Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Story (12): Clarity & Healing

“Have you ever noticed that people sometimes quit a job soon after returning from a vacation? We all have a higher tolerance for frustrating or unhealthy situations in our lives when they are constant, but when we get a little time away and then come back, that taste of freedom changes our perspective. What had been a dull ache turns into a sharp pain and becomes unbearable.” 
- Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men) -

(continuing from last time...)

Time passed and life went on, as it always does. I was working full time and raising two children that I had full custody of as a single mom. And as difficult as it was some days, I was enjoying that period tremendously. I made new friends, cherished my independence, began a journey of spiritual exploration, and the intricate mess inside my brain from being in such a toxic relationship for so long began to clear. And that’s when the trouble started.

Eighteen months after the police incident with my ex, I began to feel like a ton of bricks was sitting on my chest, pressing against my heart. I had trouble breathing and concentrating, lost my appetite and barely got any sleep. Years and years worth of terrible experiences with my ex played over and over again in my head and I found myself asking many questions and trying to understand it all. Why did he do that? Why did I let it happen? Why didn’t I see the signs?

This went on for several weeks and it began to take a toll on me physically, emotionally and mentally, so I called the health clinic located near my home and asked if I could please make an appointment to see a counselor. When asked for what reason, I explained how I felt and was told that it sounded like grief. Grief? But we were in the second year of separation. Shouldn't I be over all that by now? Not necessarily, I was told. Sometimes people feel worse in year two because the initial numbness, which typically serves as a protective barrier, has worn off and the full intensity of emotions is finally experienced.

A week or two later, I found myself sitting across from a female counselor around my age at the time (let’s call her ‘D’) with the nicest smile and most sensitive eyes. She asked me a few preliminary questions and then encouraged me to simply tell her what’s on my mind. Initially, I intended to just share what I’d been feeling for the past little while, but there was something so comforting about being with her that I started from way, way back; all the way to the beginning when I first met my ex.

I told her things I’d never told anyone, shared with her the most difficult times and walked her through my story. All the way to the last few months when my ex wanted to divorce but wouldn't leave, and to the last day of the cruelest and most vicious treatment I’d ever been subjected to. And I recited everything quite calmly, clinically. No emotion. No tears. Not even a sigh. Until I reached the question that had been plaguing me for what seemed like forever. I looked ‘D’ in the eyes and started to ask “How can anyone treat another human being like that...” but didn't finish. Because I fell apart. Days and weeks and months and years of pain had finally caught up with me; emotions that I had bottled up and never dealt with surfaced. The tears that I had pushed away for years exploded from me and I couldn't say a word as I struggled to breathe.

My sudden emotional collapse caught ‘D’ by surprise and she frantically searched her office for tissues. When she discovered she had none, she jumped to her feet and ran out the door and down the corridor to the bathroom to bring me some toilet paper, all the while calling out “I'll be right back! It’s okay. It’s okay. Just hold on.” When she returned, she handed me the paper and waited patiently as I struggled to regain my composure. When I finally began to calm down, she smiled at me. I laughed nervously and apologized for my breakdown. “Don’t be silly.” She said. “Sometimes we need a good cry”. Then she asked if I’d like to finish my question. I did.

How can anyone treat another human being like that and feel absolutely no remorse?” I asked.

She sighed, leaned forward and said to me “My dear girl, you haven’t even begun to understand just how much emotional and mental abuse you've had to endure.” This time, I believed it. And with that acceptance, the healing began. Every two weeks I met with ‘D’ and she literally changed my life. Till this day I say that I owe my emotional and psychological healing to this amazing woman. As time went on, the mind games, emotional blackmail, psychological torment and abusive cycle I’d lived for years were completely transparent. By meeting with her and reading the books she recommended, I began to understand everything. And with that understanding came emotional and mental liberation.

During that period, I came face to face with yet another manipulative incident with my ex (which is much too long to explain, and really, why bother), and I discovered that for the first time since I’d met him, I saw his mind games for what they are and I could detect his bullshit a mile away. The mental fog was gone.

As I sat and watched my children playing in the park I took them to immediately after that, my entire relationship with him flashed through my mind like a movie and I saw every toxic moment clearly. How he’d played his game. How I’d fallen victim. Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh...I see. I see it. I see it. I. See. It. All. Now. And I found myself thinking “No one should ever treat someone like this. And no one should allow themselves to be treated this way.” I headed home that day with a newfound strength and perspective, and later that week I contacted a lawyer, drew up divorce papers that were long overdue and had my ex served. I was finally free and a new path opened up that would eventually lead me to cross paths with the most amazing man in the world.

