Keeping it Sane
Does your partner:
-give you a hard time about socializing with friends or family?
-twist your words, somehow turning what you said against you?
-threaten to leave?
-promise to never do something hurtful again?
-manipulate you with lies and contradictions?
-make you feel like you can't win no matter what you do?
-incite you to rage, which is "proof" that you are to blame?
-frequently say things that are later denied or accuse you of misunderstanding?
-try to convince you that what you feel is no comparison to their pain?
-emotionally or physically blackmail you?
Traits which are common in the abusive personality are:
1. Uncontrolled temper.
2. Extreme Jealousy.
3. Intense fear of abandonment.
4. A background involving physical, emotional or sexual abuse, abandonment, ACOA issues. (Adult Child of an Alcoholic)
5. Unrealistic expectations of a relationship. (To "fix" them or solve their problems.)
6. Isolation and antisocial temperament.
7. Recklessness. (dangerous sexual behavior, reckless driving, drug use etc.)
8. Inability to accept responsibility for their behavior and actions, even in the face of dire consequences.
9. Cruelty to children / animals.
10. Threats of violence.
11. Low self-esteem, shame.
12. Codependent personality disorder and / or Love addiction.
13. Inability to respect interpersonal boundaries, a compulsion to violate boundaries.
14. Drug or Alcohol Dependence, self medication.
15. Emotional volitility - fear of being "out of control".
16. Need for power and control to compensate for the above.
17. Bipolar disorder and / or Borderline Personality Disorder.
18. Abuse generally escalates when the partner leaves.
You may be becoming or already are a victim of abuse if you:
- Feel you can't live without him.
- Are afraid to tell him your worries and feelings about the relationship.
- Have the urge to "rescue" him when he is troubled.
- Feel that you are the only one who can help him and that you should try to "reform" him.
- Stay because you feel he will kill himself if you leave.
- Believe that his jealousy is a sign of love.
- Believe the critical things he says to make you feel bad about yourself.
I have always valued the fact that I am a strong, independent, and kind person. I have worked hard on not giving up my morals, believing in myself, and most of all, caring for others. It seems like the last one has gotten me into a bit of trouble.
I dated a guy for a year and 3 months. I loved him very, very much and I still do. I cared about him indefinitely and knew that it was my responsibility to always believe in him and support him and take care of him when he needed it. A month ago, we broke up. Three weeks ago he found out that I had deep feelings for another guy. That is when my personal hell started.
It began with him telling me that life was no longer worth living. I begged him not to commit suicide- I could deal with him hating me and never speaking to me again, I could deal with his anger, but I could not deal with him not being alive. I called his family, who now hated me as well, to try and warn them against it. I awoke the next morning to a phone call from him asking me if he would die instantly if he touched the third rail on the subway. After more pleading and crying, he finally said that he wouldn't do it and that he knew that I was the only person who would have stopped him...that was the reason he told me that he was going to. That comment probably should have set off some alarm bells. But I believed him. And even now a part of me still does.
Nothing to this magnitude ever happened again so I thought everything was okay. What I didn't notice was that my entire life was still revolving around him. We talked almost everyday, though many times he told me that he was going to leave for weeks if not months; cut me out of his life because being around me hurt too much. The number of times he instant-messaged, texted, or said that final 'Goodbye Taylor' was almost ridiculous; he kept coming back just to ask me one more thing or to tell me one last bit. I felt like I couldn't live without him; I had broken up with him, but I still loved him and needed him and cared about him. He ended up deciding to stay in contact with me. I should have let him take the time that he needed away from me.
As time went on, it seemed like nothing I did ever made anything better. When he was happy, I made him sad or angry, when he was sad or angry, I did nothing but make it worse. But sometimes we'd have really good days where conversation was easy and normal. I lived for those moments and believed that things would get better as long as I did my best and worked my hardest for a good relationship. After all, there is going to be some pain when a long-term relationship ends right?
