It is interesting how pervasive abusive relationships are; since I have survived my own the number people sharing their own horror stories of perseverance is a bit overwhelming. I have friends who have survived abusive husbands to only still face the manipulation of their children, a dear friend who got the courage to tell her to leave only to have her attempt suicide in his home to win the argument, friends who have survived it as children only to find respite in their adult relationships, my sister who ended up marrying someone much like I did and still faces the and my poor brother who is lost in the fog of trying to make his decisions. How widespread this is, leaving an imprint on not only the partner who is the target of the manipulation and abuse but the children, friends and extended family, it trickles into future relationships with friends and significant others like this insidious darkness tainting anything it comes in contact with.
Watching my brother try to untangle his thoughts seeing the level of manipulation, outright deception has come to light and he left. Yesterday she reached out and has wrapped him in her grip again; she is crafty with the stories and he want to believe so badly. Who wants to admit my husband was an abusive alcoholic who was only focused on his personal wants to the point he had a girlfriend for the last seven years of our marriage, my narcissistic girlfriend has been cheating on me using me only for my money, or my addict of wife sees me as someone who will take care of her children while she continues to life her life as she wishes without regard for myself or her children. We all cling to that false identity they spun, that idealized version of the person we chose to love never considering they have no capacity to love us in return. We assume no one would ever behave in that manner for we wouldn’t, often times never even having a framework to understand the abusive behavior. We make excuses to hide it from the outside world but more often to hide it from ourselves. I cannot begin to recall all the times I tried to rationalize his behavior away. I was even shocked when I was given the domestic abuse hotline number after the police arrived and my ex had fled the house in a rage and keep in mind I had been in therapy for dealing with his addictions, co-dependence and and how to safely leave the marriage for over a year at the point in imploded . Oh how we love to float down that famous river, denial.
So what now? She has baited my brother back with promises and he is being reeled in. I want to scream shenanigans, its a shame, don’t fall for it!!! The average abuse victim attempts to leave seven times before they are successful. Why do we run back to the exact person we should run from? Why are we willing to set ourselves on fire to warm someone else? I recall all my exit plans, some attempted, others aborted and even when I executed the big break and worked hard in therapy to stay away, I returned. In his confusion my brother asked yesterday if my ex had ever made this list of specific promises which I had to explain to him yes, that is classic; they know your weaknesses and are exploiting them to stay with you for it is easier to maintain the current disaster then to walk away alone. They need time to groom their next victim which often begins to occur under your own nose. He did run, run as fast as he can….but that may not be enough for he paused to look over his shoulder. As painful as the truth is, it is easier then living a lie. I pray he has the strength to stand tall, the courage to face his decisions and the insight to see the truth. Continue to run little brother and don’t look back for you may not survive.
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” ― Ernest Hemingway,
In a session last week I was asked what asked “What is your greatest fear?” I was stumped. He followed up with, “you know, are you afraid of dying or getting a terminal illness…” listing all sorts of horrible things I never even consider. I struggled to even consider something. I was thinking of fears that one would consider obvious.
As I was formulating my thoughts to reply I realized it was related to my children. Of course I am afraid when I am not with them and as I was explaining why, I realized what it was. It is something I will never be blessed to do. I will never be able to raise my children in a home with two loving adults; al least this is lost forever with my two oldest. They will grow up and never know what a healthy relationship is. They will have no example of how to love or be loved in a healthy relationship. I am afraid they will wander off into the world to repeat the mistakes I made. To be in a loveless relationship riddled with emotional and verbal abuse.
Irrelevant of the amount of love I provide them they cannot experience a home filled with a healthy loving relationship . Although I provide structure and discipline, loving them without judgement, being there unconditionally this will never afford them the understanding of a loving relationship with another adult. Irrelevant of how hard I work and what I can provide this is something I will never be able to offer. I will not know until they are adults, I have no way to apologize for my shortcomings either. At the very least I will carry this guilt at least until my children are adults with families of their own.
“It’s come at last”, she thought, “the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache.” ― Betty Smith