I recently watched Maid (After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses as she fights to provide for her child and build them a better future, Netflix) and I have been listening to a podcast called “Ex-Wives Undercover” (the story of two ex-wives—who overcome betrayal, heartbreak and devastation by their former husband—as they embark on an thrilling adventure to unravel deeply hidden secrets, expose the truth, advocate for justice and rebuild their lives, Apple Podcast). While these shows are very different, both are centered around abuse. I highly recommend viewing/listening to them both, but my recommendation comes with a warning- those who have experienced abuse, might find it triggering.
The show and podcast are about abusive men, but I will be the first to say, that there are plenty of female abusers out there as well. For the sake of this blog, I will refer to the abuser as he/him, simply because of my own personal experience.
In both shows, the police, courts, some family, and friends, take the abuser’s side and make the situation that much more difficult and emotionally damaging for the women. It not only makes me sad, but it angers me to see the commonality of these experiences. Ultimately, the ending is happy for all the women involved in these cases, but the outcome could have been very different had they not escaped the situations when they did. There were certainly many close calls for all of them.
The moral of the story in both scenarios is that emotional abuse IS abuse, and sometimes, emotional abuse can be even more damaging than physical abuse. 95% of my personal experience was emotional abuse, but two instances became physical. One of those was when he had his hands around my throat as I was laying in bed, and I didn’t think that he was going to let up. I remember being completely shocked that it was happening, and I was trying to get him off me, but he was much larger and stronger than me. When he finally let up, I gasped for air and laid there in shock. As I laid there sobbing and in disbelief, It took him all of 3 minutes to fall fast asleep, as if nothing had happened. The other instance was when he was going for a knife and threatening to slit my throat. The physical instances stand out to me more because they were so infrequent, but the emotional abuse tends to blend together, since it was a regular occurrence.
Those who haven’t experienced emotional or physical abuse, will never understand how or why the victim stays. Looking back, I can’t understand it myself but the amount of reading, writing, therapy and research that I have done since I broke free, has helped me understand the trauma bond and why I ended up staying for so long. The thing is- narcissists aren’t awful all the time- they give you little breadcrumbs of kind behavior. They perform generous acts, they shed (fake) tears, and they play the victim in so many aspects of their life. They appear sensitive and damaged, to make you feel bad for them- it’s a very calculated plan. The breadcrumbs are what keep you coming back, time after time, until you finally realize that the cycle will never end. The moment you become strong and leave them, the love bombing, and hoovering begin again. Suddenly, they can’t imagine their life without you, you are the love of their life, you are the smartest, most beautiful woman they have ever met, you are the only one who has ever been able to truly understand them, you are their soulmate, the one they were looking for their whole lives. It’s the same bullshit they spew to each victim that tries to leave them. The manipulation and lies come naturally for them. I can’t tell you how many times I had proof of his lies, but he still insisted that he was telling the truth and I began to feel crazy- which is exactly what he wanted.The worst name that he loved to call me was a cunt- to me there is nothing more insulting. When I wasn’t a cunt- I was the abuser, controlling, mental, and so on. Anything to try to make me feel crazy or like less of a person. After a while, I began to normalize his behavoir and make excuses for it- he doesn’t mean it, he’s lashing out because he’s hurting, he’s depressed, he’s anxious, he’s sad… and then of course, he loved me and he was sorry, making it all okay.
What’s scary, is that there is no cure for narcissism and just when you think that things are getting better and life will be good again, BOOM, they do something to destroy you once again. You can never get too comfortable, because you know, deep down, that they will never be completely honest, loyal, or loving. They are incapable of being in a normal relationship- not only would that be too boring for them, but it also isn’t enough for them to be loved by just one woman. I remember being so exhausted trying to please him- cooking, cleaning, planning special dates, concerts, sports games, making appointments for him and running his errands to try to make life easier for him- but it was never good enough. It was either a short lived happiness or he would insult whatever nice thing I was trying to do for him (the sandwich was too dry or didn’t have enough meat, the cleaning was half-ass, the seats weren’t good enough, etc.) . It felt like I was walking uphill all day, every day. And what did I get out of it? Not a goddamn thing. An occasional gift to shut me up, a vacation as a peace offering after he did something stupid, and if he was really trying, a homemade meal or nice date (most of the time that was out of guilt or to try to make up for something relating to the obsession). He would take me on a fancy dinner and then I would find out that either the night prior or night after, he was spending time with the obsession. He would buy me a gift and then I would find a receipt for the same thing or something better for the obsession. So not only was I constantly in an uphill battle because he couldn’t be pleased, but I was also competing with another woman who had no business being in my relationship. Just thinking about all of this now, makes me exhausted BUT the difference is, now I am grateful because I no longer have to live that life.
I really feel like God felt so sorry for me, after seeing me suffer for so many years, and sent me an angel of a man. I have never in my life, felt so safe, secure, and loved. I have never had this level of trust and felt this type of connection. It’s been 2 years of literal bliss. Of course, nothing is perfect, but we know how to handle life and relationships as adults. We communicate so well that we have never had a single fight. There is no yelling. There is no name-calling. There is no disrespect. There is no dishonestly.
He has no password on his phone, and he knows the passcode to mine- not that we check each other’s phones because we have trust, but we can each grab each other’s phones if we need to make a call or send a message or check something online, without worrying about what we might find. There is no panic in either of faces if the other person has our phone or if we leave it unattended. This relationship is liberating. I am so relaxed and confident with what we have, but in the beginning it was scary. I didn’t understand how this could be real, and whether the normalcy would last. With each passing month, I got more comfortable knowing that this is just how a normal relationship would be. I have completely settled into what we have, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else but by his side. He is so affectionate, loving, thoughtful and kind. He is an amazing father, son, friend, and father figure to my children. What I love the most about him is that he is the same person, all the time- he doesn’t alter his personality for outsiders, friends, or anyone. There is nothing fake about him- he is just a good man. Everyone that meets him, falls in love with him, because it’s impossible not to.
I remember feeling like it was time to write off love and relationships, but now I am happy to report that it really does exist, and it’s the best feeling. Don’t give up hope and don’t be afraid to start over- you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting with experience!
Remember my friends- being manipulated isn’t love. Being lied to isn’t love. Being abused isn’t love.
A special shout out to all of the friends and readers who have been supporting me on my journey. I have received so many thank you messages from people who have either had the strength to leave their abusers or had previously left and been able to heal. My blog is helping others and that is exactly why I keep writing. I am also working on writing my book and will update everyone once it is near completion. Sending love and hugs to all.