April 19, 2017 at 7:06 am #145801
I wrote on here a few months ago about my increasingly emotionally abusive 21 year relationship. We have two kids aged 9 and 5 and we were together since I was 17 (he is 8 years older than me). Without going into too much detail about the past, he was always a bit insecure and his needs always trumped mine. We moved overseas 5 1/2 years ago and our lives flipped where I was working full time and he was a SAHP. It was the way things panned out because he made no effort in trying to find work, and I found a good job. I was at home most of the time (home based) but travelled overseas on occasions. His self worth diminished and he got used to letting me doing everything and I continued to do so. Whilst he adores the kids and has their best intentions at heart is is hyper critical and lacks patience. I realized that it wasn’t a healthy living for them or me after episodes of aggression, constant egg shell walking, feeling like I couldn’t do anything right. The more I tried to work on issues the worse things became. I was utterly miserable.
I left 12 weeks ago, and up until last week he still thought that we might be able to try again. He has been very unpredictable with his moods ( as was expected) and in my eyes his mental health is precarious so I have maintained contact to make sure he is ok. He has been to the doctors and is on anti depressants and he had one session with a psychotherpist but gave up as it felt too uncomfortable (I know, I know). Last week he gave me a four page letter which discussed issues where he felt he had gone wrong and hoped that we could have a “new” relationship and move on from the past. I have told him over and over again that I need head space and i didn’t think that getting back together was an option. I told him I was broken and needed to work on myself and he turned it all back to him again. Over the holidays it all went to shit. I had the kids and he started drinking heavily. He went from love bombing me to abusing me over messages. I kept calm, kept the same message, finally on Monday morning he seemed to get it and backed right off.
So, I know in my rational brain that he indeed does not respect or love me like he says he does else he wouldn’t have behaved like that. But I also know he is hurt and angry and he doesn’t know how to behave. But today the communication has gone right back to being about the kids, he has apologized and I feel so so sad. I feel so so guilty. I still feel like I need to help him. How badly does he need to treat me before I can emotionally shut down and not let it bother me? I feel like I need him to understand what he did, I need him to see my side of things, but I know he never will.
I have been reading a lot about recovering from emotional abuse, I am exercising and eating healthy, keeping myself busy, sleeping ok, spending time with family and friends but nothing seems to be improving in my emotions. i actually feel worse than I did the day I left full of resolve. I am even doubting at times if I did the right thing. I still love him, I still want to care for him but he is toxic I know that.
My boys have been wonderful, they have adapted so well and they have both said how much calmer he is when they are with him (so one positive). I feel much more relaxed in my own home, but its the emotions I am struggling with. Any ideas on how I can move this forward, or is it just really time?
Thanks in advance and sorry if it is a bit waffly!April 19, 2017 at 11:15 am #145883
My first thought as I read your first paragraph is how succinct it is, how briefly and clearly expressed, how concise. It was exceptionally succinct. The whole post is evidence of clear, calm thinking on your part. This leads me to conclude that, no doubt, you made the correct decision for yourself 12 weeks ago.
Your last paragraph is evident that you made the correct decision for your children as well. They told you he is calmer when they are with him, and you wrote that you are relaxed in your own home, which means they witness you calmer as well. A Win for them!
And it is the right decision for him as well- he is calmer when with the children. He is not always calm but there is progress.
And so, that feeling of guilt that you feel is not evidence of reality. It only feels this way. In reality, you made the correct choice for all involved. Sometimes our feelings are not trustworthy (it is called “emotional reasoning”- a category of distorted thinking, taught in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where we think something is true because it FEELS this way).
“How to heal”- title of your thread- keep doing what works, and this is working.
Notice, you wrote: “I also know he is hurt and angry and he doesn’t know how to behave,” I suggest that when he was “bombing me to abusing me over messages” he knew what he was doing: he was angry and tried to hurt you. That is what people often do when angry. This is why he apologized later on, because he knew what he did was wrong, only at the time he did it, he felt compelled to do it.
I understand that you “need him to understand what he did, I need him to see my side of things”- but notice: it is a man who feels too uncomfortable to go to a second psychotherapy session that you want to understand what he did. He is too uncomfortable.
anitaApril 20, 2017 at 4:33 am #145947
Thanks Anita, you helped me a lot when I posted before.
I saw him this morning and it felt more relaxed generally (he was dropping off the boys stuff). He knows he has pushed me to the point of no return. All I hope is way in the future we can have a mature co-parenting relationship. Next thing I need to broach is selling the family home. I cannot continue to fund both houses (as he isn’t working I am sending money to pay bills etc). I feel perhaps it is best to give him the opportunity to sort himself out (he told me he is giving up alcohol totally) and when he is in a better place talk about practicalities.
The sadness i feel is overwhelming at times and I know I need to grieve for the past relationship and what it could have been but also start looking forward to the future. I have some ideas about what i need to do regarding other areas in my life, and am looking forward to reestablishing relationships with family and friends (I am so incredibly lucky to have amazing support in real life) and being the best mother I can be.
Thanks again.April 20, 2017 at 7:19 am #145971
You are welcome. Again, good thinking on your part. Regarding postponing the practicalities until he sorts himself out, giving up alcohol so that he can find employment, I understand, and pay his own bills- maybe put a time limit on it, a couple of months. Place yourself and your children as priority, financially and otherwise.
Regarding the sometimes overwhelming sadness you feel regarding “what it could have been”- it is sadness over fantasy, isn’t it: sadness over what was not. Replace all hope for a … better-past, with hopes for a better future.
anitaApril 21, 2017 at 5:04 am #146137
jlo5. You did the right thing. His recent and previous bad behaviour has been about control and anger. When he finally realised that the abusive approach doesn’t work anymore he changed his behaviour because you didn’t respond as he was hoping and in the way you have previously. Rewarding bad behaviour with the desired response only serves to reinforce it. Be aware that this new approach could just be a variation on how to regain control as you and he will only be free from it when he finally moves on from where he has been for a little longtime. Good luck and best wishes.