’m trying not to let my anxieties dominate; I’m not dwelling on the what ifs.  I’m trusting that somehow I will be able to deal with situations as they arise.

My STBX and I are still living under the same roof.  He’s still trying to control me – this week alone, he has complained about me putting things in the bin, saying I’m not adhering to his rules; he’s perpetuating  some kind of ongoing battle about who cooks for our younger daughter (I can’t even be bothered to explain this one); he’s got angry that some of my friends have not included his name on their Christmas cards; he’s accused me of monopolising the children (aged 19 and 22, and adults who can make up their own minds) over Christmas and the New Year.  Whereas in the past I would have got worked up over this, I’m now just tired of dealing with it and let it wash over me.  I see it for what it is: his attempts to get me back under his control.  That’s not going to happen though: I’m done with that.  We should be living separately, then it would be easier, but living together still, I think, leads him to see us as still being together, to see me as his wife (which technically I am, although not for much longer).

The house sale is proceeding so I think it is only a matter of weeks before we go out separate ways.  My purchase is not proceeding so I don’t know where I will go, but I’ll go somewhere.  It will all work out one way or another.

Mentally, I’ve made the break and I’m moving on.  I don’t think he is as far down that road as me.  But that’s a journey he has to make for himself – I’ve spent years feeling responsibile for his happiness and well-being, but it really was never my responsibility.

So I’m sitting here thinking that I should be scared, fearful, anxious, and a whole host of other negative emotions.

Yet I feel calmly confident.

And that’s good.

After an aborted attempt at a house move in August (lost our buyer so I lost the house I was buying), I felt very low.  I was hanging on, believing that I only had a few more weeks to get through so when it all fell through, it hit me really hard and I felt both physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had trouble concentrating on anything, work was a struggle, and day-to-day living under the same roof with my STBEx became an even more stressful experience.

Now we have another buyer and I have made an offer on another house, which has been accepted.  Our buyers want to move quickly so I’ve said we’ll vacate even if my purchase hasn’t gone through but I’m just hoping that somehow it all comes together at the same time.  The whole situation is giving me sleepless nights – made worse by the fact that it’s been two years since I’ve had a bed to sleep in and I’m on the sofa or in my daughter’s bed.  In the middle of the night, my thoughts run wild with all sorts of problems and scenarios racing through my mind.  Then the next day, I’m exhausted and feel down, negative, anxious, all of which is made worse by extreme tiredness.  Then because I’m a fighter, and an optimist, my mood lifts and I feel positive and happy – it’s a rollercoaster.

Living in the same house as the person you’re divorcing is a surreal experience, made difficult by the fact that he blames me for everything. Sometimes he speaks to me as if everything is normal, then there’s a hugh blow up, then there’s the silent treatment, and so the cycle continues.  Somehow I manage to detach from this – most of the time anyway.  I much stronger than I used to be.  But I don’t have a home I can relax in.  I spend my days outside the house, but then I can’t get on with my life properly.  It’s not easy to say the least.  I feel as if I’m a ghost in my own life.

But despite this I’m relatively happy.  There are lots of positives in my life.  Although I have my dark days, and although they are becoming more frequent, I hold on to the hope that sometime next year, and sooner rather than later, I will be in my own place and my daughters and I (and our new addition, my daughter’s dog) will be living the life that we want: a life that is not controlled by someone else’s anger and abuse, in a happy home where there is fun and laughter, and family and friends are welcome.

In the meantime, to keep myself sane, I enjoy socialising, reading, writing, walking in the park, yoga and pilates, holidays and…

Dancing with another.

 

I am having a great week. My STBEx has gone on holiday and the girls and I have the house to ourselves.  We are enjoying the freedom: the freedom to use the washing machine when we want to, the freedom to put rubbish in the bin, the freedom to sit in the living room and chat in the evenings. I am enjoying having my own room and bed (the one that was ours but then became his as he pushed me out of it – both metaphorically and physically); I am enjoying have constant access to my possessions; I am enjoying not being on edge, waiting for him and his angry moods to descend like a black cloud on our lives.  I am lighting candles, watching TV, reading my book, chatting with my daughters. They are making plans to have friends round.

We are being NORMAL.

Only for us, this isn’t normal.  This freedom is exciting, intoxicating, relaxing.

We haven’t asked for much from our family life. We only want simple things, simple things like candles, books, TV, friends, a bed to sleep in.

This week really brings it home to me how absurd my situation is. How what the girls and I want is not unreasonable like he makes it seem. It’s NORMAL.

I’m not sure I’m making sense.

I am so looking forward to my future.

A future without him.

Freedom.

I read an article in Psychology Today entitled What drives emotional abuse in relationships.  I could identify with so much of it.

Firstly, the blame.  ‘I feel bad, and it’s your fault…You push my buttons’ is the accusation the article highlights.  For me, this translates into ‘You make me angry’ and what this does is shift the blame onto me.  The article suggests that angry and abusive partners fear their inability to cope and seek to control their environment and the people in it.  My sister recently mentioned how he has always been quick to anger.  She cited the example of when the girls were young and they dropped their ice cream.  He would shout at them but, as she pointed out the other day, no child deliberately drops their ice cream; it’s an accident.

