This is actually a post I started a few days ago and realised I never finished it so here goes on finishing it.
Usually when I write a post, I know what I want to title the post before I even start. Tonight I don’t have the first clue what to call this post. I don’t even know what I want to write about either. There are so many things to say but no words are coming.
I guess what is foremost on my mind is something I’ve always felt – that in many ways, divorce is more painful than death. I don’t want to take away from those who have lost someone to death, but, even though I have never lost a spouse to death, I have lost others I love to death, and even though it’s incredibly painful, why divorce hurts me personally much more than death, is that it’s more than the loss of a spouse.
Cutting John out of my life (as much as possible when you share a child) has been surprisingly easy – emotionally I mean.
But it’s the loss of relationships with people I thought were family and friends that has been incredibly painful. Sadly some of the mostly hurtful ones are actually try to still claim they are friends and family – which is even more painful because they are the ones who have done things to actively help John abuse the kids and I, and helped him cover up the abuse from others.
I think sadly in their own minds, some of them actually think they are good people, that they are being “loving” but in reality they are little more than abusers themselves. Some of them know what they are doing, they are aware they are being deceitful, they know they are being manipulative, they know they are betraying trust, but in their own minds, they justify it because they believe John’s lies about the violence and abuse, they feel sorry for him, and that the ends justifies the means.
What they don’t see is that lying, being deceitful, betraying trust, manipulating and bullying is never justified – and even if it was ever justified, in this circumstance, where they are helping a violent abuser, is just compounding the abuse. And the family members who try to claim they still love Sammie, Rose and I? they have no idea what love is. You don’t turn a blind eye to violence and still claim you love someone.
I know some abusers (those like John) are narcissistics, and especially extremely high IQ ones like him are so good at manipulating people – and a big part of it is they honestly believe their violence and abusive behaviours are not abuse, and therefore their victims are “abusing” them by speaking out, and it justifies trying to punish the victims.
But I would give anything for those who defend him to see the truth.
And the sad thing is, I think deep down, some of them do see at least some of the truth, but they are so desperate to not face that the man they love and have defended and done bad things themselves for, that they won’t face it. For them to admit that he is a violent abuser, means having to admit they’ve treated me so badly themselves, that they have actively participated in helping an abuser commit abuse.
And that’s how I’ve discovered over the last few months (a few years for some of them who have known about the violence and other abuses longer) who is real family, who is a real friend – and who isn’t. Sadly, out of John’s 8 immediate family members, I can only say one has acted like real family to me, despite many claims over the last 5 years that when I married him, I was being welcomed into the family. And even that person doesn’t want to believe her brother is an abuser. But at least she is trying to act like family. Some of the others are just staying right out of it, because we haven’t been close at all, but others aren’t staying out it and have actively supported John in his abusive behaviour, and that really hurts.
And as for mutual friends? I have painfully discovered there really is no such thing. Funny thing is, I only trusted two of his friends enough to not cut them out of my life, and one of them turned out to be a backstabbing bully herself – one who I least expected with the way she claimed to be so anti-bullying. [I will add there is a sort of third “mutual friend” but I met her before I met him so she’s not included – just in case she’s reading and thinks this is talking about her].
The thing is, what hurts the most isn’t what these “family” and “friends” have done – what hurts the most is how stupid I was to think that these people were my family and friends. I made that mistake when my first marriage broke down – seeing how fickle family-in-law and “mutual” friends can be, and I swore I would never trust in laws and “mutual friends” again. And yet here I am.
And this time it hurts more because, unlike my first in laws and my first husband’s friends who are a bunch of illicit drugs who are okay with domestic violence and child abuse when it suits them (and into all sorts of dishonesty, including centrelink fraud, petty theft and so on), my second in laws and second husband’s friends, is that most of them seemed like good people. Most of them really think they are good people (as I described above).
I just feel so incredibly stupid. These are people I praised for being so welcoming to me into their lives. I praised them, thinking how kind and loving they were. Even when my gut said “hey, this doesn’t feel right”, I ignored my instincts and convinced myself it was just fear of being hurt again. I stupidly convinced myself that I was being silly.
I haven’t written much about aspergers for a while, but I think it plays a big part of how I ended up in this situation. There are a lot of people out there who believe that us aspies don’t have instincts, “gut feelings” and the like. But the truth is, I think us aspies actually have really good instincts – but we have had a life time of being told either we don’t have them, or they are wrong, so we have learnt to ignore those instincts, and for many of us (at least from what I’ve seen in aspie women) it means we do end up in situations like abusive relationships frequently.
