How to be a friend to someone who might be in an abusive relationship.

October is #domesticviolenceawareness month. Chances are, you know more people in situations like this than you think. If you want to be a friend to someone you think may be smiling only on the outside, here are some insights:
*If you are in an abusive situation yourself, and reading this, send it to someone you trust.
  1. Don’t expect 20/20 vision from the victim, they are way more used to hiding it than talking about it. Way more used to denying it and brushing it under the rug than facing it for what it is. They will blame themselves, deny, minimize, and become completely desensitized to it from doing it so often. They may not even be willing to or want to see it.
  2. Tap experts –  There are some great and experienced resources to access by phone, for advice and support: national abuse hotline will always take your call and they have loads of valuable training and experience – TOLL-FREE 1.866.863.0511
  3. Go beyond the stereotypes – Physical violence is usually the exception or the late-coming form of abuse, but is also the most socially agreed upon form of abuse. No bruises means some people won’t consider it ‘real abuse’. Verbal and psychological abuse are harder to identify, start earlier in the relationship, and tend to be misunderstood because they don’t leave a mark. But they do cause psychological impairment and physiological distress.
  4. Be open and honest, but don’t expect them to be open and honest Abusive situations put victims in “Fight or flight” – making survivors oversensitive and likely to withdraw. It actually makes it harder for these women to LEAN on friends, EXPRESS what’s going on, or SEEK out people to trust for support. This self-perpetuating cycle leaves them alone and desperate more often than they’ll ever admit.
  5. Be Patient Separation/exit from these situations is extremely difficult. Heightened emotions, raised stakes, and losing love, stability, and family are all a part of what will be lost along with the abuse. It’s worth it, but it’s needs to get to a breaking point. 
  6. Counter-act the blame game – Victims will almost always believe the abuse or the situation is somewhat or fully their fault. Most are made to feel that way. Tell them it’s not. See it clearly for them. After my situation I made a list of 10 things that were the opposite of what he told me I was. I still look at that list. 
  7. Understand that it’s not black and white. Victims often still love their abuser and will hope beyond hope that it ‘goes away.’ They hope this last time was the very last time. Leaving, and the fight ahead, takes a degree of inner strength and resolve that abuse victims gave up a long time ago. They need to regain that strength before making a change. 
  8. Throw logic out, work on building back their reality, confidence, and inner strength – Abuse isn’t rational. It’s explosive, disproportionate, and non-sensical. Verbal abuse and harassment is confusing and embarrassing. You can’t use logic to fix it or to fight it. Yet most victims and ‘normal people’ will naturally try to rationalize either the behavior or what to do about it. It won’t work. 
  9. Expect problematic behaviors, from here on in – Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common side effect of battered woman syndrome, meaning that the relationship causes shock and trauma to the brain enough to impair or reduce cognitive function. This is why recovery may include: relapse, paralysis, poor judgement, difficulty making decisions – ongoing.
  10. Trust your instincts, and be clear about right from wrong  – Women in this situation are TRAINED to smile through it, brush it off, minimize it. If you see clearly that someone you love (or yourself) is being abused, mistreated, repeatedly disrespected – and that person is suffering – the best thing you can do is be a supportive, forgiving, understanding, and well-informed ally. 
 
This list was compiled from research and experience. Yes, I am a survivor.
What I wish for others in situations this is that they not be judged, that they have friends to lean on even when they are weak and useless and messy and confused and acting oddly and not making sense. 
Being aware of all of the above can help you be a source of strength. 
 
An abusive relationship chips away at your heart and soul. You feel empty, desperate, confused, and alone. 
Help her heal and rebuild on the inside – and possibly, find the strength to leave.
 
Help her combat and cut off from the abuse mentally first, by learning that real love shouldn’t hurt.
Help her build back the resources she’ll need for the difficult road ahead of creating a new life. 
Help her by not turning away. 
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Divorce is a kick in the lady parts. But this cloud has a BIG silver lining.

Divorce sucks. Cotton Candy Milkshakes dont.

hello.

I remember a few years ago that this blog was a real lifeline for me. The friends, the community – and the writing itself.

It’s nice to think of that, and be here for a moment. I’m working from home. The sun is shining in through the living room window. And my house is pretty. Despite the little spots that show signs of life (active 5 year old, tired mum).

In less than a month it’ll be two years since I lived with my ex, and the anniversary coming up resonates so deeply with me, as a sort of “birthday” of my new life, and a reclaiming of my purpose, heart, and soul.

