Recently, I’ve been noticing a few personality traits that I now realize are related to my being in an abusive relationship for so long. None of them are new but I am just now seeing how so much of me is netted into this lifestyle. A little over a year ago, I had written a blog post called Survival Mode after reading another blog post (That Wasn’t Me…This Is Me), which triggered an understanding/clarity of how “we” -the abused- get sucked in so deep to a point where we are almost physically and mentally incapable of getting out.
People who have never experienced Domestic Violence or abuse in any form, are typically the ones spewing all the oh so popular catchphrases, such as…Why didn’t she just leave? What those people don’t understand is that it’s so much more than a woman saying, I love him, and then all of a sudden – CURSE PUNCH KICK – and her saying, I still love him. I’m sure there is a percentage of that scenario but it’s not the norm. At least not for me, and I never understood that mindset.
Once upon a time, I was normal. I don’t know when exactly because apparently I’ve been carrying the burden of abuse around for such a long time. Let’s just go with the topic of boyfriends. Okay. So, I was normal. Dated guys. Never got hit. Never got mistreated. Never got spoken down to. And then I meet HIM. Once he realizes I liked him, the game begins. I chase, he ignores. I ignore, he chases. I date someone else, now he’s in love and can’t live without me. Now, this could have all been part of his own personal issues with shyness and not knowing how to relate to females in general, or was it premeditated?
The beginning of the end.
When we officially started dating, we had known each other for about three years. So, he knew my background, my ex-boyfriends, who I associated with. Being that he was telling me I was his one and only, he slowly started to manipulate his way into my every day. And since it was a new relationship, seeing each other every day is normal, right? This is where the manipulation began. It was slow but very steady. Convincing me not to talk to other guys because I was his girlfriend now. Until I didn’t speak to any of my male friends. Even ones that there was never any romantic involvement with. Next were my girlfriends. He either didn’t like them or they didn’t like him and it was easier if I just stopped hanging out with them.
As time went on, the textbook abuse code of behavior was activated and carried through almost methodically which began with the ever so subtle isolation of friends and family, followed by jealousy and control, criticism, sabotage, blame and anger …. just to name a few early warning signs – aka – I wish I knew then what I know now.
“It is not this massive oppressive nature that comes at us all at once. Instead, it innocently seeps into our everyday consciousness until it’s all that we know. Even though the little things seemed so big as they were happening, by the next “BIG” incident that last one could easily be considered almost nothing. I learned the dos and donts of what makes an abusive man angry and quickly and without conscious knowledge I knew just exactly what would rock the boat and so my main goal from day to day was NOT to rock it.”
People wonder how we get so brainwashed that while all of this abuse is happening years are passing by and we still haven’t left.
Like I said in Survival Mode:
“As the years go by you just learn how to respond. What facial expressions to use and when to just answer yes or no without a story behind it. People wonder how you can live so many years this way…truth is, when you are so busy living from day to day just trying to make it through the day without a hitch, time friggin flies.”
And now here I am, still surviving. Attempting to heal from within so I can heal once I’m out. I can tell that it’s working because everything is becoming more clear. These “traits” I mentioned in opening…are the side effects of my life. One of which came to the surface last weekend when I snapped at someone I love, telling them to “shut up” because they were suggesting I do something a different way than I was doing it. My brain heard a command and my defensive reflex took over. I later apologized, explaining that in order to deal with being spoken to a certain way for so many years, my brain instinctually created a sort of coping mechanism which unfortunately reared it’s ugly head with the “shut up”.
The thing is, I never realized this reflexive response. Or maybe it didn’t strike me the same way before. This person’s response was a look of hurt and disappointment causing them to walk away from me and leave without saying good-bye, and it hurt. It hurt me because I hurt them. It made me realize – which I also explained – that there are so many other things that I’m not even aware of that are ingrained in me because of this and I probably won’t even know until I’m away from it. On top of that, I won’t know how long it’ll take me to undo it all. At the end of the day, they understood. And I was left wondering what other attributes will pop up when least expected.
Unfortunately, I’m sure there will be plenty. I’m aware of some of the PTSD symptoms I already have, which suck. I have finally become very aware that I suffer from intermittent depression – mostly extreme sadness and episodes of crying spells. Currently, dissociation seems to be the flavor of the month…past few months…maybe longer. I’ve been unable to focus (usually when working) for at least six months or longer and daydreaming is another symptom. I seem to “check out” often – sometimes mid conversation. I thought that was just selective hearing. 🙂
It seems to be a good thing that I am starting to become more aware of all of these issues. The more I understand that which ails me hopefully the faster and easier the healing process. We’ll see.
My story starts here.