Friday, October 14, 2016

You had me from Hello, but I found ME at Goodbye – My Story

My Story

When I sit down, and I am still, and I think about everything I have been through in my life – I sometimes do not even believe I am still standing. Of course my story isn’t as bad as some – some have it much worse – and right now I do feel blessed and grateful that what I have gone through has allowed me to become the woman I am today. A stronger, wiser, more aware, and more confident warrior.

When I started to research psychological abuse, I was fresh off telling my ex-husband I had reached my breaking point, and I could no longer take anymore. I had no idea what had happened, how we got to that place, no idea why all my years of begging and crying wasn’t enough. My unconditional support through all his health issues, new business ventures, and his stepping out - wasn’t enough.
Why my tough love wasn’t enough. Why my trying to lift him up and show him how he was loved and how I wanted to be treated wasn’t enough. Why me loving him wasn’t enough. Why loving his children wasn’t enough. Why sometimes having 2 or 3 jobs a time to pay all the bills, keep a roof over our heads, and food on our table, wasn’t enough. By the end, I couldn’t even look at him. I couldn’t look at myself. Any issue he was having, I had zero empathy left. I felt like he wanted me to continue to try and save him when he wouldn’t save himself, our marriage, and our family. I was constantly being shut out, that I went numb. Emotionally I was shut down. I had so much anger in my heart. I had nothing left to give.

As I was reading through site after site of emotional abuse, the signs, the toll it takes – I was in tears. Uncontrollable, suck the breath right out of you, stuff your nose up so bad you can’t breathe crying. What the hell have I been doing all these years? How the hell did I allow this to go on so long? Why the hell did I not realize what was happening? I know I am not the only one who IMMEDIATELY put ALL the blame on themselves. I think, for many, especially those who have suffered some form of abuse – it’s a normal reaction to believe that everything rotten that happened was their fault. IT IS NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT!!! I continued reading, looking for answers, for help….There was also lot of talk about surviving. That those we can escape the abuse are survivors. I was in the process of escaping. I was going to be a survivor.

I read and researched everything I could possible get my hands on about psychological abuse. This was real. I just lived it. This was not imaginary. This is very serious. I just got out. I survived. Now it was time to pick up the pieces. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It was going to be a long road. A road I am still on, and will probably be on for many years to come. It is not easy accepting the fact that you were a victim, and it is certainly not easy fighting your way back and retraining your brain to know you are freakin amazing no matter what crap was handed to you!!! There will be set backs, stumbles, and maybe some falls…but you will get up! Pick yourself up and keep moving forward!!!

I am changing the names of those involved to protect the guilty…

When we first met….

It was like dream! (Isn’t it always?) My knight and shining armor swooped in and swept me off my feet! I had, 6 months before, split up with my son’s father for the very last time. That relationship didn’t end on a good note – but I had lost some weight, was feeling OK about myself, but after a while I missed being in a relationship. I didn’t want to be a single mother, and I certainly didn’t want to be alone when my son’s father had moved on. Looking back, and being completely honest - I was actually feeling a little desperate; I really didn’t want to be alone. I had abandonment issues that started when I was 16 when my then boyfriend passed away unexpectedly; I struggled with feeling 100% confident – I mean 2 years before I had a baby, I put on 75 pounds with him, so it looked like Freddy Kruger attacked my stomach, and then I lost some of the weight so of course I now had jiggly saggy rolls and loose skin. I joined some online dating sites, went on a few dates that led nowhere, and then I stumbled upon “Jeffery”. He said all the right things, made me feel special, and was willing to take it slow so I was comfortable. He listened to my story, showed empathy, said he could relate. He opened up and told me all about his terrible childhood, his disastrous first marriage – and my heart just opened up so wide to let him in. He wanted to be a “father figure” to my son, and promised to love us both unconditionally. I wanted to love him, to protect him, to show him that together we could conquer the world.

