It is rather amazing how long it takes to deal with the emotional scars of a verbally abusive relationship. I am married to a really great man now and it can really affect our relationship today. There are times when a situation will trigger a memory and it sort of brings me back to the past.
It is also extremely hard all the verbal abuse/emotional abuse my ex-husband does that affects our whole family. I have really put up some boundaries that prevent him from getting directly to me. So now he goes through our child or her school, as I keep setting up and creating new personal boundaries, he keeps trying to find ways through them.
I would love to believe this is not an emotional thing for him, but the occasional email I receive shows me how stuck in the past he still is. He is still so angry and emotional which in returns makes him very irrational. I know I can’t possibly understand his thoughts, and I don’t know why I even bother to try to understand it truthfully.
Actually I spoke to my father the other day and explained a little of what was going on. You see, he did the same thing to my mother that my ex-husband does to me. Although I think my ex-husband is far more manipulative than my father ever was. I also have to deal with my ex-husband every other week and my mother had to do it twice a year.
My father really could feel empathy for my ex-husband but could not offer any excuses. You see, about 5 years ago I really poured my heart out to my father about what that did to me. His constant verbal attacks on my mother really hurt me, really helped me become a very angry child, and I internalized a lot of his comments and reflected them back onto myself.
I received an email from my ex-husband a few weeks ago and it really messed me up. His email was extremely accusing and basically said I was crazy. His words were written very well but contained very twisted portions of facts or a distorted perception. I could really read his under-lying message beneath his carefully selected wording. In short it said that I was crazy, that I am abusive to our daughter, and she would be better off with him.
His email worked very much like he probably intended, it brought out a mess of emotions in me; fear of losing my child, pain from the past, anger that his words could still affect me, hopeless feeling that this would never end, and a strong feeling of why don’t I just give up? I believe it brought out some PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that lasted a few days. I believe that because the feelings were tied to powerful emotions and it drained me of all my energy for a few days.
Thankfully, unlike the past, the emotions did not last long and I feel stronger than before. So I know when these emotions hit me I need to not think about the negative impacts of the situation, but perhaps think of all the positive things. The negative emotions trigger anxiety, fear, stress, worry, anger… all of these emotions are not very healthy. If I can turn it around and think of how far I have come today, how I do not feel fear all the time, that worry is not a constant emotion, that I am safe today, and that I do not have to live like that today. Although I know in the past I was not really living, just surviving the days. Today I am truly living my life.
This stuff can be hard on my husband, because his natural response is ‘get over it, you know he is like that, that is just how he is’ and what I really want to hear is ‘ you are not there now, you are safe, and we will get through this’. I have talked to my husband about this since then. We really have a great marriage but my ex-husband can really do some wicked things to mess with our family.
For instance, right before Spring Break my ex-husband told our daughter if she had been with him they were going to go some place amazing for the holiday. So she got really upset and disappointed when she found out we were not planning to go travel somewhere. Now, this is hard for our daughter because she cannot process this and think about it as an adult would. In the past they have not traveled anywhere during Spring Break and it was really quite mean of him to say ‘if you were with me…’ kind of statement.
Our daughter has been home with use most of the month and I noticed her behavior is so much more relaxed. There has not been any nights where she has been unable to sleep. Plus, since she has not been over there to overdose on junk food she has felt much better.
My father said something really interesting the other day. He said my ex-husband was only using our daughter to get to me. He also said, someone once told him that while he was busy trying to hurt my mother he was also hurting me too. I was the one who told him that about five years ago. I am very grateful to have a different relationship with my father today. We cannot replace 20 missing years but we have built a new relationship. My father has also really worked hard to not talk negatively about my mother to me. He is truly still making a living amends after all these years.
Having this type of conversation with my father brought me some peace. It was nice to hear that my father could understand what my ex-husband was doing but was no excusing his actions one bit. In fact he simply said I should consider hiring an attorney to create a new set of rules that would prevent some of that from coming into our family life here.
There is a part of me that wishes I could speak to my ex-husband and explain to him how much time I lost with my dad because of very similar things. However my dad once told me he did not believe he would have heard me back then because he was drinking and caught in his own grief. I am pretty sure my ex-husband still uses substances abuse to cope with his feelings and obviously has strong emotions of hurt and anger.
I know I should write more about this because it helps me to get it out and hopefully it helps others to hear it.