Thursday, April 4, 2013

Divorcing the Devil - Introduction

Your heartache is someone else's hope.
If you make it through somebody else is going to make it through.
Tell your story.

-- Kim McManus

I need to tell my story. 

I am hoping by sharing it will help me heal.  And I hope by sharing my story at least one other person finds the strength to make it through their own story.  

Maybe I am sharing it for my children to read one day.  I don't know how much I really want them to know right now but I do know that I want better for my 2 daughters and I expect more from my son. 

It is hard to know where to begin so I may jump around until we get to the present.

Our divorce has only been final for 4 months but the journey to get here started years ago.  Our marriage was really over before it ever began but for some reason I always wanted it to work.  I worked hard at being happy but the devil had a way of sucking the joy right out of life. For too long I allowed him to kill my spirit. Looking back at the past me ---- I don't even know who I was.  I lost my joy.  I lost my happiness.  I lost myself.  My only joy was my three wonderful children.  

I stayed too long.  I will tell you why in a different post.  I truly believe if I had stayed any longer I would never have been able to claw my way back to happiness.  

I am thankful today for the people in my life that helped me find the strength to leave.  They stayed by my side for what seemed like the longest divorce ever.  There were so many dark days that without a loving family and supportive friends I might have gone back.  Going back would have been easy.  Going back would have been safe.  Going back would have been a huge mistake.  

I made it through the dark days and have found my happiness, my joy and my spirit.  I cannot remember the last time I felt such pure happiness.  

Yes, I have 3 children and of course I was beyond happy when each was born but the constant fear of upsetting the devil made my entire life feel as if I was always walking on egg shells.  

Warning Signs of Abuse

Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. Use these warning signs of abuse to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:
  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do

Is Emotional Abuse Really Abuse?

A relationship can be unhealthy or abusive even without physical violence. Verbal abuse may not cause physical damage, but it does cause emotional pain and scarring. It can also lead to physical violence if the relationship continues on the unhealthy path its on.
Sometimes verbal abuse is so bad that you actually start believing what your partner says. You begin to think you’re stupid, ugly or fat. You agree that nobody else would ever want to be in a relationship with you. Constantly being criticized and told you aren’t good enough causes you to lose confidence and lowers your self esteem. As a result, you may start to blame yourself for your partner’s abusive behavior.
Remember -- emotional abuse is never your fault. In fact, your partner may just be trying to control or manipulate you into staying in the relationship. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, friend or teacher, about the situation and make a safety plan
The above was taken from a teen site to help identify emotional abuse.  A TEEN SITE.  This is why I need to share my story.  
I was never sure it was abuse and I did start to believe the things that he said.  The worst part was how the devil would convince me that it was my fault ---- he can still sometimes do that to this day.  It has been a long road of healing and an even longer journey to find my self confidence again.  There are setbacks occasionally.  Unfortunately, with three children I will always have to deal with the devil but I'm learning how to deal with his tirades and accusations without feeling like I've done something wrong.  He has the problem --- not me.  

More good information and then I will close for today . . .

Verbal abuse is difficult to identify and regrettably can be a common type of abuse in some marriages. Not all words that are meant to hurt are "ugly words." A master at verbal abuse can damage your self-esteem while, at the same time, appear to care deeply for you. The use of words to punish is a very covert attempt to control and regardless of how loving your spouse may appear to be, verbal abuse is wrong and can be just has harmful as physical abuse.
Physical abuse is easily identified. There is no doubt, once you have been hit, that you have been physically abused. You don’t second guess yourself because the bruises and scars are visible evidence that abuse has taken place. Verbal abuse is different. The damage is internal, there are no physical bruises or scars, just a wounded spirit and sense of self-esteem.
Below are some common signs of verbal abuse:
  • Being called names by your spouse. Any negative form of name calling is unacceptable. If you feel that it is a put down, then it most likely is. There are names that are obvious and, without question abusive. Then there are the covert, veiled attempts to put a spouse down that are harder to identify. Verbal abusers love to use constructive criticism to beat a spouse down. If your spouse is constantly criticizing you, “for your own good,” be careful. This is the most insidious form of verbal abuse.
  • Using words to shame. Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people.
  • Yelling, swearing and screaming. I call this the “walking on eggs shells” syndrome because you are living with someone who goes verbally ballistic for very little cause.
  • Using threats to intimidate. No threat should be taken likely, even if your spouse tells you they are only joking, especially if it causes you to change behaviors or to feel on guard in the relationship.
  • Blaming the victim. Your spouse blows his/her top and then blames you for their actions and behavior. If you were only perfect they wouldn’t lose control!
  • Your feelings are dismissed. Your spouse refuses to discuss issues that upset you. They avoid discussion of any topic where they might have to take responsibility for their actions or words.
  • You often wonder why you feel so bad. You bury your feelings, walk on egg shells and work so hard at keeping the peace that every day becomes an emotional chore. You feel depressed and have even wondered if you are crazy.
  • Manipulating your actions. The persistent and intense use of threatening words to get you to do something or act in a way you find uncomfortable. This form of verbal abuse is common at the end of a marriage. If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce they will say whatever it takes to play on your emotions, to get you to stay in the marriage. All in an attempt to get you to comply with their desires, regardless of what is best for you as an individual.

Responding to Verbal Abuse:

If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse:

  • Abuse is never justified so, you should never feel that it is your fault.
  • Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are and discuss with them the fact that it is unacceptable to you. Set boundaries on what you will and will not accept from your abuser.
  • Seek counseling, either together or separately.
  • Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends. Discuss with them what is happening and how you are feeling.
  • If the verbal abuse escalates to physical abuse, leave. Your personal safety is far more important than the relationship.
  • Do not engage in conflict with your abuser. If your spouse becomes angry stay calm, walk away and don’t give him/her what they want…a reaction from you.
  • Take back your power. If you react to the abuser, you are rewarding them. Letting them know they have power over your emotions. Don’t allow the abuser to have control over how you feel.
  • Leave the marriage. If setting boundaries, getting therapy and refusing to respond to the abuse doesn’t work, then it is time to consider divorce. There are times when the best thing you can do for yourself is, break all ties with your abuser. If you make this decision hire an attorney familiar with domestic violence, stay in close contact with your support system and focusing on learning good coping skills.
  • Not all of these have to apply to be abuse! Sometimes the passive aggressive comments or the feeling of walking on eggshells for fear of the verbal abuse is enough.  Verbal or emotional abuse often escalates to physical abuse.  In my case it took 10 years of emotional and verbal abuse before there was physical abuse.  

    ---- If I can leave anyone can.  It took a long time to find the courage ----- you will find it too.  It feels good to be happy again! 

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