So I'm not going to read every post because I don't want to be triggered, but all the symptoms below were things I experienced at some point and then I got an illness I could not and still cannot get rid of.
Post-traumatic stress disorder,
Reduced sexual desire,
Increased blood pressure,
And other stress-related health issues.
"And other stress-related health issues
" is what I struggle with these days. The thing that bothered me the most though, was not that I had survived the emotional abuse, it's that I now have an overall reduced capacity for emotionally abusive people in other contexts where I can't escape them (like at work). I find it harder to cope with. I have really weird symptoms (some of which are attributable to a stress-related disease and some that are... idiopathic, such as: joint swelling, nerve pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision... and generally feeling as if I am physically
80 years old.) It's as if I had "used up all my resilience". I am happier now, I feel safer now... but I am... tired.
What jolts me awake at night is not all the memories of him gas-lighting me, it is my memories of being in couple's therapy with him and having him gas-light me through the therapist. I later came to understand that he was some sort of narcissist and she was his flying monkey. He manipulated the sessions so it seemed as if I
were unreasonable for expecting him to try to find recovery in order to have a respectful relationship not entirely ruled by his addiction. I was told I was too demanding (for example, asking to not
be punched in the chest was too demanding because the person who punched you is someone who is "acting that way because they are in mental distress"), and then later I was accused of being "a woman who loved too much" -- as if the problem was mine alone.
I wish that when I asked the therapist, "do you see any red flags in this relationship?" she had not said, "no." She said NO. No red flags.
Since when was addiction NOT a red flag?
Emotional abuse is only one end of the spectrum of abuse. Neither end is worse than the other, although physical abuse can lead to the victim's murder. Emotional abuse can lead to the victim's suicide. Fortunately, I am (so far) a survivor.
There are still shadows on my brain from the way it's been mishandled... but the good thing is that I came away alive, I had the resources to come away from that experience alive.
If not for SR, I would never have started to understand that I needed stronger boundaries. I would still feel terrible for walking away. Not that I don't feel terrible now... but a different type of terrible: I feel terrible that I was in the relationship at all
. But it's pointless to regret the past when you can't go back to fix it.
If it takes forgetting ten years of my life in order to move on with the rest of it, I will try to forget, because nightmares are draining. I need my energy for living.
The story where the woman got plates of food for the children, could not find them because her partner had moved them, then was berated for not knowing where her children were... is similar to one of the things that happened to me. I got a plate of food for my ex, could not find him because he had left me by myself, and when I did find him, I was berated for embarrassing him by showing up with a plate of food in front of his friends because this made him look like a "bad husband". I was told that I ruined his day by showing up with a plate of food. I was made to walk backwards out of a room, while he was lecturing me, I was made to sit on the dirt outside while he stood over me, lecturing me about embarrassing him by showing up with food. Later that day, one of his "friends" took me aside and apologized for not knowing I was my ex's wife, because my ex (then husband) had not told them I was his wife... and the last time they saw him, he was with another woman. And to this, our couples therapist said, "if I were withdrawing from a drug and in pain because of withdrawal symptoms, I would have done that too. You are expecting too much."
Never. Ever. Think. You. Deserve. So. Little. That. You. Expect. Nothing.
You know the old adage: if you want to know what your husband/wife will become, look at their father/mother? Well... I didn't think this was true. But I have found it to be true for me. My ex's father was an abusive alcoholic. He was emotionally and physically abusive and he played the victim very
Alain de Botton has been interesting to me lately: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCS6t6NUAGQ
It's called "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person." I wish I had seen this when I was younger.
There are also a few sections in Lundy Bancroft's "Why Does He Do That" that address emotional abuse. That book was a huge eye-opener for me. I basically nodded my head through each chapter and thought, "yes, he did that."