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In loss, you win.

In of the spite of breaking free from the daily stress in an abusive situation, getting out of an abusive marriage feels like a loss. You feel the loss of the dream you had. The person that you thought you were in a relationship with, the person in the beginning, that you hoped he would once again become. No one gets married planning to get divorced. Recognizing the dreams you had, that you so worked so hard to achieve are not to be. The recognition you were running on a hamster wheel. I was not valued for being me, I was valued for what I could do for him. Even though I now see he never loved me, I was led to believe he did. I completely wasted my time with him, we were not working towards the same goal like I thought we were. All the same, it is a loss and you do need to grieve that. It isn't even about him, it is about the dreams you had in your mind, the ones that compelled you to stay even as you were being accused of giving birth to other men's children.

Coming to terms with the truth, has been one of the most painful things for me to face. I thought it was real. The monster I saw at the end, is who he really is. His mask had completely dropped. That didn't stop me from asking myself. If only I did this, or maybe if I did that? You ask yourself if you could have changed the outcome.

It takes time to fully come to terms with what happened. I still question myself, am I imagining it, am I exaggerating what happened? Is this all in my head, am I revising history? He played the role of a good man often enough, that it blurs the bad. In the beginning he was wonderful, amazing, my soul mate, the man of my dreams. The cracks began to show early in our relationship. But, I hung in there, hoping that good, kind man would come back one day. As time goes on you sink deeper and deeper into the quick sand of that relationship. Before long escape seems impossible. How could such a good person turn into such a monster? I made excuses, it was stress from dealing with his horrible ex. He was under pressure. If I love him enough this will pass. I started questioning, was it me? I thought if I just worked harder, I could fix it somehow. But of course, there is no fixing it. The game was rigged.

It's common for survivors of abuse to do this, for years you have been told you are imagining things. It takes time to rebuild your ability to listen to your own intuition and trust your own instincts again. You have been told so often you didnt hear or see that, when you know for sure that you did. There is a free workshop by Dr. Ramani on YouTube that really helps understand how gaslighting affects you long term, I strongly recommend it. One of the things she says in the workshop is in order to resolve the effects of gaslighting you need to go back and recognize all the times it had happened. I can remember right back into my childhood several instances. Now, when I speak to him, I can recognize the gaslighting, right away. Now I can recognize what he is doing. It took me so long to be able to see behind the façade.

It's also common for victims to blame themselves and examine what they did to cause it. After continuously being told you were the problem that is completely natural. In my marriage absolutely everything was my fault. EVERYTHING!!! I dragged the horrible abusive behaviour out of him. I only do this because of your behaviour, you are making me do this! He told me that my behaviour was so horrendous, and I was such an offensive person that his treatment of me was completely justified. I deserved to be screamed at and belittled. I gave him no other option. He told me what a good man he was for putting up with me. And he was the only man that every would. If I would change than things would be fine.

I spent a lot of time going back over history trying to figure out where and when it went wrong. Is there anything I could have done? The answer to that is no. The only thing I could have done was left earlier. He has not, nor ever will change. I also realize now; he really doesn't care about the damage he has done to me. He doesn't even recognize it. The years of anguish he inflicted. In his mind there were a couple rough patches, but we had good times. I am only focusing on the bad at the end. But the bad was not only at the end, it just became far more overt, and threatening. I am certain physical violence was his next step. It had gotten to the point he secure enough in his control, that he told me he was going to go out with another woman, and I was going to stay home until I learned to behave. When I learned to behave, then I could go out in public with them again. The message was clear, I was to be subservient, not only to him but to the other woman as well. Even in my traumatized brain this was a step to far. This was a far cry from where we started, where supposedly I was the only woman in the world for him. I look back and realize, by having an affair with my husband, Brandy did me the biggest favour a friend could do. If not for that affair, I would still be in that relationship. She got into his head, she prodded him, poking at his the cracks of dissatisfaction with me. She was the type of person who likes to create trouble then sit back and watch. He never saw that, all he could see was the flattery of his ego, and the way she puffed him up. It went straight to his head. He felt then that I was the cause of all his problems. Women everywhere wanted him, he could live a life where everything in his house was new, he wouldn't have to budget. All his financial troubles were Carolynne's fault. I was the one keeping him from his dream life. Narcissists always need an adversary. I had become that adversary, and I am sure I will remain in that position for a while. I wonder if he ever realizes his mistake. But for me, Brandy opened the door to my freedom. I am grateful for that now.

