Ending the Cycle of Abuse

One of my greatest fears is if my daughter picks someone like her dad who is abusive.  My grandmother and mother picked husbands exhibiting abusive behavior very similar to my ex-husband.

My parents divorced when  I was about three years old.  My father began using me to abuse my mother when I was four or five and put me in the middle of his attacks on her.  Every-time I visited my father he would grill me about religion, unfaithful women and basically did everything he could to turn me against my mother.

In the end my father’s actions did not have the effect he desired, in fact I rarely spoke to him for about twenty years.  My mother never attacked him back through me, so I did not get angry at her for doing the same thing he was doing.  When I was very young and my father told me the hateful things and I did not have anyone to talk to about this.  I was an only child and did not have any adults to help me.  I felt very alone.   Nobody ever told me what my father was doing was not okay.

My mother had several relationships when I was growing up.  She always picked the wrong men, guys who wouldn’t commit, or my step-dad who was an alcoholic.  In the end she always ended up alone.  What my mother did was a great deal of time focusing on whatever man she met instead of me.  This was very hard for me as a child.  I think I felt pretty alone and probably abandoned.  Actually I still have some unresolved anger I am finally dealing with now as an adult.

My father spent my childhood pouring all his hatred of my mother into me.  I learned at a very early age to protect my mother from the things my father would say.  I think I learned to protect my mother from my father and even my own feelings.

As a child I remember being angry a lot.  Especially when I became a teenager.  My mother moved about eight times when I was a child.  I remember about four different men that she had longer relationships with.  I am pretty sure my father painted her out to be a harlot & promiscuous.  Undoubtedly he was probably pumping me for all the information he could get when I was a child.

I attended three different schools before 7th grade, one junior high and at least some of our moving kept me in the same high school.  Every time I made friends it seemed we had to move again.  By the time I was in high school I was a pretty pissed off kid and I was left unsupervised a lot.  I ended up associating with the wrong kids, drinking a lot when I was a sophomore in high school, pretty much rebelling against the rules.  I also associated with the wrong people right out of high school and got in a lot of trouble.

I moved to another state when I was twenty and left all my friends.  I did not get in trouble again and became pretty responsible.  Unfortunately this is when I met my ex-husband.  Our relationship was a roller coaster and went from good to bad to okay.  We never really had a good relationship.

My problem was two things.   My ex-husband was very much like my father, which probably felt pretty normal.  I also had no example, while watching my mother, of what a good relationship looked like.  I had also learned that I would rather be miserable with my ex-husband than miserable without him.

I left my ex-husband plenty of times, but I always took him back or went back voluntarily.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, women leave 7 times on average before they finally leave for good.  My instincts were right, although he would tell me things like, “All relationships have problems, you don’t  know what goes on behind closed doors.”   I always would reply, “Yes, but I just don’t think it should be this difficult, this hard, we should get along better.”  If you are with an abusive man, this is not what will happen, probably not ever.  The rules are completely one sided and they were not in my favor.

Fear of my ex-husband kept me there, fear of how to survive on my own kept me there, fear on how to raise my daughter alone kept me there, fear kept me pretty paralyzed.

The real turning point happened when I remember making the decision that I would rather live in my car than live with my ex-husband any longer.  That was when my ex-husband lost me for good.  I knew that I would never allow myself to trust that man again.  That was the time I knew I would never go back.

Things worked out pretty good for me.  I had a business I had built that took off, I purchased my own home and I began setting boundaries for what I would accept and not not accept.   I was also attending Alanon and going to Domestic Abuse counseling.  When the domestic abuse counselors described my relationship in detail, it was more than disturbing, as if they had a window into my life for all those years.  How could complete strangers know my relationship so well.

My abusive ex-husband is not very special at all.  In fact, he is simple a classic domestic abuser.  I do not like my ex-husband very much but I do not hate him.  I hate the things he does to my daughter.  I know he is a weak person to do these things.  I also know part of the reasons he attacks me like he does is because I left him and I am doing well without him.

I dated a few men after divorcing my ex-husband.  I was really worried about getting into another unhealthy relationship over and over like my mother did.  I finally decided that I would be perfectly okay alone.  I made the decision that I was done dating and if I was meant to have a relationship… God was going to have to send him to me.  You know what… God did.

So maybe what I am doing for my daughter by giving her tools on how to get out of the middle, giving her and example of a healthier relationship, and I believe I am provided her with a bit more stability than I had as a child.  Just maybe I have changed my life enough that my daughter might not pick an abuser.  I have prayed to God to let the Cycle of Abuse End with me.

I guess, now, that too I must turn over to God.

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