*domestic violence trigger warning*
I’ve been sitting here in front of the screen for a few hours now, not knowing where to start. Actually I’m here to write a post I’ve been trying to write for many months – a post I never wanted to have to ever write – but I can’t avoid it forever and still be true to what I started this blog for.
For some time, I’ve barely posted at all, and even before that, much of what I wrote was very impersonal, and even what I shared that was personal, was avoiding what I wanted to write about.
But how does a person share something that is devastating that they’ve been trying to ignore for so long?
I really don’t know how to share this other than come right out and say it – “John” didn’t quite turn out to be the man I thought he was.
I haven’t been able to write posts because how could I write about domestic violence and abuse when I was going through it still? I felt like if I wrote about domestic violence but didn’t talk about what I was going through, then I was only half telling the truth, and a half truth can be as bad or worse than a lie. But on the other hand, I felt like if I wrote personal posts on other topics, then it was a painful reminder of what I was avoiding talking about.
So I just stopped writing except the occasional thing here and then – wanting desperately to write about what was going on, but never finding the words.
But here I am now.
Reading back on what I’ve written, I feel like I’ve only written half of the truth anyway. Not deliberately, but because that’s exactly what domestic violence does to the human spirit.
All too often in an abusive relationship, the abuse builds up very, very slowly. It comes up all the time – if abusers treated you the way they do now, in the early stages of the relationship, you’d see it for abuse straight away and cut them out of your life immediately. But that’s not how abusers work. They chip away at you, a little bit at a time, like a small stream eventually carving away a massive canyon.
I look back at things I’ve written – in this blog, in comments on other people’s blogs, in emails and chats with friends, etc – and in hindsight, I can see John was always an abuser – even when I was raving about how wonderful he was when we first met, even when I talked about the sweet and caring things he did, there are little hints of the things that eventually happened.
I dismissed them as “nobody’s perfect and he’s still the most awesome guy I’ve met” and “his good points more than outweigh the ‘few’ bad points”, or just glossed over them, didn’t pay attention to them, or outright just ignored them. Not deliberately, but the human mind (even ones that aren’t average) has a way of filtering out things that it doesn’t want to face – “rose coloured glasses”.
Most of the time, “rose coloured glasses” are healthy. It’s what gives people the thrill of first falling in love and other new situations, it’s what helps people deal with the natural disappointments in life, it’s making the best of imperfect situations and imperfect people – it’s what helps relationships including family and friends, survive the way that all human beings fail each other sometimes.
But sometimes those rose coloured glasses can be so unhealthy. Sometimes they can blind us to the true character of those around us. And while we give more and more of ourselves to those in our lives, we don’t realise that the people we are giving ourselves to are only taking love and giving back nothing except for hurt.
When I married John, I told myself that I knew he wasn’t perfect. I knew his flaws – or so I thought. I knew he wasn’t the most lovingly passionate man emotionally, but I dismissed it as him being a logical person, one who doesn’t think emotionally, a person who thinks 100% with his head and 0% with his heart – a “Spock” mindset for those of you have ever watched Star Trek. I knew he had the occasional “meltdown” (even though that in itself is incompatible with him being not an emotional person), but dismissed it as not very often and minor. I knew he had mental health issues, but I dismissed those as insignificant, not effecting his life and under control – and that a quarter of the population have some form of diagnosable mental illness in their life and most live completely normal lives.
But it wasn’t until things got much worse, when I went back and looked at things I’d written to family and friends, that I realised things were far worse even before we got married than I ever realised. Things like his “meltdowns” that I had thought were not very often and minor, once I sat down and worked out just how often they had happened, I realised they were far from uncommon – and only once the rose coloured glasses were removed, did I realise they weren’t small or insignificant either.
I came to realise also, that John was far from emotionless. It wasn’t that he lacked emotions. It wasn’t even that he lacked the ability to express his emotions in a “normal” way, and it wasn’t just that he has alexithymia (the inability to identify one’s own emotions). I eventually realised that John only expresses emotional extremes – childish mania that I’ve rarely seen in adults unless they are high on drugs or drunk, or having a manic episode or have other issues – or angry, bitter, hateful depression. And more than that – he can flip back and forth in an instant, and go between them back and forth very quickly.