What was it that I was looking for that I so willingly gave my own life dreams. I think that was my first mistake. I gave up my own dreams. I had a plan, and I was on my way to achieve them. Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of self-confidence, so I really didnt think I could do it. When I met my former husband, it was a sigh of relief, finally someone who could lead the way. I thought I would be safe with him. He would take care of things. I thought I could trust him and he would show me the right way. His path was one hundred percent different than what I wanted for myself. He wanted to settle down immediately, have kids, the whole suburban family thing. I had wanted to travel, explore, move around. Traveling is for losers he told me, you are supposed to be working, buying a house, building up wealth. I had not planned on having kids until I was 30. I gave up my youth, and my opportunity to explore without obligations.

I did this because I thought I had found a real gem. He was sweet, caring and seemed to be so thoughtful and kind. I thought if I went off on my own and left him behind, I would never find anyone else like him. Unfortunately, I did not get the future he promised. It was not a warm loving supportive environment like I thought I had agreed too. We did not discuss and work out our differences. The expectation was I would mould to whatever he wanted. Anything I wanted was stupid, and immature. In his new relationship, without question he has found a far better match. I only wish he had gone and done that before.

I have grief that he wasted so many of my years when he could have gone out years ago and found someone that fit his lifestyle. That I missed out on the opportunity to find someone who was more like me, that had the same ambitions, goals and interests. I am finding there are actually so many men like that out there. So many kind men, men you can trust. He used to tell me he was the only man I could trust; other men were just out to screw me over. I know understand this is part of isolating and is actually a red flag.

That grief is no doubt part of the healing. I am in transition between grieving the old and building the new. As I build the new, a new wave of grief hits because I realize, I could have been doing this all along. While I am very happy with my current life, I still cry sometimes. I cry for the girl that gave it all up so easily. Who didn't know she was capable. Who didn't see everything she had always wanted was actually right at her fingertips. And who stayed so long in a unhappy situation.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crashing, when suddenly it hit me. In spite of the grief, this is a huge gain. Though I have lost many years in misery. I know have the opportunity to actually live the life I always wanted; with the people I want around me. I have been building my tribe, and its wonderful! I never would have been able to do these things or meet these people if I was still married. None of this would be happening. Three years ago, I could not have imagined my life as it is now. I suddenly became aware of the immense sense of satisfaction and comfort that I feel deep inside. This is right.

I have a few more years of responsibility with my kids, but I am on the verge of being able to do all the things I want to do, with a man who is genuinely what I was seeking in a mate. A man that does not yell at me or ever call me a whore. A man I can actually talk to. It's amazing. This is what true joy feels like. I had not felt that in many years. There are many moments I get flashes of memories of the girl I used to be before I was subjected to years of intense manipulation, gaslighting and psychological abuse. I am remembering her, I had forgotten her for so long, but she is returning.

Spending the last couple years really diving in and exploring my emotions and feelings has been so worth it. I would not change it for the world.

I have regrets that none of this happened sooner, or that I married him in the first place. But that's the past, and now I have the opportunity to actually live that life. Being able to dream and imagine again is so liberating. Knowing that I can think something and go do it. That was never true in my marriage, there was no way he would allow it.

I am still in transition, I have not fully come into my new life yet, I am still cleaning up old mess left behind from the marriage. I am still exploring and learning, rediscovering my passions and interests. The damage from that marriage was deep, there was no quick fix.

I am so grateful to be out, free from that toxic family, free from that toxic man. So grateful he is someone else's problem now. Having the opportunity to live the life I always wanted to live. Finally, truly understanding, it doesn't matter what they say what they accuse you of, it has nothing to do with the truth or your worth. Trying to prove myself was a complete waste of time and energy.

I am loving every minute of my present. It is all mine, I am responsible for myself, completely. This is freedom, this is life the way it is meant to be lived. I am taking the time to be on my own to make sure that never again will I live under those conditions. I am doing everything I can to support my children to help them recover from the trauma they experienced. I am building a new life, where I set the rules, and I decide what kind of world I live in, no longer a cork in someone else's ocean.

I made a bad bet in the past, but that has all changed. This has been a win.

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