I must say, I feel like I’ve harped on the past a lot, inside my own head and with friends and family. And a two year court battle has me feeling like I was hit by a train… so I hope that now I can move away from the victim mentality, the needing validation and proof, the dwelling on the abuses… yes, it was horrible. But I have moved on. And I must stop licking that old wound.

I’m writing today because – although I am leaving him behind – I live the reality of being a single mum, and that comes with it’s challenges. I have shame. It’s not easy showing up to school events  – J at one end of the gymnasium, me at the other.

But I’m ready to laugh about it. So I am thinking to change the name of this blog to

*THE SILLY DIVORCEE*

And keep writing, but some of the ridiculously horrible *and* hilarious things that are the realities of my life.

Things like…….

  • the time I dreamed of my ex husband’s penis ?!?!
  • The things I used to think were love that I know now were next level psycho !?!
  • The moment when you see that your ex was actually JUST LIKE his mom?!?
  • The “man’s” jobs that I do now that are both gross and wonderfully empowering!
  • My COMPLETE mother’s day meltdown….. with my awesome boyfriend?!?!

So I have no idea if anyone will check this post out, but if you do, I’m looking for ANY encouragement to make this switch and start writing again about my new… flawed…hilarious…..wonderful ….. Life : )

Should I do it?

 

Life, Part 2 – After the marriage

Hello, old friends. Long time! I’ve missed you… while I’ve been busy finding me ; )

As I write this, I’m sitting in the most beautiful room that ever was, feeling the most peaceful I have ever felt, because it is mine – As Virginia Woolf famously called it, ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ – I have my own place, with my daughter. We’ve settled it, and it is absolutely amazing….

J and I separated 8 months ago. It’s strange to think there was a time when I couldn’t imagine life without him, when now all I remember is the abuse.

In June it will be official – and I am so very ok with June coming.

Sometimes I think I’ve found a nice memory – like the special tea he used to make me when I was sick, or the amazing vacations we took to Cuba, Paris, Mexico. But no sooner have I thought about the nice thing and the bad part comes rushing in with it. The way he yelled at me for not appreciating the tea, or the way he treated me during his fits on every one of those vacations….. Horribly. Even on the Honeymoon and ‘babymoon.’

I’ve thought about the many women (and men) who suffer verbal abuse for years and years with no escape and no name for it. I want to do something about it, but not sure what I could do. It’s such a slippery little topic. So hard to define. And the attitudes you face: Did he hit you though? No… So it’s not ‘actual’ abuse then….

Ok.

Patricia Evans’ definition set me free last summer, while I was recovering: Verbal abuse is a lie told to you about you.

Yep. You are not any of those horrible names/descriptors. And how liberating to be free of those lies.

Back then, and for many months before that, I was blogging pretty regularly. I was going through a huge change from not drinking alcohol and kind of rediscovering myself.  But for the past 8 months – barely a word huh?! I hope you are all doing well on your amazing journeys.

I’m quite happy to report that I am dating an old friend turned new flame… somebody who always liked me and I always liked but we were never single at the same time. It’s a total breath of fresh air… and while I am not moving fast I am enjoying it so incredibly much. This delicious new love.

I know that many of the bloggers I read are quite religious. I am not, but am spiritual… and I just have to say… I am so positively sure that God has been watching over me, and I am so grateful for the guiding light that has led me through all this insanity, into the beauty of a healthy new life.

XOX

 

Thou shalt not marry Don Draper (And how to avoid it)

Ladies, you know the type. Charming. Handsome. Intoxicating. Downright magical at times.

His favourite thing about you is less your values and more your assets.

I even called him ‘my perfect prince’ in our wedding vows.

Gahh.

Ohh…. yes. It’s so obvious. Any sensible woman could tell you why marrying Don Draper would be a bad idea. And yet, if you want it, you’re going to do it anyway. Like I did.

I knew it was a bad move, I knew there would be consequences. But I wanted to have fun. And I was flattered that a man like that, liked me……  (damn you, self esteem!)

Unfortunately, I married a Don Draper who’s zest for creative language included calling me every derogatory, demeaning name in the book (from Lazy to Psychopath… and everything in between).

We had a whirlwind tornado of a relationship. It got toxic. It ended. That’s now the past.

I’ve now been separated for about 5 months. And it’s true, as my friend Looking for Chris said, that after the 90 day mark, things move quickly from Phase 1 to Phase 2. I’m happy to report that my phase 1 thoughts of reconciliation (and the miserable feeling these thoughts came with) are now finished. I have no interest in being with him ever again. And I am so very excited about what the future holds!

I’ve come to see that having my whole world hinge on 1 asshole is so much less rewarding than trusting my soul to the great universe and all it has in store for those who are willing to be open to it.