‘Disengaging partners…try to deal with their sense of inadequacy about relationships by simply not trying – since no attempt means no failure’, the article goes on to explain.  So true, as every time I tried to discuss us, he got angry and blaming and gave no indication that he cared about me or the relationship.  Stonewalling and disengaging by one partner can make the other feel ‘unseen and unheard; unattrative; like you don’t count; like a single parent.’  This was exactly how I felt.  I used to describe myself as being single in a relationship.  I know I was definitely lonely, incredibly lonely when I was with him, yet fine when I was alone.

The following extract sums up my situation in a nutshell: ‘The most insidious aspect of living with an angry or abusive partner is not the obvious – nervous reactions to shouting, name-calling, criticism or other demeaning behaviour.  It’s the adaptations you make to try to prevent these episodes.  You walk on eggshells to keep the peace, or a semblance of connection.’  No relationship should be conducted in this manner.  Even now, I’m finding it very hard to stop automatically reacting to others in this way.  It’s become my way of life.  I engage in ‘constant self-editing and self-criticism to keep from pushing [people’s] buttons’.  I second-guess myself to the extent that I’m aware that I don’t know who I really am.  But I’m working on changing this.

‘Victims’ it goes on to say ‘will blame themselves…when the abuse is subtle…implying that you’re ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, not worth attention…you are more likely to think it’s your problem’.  This couldn’t be more true.  Look back through my past journals and you’ll find me analysing situations and searching for ways to get things right.  I had an ‘if only I could be a better wife, mother, housekeeper, cook blah blah blah, or sexier, thinner, better organised, more fun blah blah blah.  I didn’t feel that I was good enough in any respect.  I was working out and losing weight, to the point where I was less than 8 stone and could pull my jeans over my hips without undoing them.  His response: a look of disgust and a comment that I wasn’t back to my pre-baby weight.  I had a housework schedule to ensure that everything was done on a regular basis: he would always find something to fault.  I was cooking meals from fresh and on a budget: he didn’t want fish that day, he wanted a roast.  There was always something.  And I’d kick myself for getting it wrong.  Why?  I was never going to get it right.  For him, it would always be wrong.  I asked him what he found fun – I would do it, just to try and get some kind of connection, but ‘I don’t find anything fun’ he would say.  And I felt that was somehow my fault too.   I look back to that time and think I was pathetic, pathetic to be trying so desperately hard to please him.  Then I think, no – I should admire myself for being so determined to do my best to make it work.  At least, I can say with utmost honesty that I tried everything.  And despite his constant blaming me for ‘what you’ve done to me and our family’, I know that there was nothing more I could have done and I am not to blame.  I’m so thankful I wised up.

So now I need to watch my reactions and put a halt to the habitual responses.  We are divorcing, the relationship has been dead for a long, long time, and it’s time for me to make no apology for getting on with my life.

Thank you Psychology Today for giving me greater insight into my situation.

It’s my life!

Like I said in my last post, I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the last few weeks.

I’ve realised how the impact of the controlling relationship I’ve been in filters into other interactions.  I’ve been ‘trained’ not to make others angry. I don’t even spend my time trying to please people; instead I spend my time trying to take actions that will not make them angry.

For example, I’m staying with a friend at the moment and while they were at work I decided to fry myself some steak.  In the past, they’ve told me not to wash the pan, but I was frying steak and I wanted to wash the pan. And I couldn’t decide whether they would be angry if I washed the pan or angry if didn’t wash the pan and I agonised over what to do.  Eventually I decided to wash it because I’d fried meat and I didn’t want the smell to linger.  When they came in, I explained what I’d done and went into great detail to justify my actions.  They just looked at me, smiling like I was crazy, and said that it was ok that I’d washed the pan but it would have been ok if I hadn’t washed the pan and that it really wasn’t important.

And I realised that, had it been my husband, both actions wouldn’t have been right. Whatever I did would have been wrong.  But I would have thought I’d chosen the wrong action and kicked myself for my poor decision, and the ensuing bad atmosphere and spoiled day/evening would have been my fault.

But when I think about it, how could I have made the wrong decision 100% of the time. The law of probability says that I should have chosen the right action 50% of the time at least.  And however much agonising I did would never had led me to the “right” decision because in the eyes of my husband whatever I did was automatically the wrong decision.

And it really didn’t matter.

My friend has given me a key.  When I came back from work and I knew they were in, I didn’t know whether I should let myself in or not.  If I buzzed the door entry and they had to get up to let me in when I had a key, would they be angry?  But if I let myself in, would it look like I was treating it as my own home and not showing them respect, and would that make them angry?  Decisions, decisions.  So I compromised.  I let myself in through the external door; then rang the doorbell before letting myself in through the internal door.

And I realise that all this sounds crazy, and that all this IS crazy.

What kind of life have I been living when simple, unimportant decisions are fraught with anxiety, anger and blame?

But at least I’m aware of it.

Now.

He got physically abusive. Just over a week ago. This is what happened.

