Damaged Goods

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.

_____________________________________________________________

If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should read Effects of Domestic Violence posted on The Joyful Heart Foundation website.  It is very informative.

My story starts here.

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39 thoughts on “Damaged Goods

    • Your comment “even if you don’t always feel it” got me. That’s the key…not always feeling it or believing it. Always amazed at the praise. Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Meghan. I know it took time to become this way and it will take time to unravel. If I’m starting to realize and work on things before I’m even gone, then I consider that ahead of the game. God is good. I hope you are doing well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sweetie, this is hard for me to read because I remember when I first realized this was me as well, and in some ways no matter how long we have been free of the active abuse and the presence of the abuser themselves (whether it’s a man or woman), there are still small ways this manifests months and years after leaving. This is hard for me to read, because there isn’t anything I can do for you to make it better outside of providing emotional support and being there. Even though we who have broken free know that you will not leave until you’re ready to, it doesn’t mean we don’t wish we could reach in and pluck you out to freedom.

    I know it’s hard to do, but try not to refer to yourself negatively. Damaged goods are rejects. Something no one wants. Perhaps damaged beyond repair. I promise you, you are none of these. You have more people than you realized who keep you in their thoughts ad prayers, people who care about you and love you. People who bring you into their lives because they see your worth. You matter to us. By insulting yourself, you are only deepening the emotional damage he has inflicted upon you.

    The answer to your question (one of them). Was it premeditated? I sometimes catch flack from people with my absolute answers. Some people have a need to allow for gray area. I do for some things, but in this instance I do not. I believe nothing about abuse is accidental. I believe it’s calculated, thought-out, measured, and planned. Abusers want power and control, and they do what they need to in order to achieve that. So the game he played with you in the beginning was not accidental, even if he initially didn’t plan out what he was doing, he still reacted in a way that showed he viewed you as property. He manipulated you. And then when he got you, he hurt you, Out of choice.

    The hardest thing in the beginning for me to swallow was how someone could knowingly destroy someone. That they could see the hurt and suffering and pain and still relentlessly persist in adding more and more. That someone could even be in front of them pleading with them to stop, and instead of showing mercy (because they lack the capability to) they either make it worse or mock them. I lost months of sleep trying to figure out how someone could do this thing. Destroy someone. Hurt them. Manipulate, lie, use, pummel, and verbally shred them and feel satisfaction from this. In the end I had to tell myself “monsters do what monsters are.” because I was driving myself to distraction with ifs, ands, and buts.

    In my circle of friends, I’m “that girl who” wears her heart on her sleeve. When I say that, I mean my vulnerability shows even when I try to hide it. I mean that if you hurt me, it shows. If you make me happy, it shows. If I get obnoxiously excited, it shows. If I get angry, I don’t verbally react, but when my face is beet-red and I’m you “the look,” people back off. Just as when I love or care about someone, it shows. When you mix that with the conditioning I went through when I was abused, trouble can always be around the corner.

    Initially, you tend to not have much control over your reactions. For all intents and purposes, you really have been trained when you hear “A” you respond accordingly. I’m not saying it makes it okay when you react in a way that hurts someone, but it’s going to happen until you have a way to control your responses. Those around me have gone through a lot in the past 28 months since I left. They have pretty much been forced to watch and unfortunately be affected by it without any means of controlling it. This means although they experience my good days, they also have had to deal with anger, irrational behavior, the OCD, my need to micro-manage, and the emotional darkness. They deal with my PTSD, my anxiety, my depression, and most of the time do not understand it. I am fortunate enough that many of them waited it out, and many came into my life knowing this was an issue.

    It’s good that you recognize what you’re experiencing is PTSD. Many actually don’t realize this until well after they’ve left and someone tells them. Now you know a part of what you will be facing emotionally once you do leave. You won’t fully realize it for a while. What seems to happen so often is that you’re working on something and finally have it under control and then something else comes along that you didn’t realize was even an issue. It will be a process and will not happen overnight, so prepare yourself mentally for that. Healing takes work and brings up a lot of hurt and suffering and pain.

