Not everyone realises that they have experienced abuse. Sometimes it is subtle, like manipulation guilt trips to stop you seeing your friends or family, or controlling. You slowly lose yourself until one day you notice you are depressed or anxious, or both.
Other times it is more obvious like physically hurting you, yelling, forcing you to do things you don’t want to do. There is obvious markers that things are not right, but still we can blame ourselves or make excuses for our partner…because they love us right?
I denied my situation for years, even after it ended. In the end however, I had to admit that yes, I was being controlled, and even now I hate to write it.
It was only after a great deal of inner work that I realised that I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, I didn’t know who I was, and so I followed blindly until I couldn’t follow anymore.
To heal from this is going to take a lot of courage.
What you will need to do is take a deep look within yourself to find the answers.
Blaming your ex will not help you in the long run.
It feels easier to blame others at first, but then that just keeps you stuck and prevents you from learning whatever life lesson you need to learn.
I’d like to share with you a story. This story may trigger some of you as it refers to abuse. Please seek professional help if this resonates with you. Also please note Adam is not his real name and some circumstances have been changed to protect his identity.
Adam’s Story: The realisation of being abused
Adam came to see me after he and his wife separated. He referred to her by anything but her name. He was bitterly angry with her. In the relationship he gave her everything he could. He worked long hours, looked after the children when he was home, bought her gifts when they really couldn’t afford it.
Nothing he did was ever good enough for her. She accused him of having affairs, went through his phone, controlled who he could be friends with. She yelled at him because there wasn’t enough money, or his cooking wasn’t good enough, she verbally abused him, calling him anything she could think of. She even through things at him and hit him.
Finally, he had enough of all the fighting and he left. He was at his lowest point. He thought about ending his life, fortunately he did not want to hurt his kids and that kept him going.
Instead, he chose to get help.
It was through therapy Adam learned that he had been a push over from the very beginning.
He was trying so hard to please her that he let go of all his own boundaries and his values. He forgot who he was in an attempt to be the man she wanted him to be.
He apologised to her for things he didn’t need to apologise for. There was nothing he could do to make his wife happy.
Adam was in an abusive relationship. When I first pointed this out to him, he gave a nervous laugh, “How could that be? I am a man.”
I gently smiled, and asked him, “Adam, everything your wife did to you, if you had done that to her, what would have happened?”
“She would have called the cops for sure. I probably would have been charged and I would never see my kids again”.
I didn’t say anything. I just nodded my head, and he got it. This was just the beginning of the transformation of Adam.
He learnt that he had learnt how to “do relationship” by watching his parents.
His parents fought a lot. His mother shut down and pandered to the needs of his father to keep the peace. His father was never happy. Nothing Adam, his siblings or his mother did was good enough.
Adam believed his father, he was just a child. He had head it over and over again so he thought it must be true.
“You are not good enough,
You will never amount to anything,
No one would ever want to be with you,
You’re nothing but a dumb little shit.”
Those words cut deep and linger.
Adam started to realise, “Wow those are mean and cruel words a child should never hear. Those words are outright lies.”
Everyone deserves love, and that starts from within.
When Adam realised he had become his mother, and his wife was his father it was like someone had turned the lights on. With continued revelations he understood his belief in himself was skewed because of his father’s abuse and his mother’s inability to defend him or herself.
He put up with his wife’s torment because he was used to it. He knew it wasn’t right but he had grown up with it so his tolerance for it was higher than most people’s. He put up with stuff other people would walk away from.
Adam learnt to forgive his father, and his mother. He learnt to forgive himself for not being able to stand up to his father. He learnt that just because his father was abusive, it didn’t mean that he was unlovable.
His father was an angry man, he had his own demons to deal with, and that was in no way Adam’s fault. Adam was just an innocent, beautiful little boy.
When Adam understood this he viewed himself in a different light. He respected himself, he set clear boundaries around his expectations of relationship and how that would look. He put himself first for the first time in his life.
He started to see himself in a different light
He started to see women differently too. He rejected women who did not respect him, he was kinder, more open, not afraid to be vulnerable.
He started to attract a different kind of woman. His dates were more fun, easy. He could be himself. He felt free. With every date he learnt more about what was important to him.
He figured out what he wanted what he would not compromise on. Simple things like no drugs or smoking, must like football, kids and dogs. I must be able to talk to them easily and feel attraction to them.
Before Adam understood what he wanted he would date anyone that showed interest in him and do whatever it took to make them hang around. He just wanted to feel loved, at any cost.
It was only after he left, and with therapy that he realised his truth. A year or so after they separated, he met a beautiful and kind woman. He implemented everything he had learnt, he stuck to what was important to him and he flourished.
Never give up, because there is always help if you look for it. You can start by joining my private FB support group Divorce, Support and a little bit of HOPE or :@The_Divorce_Coach_For_Men or watch a free webinar. You can also book in for a free call to find out how I can help you Reclaim Your Life After Divorce