But there were certain things. He'd tell me that he had done more for me than I ever had for him. He would bring up things that he had supposedly forgiven me for as evidence how I cruel I was. He would tell me that I hadn't cared about him post-breakup while he had always been there for me. He would tell me always how much pain he was in and how my pain was absolutely nothing in comparison. He would put me at blame for all of his hurt. He'd get angry at me and I was supposed to accept it because in his eyes he hadn't directly 'attacked' me, yet whenever I was angry, his world was shattered and it was all my fault. When I absolutely Needed to go and study for my exams, he'd push me into time I didn't have. More and more I felt guilty and hurt and completely responsible for everything bad in his life.
There was a part of me though that did get angry with all of this. I'm not going to lie, I have a temper. But my temper only comes out when I feel truly threatened. So I knew something was up. I went back through all of the conversations that he had 'cited' as proof that I was never there for him. There was no proof there. I went back through my diaries, looking for the things that he had done for me and vice versa. As much as you can't really put a measurement on it, I rediscovered (as I knew already deep down) that I hadn't just sat on my ass as he did my bidding. I had made him go back to high school, supported him in his work, listened as he talked about his relations with different people, worried about him, cared about him, believed in him. Sure you could say he did a little more, but if you looked at it from my perspective you could make a good case that I did more. In the end, that was invalid too. I talked to people about some of the things that I did that he said truly hurt him the most. One was calling him a hypocrite when he called me a liar after he had a really bad day. Of course, I admit that was probably a very bad thing to do, but you have no idea how many times he had written or said that he couldn't understand how people could lie etc etc. This would have been fine if he had never told a lie in his life before. Whether this was in the past or not, it is not the case. I just couldn't stand to hear him preach from him high horse for the 60th time. When my computer died and he sent me a text asking me how I could hurt him so badly (by implying that he was a liar himself), I turned off my phone. I was already half way to hysterics and I just couldn't deal with any of it anymore. I was angry and hurt and didn't want it to continue. So instead he called my new boyfriend's phone. When I turned on my phone again he told me that he knew that That would certainly get me to turn on my phone again and then proceeded to ask me again how I could possibly hurt him so badly after he had always been there for me. Later in the week he said that he originally was calling to apologize for being so rash, but when my phone was off, it was the most hurtful thing I had ever done to him.
The similarities between this and every other instance like this are that I was having my own human 'bad' emotions and was trying to protect myself. In doing so, he told me I was hurting him infinitely more. This wasn't right. I felt So guilty and at fault for Everything and on top of the hurt that I was experiencing from the breakup, I was getting thrown his pain daily. This is when I reached out.
I made an appointment with a mental health specialist on campus. I brought to her conversations, text messages, and the most unbiased view of the situation as I possibly could. You have to understand that I still believed that it Wasn't as bad as my friends and family told me, that this would all work out in the wash as long as I was a better person. The therapist told me that this was a form of manipulative abuse.
It's scary writing this. Perhaps he will read it and tell me how I've skewed it all in my favour, how I Was angry and I Did attack him or simply just say "I told you I should have left". Or maybe I'll get some comment about how this isn't real abuse, real abuse is insulting or hitting or not letting a person see friends or family. Or it's possible that this article will fall to the wayside in comparison to a new diet or fitness routine.
I am writing this because we each have a choice. There is always going to be something not-so-great in our lives, but why choose it? Chances are if you have a gut feeling that you feel worse around someone more often than you feel good, it's not a healthy relationship. I am writing this because I thought I would Know when I was involved in something even Remotely close to abusive and I'd get out as fast as I could. But it's taken me three weeks to even acknowledge the emotional harm that it has caused both me And him, and I am still working on the dynamic of this relationship.
I love him and I care about him and I want to fix his life and make everything better for him. But the truth is I can't. And I was enabling everything by feeling exactly what he wanted me to feel, my pain Plus his. A healthy relationship doesn't just focus on the outcomes. It focuses on the fact that you are trying your hardest. It doesn't compare pain or try and make the other person feel responsible for one person's emotions. My healthy lifestyle is to choose to take back my life, to make my life the centre of my attention, not someone else's. My choice is to start making choices for me.