I get all sorts of ideas for a blog post. Some of them, in fact, quite a few of them, I am choosing to put into a “pipeline” so that I can have a new blog post scheduled every single day. But on occasion, I will post something immediately – like this post.
Abuse, particularly “invisible” abuse (mental, emotional, spiritual) is a huge hot-button for me. Why? Because I am a survivor of mental and emotional abuse. Sadly, the invisible abuses can be insidious, and are often explained away not only by others and the abuser, but by the victim as well (try reading He Never Hit Me)
While the Gaslighting article is written from the perspective of a victim with mental issues, one of the difficulties of living with a mentally ill person is that often their own gaslighting of someone else is excused due to their mental illness. I know, I excused it for 20 years. But he never hit me.
Having spent the last year slogging my way through the process of divorce, living away from his influence, away from his constant rages, away from his constantly blaming me for his “episodes,” away from his begging me to forgive him for destroying yet another item in our home or his gratefulness for me “loving and staying with this broken, excuse of a man,” away from his explosions over the least bit of annoyance/frustration, and away from his temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way, I’ve had a lot of time to think.
As a polyamorous woman, it wasn’t the fact that he was sleeping with other women, nor was it that he brought two other women into our lives as co-wives (religious ceremony, NOT legal – I was the only “legal” wife). It was the fact that until I put my foot down, I wasn’t allowed to date anyone else, because it would make him jealous and insecure and ended up in constant temper tantrums. It was because of experiencing over 12 years of celibacy because I was “too fat to be desirable” (questionable, because I’d been 100 lbs heavier when he married me, and until he had an attack of impotence in 2000, he was fairly often “in the mood”). It was his willingness to continually break the agreed-upon rules of the relationship, because he didn’t want to be limited by them. It was his constant insistence on his way, because “anything else will trigger [his] mental illness.”
It was the constant concern that “am I being abusive and not considering his mental illness?” It was being told that I was just as much to blame for his life being shitty as the family who physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually abused him as a child. It was the constant need to be his memory, because his mental illness gave him issues with short-term memory (even though he has and uses tools to aid in such things for work – he rarely if ever used any of those tools in his home life). It was the constant rescheduling of my life and sacrifice of my needs for his requirements.
But he never hit me.
Now, I will admit – I was just as much to blame for the last 20 years as he is. Why do I say that? Because I knew going into the marriage that he was an emotionally abusive bastard. I was blinded by the need to be needed. I was arrogant enough to think that “my love can save him.” I was convinced that “loving support” was all he needed, because Goddess knows, he never received it from his blood family. And one of my core principles, taught to me by MY family, is that once someone makes a commitment you had damned well better stay with it.
The truth is, I didn’t value myself as much as I valued him. I chose not to have protection against his constant abuse. I chose to tell myself that he was “making progress” and that as a loving wife I owed it to him to stand by him.
It took four months of discussions with my sister and my boyfriend (yes, I finally did insist on having my own relationships outside the marriage) to show me that I was not valuing myself. Neither of them ever even hinted at the word divorce in their conversations with me. They didn’t even spend their time running my ex-husband down in those conversations. They focused instead on me, on my choices, on my feelings, and on my duty to myself.
Obviously, I learned better. I’m living with my sister, slowly picking up the pieces of my life. I’m still dating and loving the boyfriend. And I’m learning to value myself. To choose ME instead of someone else.
But, please, anyone reading this who is in a relationship like mine was, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, take a good HARD look at yourself. Choose to value YOURSELF as much as you value anyone else. And if the person you’re in a relationship with is destroying you, then PLEASE find a way to get out of that situation!