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Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Honeymoon Period

If you’ve ever been in a verbally abusive relationship, you know exactly what I’m talking about – that space of time where he’s generous, complimentary, maybe even supportive. He’s once gain the guy you fell in love with. You know it won’t last, but these days are what you live for – the hope that this time he’s finally got the anger and need to control out of his system for good and you can go back to the halcyon days at the beginning of the relationship when all was rosy and bright.

You also begin to doubt yourself, especially if you haven’t been keeping a written record of his blow-ups.

Does he really say cruel things about my appearance? (He complimented me on my choice of wardrobe today, something he rarely does – according to him I have zero fashion sense and absolutely no style.)

Does he really criticize the way I vacuum? (I worked, so he vacuumed today with no protest.)

Does he really have negative words to say about everything that I do? (Not today – all talk was neutral or complimentary to me.)

Does he really hate any show I tune in on TV or Netflix? (Not today – he actually asked if we were going to watch a movie at the end of the day and had no derisive comments to make about my choice or the content.)

After his blow-up with his old friend he claimed to feel like a victim. He claimed to be confused about the cause of the argument, and unsure if his friendship would survive the harsh words. This makes me think that he caught a glimpse of himself that he didn’t like and is working to change the way he treats me. This gives me hope, but deep down I know that it’s all just a peaceful interlude made possible because of separation for a week and a houseguest for three days.

He will go back to being his usual abusive self. His regular blow-ups occur around the middle of the month, and he generally escalates his abuse in the week leading up to a blow-up, so any day now we will be back to business as usual. I hope to record his blow-up this month and post the file here for my readers to analyze. I’m tired of living this lie behind closed doors.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Deceptions, Today

 

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The latest “misunderstanding”

So, M has been in another state working on a project that is being stored at the house of one of his oldest friends. The project started out with enthusiasm on all sides – M was thrilled to be working on it, his friends were happy to have him visit more to work on it, and they had even talked to another friend to get some specialized help. I will go back later and edit these posts to reveal M’s identity at some later date – he is well known among his circle on the internet and if our relationship goes sideways I will publish (with links) so his behavior can no longer be a secret. It might help him, it might help his next victim to avoid him.

He goes to work on this project once a month (April is month 3) and stays with his friends for a week or so. We have reached the withholding stage of our relationship – he refuses to tell me when he is leaving or when he will return because of my refusal to share my feelings with him. Nevermind that my feelings are always negated, minimized and rejected. This is a classic symptom of verbal abuse and he is a  textbook abuser, as I am a textbook victim.

This month I took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and logged in to his e-mail account to see if he had told anyone else when he would return, and that is when I discovered that he has been having a Facebook affair with a woman in Italy. More on that another day, but it was the Final Straw that prompted me to take action and regain control of my life.

This month has not been going well. The specialized work has not been going according to plan, seems the friend is dragging his feet. I’m going to quote some e-mails in this post, edited to protect the nature of the project and the identity of all parties. Brackets designate where I’ve changed the text.

    Not going so well here. Apparently I am Satan because now I have scared off Friend2 (F2), who won’t come out here to do [Specialized Work] (SW) unless Friend1 (F1) is here.
(F1) is going back to work tomorrow and Friday, so no more SW will happen this trip. F2 came over yesterday and [did one small bit of SW]. Then F1 and I moved [some heavy stuff] today. F1 did not like working with me at all. He says he has no idea about how to move heavy objects, but will not accept instruction and expects to try to figure it out for himself while I wait. I’m at a complete loss. I explain things several times, step by step and no comprehension, very similar to when you and I try to work together, so it must be me. I give up.
Anyway, it seems this project has died. I put down a deposit for storage starting May 20th, but there is no chance it will be ready if the [SW is not done]. I’ve spent about $1000 here, but the [objects in question] are legally F1’s, so I plan to walk away – he can sell it and get his money back.

This project has not been moving forward as fast as M would like, mainly due to weather and other factors that he can’t control and it is making him very cranky. A few days earlier he sent me this note:

This will all sort out in the end. F1 and I had a “chat” today and he claims I’ve been attacking him and so he is mistreating me in defense. I told him he’s been picking on me for a long time and I am the one on defense. He didn’t give, but agreed we need to sort it out and was a complete angel to me the rest of the evening. The two Fs are each hard to motivate which, as you know, pisses me off when someone has offered to do something for you, then makes you pay in blood (drawn with a slow needle).
Anyway, I expected that F1 would take care of [a large accessory for the project], because he likes to shop for this kind of thing. But it appears that the project is completely mine and I haven’t really budgeted time for waiting while these guys to decide when they might help, then jumping to help them when they are ready. The SW is going to be a trial, but in the end I’ll save some money.
Which will be spent on [storage]. The rates here are three times what they are at home.