    But in that, you also see how strong you have really been the entire time. I promise you, you are. You’re an amazing woman. I tried once to imagine how my life would have been had I been trapped with my ex as long as you have. And I couldn’t, mainly because he was so violent I wouldn’t have made it even to five years. 25 is unimaginable to me. I would rather have been killed in under five years than to have lived well over two decades with his verbal and emotional abuse eating away at me like acid but from the inside out.

    You’re an encouragement to so many because it takes guts to speak out even after we’ve left. You’ve not left yet, but you’re already sharing your story. You’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. I’m honored to be in your circle. You’re truly an amazingly strong, beautiful woman.

    With love and support,
    Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • AMY!!! I love and cringe (just a bit) when you respond because your words always get to me. In a good way. But in a way also that gets me tearing up. So I always have to get the tissues ready! 🙂

      First, I hope others will read this response…I was in NO WAY degrading myself or referring to myself negatively. When I title my posts, I always try and think of something meaningful that ties into what I just wrote. And in all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to title this. You see, the person I was with over the weekend, who I said shut up to, called themselves damaged goods. And although they may not read this post today, or tomorrow, I’m hopeful that once I am out of here…they will read it. I don’t see them as damaged…I never have – nor do I see myself as damaged. So this title was more of a way to say if you are…then so am I. Not in any way a reflection on the thoughts of myself. Excuse me…but I’m frigging awesome. The bomb dot com. Lol. So…I don’t talk about myself negatively except to say what an idiot I was for making the choice I did so long ago. Other than that…I’m good.

      You are SO right…25 years is completely unimaginable. It’s pretty gross, actually. I was speaking to a woman the other day who was telling me about her plight with having had her kids taken from her and given to her abusive husband, and to another woman today who’s being alienated by her older two that chose to live with their father over her. I understand how MY decision cannot be fathomed by some…but I had one goal all these years…to make it out and get back to where I was. It’s the only thing that kept me sane and alive. I say it often, but I’ll say it again for those who may read this response, I KNOW MY ABUSER. If I would have attempted to take my kids or to bring him to court…we would have been slaughtered. Without a doubt. No matter if I had to leave my kids behind…court, police, lawyers, legality in any sense…never part of my game plan. You know just as well as I do, when you are getting abused what you do and what you don’t do to bring it on. The above…never an option. Sudden death. So, I’d rather hear him SAY he was going to kill us if I ever did it…but knowing I wasn’t going down that road lessened the actuality of it happening.

      As for your out of control, beautifully ridiculous, above the top compliments…keep them coming! Lol. No really…stop. It’s too much. I am like anyone else here. I’m in awe of everyone that got up and left. I’m in awe of the smart people that didn’t have a child with their abuser…let alone three. So, I accept all of your kindness and am just as honored to be in YOUR circle. I can’t wait to meet on the outside. One thing you got down for sure…I will be a force to be reckoned with…I am already because the time is near and he’s living in lala land. Thank you so much for you continuous love and support. I appreciate it beyond words. XO

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well as long as the cringing is a good thing…. you might want to stock up on the tissues. 🙂 I can’t help it, it’s this thing that comes with wearing my heart on my sleeve. I tend to subject everyone to it.

        I do have to admit that I misinterpreted the meaning of your title, but you never know. None of us are damaged goods, but the trouble with that perception of ourselves is that it causes us to shy away from a lot of good things simply because we don’t feel we’re worth them. It really is a side of effect of being emotionally abused too long or having had too much bad piled on top of us. It’s hard to not become discouraged that way when we’re in the position we find ourselves. So much conditioning…. those who never work through that pain find themselves stuck there, and I hurt for them. That is no way to live. I found myself there once after I left. I hated it. So I rolled up my sleeves and immersed myself in all the muck he left behind and worked through what I needed to at least find the value in myself. I didn’t want to just survive. I wanted to live. And by live, I mean I wanted my heart to be so needy for vitality that it became an inferno. To be able to live like that means you have to see your value.

