I’ve been working through all the experiences I went through in my life thus far. I wrote about this in Don’t Get Divorced, where I was feeling bitter about how my abusive ex seemed to be flourishing, without karma visiting him. But I’ve had other thoughts since then. Everything I said is still valid and true, but I no longer think he’s getting away with the horrible way he treated me.
I’ve realized, however, that getting lost in wishing for the karma truck is a dead-end street. Because karma doesn’t always arrive when you think it should. It has its own timetable, and when you’ve been grievously wronged, as I was, your innate sense of justice could make you quite bitter if karma doesn’t visit when it would be *right* in your mind.
I found peace by letting go of my desire for karma. That’s right – I let go of wanting the universe to right the wrongs, and then I found my inner peace. It was right there, waiting for me to see it. And if you are going through a similar situation (although I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone) I pray you find a similar peace.
In the midst of this peace, I’ve recognized that to move forward in my life, I need to identify the abusive behaviors I was subjected to, and the repercussions of them in me: the insecurity, the fear of speaking my mind, all of it. The reason for this is, I will *never* allow myself to get into an unhealthy relationship again. I was abused so badly that I was left ripe for someone to take advantage of my trusting nature combined with my lack of self-confidence (caused by abuse), and that is exactly what happened. I was played, really really well. So the best thing I can do for my future is to process everything that happened to me, to guard against future narcissists.
Today I want to talk about fear. We all know what fear is, but when does it become a danger? I think fear is the enemy when it is used to make you fear making your own decisions and/or living your own life. In my past marriage, when we first were dating I was independent and resistant to control. This isn’t the blog to get into the details, but my defenses were slowly worn down, until a year later, I was obediently taking my hair out of the hair clip after he screamed at me (at a wedding, while I was pregnant) (high risk twin pregnancy that I lost a week later) because I knew he didn’t like hair being tied up.
He used a smart approach of intense love followed by insane screaming at me, calling names, making threats. And the threats were always what I most feared. After we had children, of course, it was to take my children away unless I did what he wanted. Before children, he would tell me he was the only one who really loved me and I couldn’t trust anyone. It was a slow move to isolate me, and make me think he was all I had. It’s an insidious yet effective move.
A year into marriage my car needed too much work to fix, so we had it hauled away. Of course, we couldn’t afford a new one at the moment, so with a promise to get another we became a one-car family. I gave birth to our first child not long after, and a year went by … and two … and three. I had another child. We still didn’t have a second car. We lived an hour from civilization, and he took our only car to work every day. I begged for one day a week with the car, so I could take the kids to playdates or the park. He would not allow it. He hammered into my head how many things could happen to a woman alone.
I started to believe him. I was fearful of the world, having been kept from it for so long. I was distrustful and clung to him, because he’d set me up to believe he was my only protector, the only one who could keep me safe in the big, bad world. I started to become thankful for his control … I was like the person looked down on in the quote by Samuel Adams: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Maybe that was a little ambitious, but I think you might see my point.
Seven long years went by. After the third child, we FINALLY got a second car. One afternoon I snuck out to go to Walmart. And I say snuck, because I didn’t tell him first or ask permission. I still had a shred of self to be able to do this, and for that I am both proud and grateful. But at the store was quite pathetic. He had sowed so much fear in me (to keep him bound tightly to him) that when we got there I was terrified. Now, we’re talking a Walmart in small-town New Hampshire. This isn’t the inner city. But still, I sat in the car horrified to get out, or take my children and risk … what? I’m not sure. But at the time, I pictured so many horrors of BEING OUT WITHOUT A MAN.
Nothing happened, of course.
Then I got home, made dinner, and waited for my jailer … oops, husband … to come home. He came in, let me know how pleased he was that dinner was on the table, and then spotted the bag from Walmart. The interrogation that ensued was brutal, and took 3 hours. At the end I admitted my wrongdoing and apologized for going out without asking, because he had convinced me that something horrible could have happened and he wouldn’t have known where to go to save me/the kids.
Do you see how he controlled me? How fear was used to make me feel like I could never leave, never go anywhere without him? Devious, and effective. I should have noticed, his father (who lived next door for those 7 awful years) did the very same thing with his stepmother. She also was not allowed to go out without a man, and was a deer in the headlights on the rare occasions she had to.
So here I am, alone for over two years, single mom of my 4 beautiful children, and I boldly go out into the world daily, just like I once did before he came into my life. And now I recognize what he did to me, and I know it when I see it being repeated with others. Some are strong enough to get out. I was. Some stay stuck in codependency.