Interesting! I have heard M make disparaging comments to F1 about his appearance, slovenly habits, lack of concern over things that M thinks are important, his spending habits and internet use. The two of them would sometimes banter about it, but it’s never gotten this heated before. They have been friends for 30 years and I would think they would have ironed out their differences before now, but it appears that their friendship is on the rocks:

  Working with F1 is a lot like working with you. I talk in full sentences, giving every detail and repeat myself over and over and over. Still there is no communication and I am to understand that it is entirely my fault. If there is a better way, no one has given me any clues how to make it work. I am left to believe that I am so evil, no one can even stand to tell me what I am doing wrong, let alone any suggestions about how it all might work better. When F2 was here, I didn’t say a word that wasn’t encouraging, but the man can hardly move, let alone work, so his problem is probably not me.

I don’t want to let this [project] go, it’s a perfect [thing] for me. But I can’t afford it and if the work is not completed this summer, it will have to be stored. F1 and Wife have had enough of me, so I have run out of choices, the game is not in my hand unless I force it and that has gotten me less than nothing in my life. I’ll finish painting the [project] so it looks ok for Craig’s List. F1 is an expert at selling stuff. He’s been pretty critical of my paint work, so maybe he can do better.

Wife decided to not go ahead with [house changes], but take care of [a different project] first. I thought they were asking for my input on that, but I think I was mistaken. Hard to tell, everyone plays their cards pretty close. Anyway, all the work we did is recycling material. I had contacted a [specialist] in Seattle who was willing to evaluate the drawings and was embarrassed to have to tell him the project had died.

I’m still attending the [gathering in another town] this weekend. I think those people will be happy to see me, which will be a pleasant change. Then I’m coming home, which will be heaven.

love, m.

I started an honest reply, speaking from my heart with surprisingly little rage in the background but did not send it for reasons that will become apparent with reading:

Actually, I have given you plenty of clues to make communication easier. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve told you many times that it’s not what you say but how you say it – you are brusque and dismissive of my abilities and intelligence. The second that I stop to think about what you are saying, to try to internalize your instructions, to actually learn what you are trying to teach me, you get irritated. You say things like, “can’t you just do what I said?” If I try to explain that I don’t have a clear understanding of what you’re saying (and you have to admit that at times you use language or terms that I’m not familiar with and in the back of my mind I am convinced that you do it deliberately) and start making frustrated gestures. Then you raise your voice and blame me for making you raise your voice. Then I get emotional – frustrated, angry – and I wonder why I wanted to help you in the first place if I’m only going to get this abuse, to be beaten with words over something that in the long run does not matter at all. When I try to explain to you that your yelling and anger are making my confusion worse, you escalate, so I’ve stopped even trying. On those occasions when I think I might have the words to explain to you what the problem is, you interrupt me, change the subject, deny what you just said, tell me that I’m crazy or stupid or have a serious memory problem. This is called gaslighting and is a tactic employed by people who verbally abuse others to enable the abuser to control them.

If you want to keep the project going, you need to apologize to F1, F2 and Wife for being a dick. I can see how it all went down. You want to be in complete control, you have your own ideas which have no room for discussion and which may not even match their original idea. You probably told them that you know best and what they want to do is not possible and/or practical. You dismissed their ideas/needs/input and that would put a normal person’s nose firmly out of joint. You do it to me all the time, but I’m surprised that it has overflowed onto someone else. You’ve had a bad attitude about their house change plans from the start. I don’t know why you took on that project. If it was to make F1 and Wife feel that they “owe” you, then I think you missed the mark and made both yourself and me (and now them) miserable in the process.

The reason that people “play their cards pretty close” is for fear of inciting your wrath or sarcasm or anger. You have a sharp tongue and you use it to hurt at every opportunity and then play the role of the victim if someone stands up to you. Forcing a game is what you do and it has worked out pretty well for you, if you ask me. You feel entitled and it shows. You have said that you demand respect from people for your abilities and knowledge, but then you dismiss their abilities and knowledge in some way, and that puts people off. You start out as Prince Charming, but then you turn into something quite different once you have some “power” to hurt the one you profess to love. You once described your father as the person you most hated in this world and the reasons you gave were the same ones now being used against you.