        What I meant by not being able to fathom it… The pain of 1,551 days (4 years and 3 months or so) was more than enough. Multiplying that by 6 or 7….. That thought was so emotionally overwhelming to me, I couldn’t bear it. Realistically with the severity of violence I was already enduring, I wouldn’t made lived long enough to see it. The unimaginable part for me I guess really equates to implying that I would be too weak. That it would break me. But we never know until we are there, right? And I don’t want to know, and I hate that you do.

        The unimaginable part, too, is also a compliment to you. I can only say that I know what it takes to endure 4 years. Verbal and emotional abuse of any amount is too much. A day, a month, a year, 5 years, 10 years, 25 years…. it all might as well be a lifetime. But when someone has lived the greater part of their life in that mess without completely breaking. My dear…. you’re like a rock. Even if you don’t see it.

        I also trust your assessment of how he would react. People on the outside can say whatever they want, but their opinion is irrelevant. WE are the ones who have to live it in our daily lives, and WE are the ones who have to face their reactions when we leave. When someone says to me, “I was afraid he would have killed me for trying to leave,” I always agree. Abusers are expert manipulators. They follow through on enough threats that you never know what they are going to do. If you believe with every fiber of your being that he would kill you, who has any right to imply or state outright that he wouldn’t? That you are just saying that because you’re afraid of him? You have every right to be afraid of him. You know him best… everyone else on the outside only knows the show, the affected personae, the mask he wears. You know all his evil. You see and hear all his dirt and his cruelty and hatefulness. You shoulder the burden. You can make the best assessment out of anyone.

        I know you’re planning your exit, but I cannot say it enough. When you do leave, please be careful. Watch your back, and expect him to react. I’m not saying I want you to jump at every noise you hear, but never let your guard down when you first leave. That is when you’re most vulnerable, because you’ll be taking away his power and control over you. He won’t like it. And he won’t be expecting it, because he thinks he has you lock, stock, and barrel. It’s been so long, he truly believes you aren’t going anywhere. So expect him to go absolutely nuts and be sure to have contingency plans.

        Had I gone back to the apartment that day instead of leaving, had I not gotten out the door to go to work, I know in my heart that my life would have ended that weekend. There was something unrecognizable in his anger that morning. He was entirely absent. It was like being trapped with the devil. It’s still hard for me to talk about the night before and the morning that I left. Most of what he did to me I can recite like I’m reading a grocery list. No emotion, no hurt, just “normal.” Not that last ten hours. I still tear up just thinking about it.

        You are going to hear a lot of people chiming in on decisions you make. You probably already have. Don’t be afraid to correct them when you need to. You are the only one who has the right to make decisions for yourself, and when it comes to your safety and your well-being, you owe NONE of them any explanation. Sometimes you might have to be rigid with them and let them know they’re crossing a line (somehow I sense that won’t be an issue). This was hard for me in the beginning because part of my conditioning was not talking back under penalty of brutality of some sort. Once I started doing it, though, I became quite comfortable. They never expect you to speak up for yourself. Let them be shocked.

        Abusers often have children with their partner as a means of entrapment. It’s one more way to get you reliant on them, and is ONLY a reflection of THEIR evil, not your intelligence or sense. I didn’t have children with mine, and I also didn’t marry him. There is more to the story that I’m not always so comfortable talking about, but everyone always reminds me that HE lied to me, which is true. I found out after he had already begun physically abusing me that he was married. I cut him off, and that is when the sexual abuse started. It took four more years to get away from him. When he did work, he worked from home. If he was out, people were watching the apartment. When I was out, people were watching me. I was cut off from everyone, he was stealing my money and selling my things and destroying my credit. I took the first window of opportunity I saw, and it meant becoming homeless. I lost my entire life but I got so much more in return.

        Me, stop? What? You’re in Amy-land now. LOL I’m just beginning. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Uh oh…not Amy-land! Lol.

