Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remembering who I am

This past weekend I went to a party at the home of a mutual friend. I knew that it would be mostly a group of people I had lost touch with over the past several years, partly due to my self imposed isolation, but also because the old gathering spots had closed. As the price of gas goes up, the cash available for entertainment goes down. A few drinks while listening to live music at the neighborhood watering hole is one of the first budget items cut.

I knew these people before I met my husband and I had many fun evenings with them - listening to live music, dancing, talking, and generally acting like college students although most of us are a few decades past college. Hey, why should fun be limited to people under twenty-five? We are baby-boomers, we won't go quietly.

I am introverted by nature, but also enjoy socializing. I had never been nervous about going to a party, until this time. I even contemplated, (briefly), not going. I was surprised and puzzled by the anxiety I felt as the evening approached. What was it? Was I afraid that my husband's treatment of me showed on my face? That I had turned into a timid wallflower? Would people say, "Jennie, what happened to you?" Had I lost my confidence because my husband called me names? Because upon having obtained me, he failed to even notice me? Maybe this was an experience of shame, the sense that one is exposed to the world as lacking in some way.

Obviously I needed to change my head, so I went shopping and bought a flirty little polka dot dress and painted my toenails.

Bob had asked me "Are you going to go to the party?" Odd, for a husband to ask that I thought. Isn't it usually, "Shall we go to the party?" "Yes, I'm going I told him." He said he might. I went on ahead.

The moment I walked in, all anxiety vanished. I was greeted warmly by many people. I did lots of catching up with old friends, and there were new interesting folks to talk with too. I didn't notice when Bob arrived. I was too busy enjoying myself. I first noticed him when he sauntered over as I was engaged in a tete 'a tete with a funny and attractive man. Since I was not wearing my wedding ring, perhaps Bob just wanted to establish that I had a husband. Don't know. Don't really care.

I had a fabulous time. There's nothing like a fun party on a perfect August night. Best of all, I remembered who I was. I remembered I can have fun. I remembered that even at my age, men are interested in me. It felt really good.

There are many roads to healing, becoming educated about the nature of the problem, connecting with others who understand, dealing with your own feelings. All those things are important, but never underestimate the healing power of a wearing a new dress to a great party under the stars on a perfect August night.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Nearly two days later, I still feel shaky. My last post was the first I had written immediately after a nuclear abuse incident. It's always shocking, but Sunday even more so because I thought there had been progress.

I know that I have progressed. I've learned a lot about how an abusive person sees relationships, handles feelings etc. I've adopted new strategies. I've learned to handle my own feelings much better. Bob had pretty much stopped with the defining statements, i.e., telling me what I was thinking, doing, and feeling. He started to speak for himself, and only himself. There was no more ordering, only polite requests, and he began to ask about my life. Certainly not great, but progress. So I was doubly shocked that this occurred.

Upon reflection, perhaps it shouldn't have been surprising. For many months I had been so distant, basically living a separate life. When you are distanced from someone, they don't have much power to hurt you. So maybe as the divide narrowed, there was greater potential for Bob to feel hurt. And when he gets hurt or scared, he sometimes says hateful things, much as a child would, because that is where he seems to be stuck emotionally. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

My objective with this blog was to keep it personal, rather than theoretical, and to write honestly about my experience. There is quite a bit on the internet about verbal abuse in general, mostly from a psychologist viewpoint, but there don't seem to be that many personal narratives. Even though I am blogging under a pseudonym, it was still uncomfortable to write that raw post, with the ugly words as the title. But I vowed to keep it real.

Even now I am a bit shaky. I left the house for a while Sunday, checked the "For Rent" ads, contemplated going to a motel. It is hard to think at those times and thankfully I have a few internet friends, women also in verbally abusive relationships, who helped keep me centered and thinking. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to spend the night home. The abuse was a single devastating blast, not a continuing battle, so thankfully I could get away from him.