To be continued... (click here)

(For those of you who are wondering from the last post if I dropped the charges, I did. I had a few months to think about it and decided it was the right thing to do. Had I gone through with the court case and he’d gotten a record, his employment and maybe his entire career would have been jeopardized. And as much as I felt he deserved it, it just didn't seem right. In any case, he never crossed that boundary again. Perhaps he realized that I would take action if necessary.)

40 comments:

  1. "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see." What a profound journey you experienced and I'm so glad you came safely through it.

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    1. Thank goodness for that, Debra. I'm safely on the other side now!

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  2. It is so good you took action and got professional help...and thanks for sharing your experience to date, it may even help others, it is so well-written. And what makes it all worth it are your beautiful girls.

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    1. You are so right, Christine. My beautiful girls made every minute worthwhile.

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  3. Martha, this is some heavy duty story you've been sharing with us! So glad to get to this point and hear the good side of it. Talking to a good counsellor does make an enormous difference usually; glad you found someone who helped you.

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    1. There are some incredible counselors out there that make such a difference in lives. And this lady is one of them!

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  4. Nothing like freedom and inner peace!

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  5. I can so relate to your first time seeing a counselor. I cried buckets on my first visit to my therapist too. What a cleansing experience! Now I tell everyone I don't know how people get thru life without a good therapist (and Xanax). So glad you found a great one to get you on that healing path. Your story is so amazing and you have so much courage for putting it in words and telling others!

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    1. Nothing like a good cry to reboot your emotional health! This woman was so comfortable to be with that I just had to let go. I bet she has helped so many people find their way.

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  6. I can see the clearing of the clouds Martha.......refreshing.......a light feeling rising up.

    I reflect as I read and I, too,am learning about myself and life things......little aha moments crop up.

    I thank you for this.

    Ron

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    1. The clouds eventually clear up, Ron, when we want them to. I did not want to continue to live in such darkness and eventually found my way out. But it takes hard work. A little effort goes a long way!

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  7. Martha, this shows that you were definitely born with and grew up with wisdom all around you.....whether you knew it or not at the time. You knew something was wrong and you knew something needed to do done. And you did it.....coming out on top!
    My goodness, I hope you are very proud of yourself as not many people could do what you have done.
    And thank goodness for 'D'!

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    1. You are right, Jim. I would eventually find my way home. It was just a matter of time. And I don't have trouble reaching out for help if necessary. My goal was always to be happy, and that wouldn't happen if I didn't fix what was wrong. I am very proud. And so grateful. 'D' is an angel!

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  8. Thank goodness for that counselor! She saved your life.

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  9. So glad you reached that turning point. I think when our hearts and souls are in the right place, angels on earth (e.g., your counselor) come into the picture and give us what we need to change things for the better. It wouldn't have worked, though, had you not been willing to be vulnerable with her. Every bit of your story is inspiring, Martha.

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    1. Yes, these angels on earth are there to guide us! And you are so right, Robyn, it doesn't work if we're not ready to be vulnerable and open to change. There is help out there but you have to be willing to do the hard work!

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  10. It is good you realized you needed help with your emotions, etc., Lots of people wouldn't have come to that conclusion and tried to help themselves and probably miserably fail. So glad "D" was able to help you put things into perspective and you were able to start healing.

    betty

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    1. The best thing I ever did was to meet up with "D" and get rid of all the toxicity inside me. I didn't want to go through life like that.

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  11. It is strange the difference between holding it all inside and rationalizing it internally, to actually talking about it, out loud, to someone else. Especially to the things that you'd previously omitted from the story as you talked to people. Once those hidden secrets buried in every corner of your mind and life come flooding out .... it can bring such clarity. For me it brought perspective and I could finally see the mind manipulation. You are brave to talk about it on your blog. That is one thing I have not been able to do. Perhaps one day.

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    1. When you hear it out loud, it suddenly takes on new meaning. The clarity that came with that release is the best thing that ever happened to me. It was liberating! Everyone has their own way of handling things; perhaps one day you will be able to put it out there. If not, that's okay, too. It is your story to tell.

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  12. It's not surprising that things caught up with you at sometime. It's just that you recognized another problem and did something about it. You're fortunate to get a good counsellor and then you worked hard to overcome the depression you found yourself in.

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    1. I was indeed very fortunate. This woman really helped me move forward. Sometime you have to reach out for help.

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  13. it was nice you found such a person to help you. All it takes is one good person to make the world a better place

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    1. You said it, Adam! Thank goodness for these really great people.