        As far as people judging or criticizing my decisions…at first, when I started blogging and getting used to the fact that there were so many women telling their stories, I’ll admit I was borderline intimidated and may have possibly felt judged on an occasion or two. More so when they said how I was damaging my kids. At first I did try to defend my decisions but honestly, it stopped bothering me because I know my kids are in a good place mentally. What I laid out to do was to nurture them and prepare them for their own adulthood and exodus and not to stand for the same type of personality. Bizarrely, my kids have thrived. And because even though he is a jumbo loser,..he was strict with school because he had his own learning issues. And because he grew up in a bad neighborhood and was poor he strived to do better for them. So I think as far as parenting went…we were a strong front and that part never wavered. And he has a strong work ethic and was always on top of his credit and making sure bills were paid on time. So that was another positive attribute that was taught to the kids. However, he was an asshole. So. it balanced out. My kids were my only concern.

        I knew how to pick which battles I’d fight in but my mouth never closed during the wars. That’s what would make it worse but I felt like if I was gonna get beat either way…I was going to say what I wanted to say. Plus he’s borderline ignorant so if used really proper terminology on whatever the topic at hand was, you could almost see the gears smoking. Like when a cartoon robot loses is and springs and gears fly out. That’s what I imagined was happening. So even though the argument may have lasted five hours longer because I was talking back…inevitable he would shut up because I was talking back. If that makes any sense. So, six of one and half a dozen of the other.

        The true benefit of me being here this long is that I know him like a book. I can recite any BS argument for any situation. There aren’t really threats anymore. Now he’s all about making amends to we can grow old together. HA! Just goes to show how out of touch he is.

        As for abusers having kids for entrapment…my kids are all 5 years apart. So as one started school, I was home again with the next. After the third one I called him on it. And he laughed and said “That’s what you think I would do?” I said as a matter of fact my mother mentioned it…and it makes perfect sense!! Low and behold…no more kids. Whatever, Amy. I’m so over talking about him. I’m past the hate. Now it’s more of pity at how pathetic he is as he turns 50 and continues to come home to a woman who tells him point blank…I do not love you. I mean…go find a girlfriend at least! Geez.

        He told me a couple of months ago that a woman approached him on the way home and asked him if he wanted to go for a drink. I almost fell over with excitement. I said…WHERE DOES SHE WORK??? I HAVE TO FIND HER!!! SEE IT’S NOT TO LATE FOR YOU!!! He just shook his head and said…wow, that’s how much you don’t love me? I said…that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!!!

        Again…I’m over it. I just need to get my son thru high school or hit lotto so I can home school his ass. LOL.

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    • Thank you so much. I was kind of taken aback when I saw what an overwhelming response this got in such a short amount of time. I thought…what the heck did I say??? Lol. If anything I say…on purpose or accidental…helps a single soul then I know I’m on the right path and headed in the right direction. Thanks for reading. XO

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  2. It takes a great deal of courage to share feelings and experiences that most people would probably want to bury deep in their psyche, for the good of others. I don’t think you have any idea how helpful this sharing is to many who are still living in that life. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate that, thanks. I guess I never think of it as being courageous, just honest. I have issues with hypocrisy and so I try to lay it all out there as much as possible. Selfishly, I thought emptying it all out would be helpful only to me. It didn’t dawn on me when I started this journey that it would be just as helpful to others. It’s been one of the more pleasant side effects to telling my story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I came from childhood abuse which led to PTSD. Even though it is a different circumstance, I relate to the dissociation, “daydreaming” and especially the defensiveness. After reading your post it caused me to think about my reactions which come from a place of abuse not current reality. Unfortunately my husband ends up receiving my defensiveness when he tries to help me or suggests I do something a different way. The further I progress in therapy the more I recognize I’m starting to do this. Luckily I’m doing this less. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for relating this comparison. I guess I never really thought about it being tied in together because it’s usually heading in the direction of the person deserving of it. However, this time I saw it crystal clear and it made me reflect on a lot. I’m glad you are doing well with therapy. It seems to help a lot of people. I’m sure I’ll be on that road in the future as well. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. It’s always been easier for me to write down something that’s bothering me when I can’t get it out verbally. This experience has gone beyond what I had anticipated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As a kid I often wrote what was eating at me. I grew to love writing. Books were my escape from my difficult reality as well. Blogging opened up a whole world of healing. It normalizes our realities. Keep writing and healing…

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