When looking back I can see some moments of when it happened and at the time did not seem like I was allowing myself to become isolated. Isolation happens when you are separated from your normal supports, whether it is people or activities you do that make you feel worthwhile. It is strange to think that some of it I did not mind and it is only looking back that I see what it was in context to the emotional abuse.
It is so hard to describe and explain since it is very easy to feel such a fool about it. In my case, I thought I had changed and was a better, stronger person, an individual of worth and values and loved meeting someone who not only appreciated me as such but shared these ideas himself. It was so nice that he took my side of things and encouraged me to break away from my family and live my own life.
I think this is really key somehow, that feeling that someone believed in me like that, I can't emphasis enough how good that felt and how much I loved him for it. I was important, a real person who deserved a chance at a real life like normal people!
In trying to write this I try not to feel self-loathing at what a fool I was. I can hear all those echoes of self-doubt, self-hate reverberating so loudly and trying to stand up to them and say/shout "You have no power over me anymore!" What a strange thing the mind is! How can those feelings that were so real come back in such force like this over and over again? That fear that suddenly everyone will read this and think "My god, I had no idea she was such a loser, such a stupid person. I will never read her posts again, that idiot! And to think I liked her at first but now that I know her, gross!"
Luckily that feeling is going away as I take a breath and remember that I have changed inside myself. I am no longer that person though I can remember it too vividly sometimes, it can no longer hurt me (well, it does hurt to remember those times but it is a distant "me" and doesn't make me want to crawl under the nearest rock anymore, so it really does get better.) But I guess those feelings were always there at the back of my mind and I guess the predator types can recognize it in us.
But it was because he believed in me that I loved him so deeply and without any sort of conditions about it. It seems there was some sort of great divide in how he treated me since before we married we talked about everything and he liked listening to me but afterwards he was too busy or too tired from working so hard for us that he didn't anymore. but we were building a life together so I could put up with it. Our plan was to not have children for at least 5 years to get a house, a car each, travel and enjoy life together first but I became pregnant within months, even on birth control!
Somehow this was my doing and I felt sooooooooo guilty for it since it was not our plan and I had ruined everything. It seemed to be that I ruined whatever beautiful thing I was trying to do, so was very ready to accept blame for our plans getting derailed like that. Of course he was valiant and stood by me and our ruined dreams of life together. This seems to be a key thing too, that it was me that ruined it for us, destroyed our plans like this.
My 2 best friends, that ones we always planned to be friends even when we were old and gray and stuck in rocking chairs, we would be rocking on a porch together and laughing about how good our life's were, that kind of best friends, also became a barrier to 'our plan' . They liked to have fun and with me having the 4 girls in 3 years "fun" seemed a distant memory to me, tired was what I knew so well back then. It happened slowly, over a few years that I did not want our daughters exposed to that kind of lifestyle. We were going to have good and decent daughters, raised right. I slowly began to separate myself from them but how do you say the reason why to your friends without giving offense?
I wasn't sitting idle during those years. When the twins were 2 I started back at the local university to get my BS in computer science/math. I was so eager though that instead of taking a few a year I wanted to work my butt off and get it done quickly. Each semester he would be there for me always but by the time midterms were rolling around and I needed quiet to study he was off somewhere else. My grades suffered and I felt such a loser. Everything I touched I ruined. I had flunked out of another university in Syracuse earlier was implied when we talked for a few seconds about it. Being reminded of that time sure shut me up quickly and I let the subject drop.
I had been accepted to an ivy league school and was going to rock the world with my intelligence! A lot of factors were involved, not the least being raped there. At the time I told myself to just get over it since it was not the first time and probably would not be the last but somehow I couldn't when it mattered so much I just couldn't. Failure was my middle name and I was positive if I checked in the dictionary under 'worlds biggest idiot' there would be my picture and description "Enthusiastic but incompetent, thinks she is intelligent but..." So much self-loathing about myself back then that just those few words my husband said brought it all back like a rockslide.
The point is he knew just what buttons to push and I was the one who gave him all that information when we were talking about our lives before we met! I didn't realize it then though. Back then I would drop something instantly when he mentioned a few things to me like "you know, you are being a bit selfish..." or "How can you be so greedy, I can't believe it.." or "you really hurt my feelings, you are so mean, you seemed so nice when we met.."
