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.



CZBZ said...

Dear jennie,

We can read every self-help book on the market, study theory 'til our eyes are bleary; we can talk to a therapist, be counseled by our friends, seek support in a group that cares. But in the end, the only person who can end an abusive relationship is ourselves.

And it's scary.

I read a quote by Erich Fromm that has stuck with me the past few years. He writes:

"The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity."

Even if we have a bona fide NPD diagnosis for our spouse, a pedigree chart of his family's pathology, etc., we still make the decision to leave and it's frightening. We are choosing to step into Uncertainty.

I was terrified to be on my own at first but now I cherish living with people who are able to control their anger (if and when we do get angry which we sometimes do!).

My whole attitude about myself has changed when other people I care about aren't raging or screaming insults. Just knowing I can TRUST people to restrain from verbal battery, is a blessing.

We change dramatically when we feel SAFE.

Living in constant fear that another attack is headed our direction when we least expect it, is no way to live.

The daily abuse wears us down and reduces our will to 'leave'.

The fact that so many people DO leave abusive relationships says a lot about our courage and resiliency.

Big hugs,

jennie said...

Yes, it is scary CZ. Your courage to stand up and reclaim your life inspires me. A picture popped into my head yesterday of CZ with her pajamas falling down, looking in the mirror and finding the inner strength to get out.

You are so right about the importance of safety. Fortunately, I do remember what it feels like to feel safe and yes, the difference is dramatic. That vision of warmth and safety is helping me move towards it.

Thanks for sharing that you were scared too.It helps me to remember that it is normal.

CZBZ said...

Afraid of leaving? Well as you know from my story, my husband is the one who left---not me.

We didn't know much about verbal abuse when I was married. Patricia Evans is the first person to reach a lot of people with her book about verbal abuse. I didn't read her book until my 'beloved' had escalated his abuse to Infidelity.

I don't know what decision I might have made if I'd known his rages were 'abusive.' I hope to think I'd have reacted like yourself: Educate myself. Give my partner a chance. Leave if he couldn't change.

I knew my X's rages made me feel terrible and I knew there was something wrong with the way he [didn't] manage his anger. But the word ABUSE wasn't part of my awareness.

Once it was, I swear to you that the sky turned blue and the clouds were white again. It made so much sense to me! How I didn't realize his rotten behavior was abusive will always be a mystery. I did not grow up in a verbally abusive household so the first time he laid into cussing me out and screaming, I didn't even know how to react!

If I did react by screaming back, it only got worse. And therein started the slow decline to 'learned helplessness.' It's been a tough experience, but I'm so glad to be out of his yelling range.


jennie said...

I guess it wasn't clear to me who did the actual physical leaving in your case. What I noticed was that you said you were terrified to be on your own. And you seem like a pretty strong woman to me, so it was reassuring to hear that even CZ was scared.

Having to be the one to physically move out adds a layer of complexity for me. It would be simpler if I could stay in the house but that's not going to happen.

Like you, I did not grow up in a verbally abusive household. I didn't even have a frame of reference for what was happening. For him it seems to be normal. Awful. I was so naive. Having experienced the effect of this on me as an adult, I truly do not know how children survive verbal abuse. I am in awe of those people who have managed to endure that and heal - and not become abusive themselves.

Interestingly, I found that screaming back and other counter-aggressive tactics gets my husband to back off. I have done so deliberately on occasion but never felt good about it. Even though it is effective to get him to back off, it still shows that he is operating in a competetive, power based paradigm, and that is the root of the problem.

CZBZ said...

"Interestingly, I found that screaming back and other counter-aggressive tactics gets my husband to back off."

I've heard other people say the same thing. That the abuser needed to have his behavior reflected back to him. I've wondered how long people could stand living like that, though. It must feel awful knowing that the only way to keep the relationship together is to use counter-aggressive tactics with someone you love!

I also believe that fundamentally, abusers believe they are superior to others...especially women. How does anyone break through that degree of arrogance??

We had a neighbor who used to yell at his kids, he was truly verbally abusive. So it's not as though I'd never witnessed verbal abuse. But when it happened to me, well...that's a totally different story.

Like other people in my shoes, I tried to placate him, soothe his anger, wait until he cooled down, etc. I even tried yelling back a few times but that only made ME feel like crap. He never got control of his temper in the thirty-some years we were married; in fact, his anger increased over time.

I hope you're feeling better this evening....


Mel said...

(((((((( Jennie )))))))))

Thank you. I'm grateful to know you're 'ok'...as 'ok' as you can be given the circumstances. And I think you're smart to put together a plan--the time for me to do that is when I'm not in crisis mode.

It's hard. Deciding is a personal thing. I'm glad you've got some places to go with experiences to draw from, other voices to listen to. I've found that the best thing I can do for me is to surround myself with people who've had similar experiences who'll tell me the truth about what they see, who'll share what worked for them...and who'll let me decide for me (over and over again if need be). It's hard enough for me to simply tell the truth and let it look as messy as it is.
Years of training in making it all look better, I'd guess.

((((((((((( Jennie )))))))))))))

Know you're being thought of and prayed for whole bunches.....

jennie said...

Thank you for your kind words Mel.

I am feeling much more clear headed today.

Laura said...

I'm sorry that the cycle is back in motion, in vengeance.

It seems that we all have our "straw on the camel's back." And not that that point is the leaving, but that is the point of preparing to leave. It is a process, but once you have your end goal in mind, all of your steps will lead you there.

Hugs, Laura.

jennie said...

Thanks Laura.

Just curious, if you don't mind sharing, was there one event which led to the final decision point for you? Or was it simply the accumulation of stuff over the years?

Avi said...

My Dearest Jennie,

You are STRONG! and you CAN make the life you need for yourself. As a friend of mine who went through a very similar situation to mine did, he one day decided to 'Go be Happy". I do not know hoe old (young) you are but why live the rest of your life this way.

Perhaps my own thought process can be of help. I do not know if you have kids, but with me, and I have 6 ranging in age from 3 to 12, I need to know I did all I could, for their sake. This is not about "staying for the kids". Its about trying my hardest for the kids.

If I may suggest, once your own integrity tells you you have truly tried your best, make the decision, and as CZ said, the sky will become blue again, and the sun a nice warming and healing yellow.

Be happy!


jennie said...

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement Avi. I was shaken for a few days, but I am feeling much stronger now.

I admire you for wanting to do right by your kids. We don't have any kids at home. I am neither a young woman nor an old woman, but however much more time I have to live, whether one day or several decades, I know that I deserve happiness, safety, love, and respect. I am determined to create more of that in my life, whatever it takes.

Kellie Jo Holly said...

Your post leaves me wondering when my breaking point will occur. Will it happen? Will I have to leave knowing that all the progress I've made with ME does not protect me from HIM? Will I leave after a shock, or will I go for a different reason? Will I go?

My thoughts are with you. Don't beat yourself up for being surprised. Remember, sneak attacks are one of our abuser's most devastating weapons.

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