It was Saturday. I cooked dinner as my daughter was hungry. He wasn’t back from work.  I never know when he’s going to be back: it could be 4.00pm, it could be 10.00pm.  I prepared some for him and left it on the side – I still cook for him even though the decree nisi has come through, it seems petty not to.  We ate at about 5.30.

He got in at 7.00pm. I was getting ready to go out.  He stormed upstairs shouting that his dinner was ruined and he might as well cook his own dinner when he got in.  So I said that from now on I wouldn’t cook for him anymore and I didn’t want him to eat inferior food.  I was very calm because I’m done with all this. It will be over soon and he will be out of my life.  There was more salad and meat and potatoes so he could start cooking again from fresh and have the quality of meal he was demanding.

I started to walk downstairs. I don’t know whether it was to get away from the shouting or to do what I eventually ended up doing, but as I was walking downstairs, he shouted “Don’t throw it away!”  Did that give me the idea or was the idea already there?  Who knows?

I threw his dinner in the sink and dumped the plate on top of it.

And he lost it.  He grabbed me, shook me, shouted in my face, shoved me away, grabbed me again, shouted in my face again. My daughter was watching, screaming at him to stop, crying.  Eventually, he let go and I turned and walked away, which was when he pushed me from behind and sent me hurtling across the hall.

I walked upstairs.  My daughter got all my things together, hugged me, and I left, shaking.

My children went on holiday together the following day.  The younger one told the older one that she didn’t want to go because she was worried about me. I was scared to be in my own home with him. I never expected to feel scared and that in itself was frightening.  He hasn’t hurt me, and part of me thinks it’s not physical abuse unless you’re injured, and I kept telling myself that he wouldn’t actually hurt me but another voice inside me kept telling me that’s probably what all women think before they’re injured or worse.  And he hadn’t been drinking.  So I’m staying with a friend until my daughters get back.

I’ve learnt so much this past week.

I’ll tell you another time.

Quite a lot has been happening over the past few weeks and the tunnel is shorter, the light brighter.

The house has a buyer, about ten days after going on the market, at full asking price. Unfortunately, I lost three houses because I wasn’t under offer at the time, one of which was lovely and perfect – but there will be more.

I’ve had notice from my solicitor that the divorce court date is set for 28th May – that’s next week. If all goes well, I will be divorced in another couple of months.

I feel like I’m finally moving forward.

I had a trigger event yesterday. Here’s what happened.

I bought a cutlery holder for the drainer, the reason being we get through a lot of teaspoons and if I put them in the dishwasher we run out so I rinse them and put them on the drainer, but felt a cutlery holder would be better.  Hardly revolutionary stuff!

I was sitting in my daughter’s room when husband stormed in, waving the aforementioned cutlery holder and shouting “What the f*** is this?  You’re an f****** eejit”.

After he’d gone to bed, I went down to the kitchen and the holder had gone. I looked it the cupboards – no sign.

I found it in the bin.  And I kicked myself for buying it and making him angry.

And then I stopped.  That was what my life WAS like: weighing up my actions and trying to gauge his response and beating myself up when I made the wrong decision.  Over something as insignificant as a cutlery holder. And now I can clearly see the craziness of the situation and wonder why on earth I ever went along with it.  But then I admire myself; I admire myself for my dedication to trying to make the marriage work. However, I can see that no matter what I’d done, it would have been wrong and I was right to call it a day and file for divorce.

Needless to say, he blames me for everything. “I can’t believe what you’ve done to me” is what I frequently hear.  He’s trying to make me feel guilty but I know how hard I tried and I don’t care what his reality is because I know the truth.

Soon I will be shot of him and I’ll have my own house and as many cutlery holders as I want.

And I can’t wait.

Four months after filing for divorce, I had a letter from my solicitor saying that husband hadn’t replied to the Particulars of Divorce, so there I was thinking the end was in sight when I discovered that I was no further forward than I had been in November last year [sigh].

So I had to speak to him about this and his response: “Anyone else would have tried to make a go of this, but not you”. What?  Does he honestly think I haven’t tried?  All those times when I tried to sit down and talk to him…  Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I do know that I am doing the right thing.

He’s now responded and things are progressing. The house is on the market. Every time I take a major step like this, I wait for the feelings of uncertainty to hit; those ‘am I doing the right thing?’ doubts to come and trouble me in the darkness of the night. But they don’t. Every step has seemed like a major obstacle to be overcome; consequently it’s taken me quite a long time to build up to some of them.  However, once I’ve taken the step and look back, it seems easy and I wonder what I was afraid of.

My biggest fear of late was how I would feel when the house went up for sale and I suppose that even though I wanted it, I was also dreading it. I was certain that the doubts would hit me.  But even this was easy. I’ve been looking at houses further out from London where I will be able to afford the three bedrooms that the girls and I need. This will mean moving away from the area in which I’ve lived all my life.  But I’m ok about that, I’m looking forward to a change, and I’m seeing our future, our new life, the life we want, and it looks good, very, very good.

And I wake up now, not feeling dread and anxiety, but with the feeling that everything will be all right.

As the saying goes “everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end”.

It’s difficult at home as we’re all still living under the same roof but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel might be long.

But the light is there.