And open to it I am.

So inevitably, my thoughts are beginning to turn to dating – in the future – but to tell you the truth, I would still like more kids…. so I can’t *really* wait that long, although I’m aiming for 1 year. And when it does happen, I don’t want to throw myself into it head first. I want to be cautious, and pay a good deal of attention to the real person I see before me. I don’t want to ignore red flags (again). Or love so much I blind myself (again). And get into situations that aren’t healthy (again). I think you’re getting the picture!

So here’s what I want to know from my next potential human! I’m going to answer them myself as well (I will post) and you are welcome to do the same. I would love to hear your answers to any or all!

These are questions that I think with help me separate true good-human qualities from… shiny distractions and false advertising. In the end, it is what’s inside that counts for everything.

  1. What do you value most highly in an intimate partner (current or past), and why?
  2. What brings you joy?
  3. If you could never do one household chore again which one would it be?
  4. What makes you laugh? (List as many as you like)
  5. Who are your mentors or heroes, and what qualities do they have that you admire?
  6. Under what circumstances do strong negative emotions overtake you (or try to) and how do you handle that?
  7. What do you hide or feel ashamed of vs show and feel proud of?
  8. What do you ‘work on’ about yourself, or what are your weaknesses?
  9. What makes you a great partner?
  10. What brings meaning to your life, generally and specifically (daily or  weekly practices or hobbies, for example)?

Reunion, tomorrow.

This week my husband and I texted (by Skype) –  the first interaction we’ve had since his arrest, almost exactly 90 days ago.

It was good to talk to him, just for the familiarity. It was weird to recall how much of his cruel words I look past. For some reason, his abuse has always felt like love to me. Some strange part of me hears his hate and thinks ‘well, look how much he cares’ — I guess because it is negative, but it is still focused attention. (Cue the story of neglected childhood)

We basically have been talking on and off now for a few days. Mostly bad stuff. Mostly him blaming me for the arrest and saying it was planned and that I lied and yada yada.

I am well aware that he is paranoid, and that something goes very wrong in his head that makes his thoughts extremely different from reality. What disease is that? I don’t know. He fits no description. Maybe it’s something to do with his multiple head injuries. I have no idea.

And there comes that old feeling – that I’m the only one who will take take care of him, and I’m the only one who was born to love him. So there, I’m crazy too. hah!

I do feel really different talking to him – like nothing really rattles me anymore. So call me a liar, call me whatever you want – I don’t care. (I told him, actually, that I did not appreciate it, but I didn’t react to it, I just told him…. .)

It’s so weird that after all this, he is still just this steaming pile of…. blame.

So we will sell the house and we will move on, but in his head… it’s like there is no reality creeping in. He will continue to think I am his to abuse.

I married a crazy person. I knew I was doing it. I did it knowingly.

I read a strange thing the other day in the book “the verbally abusive relationship” — that people with a ‘compassionate witness’ to their suffering tend to become artists and empaths… and those who did not have that, become abusers.

He abuses, I feel sorry for him.

Fack. I don’t like that part of me that’s just like “come home, you fucking abusive idiot” and let’s ignore your craziness some more.

And tomorrow we meet at Starbucks to ‘exchange’ our daughter. So gross. I hate all of it. it’s gonna be super weird! At least I’m totally skinny! LOL. (((((The girls understand))))

 

Poo.

So, I’m obviously messed up right now, right? Been separated 3 months. Everything is fresh. I’m probably radiating a sort of volatile vulnerability.

Today two different men in my life flirted with me. In both cases, charmers. Ladies men. Boys who like their toys. Guys who know what I’m going through.

I’m so grossed out. Because I realize now what kind of man is drawn to a unstable woman — it is the same kind of man I married – ‘the rescuer.’ The guy who wants to swoop in and be depended on, and will be happy with you as long as you’re under foot.

I can tell you with total certainty that there are women who would lap this shit up – because it would have been me a few years back. 100%

But this time I’m in for the long play…. I want to see who comes around when I’m 1 year single and feeling balanced and good. Then we’ll see who comes knocking, and who I let in. I can tell you right now it’s going to be a fine human being and not some dive-bombing vulnerability hungry douchebag.

Who knows – maybe they are nice, but the dynamic that would be set up by jumping into a relationship now is so flipping obvious to me now and I would have been blind to it before.

Don’t worry readers – I will set my boundaries with said men and maybe even have them as nice at-a-distance friends, but ain’t no way no how I’m falling for the prince charming bullshit. I am feeling ANYTHING BUT romantic. Plus I’m still married, aren’t I? Oh my gawwwwd… how did this all happen??

: (

poo