I doubt I will ever send this. Certainly not today when I know you are dealing with a big steaming pile of crap (of your own making, I have no doubt) and looking forward to a peaceful day among people who like and esteem you. When you have a good day, I have a good evening, and I’ve come to cherish a few hours of peace. I know that it won’t be long after you get here that you will start up with your insulting, hurtful behavior, and I am reluctant to give you a 6 hour drive to work on your strategy. I just felt that I had to get it out of my system, even if no one will ever read this.

Instead, I replied to ask when he will be home and this is the end of his note:

In a way, abandoning this project takes a lot of pressure off, but it is also very disappointing. Your man has had very little success in the last 12 months and no victories. Feels like a lot of very hard effort has been pissing into the wind.I am so glad I have you. The one bright star in a dark sky.

love, m.

There’s the set-up, preparing me to be welcoming for his arrival. Wanting me to feel bad that he’s had such a hard time this week and nothing will soothe him more than my presence. It’s a load of horseshit, and I know it. The problem is how to handle it.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Today

 

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And so it began…

In May of 2001 I took a new job in an office across town from the one M and I shared. I left D in June of 2001 and moved myself and my son into a small apartment that I was confident I could afford. M and I became an item and we continued to exchange e-mails as we felt our way into this new relationship. I was totally smitten – M did his best to make me feel comfortable and safe, speaking softly and encouraging me to explore my hobby of fiber arts to see if I could turn it into a viable business.

I should say that I’m a knitter and spinner. This hobby started in 1996, well before M, and he was aware that I saw knitting and spinning as a meditation and enjoyed it immensely. I was eager to turn my designs into patterns for sale online, to see if I had any talent that anyone would pay for, maybe even have a bit of fame, if only in a very small circle of like-minded enthusiasts. I dreamed of having a farm with a few sheep to support the fiber business and I longed to be able to look out my window and see my horse in the yard, not at a boarding stable 15 miles away. M was the picture of supportive encouragement, telling me that he had started several businesses and could help me through the paperwork and would be happy to see me become a success. He suggested a name for my website, a name for my e-mail address – he is very clever at naming things, and I was grateful to have his advice. If you have ever been subjected to any sort of abuse from your partner, you will understand when I say that I no longer knit or spin except very rarely, and never when M is nearby. More on that another day.

I kept a diary for many years (no longer!) so I can look back and see so many relationship red flags. Of course, I did not recognize the signs, and I was never in the habit of reading over my journals so it is only now, as I go through them, weeping uncontrollably, that I see just what verbal abuse has cost me.

Anyway. Money was very tight and I had several thousand dollars worth of debt that I was slowly paying down, caught in the Interest Trap of credit cards. M loaned me money for bills and insisted he buy me a car. At the time I was driving a Geo Metro that was paid for, but you know that they are little tin cans just waiting for an accident to flatten them. M had been in a horrific car accident when he was in his mid-twenties and has a fear of cars in general, so I knew he wasn’t happy to ride around with me in such a tiny car. I thought his motivation was pure – a safer, better car for me that he could feel good about riding in. It was also an image thing – Geos are not very Uptown, are they? He thought that I should work on my image (better clothes, better car, better hair, etc.) but that’s a separate post.

He found a car that we both liked, bought it, and I started making payments to him. That was probably the first thing we had a major disagreement about – the state of my car. He keeps his cars very clean, vacuuming at least once a week, washing and waxing, the whole deal. I do not have the time or desire to keep my car pristine – it just doesn’t matter to me. He was insulted that I was not keeping my car in the condition he thought it should be in. It just proved that I did not appreciate the things he was doing for me. On the one hand, I did see his point – worthy people keep their surroundings clean and clutter-free, right? Organized, smart, respectable people are always ready for House Beautiful to come over for a photo shoot. It’s not OCD, but pride in your possessions, right?

Maybe I had been selfish in the past, not caring that people thought less of me when they saw me because of my appearance and the dirt on my car. Maybe my life would improve if it looked more like a photo spread in a decorating magazine. Maybe I would be more successful if I looked the part. And since M dressed very well, wouldn’t I look better on his arm if changed a few things? I wanted him to be proud of me. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Looking at myself and seeing inadequacies that were the product of the expectations of another was the first step towards my complete loss of self. A healthy relationship can stand the simple, “I wish you would let your hair grow out a bit – you have such nice hair, it would look great on you.” But when it sounds like this, “Why don’t you ever style your hair? It looks terrible to wear it in a ponytail or under a ball cap. Stylish women fix their hair and brush it throughout the day to keep it looking nice, after all, it’s the people around you that have to look at you all day,” it is the first step towards becoming something you are not.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in History, Red Flags

 

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Where to Start?