Or he would just need to say how hard he was trying for us and did I really think he wasn't and I would never want to imply I thought he was not trying hard enough so would shut up about it. All these little things that are buttons that can be used against us. It is so important to stop and think about this because they do know the power of this and will use it against you if you let them. Your buttons are unique to you is another important thing to remember since even someone who is as close as a sister and was raised the same way will have different emotional thoughts and reactions then you.
It is so hard to take a close look at yourself and do it without self-loathing, I know! but it is so important to do, that I can not stress enough. No one but you knows your secret thoughts and feelings so only you can recognise your own buttons. For me, I really hated how selfish and greedy others seemed to me. It always seemed to be the idea "you get everything" so I ended up with nothing. One silly example was when I had spent about $100 on a designer perfume. I had saved my money for ages to buy myself this gift and felt I deserved it. I loved the scent of it since some of them have a big name but smell bad to me but this one was so nice and lovely that I wanted it for myself. It took ages of skimping on things to save that kind of money but I did it.
I proudly showed it to my mom and let her smell it. I never wore it since it was too special for everyday wear and I never had any sort of celebration so maybe the first month it sat in its box untouched but adored by me. One of my sisters was having a wedding anniversary and my mom wanted to give it to them as her/our gift to them. Part of me hated that thought but another part of me also realized that my mom could never save money herself so did not have any money to buy them something special like that so I gladly let her give it to them. Mom was so happy that I felt like such a shit that I resented someone else getting my special perfume. I now hate that smell since it reminds me so strongly of how much I hated myself for my evil feelings. My mom was so happy and my sister was thrilled about it and here I was being so selfish! But it is that kind of silly thing that can help create this feeling of worthlessness inside yourself.
It is hard to fight that kind of thing since I know my mom never had a chance to save money herself and loved being able to give them something so special like that designer perfume. A $100 for a tiny bottle! Maybe half a year of denying myself little pleasures to get that one and mom wanted me to give it away?! The smile on my mom's face on seeing our sister open it and how surprised she was made mom's day. My sister was thrilled, and who wouldn't be to get that kind of gift! I valued my mom's pride over my own enjoyment since I had the power to save money and buy it where she did not but still... I resented it a bit and hated myself for that feeling.
That kind of thing can stack up and grow so huge that it can be overpowering, especially if you try to deny the feelings since they are "icky". All these little things do add up though and become "buttons" that can be pushed to get a certain reaction from you and those who are in an emotionally abusive relationship may not be aware of how it is happening so easily. Taking the time to stop and think and do it without self-loathing will really help you see things clearly.
So, one of the things I did to help change my life was I wrote a mystery. That first one took 3 years of my life to complete. I would lose track of time when i got really into it and sometimes was late getting the girls from school. Little things like that can really add up big when you already feel a bit unsure about yourself. But I had written a mystery novel! It was a real novel and not those short story ones either!
This was when I first mentioned wanting a divorce to the girls and they had no idea what it was really except it was a bad thing that happened to families. The oldest was just about 10 then. I finished it but read almost exactly the same sort of plot so got mad and threw it away and wrote a new one. That one took me 1 1/2 years to complete and again I ended up reading almost the same plot in another book. The last one I wrote took me a year to do and I was so angry to read another mystery so similar to it. I don't have them anymore but so wish I had saved them now! Save them (whatever the "them" is that you love doing!) even if they are just stuck in a box in the top of the closet, you will be glad someday you did!
I decided I would need to create an original character since plots will probably almost always be like one in some book somewhere. What counted was my originality. I had plenty of that so worked up several ideas. I had just started writing it when I asked for the divorce though and have not done it since. It is something I plan for this summer to start! But I was doing something, something I had talent in to get free. Already that was in my mind though I dare not speak it or even think it loudly back then. It was why I began writing that first mystery. I think now I should have gotten a normal sort of job instead but this felt so good and made me feel so alive and creative that I had to do it. But I also became caught up in it and missed the time to get the girls from school. It was hard since he made it seem as if I did not care about them at all because I was doing this. I mean, if I thought clearly about it back then and could speak up I would say it was exactly what he was doing but I was trying for a better life for them while he was not. But being a bad mom terrified me.