He had huge issues with sudden mood swings – the severity of which I never realised until he stopped antidepressant medication a little over 18 months ago. But in hindsight those mood swings were always there, just he hid it well and I dismissed what I did say, made excuses for it, minimised it – all the things that I should have learned in my first marriage were massive warning signs that he was abusive and would escalate
But even though the history of having been married to one violent abuser should have taught me the warning signs, it was exactly that experience of having been married to a violent abuser in my first marriage, that contributed to me not realising for so long that I’d married a violent abuser for a second time.
John’s differences to my first husband were so very clear (different personalities, different interests, claims of very different morals and beliefs, etc) that I missed the very important similarities – the anger issues, the self entitlement, the arrogance covering up self esteem issues, the need to tear someone else down to build themselves up (only feeling good by feeling like they are better than others).
And probably the biggest reason I missed how abusive John was until I was deeply being abused, was that John’s abuse of me was very different – the same types of abuse were there – verbal and emotional, financial and eventually physical abuse – but how he did them was very different. Where my first husband was very direct – he’d explode, be very aggressive and eventually very violent (even trying to kill me during near-psychotic rages several times) – he was extremely impulsive and like an explosion, but afterwards he’d come back and beg forgiveness and express so much remorse – John on the other hand turned out to be far more premeditated – manipulative, spiteful – and other than the first few times, he has pretty much shown no remorse. And even the first few times, he’d be remorseful only briefly – a few weeks the first time, a few days the second time, only for the rest of the day the next few times, and then not at all.
It had taken me years to realise that what my first husband did to me was abuse and wrong and not okay. So to be faced with abuse that was just as devastating (physically even more devastating injuries despite the assaults themselves being less vicious) but so very different, it took me so long to accept that I was being abused again.
And the thing is, after the second or third assault, I did realise I was being abused – but by then I was trapped and unable to leave.
I will end there for tonight as I’m barely able to keep my eyes open from exhaustion.
I will reassure for those reading, I am no longer with John. I won’t say the girls (Sammie and Rose) and I are completely safe, but we are not in danger right at this minute.
Things have happened that I will never forgive or forget (although I want to forgive and wish I could forget) but that is a post for another night.
I just wanted to share why I haven’t blogged regularly the way I had intended when I first started this blog. There are so many things I want to share, about the abuse that has happened, the abuse that is still continuing, that it’s not just me but Sammie and Rose that have suffered too – just to be clear, I have shared next to nothing about the abuse they have been through, not because I consider myself more important, not because they haven’t been abused, not because I’m trying to hide it – but because, as I’ve already tried to convey in previous posts, that their experiences are their experiences, not mine.
When or if they are ready to share their experiences, including about the abuse, I will support them, I will help them share their story if they want me to, but in the mean time, I will only share only a minimum about their experiences.
I hope to come back and post more soon, but, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship with an abuser knows, it’s not just hard to write about the experience, but it’s hard to even start writing – it can actually even be hard to open up the website with the blog, it’s that traumatic to face having been so badly abused.
All I know at this stage, I’m just glad to finally be opening up. To counsellors, to family and friends, to police and other authorities, and finally here on my blog. If I wasn’t literally falling asleep, I’d say a massive weight has lifted from my shoulders and from my heart.
My blog was the last place where there are people I felt a massive need to open up to about the abuse. It was the last place I felt forced to stay silent. And now that I have opened up and no longer silent about the abuse, I feel so relieved.
If anyone has found this post difficult, please don’t stay quiet. Please open up and talk to someone. If you are being abused, reach out and ask for help. I know how hard it is, and that there are places where help is scarce but please open up and reach out anyway – there is help out there and it’s worth it to reach out.
Sharing a quote from one of my very favourite movies…
“Never give up. Never surrender!”