The logical place to begin any narrative is at the beginning, but what date or event defines the beginning of this particular story? I guess I will begin with the start of my relationship with M and fill in the history as it applies.

Full disclosure here: I was in a very unhappy, verbally abusive marriage of almost 8 years when M and I met. I was convinced that my husband was having an affair and wanted me out of the house so he could begin his “real life,” you know, the one where I wasn’t there screwing everything up for him. D was verbally abusive on a daily basis, both to me and to my 12-year-old son. He was spending long hours on the computer watching porn. We were done. I was a mess of anger, self-loathing, sadness, regret, despair and hopelessness.

M came to work for the company I worked for. We did not work at the same location, but became acquainted on the phone and at company meetings. I thought he was handsome, but he made no overtures and neither did I.

After about 6 months we ended up working in the same room in the same office building. D was calling my cell phone an average of four times a day to confirm that I really was at work and to ask what I was doing and when I would be ready for him to pick me up from work – I rode my bike to work, but he drove me home with my bike in the back of his truck. It’s another instance of control that I will try to remember to relate fully.

Anyway. M started to ask questions about D – why does he call so much? Why do you sound so strange when you talk to him? (ie fearful, short answers, hoping that none of the men in the office spoke loud enough to be heard on the phone, etc.) He began to ask about my relationship and to express outrage that I would let myself be treated so badly. He told me that I was smart, talented, funny and worth so much more than the jerk I was married to.

Then he began to tell me about his recent divorce and why he thought it had happened – he convinced me that his ex had intimacy issues – she would never share how she was feeling and it left him always guessing and insecure. He said that he asked her constantly what she was thinking and begged her to share her innermost feelings, but she never would, just clammed up and wouldn’t speak at all. He said that he just wanted to have a relationship with a woman who would speak her own mind and express her own opinions, not be emotionally needy, expecting him to read her mind.

We began to exchange e-mails, exploring relationships and what we wanted from a Real Mate. Here’s an early one from him (unfortunately I did not save my response to any of his notes, more’s the pity!) –

One of the most significant things you may ever know about me is that I was raised having to guess about the feelings the people around me had and the deeper the silence meant stronger disapproval. As a result I have a pathological fear that no news is bad news. If I have to guess how you feel, and yes I do unless you look me in the eye and say so, then I will assume the worst.

At the time, I thought Great! Here’s a man who actually wants to know what I feel and think! The man at home had no desire to know anything about me and I felt very isolated and unloved. Yet here was this man, who appeared to be ideal, sharing his thoughts as if we were friends (of which I had exactly zero, as none of them met with D’s approval) and maybe even equals. I was intrigued, to say the least.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in History

 

I am in a verbally abusive relationship

And have been for over 10 years. Before that (surprise!) I was in a verbally abusive relationship for 8 years. Before that (surprise again!) I was married to a drug and alcohol abuser for four years. What a crappy track record for an intelligent 43-year-old woman!

I have decided to do something about the wreck that is my life and will document it here, in secret from family and my abuser. I would add friends, but I don’t have any.

Along the way I plan to air all of my baggage so that it can never again be used against me – public record is out there for all to see, no more secrets to be ashamed of. I choose to write anonymously for the moment, but when the smoke clears, I will reveal my true identity to family and my abuser and invite them to read my story.

I have been a victim. Until recently I thought I was handling it very well, not blaming others for my own failings, not using prior abuse as an excuse for current behavior, but it turns out that I have been duped into re-hashing the past until I turned into a self-loathing puddle of jelly, not once, but twice, by manipulative men for no other reason than to subjugate me to their will. Then they both moved on to another unsuspecting woman. Oh, yes, M, I know all about your Facebook fling with the Italian beauty. As if. Word of advice to all potential cheaters – at least change your password. And empty your Trash bin. Not all women are as stupid as you think they are.

Those days are over. I don’t expect to be able to change my situation over night, nor do I expect my current relationship to survive the boiling rage that I hold in my heart, but I’m going to make the attempt to see if there really is a kind, supportive, romantic, affectionate, loving man buried under all the anger that he directs at me and to see if I can regain the Self that I lost all those years ago. The two goals are likely not compatible. I’m prepared for that and will accept the consequences.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Verbal Abuse

 

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