I’ve been blessed to find a small group of other women in an online support group for aspie DV survivors and both their support, and their sharing of their lives, is what has kept me sane over the last year or so since I joined their group. But while it has been a blessing to find out that I’m not a freak – that others have been through similar, and sadly, are still going through, very, very similar circumstances – it is also a curse knowing that others have suffered and are suffering the same. I feel their pain greatly – anyone who says us aspies don’t feel empathy have no understanding what aspergers is really like – for many of us, it’s not a lack of empathy at all – it’s hyperempathy, and it’s overwhelming to care so much and not be able to do anything to take away other people’s pain.
And that’s part of why John is doing right now hurts so damn much – because I see my children’s pain – and for whatever reason, he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see what he is doing to them, the crushing pain they feel. And I see their pain, and it breaks my heart into a million tiny itty bitty pieces. And because he’s fooled so many people, I am helpless to stop him from the ongoing emotional abuse he is doing to them – and as I’ve said many times before, I know myself that emotional abuse can be far worse than any physical abuse, because I’ve been through it as a child myself. And it breaks my heart to watch my kids being ripped apart emotionally – I mean yes, it’s very different to the abuse I suffered as a child, but at the end of the day, it’s still a parent destroying a child emotionally, and it absolutely crushes me to watch John destroying the kids emotionally.
I want to protect my girls because when I was their age (both when I was Rose’s age – which for me is the first I remember of being abused as a child myself, and when I was Sammie’s age, when the abuse went through a very bad patch), when I was their age, I had no one to protect me. And feeling so helpless to protect them now, makes me feel like a monster.
It’s not that I’m not trying. I’ve tried everything possible that isn’t immoral or illegal to protect them, and sadly I’m not someone who believes the end justifies the means. I feel like if I had to resort to things that are immoral or illegal like John and some of those who stupidly support him have done, then that would make me as bad as he is. And while many would argue “but it’s for a good cause”, but if I become like him, then I don’t deserve to be in their lives either.
And that’s why I feel so helpless. Being a good parent to them means there is nothing I can do in the short term to stop John hurting them.
It’s that paradox that I can’t get out of my head – that I can’t help them without becoming a bad person which means failing them, but if I do the right thing and choose to be a good person and setting them an example of doing the right thing no matter how hard that is (which to me is being a good parent) means I can’t help them in the short term, which means I’m still failing them.
And that’s what so hard about the situation I’m in. The funny thing is, I can forgive John for the violence, I can forgive him for all the other abuses except one – the fact that he’s put us in the situation where my girls are hurting and that no matter what I do (at least in the short term) I can’t make things better for them. And that’s the worst situation for any loving parent to be in – having to watch their children suffer and knowing whatever you do, you can’t take away their suffering.
That’s what I can’t forgive John for. For hurting my beloved girls and that I can’t stop their hurt.
So anyway, sorry for the focus of my recent posts being all about domestic violence, but after having kept it pent up and secret for so long, combined with all the horrific things that have happened and continue to happen recently, it’s all I can think about.
I will try to get back to a more varied range of posts one day, but for now, I have what can only be described as an burning urge to share the painfully real, raw emotions that go with finally realising that my entire marriage, John has been abusive – right from our honeymoon – and that there was no “only”s and “just”s about the times John has assaulted the kids and I, that for too long I was fooling myself that we could have a normal loving marriage and a normal loving family – that no matter what I did, while no one else is willing to confront John about the violence and other abuses, he was never going to be a loving father or husband.
I want other survivors (even though I often say “victims”, the reality is those who suffered domestic violence are all survivors and that should be recognised – we are survivors, we have survived and we will keep surviving) – I want other survivors to know that the emotions they feel when they reach that point of seeing the abuse entirely for what it is – very wrong, very bad, and completely not okay – I want them to know that they will feel strong emotions, they will feel a massive range of emotions, they will sometimes feel overwhelmed by those emotions, that the emotions will ebb and flow like waves on a shore, sometimes there will even be waves that seem to hit all at once, and other times there will be times of more relief, but just like waves on a shore, what they are feeling is natural, that there is no “right or wrong” in the emotions that they feel, that it’s okay to have bad days – and it’s actually okay to have good days, that you don’t have to feel guilty over finding moments of peace and/or happiness in this difficult time.
I want survivors to know, they are not alone. That others have been through similar.
And I want them to have hope, that if enough of us share our stories, that we can maybe, just maybe, one day make a world where people do take domestic violence, child abuse and all sorts of abuses seriously and where no one has to suffer abuse at the hands of any other person, especially not a person who claims to love them.
That’s why I keep coming back to this blog, even though it’s painful to write – because I want to make a difference to others going through the same as I have. Because even if I can help one person, then maybe my suffering was in some way worth it.