The effects of emotional abuse spread much farther than just the intended victim. In my marriage I was the target of his rage and anger, but everyone around us also was impacted by the abuse dynamics in our home. The children witnessed this psychological violence, they saw their father demean and belittle their mother. It created tensions in our home. They were taught to disrespect me, my views, needs and opinions were attributed to my flaky personality. They became part of his arsenal of attack. "Don't listen to her, she doesn't know what the fuck she is talking about" That pattern continued for a while after the divorce, it took a while for the kids to see me a full human being.
There are people out there who will not believe me when I speak out about his actions. But that truly doesn't matter because I know what happened. My children know what we lived through, and even more so HE KNOWS what he did even though he will never ever admit it. Eventually the truth will be apparent, everyone has their own journey to discovering it. He is but a small grain of sand on the beach of my life, insignificant. My world has grown. Whatever he or his defenders believe really doesn't matter, it does not impact me. Those are just desperate attempt to give their own lives meaning. I know that emptiness, I lived it. I can spot it a mile away. I wish them healing too.
There are those that say I write this blog out of vindictiveness, just throwing blame and playing the victim. They are free to believe what ever they wish, because again, I know why I really do this. Someone out there who is in the same position will see themselves here. And I hope it gives them the validation they need for escape. It was nameless faceless blogs out there that helped me. I am filled with gratitude for those brave souls that share their stories. I hope my story will help someone too. It's also very therapeutic for me to put this in writing, it helps me sort it out and make sense of it. To help quell the voices screaming in my mind. It gives me peace to finally be living honestly, and no longer keep these secrets. No more living behind a mask of deception, pretending to be something we are not.
The most important to me right now is to find peace and healing for all of us, and mend some of the wounds that we carry. To create a new life that is supportive, loving and something we will be able to look back on as a gift. I am grateful for my kids, they are wonderful loving human beings who have been through a lot. But in spite of that they are truly good to their core. I am very proud of them and I treasure the time and relationships I have with them. We have beautiful get togethers were we laugh and connect in meaningful ways. Creating new traditions, building new memories. Most of them are living with me so I get the opportunity to see them grow and heal each day. We are in this together, we are family. I am incredibly proud of them and I truly love them.
The ripples emotional and psychological abuse also affected our extended families, while they didn't know what was going on, there was estrangement and isolation. We did not have them over, the relationships were awkward. The secrets created barriers. It's hard to be jovial and fun when you were were just told "no wonder they all hate you". I tried hard to maintain the image of a loving family that had it all, but the cracks were apparent. My former husband was much better at his role, for many it would be impossible to believe he could be anything but the sweetest kindest man that walked the face of the earth. It's a wound for me to know what they think of me. They only saw me in that context, a moody temperamental woman. They didn't know anything about the factors that were contributing to my distasteful demeanor. All they saw was a woman that was always upset. They never knew me, and they never will. Of course, telling them what was happening was never an option. They wouldn't have wanted to hear it. But, it doesn't matter anymore, because that was just all part of that abusive relationship, and now that it's behind me. I can leave that behind too.
He also deliberately maintained distance with outsiders, (this included relatives) because he was wanted to protect his secret, and preserve his image. So friendships disintegrated. This was a double hit, because he also would berate me for his lack of friendship or close relationships with extended family. He would scream at me in anger because he said he had no social life, according to him it was because I was so controlling and would not allow him to visit. But, when invited to outings or events he would turn it down.
The relationship with my family was affected as well. As time went on, the abuse affected me in ways that caused me to withdraw. I was always anxious and tense, reactive to any perceived slight. He would point at my withdrawal as more evidence of everything that is wrong with me. I cannot get along with anyone. For years I had virtually nothing to do with my family with whom I had been so close as a child. These breakdowns in relationships was another club he would use to bash me. YOU DROVE EVERYONE AWAY!!! BUT I STOOD BY YOU!! this was meant as justification of what a wonderful man he was, and how I should submit to his demands.
My home situation and mental state affected my work environment and relationships as well. I had a hard time letting down my guard. It was (and still is difficult to focus) I struggled to maintain a professional demeanor when often all I wanted to do was lock myself in a room and pretend the world didn't exist. I would spend days shaking at my day completely unable to complete my tasks. Making errors that made me look like a complete idiot. Completely traumatized.
Its hard to take care of the needs of others in your world when your are in that state. Your true self becomes hidden. I suffered a tremendous amount of anxiety. I was always on edge. Day to day I just coped. Which often was just bare survival. As I emerge from this situation, the impacts on all the different parts of my life, and the impact on those around me are becoming far more apparent.
When the stressor is no longer there, and you have the time for processing, the full horror reveals itself. Time as also pointed the way to a better life as well. Without the constant fear and stress of being berated, threatened and belittled, our home is now relaxed. There are no longer the sudden eruptions of anger. But unfortunately the memories and the effects do not magically evaporate. They still linger. I still burst into tears for now apparent reason from time to time. I expect this is going to continue for awhile.
The mission of healing is not just for me, it's also for everyone around me. I have a responsibility to my children especially. They have been so hurt by the toxic home environment they grew up in. They are still affected by it. They both witnessed abuse and suffered from the abuse. Early in my recovery, I was not truly able to be there for them. You cannot look after someone else until you look after yourself. The kids became really accustomed to me crying for hours. I ordered a lot of take out for them because I didn't have the energy to cook. For a long time, I was only half there, my mind numb unable to fully engage with the world around me. I feel badly that it took me as long as it did to be able to give them the full love and support that they needed. But now that is happening, and the fruit is beginning to show. It's obvious that they are still hurting, and a bit raw.
I am committing myself to provide them with a stable, consistent loving home they can depend upon. I want to give them the solid ground that they need so that they can heal as well. It will take understanding and patience. There are times they lash out. That is understandable. I have to do my absolute best to give them the space to express their anger, and love them through it. I am committed to being a solid as I can for them, so they know without a doubt that I am in their corner, they can trust me. I am going to make sure they have a sense of family, what ever form that may take in the future.
In order to be able to do this, I really do have to look after myself. I have to listen to my body when it is telling me to slow down. I cannot just ignore that lump of anxiety that arises in my stomach. I have take care of my health, and my fitness and engage in self-care. Self care is not just for me, it is also for them. I cannot be a solid foundation for them through willpower and desire alone. I have to build a strong healthy base. The better I rebuild myself, the better their lives will be. I cannot change their past, but I can improve their future.