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  14. My bil still lives with an abusive crap of a human being, the sex must be great, he works she sits around and spends his money and ptsd benefits..He will never marry the woman yet acts like she is his wife, he lived with a woman with MD and they could not get married because of her health issues, she was a peach of a human being, now he is in an abyss, he cannot live by himself at 65 no less, we don't speak anymore as I so am angry he took this turn for the worse, he lets this woman dominate him and abuse him verbally, he e-mailed about her, he always likes women with deep mental health issues and cannot be by himself, his late wife he was with in all practical purposes over 25 years was so sweet and loving her MD issues prevented him from marrying her she would have lost all her benefits and he never got the ptsd benefits until she had passed away, life is horrible for people who think they cannot live by themselves, I agree with you on the charges, if he could not work, you would have been in a real pinch but it sounded like you are more compassionate than he ever was, you took the higher ground...hoping you are happier now in your life!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that about your bil. It sounds like a sad situation. Yes, I am much happier now. Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. My bil pohoned for my 67h birthday and my 41st wedding anniversary, he sounded beat the hell out of, oh, my goodness sakes just like his mom, he puts up with far more than any person I know, but he must be getting something out of this abusive relationship to allow this woman to still live and take his money, etc..We don't see him at all, the rest of his siblings stay away too, one cannot do much for a stubborn self-centered person at 65 just like his Mom was, she never cooked or cleaned or parented her big brood, my hubs the oldest on his own very early just like his 2 sisters did the rest just took her ssi for her one son and social security and drank & drugged themselves on her dime, she liked it that way she adored these piece of you know what kids, so my bil learned to put up with a lot of crap..He sounded beat down but I just listened I feel for him but at 65 he knows what to do won't do it, some people like to get the crap beaten out of them verbally and physically I know this by working at a abused center for more than 30 plus years, it takes psychiatric counseling for them to see the light once they do voila they get educated and gone baby gone from their abusers never to return and have a wonderful life, but it does almost necessitate moving from the area even if they have wee ones once they get educated they are gone like a cloud and men are victims of domestic abuse too only it is not spoken of in polite society, but what is polite society when family knows their brother, uncle, cousin etc. is tormented by another person a woman..well it sounds like you are happy and never to be in the position you were, good for you, KUDOS, ciao!

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    1. Sadly, there are a lot of people living in abusive relationships. Education from counseling certainly makes a huge difference.

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  16. All those times, your mind was clouded that you weren't able to see clearly what was going on until you stepped out of that fog he created around you. Glad you found a good way out.

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  17. Do your daughters remember the abuse that took place? Are they in relationships with partners with similar behaviour? (The old saying that girls marry their fathers.) This whole series of posts should be made into a book.

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    1. No, they don't remember. And neither one of them is in a relationship with partners like that. In fact, both of them choose the opposite; really nice guys who are good to them and very patient. Their stepfather who became a part of our lives when they were very young played a huge role, and continues to play a huge role in helping them become that way. So girls may choose someone like their father but I bet they choose someone like their stepfather, too.

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    2. My biological father was not a great father or husband and my mom remarried my step-dad. He is my dad. he is my hero.

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    3. And there you have it. A perfect example! So glad you have that hero.

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  18. Amazing how one Step can turn everything about This another well-written, post.

    Thanks for Sharing.

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    1. It is so true. Sometimes you just need the right trigger.

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  19. Sadly it is all too true that when you are in these abusive relationships, your own value and self esteem is so eroded, that you have been convinced that any troubles are caused by you alone, and because your mind is in such a fog, you cannot realise that this is not the way to live!!
    . For me it took 23 years of marriage and five children to finally pull the plug and get out. Having the children meant that I did not know how to achieve a break without taking them, or leaving them to the same treatment.. it took a long time as it did with you.. but I want to emphasise that it doesnt mean the woman or man putting up with the treatment is less clever or aware or educated, just that their mind has been chipped at for years and years until they doubt their own value.! I am so glad that you managed to get away and found happiness again with another person. It can be done, and it was the same with me. Their stepfather became the best influence on my children, especially the last two, so there is hope.. I guess what I am saying, no matter what happened before, or for how long, if you can manage to get away, there is hope for a much brighter future with or without any other person.. LIfe is too short to be in pain all the time, and there is nothing in the world to justify another person making you feel bad and doubting yourself.. I hope that your very well written ,strong posts will help someone else find their way to freedom * hugs from across the pond..J

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    1. This is so well written! And so true. Yes, indeed there is hope. People come out of all kinds of situations and turn their lives around. If you have the desire and determination, you can meet that goal of happiness. Life is absolutely too short to be in pain all the time. I'm so happy for you to have changed your life around. And people who have gone through similar experiences understand how the mind has been chipped away for years and what that fog truly is!

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