(My heart is, our hearts are, in deep pain for our world today. Please pay attention to, and take good care of, each other. Please and Thank You)
Before my Situation (so, ‘BS,’ for short), I never understood why why why anyone would put up with being abused by another person.
Why would you be with someone who hurts you?
What kind of person puts up with that? Prostitutes? Drug addicts? Uneducated people? People bound by misogynistic cultural norms?
Who were these adult people choosing to live these lives?
I could not comprehend abusive relationships at all.
Now, After my Sorry Situation (so, ‘ASS,’ for short), I cannot understand how to develop a relationship that isn’t abusive. I just do not trust myself anymore.
I know so many people, people in my BS and ASS communities, who are in or have been in, abusive relationships (and also, healthy functioning relationships, but they are foiling my post and will be disregarded for this post). It is hard for me to imagine how to be in any relationship.
I do not know how you functioning couples do it. I am not saying that in a trite way. I truly do not know how you do it. I admire you, as one might admire a first class trip around the world, or a George Clooney Italian Villa – it’s so lovely to imagine, but so out of my reach or reality, that it appears like a magical fantasy.
How did I go from BS to ASS?
Honestly, while I knew that something was not right with my marriage, I had no idea that I was being abused. I did not know that my husband was abusive.
The Police explained it to me.
The Sheriff’s department explained it to me.
Detectives explained it to me.
Domestic Violence Shelter Counselors explained it to me.
Multiple Private Therapists explained it to me.
My Physician explained it to me.
My Family and Friends explained it to me.
Church Officials explained it to me.
My Attorney explained it to me (and referred me back to my Therapist, many, many times)
I still did not know that I was in an abusive marriage.
I thought that I was the problem. If only I could do this, he would be happy and not threaten our son. If only I would do that, he would show us respect and kindness. If only I could do this, he would stop hurting me.
There are days now, still, where I am consumed by guilt and remorse, that I was unable to do more, to help him better, to find the right Dr for him, to provide the right life for him to sooth his worries so that he would like us.
On these days, I have to force myself to read some of my notes for/from my attorney, in order to remember the facts of what has transpired, rather than my own feelings.
This is a painful, but necessary, process.
Mostly, because in my case, if I lapse and allow my feelings to guide my actions, I would be placing both my son and myself, into lethal danger. As I type this, I know that sounds like a crazy person. After all that has happened, WHAT kind of person would subject themselves to that kind of peril?
Unfortunately, it is me.
And many other well-educated, loved, supported, life-engaged women (and men).
We are not stupid. We are fiercely compassionate. We are intelligent. We have a hard work ethic. We are devoted, dedicated, and honorable.
So much so, that our determination to be all of those things, blinds us to our own reality.
If something is not working, we set our minds, hearts, and souls to problem solve and correct whatever issue is set before us.
We believe we can help and resolve, through love, hard work, and devotion, any obstacle which is presented to us. Our compassion for our abuser knows very few, if any, limits or boundaries. We see someone worthy in there and we work our hardest to comfort and support and lift that worthiness out.
What we do not know, is that we are worthy enough of recognizing our abuser for who they are.
We are worthy enough to expect the same fierce compassion we exhibit, from our partner.
We are worthy enough to decide when to walk away from a situation that is not healthy or working for us.
We are worthy enough to deserve to feel safe in our home, in our bedroom, in our garage.
We are worthy enough to be treated the way we would want our sons and daughters to be treated in their adult relationships.
We are worthy.
It took my entire community over a year to convince me that Mr exH was abusive. I was afraid of him. I was confused by him. I was incredibly painfully sad for him.
I was shocked when it was suggested that he was an abusive person.
I fought for him to get help, to get support, to get medical care, to have his pillow, to have his special toiletries, comfort items and clothing…
He continued to abuse me, and I still fought for him, like some caricature of the definition of an abused spouse.
What saved me from all of my excuses for his abuses?
At one point, I was so deep into trying to do “the right thing” for my husband, my attorney called me in to her office (btw, this is never good news) and asked me if I trusted her to represent me in court.
I was having a difficult time understanding exactly what the process was that we were involved in, and what I was supposed to be doing. My attorney spelled out for me that she was there to advise me, to guide me, and to advocate for me in court.
Even if I could not understand what she was doing, she needed to know if I trusted her as a professional. I responded that I absolutely trusted her.
It was at that moment I realized
my thinking was based on false assumptions.
While I was still unable to pinpoint exactly what my false assumptions were, I understood clearly at that moment that my thinking process and beliefs must be flawed.
My attorney has 20+ years of experience and a stellar reputation.
Family and friends had interacted with her multiple times by this point, and all were impressed by her.
Something clicked in me and allowed me to see that even if I did not agree with my attorney, even if I could not see what she was seeing, if I trusted her, I had to believe that she could interpret the situation correctly and knew what to do.
I was in crisis, after years of spiraling toward crisis. I had no experience. I reasoned with myself all of the way to, “how could I know what I don’t know?”
I had to trust that my attorney knew.
At the same time, my therapist was also gently introducing me to the idea that I was abused. I did not believe her, but, again, I trusted her to know what she was seeing and hearing.
It is hard to follow your gut and not your heart,
when your mind is screaming at you.
Mind says, “You are an idiot/slacker/lazy/incompetent/evil/selfish/awful person for setting this situation up”
Heart says, “He is in so much pain and distress. How can I take care of helping him, so that we can all be well?”
Gut says, “Listen to respected resources. Get a Safety Plan. Tell trusted people. Trust your trusted people”
My gut saved us.
My gut that hates me, because I have treated it so poorly, saved us.
For everyone going through similar situations, I want to encourage you to listen to your gut – not the core of your heart, mind, and soul – your gut.
Because you are worthy of not accepting or making excuses
Because you are worthy of not accepting abuses
Your heart, mind, and soul will be revived, comforted, and nourished to where they need to be, through counseling and other support networks.
Right now, you need your gut
I am praying for you on your journey too.
Love, Ms. Herisme xo