Leaving can be a tricky time I've heard. There can be explosions and/or continuing petty battles. I want to make it as easy on myself as possible. How to do it best? Even blogging under an assumed name, I don't think it is a good idea to reveal too much, but changes are underway.


Monday, August 18, 2008

I hate you,you fucking bitch!

That's what he said to me last night.

I have to leave. I don't know where. I didn't sleep last night and I am so tired. I don't know how it will work out. I only know that I have to protect myself from abuse whatever it takes. I trust God to help me.

Please pray for me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Power of Words

I recently came across a web site,, where you can create "word clouds" with any text. It takes the words and arranges them randomly in various ways. Common words like prepositions are thrown out, and words repeated often appear larger. I was playing around with it by copying and pasting snippets of text from various websites. It was pretty interesting to see the words thrown together out of context.

I decided to try a snippet from Bill Howdle's Dying Man's Journal. I copied and pasted a paragraph from his post Words Helping Others and added a few other words he uses frequently. The above "wordle" was the result, (click here to see larger size). Makes me feel good just looking at those words. So I'm looking at them a lot.

I have always known that words have great power to help or to hurt, yet I did not fully appreciate the power of words until my exposure to verbal abuse. Perhaps one positive result of this experience will be that I become more mindful of the impact of my words on others, and on myself for that matter.

A woman named Juanita posted this comment on Bill's blog:

"I want to thank you for helping me want to go on living. Your words, on this site, has done more for me than anyone. From your words I have been given hope, encouragement, and love. I had forgotten that there were loving people in the world, but more than anything I had forgotten I was one of them. Thank you for giving me back my life. You will always be one of my hero’s and always in my prayers.”

I can relate to that. Last May I left a comment on Bill's blog about how his post about making changes had helped me. He replied:

"I am proud of you for taking the small steps to improve your life. Way to go, and good for you Jennie, keep that thought process going, it will get you to where you want to be."

At that time, when it had been so long since I had received any encouragement, Bills' words were like rain in the desert to me. I'm getting teary eyed just remembering how it felt when I read those words.
I understand more than ever how much words matter. I am making an effort to speak more lovingly and positively. And that includes what I say to myself, by my thoughts.

I am reminded of a post by Avi at husbandabuse about a time when he was in the hospital for a heart condition.

Although the nurse is paid to do her job I could not help but be touched by the fact that after leaving the room she took the time and made the effort to stop, turnaround, and say “Have a good night”. Oh! How many nights did my wife NOT do that for me. I honestly cannot remember her EVER initiating those final few words one would think would be exchanged by a “loving” couple as they fall asleep for the night. Hmmm, gets me thinking about the tenderness of our hearts both circulatory system wise and perhaps just as importantly, emotionally.

In writing about verbal abuse, one must necessarily write about the negative impact. And the flip side of that is the positive impact of loving words. As Bill said:

How many times have I heard or read that verbal (emotional) abuse can have a must longer and deeper impact on a person than even physical abuse. Physical scars and bruising heal much more quickly than emotional ones.

Emotional bruises and scarring take much longer to heal and can stay with a person for their entire life time. Not always but often this time of long term hurt is caused by words. Depending on where and who these words come from they can cut down inside to our very soul.

I would imagine most of us at one time or another have at least heard of this, the terrible power that can be contained within a few words. We know of how words can be just devastating, we realize that. We know that “mere” words can have such a devastatingly negative impact. I ask then wouldn’t it just stand to reason, if we look at the flip side of the coin, that “mere” words could have a wonderfully healthy healing power to them. If words can tear us down then obviously words can build us up in a healthy positive way.

As usual, Bill's message is simple, true, and powerful.

Language is funny. Take the word 'heart' for example. Medically speaking, Bill has a "bad heart", in layman's terms. Yet in human terms, it is clear that he has a very good heart. His good heart is abundantly clear from his efforts to reach out to others, and the supportive, encouraging, caring words he uses.

Words are powerful, yet sometimes seem so inadequate. How do I say "Thank you Bill" in a way which conveys the gratitude in my heart?

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