I loved and adored my mom and wanted to be the kind of mother she would have been if so many bad things had not happened to her. I hated everyone who tried to make it seem like it was her when it was the circumstances surrounding her that made it impossible to cope easily with life and kids and just everything. But I wanted to make sure my own children were valued and raised right and with love and all that good stuff. It was very hard to deal with since I did maybe once a week or every 10 days or so miss getting them from school on time. What kind of a person was I anyway? Sure, I said and thought good things but here I was selfishly ignoring my own children when we had talked about this so much before we were married.
Buttons, it is almost a comical idea when you stop and think about it but it is true all the same. I like to think I was never some sort of wind-up doll who would mindlessly do whatever, I had a brain and was not afraid to use it. But how do I explain my life then? One mistake after another after another. It helps to separate them into external things you can not control (like society, other people or money stuff) to ones you could. It does help to see that parts of it were not your own doing. That kind of realization can go a long way to helping yourself heal and to be kind and forgive yourself some of your mistakes.
So, I mentioned family and friends as ways to get isolated and how it can seem a good thing at the time but you do need to put it into perspective. Perspective is a good thing since you can realize that instead of a normal mirror you were seeing yourself as through one of those fun house type ones. It becomes distorted and until you walk away from that image you see and reflect honestly and clearly it will keep happening no matter how much you want it to stop.
Things that make you feel worthwhile is another big huge thing. It does not have to be anything major even. In my case it was a few things, my love of books and gardening. Spending $20 on a book for myself could make me feel like the greediest and worst sort of person. It wasn't like I was buying drugs or booze or anything bad but at that time it felt just as if I was doing that kind of thing. I went to the library a lot but sometimes I just wanted to own a book that I liked. When money is tight though it can seem a luxury and indulgence that I did not deserve. Another thing was gardening where i spent money when we had the house. Maybe $20 at a time buying seeds, tools, whatever but it made me feel good. Our gardens were never the lush beautiful things I wanted but I worked with what I had. I felt like a horrible person buying big bags of dirt for my garden since there was already so much dirt that and I was just greedy.
When I joined the Rose Society in town here I can hardly explain the joy and freedom and goodness it gave me. It was so nice to be just there since I rarely was around other people much normally since I love being on my own. It was so fun! It met once a month and at first it was easy to have either my husband or my one sister who came over for food all the time to watch them during those few hours. Suddenly though, my husband was finding it extremely hard to be able to watch his own kids on these evenings. My sister chose to sign up her son for soccer practice during that same time. I can remember being so mad when she said she had a choice of times and chose that one. I was voted secretary of the society just before I was unable to go anymore. Down in the dumps hardly begins to describe that feeling!
Don't I matter? Don't I deserve some fun out of life too? What is wrong with him? What is wrong with me? these are the kinds of things i asked myself before I went to that woman's resource place to get help. I so want to go back and erase all of this. It is soooooooooo embarrassing to write about myself back then but I do hope it will help another woman who is isolated or alone to realize how and why and all that stuff so she can begin to change herself in a meaningful way instead of the floundering around I did for ages. I do not believe that any woman deserves such feelings about herself.
That we made mistakes is one thing but to tear ourselves apart over it is another thing entirely. We can forgive others who make honest mistakes but when it comes to ourselves we find it harder and I wonder why this is so. I would love to hear other woman's opinions on this since I imagine each woman will have a unique perspective on it that we can piece together bits and pieces that make up "us" and start to build ourselves back up. I think there is a big difference between liking to be on ones own, which I do, and feeling all alone. what was that book, maybe Age of Innocence where one lady replies when asked if she really likes being on her own so much 'As long as my friends keep me from being lonely.'
Wow, the girls just told me I have been writing this for 2 hours! I am having to once again battle this thing where it is like Hamlet asking himself "to be or not to be, that is the question" but in my case it would be "to submit or not submit"... whether tis nobler in the mind to not talk about oneself so much and deny others the chance to realize they can avoid the slings and arrows of discontent... Oh, ugh! Should not try to paraphrase Shakespeare I am thinking!
I know this is super long but wanted to get it written so thanks for not throwing me out. The girls watched a movie called Death Trance where the monk is telling the other guy a story about his monastery and the guy gets annoyed and boxes his ear before walking away and turns back and says 'Your stories are too long." I feel that could be said for this one maybe but anyway here it is....