Reality starts to taint the dream…

We moved in together within 2 months, where engaged within 4 months. I hadn’t even met his family
at this point. He would tell me that he didn’t want me to meet them – they were all so negative, they hated him, he was the black sheep of the family. That they used his mistakes from childhood and teenage years and still held it over his head now. My heart would break for him hearing these stories. How can they not see how he has grown into a wonderful man? Willing to take care of me and my son, was running his own business, trying to hustle as much as possible to make everything right for us. Was devoted to his children, it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t see them all the time – his crazy ex was to blame! One day, while getting something from his truck, a note fell out. A note from a woman, who had a child – who apparently loved my fiancé and appreciated everything he had done for her. Old fears came rushing back, lightbulbs and flags flashing and screaming and waving all over the place. I asked him, he put me at ease. The letter was old, from a friend he had helped out. I was at ease because I wanted to be….I made excuses, I rationalized it, I was in denial. For MONTHS this man put me on the highest pedestal, something I had never experience before. Paid so much attention to me! He went out of his way to be there for me at every second of every day. He was generous with his love and small meaning gifts, he treated my son like the sun rose and set with him. The Narcissistic cycle of Abuse was in full swing…

We were married that September, because his health insurance had dropped him and having a health condition that required constant medical care, we needed to put him on mine. Over the next year or two, things would come out about his past. I had met his family, stories of previous girlfriends would come out – oh remember that note? Yes, not just a friend. She was a girlfriend, who he had lived with for months before me. He moved out of her house and right into mine. I guess stories like this were the real reason I wasn’t supposed to get to know his family. But did I go? Nope. Why? Well that was years ago. We are married now, we have a family, he was so unbelievably sorry, he was afraid to lose me and didn’t want to tell me what happened in the beginning, I was the most amazing thing to happen to him, I completed him. All rationalizations I made…The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

More years go by, and throughout there were so many ups and downs. Periods of lies, manipulating, minimizing my feelings and issues I was going through, everything was my fault and nothing was his, months and months of being ignored – like not even a hello, and gaslighting – oh the gaslighting. What’s gaslighting you ask? Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and with precision withhold information from the victim. They replace it with false information. Because it is so subtle, this cunning tricky behaviour is a deeply sneaky set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. You stop trusting yourself, your judgments, your thoughts; you think you are losing your mind. Jeffrey would go to great lengths to not be perceived publicly as an abuser. In public he was the best father, the best step father, the best husband. He loved his family and only wanted the best for them. He was smart, smarter than your average man. He would constantly challenge conversations to prove just how smart he was. And what was I doing while all this was happening? Fighting for my family. If I loved him more, if I did more around the house, if I worked more jobs and brought in more money, if I took care of him better, if I stuck up for him with his children, family, ex-wife, and friends, then everything would be OK, it would go back to the way it was in the beginning. I begged and pleaded and assured him I wasn’t leaving, that I was always going to stay. I begged him to fight for us. One of his favorite lines….”Divorce and you leaving me is not ever an option”. Now don’t forget, everything was my fault. I believed that. He loved me and our family – it wasn’t his fault his businesses failed, or that he lost jobs and didn’t work ever, or that he got hurt, or his health condition that was not being monitored was so out of wack he kept being hospitalized for one thing or the other. It wasn’t his fault that he constantly had to privately reach out to other women – he was just friends with them. They all had problems they were going through, and he was going to help them. It wasn’t his fault that he went into business with a woman who was being abused by her boyfriend, so he had to stay with her until late at night, or talk to her all times of the day or night, or go on secret fishing trips with her. It wasn’t his fault when he walked out of our home in the middle of the day without a word and moved back to his mother’s house and proceeded to start a relationship with one of these “friends”, left us for dead during Hurricane Sandy, and then took months to come back home….The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse continues…

The End is Near…

About a year before the end, I knew I was sad, depressed, and unhappy – but I thought it was me. To try and get myself happy, I decided to take a chance and getting healthy and losing weight. I had no idea at the time that a weight loss journey, would have also turned into a mental health journey. The start of me climbing my way up from the depths of hell – to rise up again and become stronger than ever.

I would be consistent in eating healthier. I would be consistent in exercise. I started getting happier. I started feeling good about myself. I realized I wanted to help other people feel better about their own life. I started reading and listening to personal development. The books I was reading, it was like they were talking to me. They opened my eyes to so much. I am an emotional eater. When I sad or depressed, I look to food for comfort. I was depressed. I was horrible to myself, always talking down and putting everyone first and never giving anytime to myself. With the help of the accountability groups I was in for the Beachbody programs I was doing, I learned how to try and stop doing that. I learned how to eat healthier. How to get up and move. Reading personal development became mandatory in my life. Anything I could get my hands on that was positive and uplifting, and showing me how to be the best version of me – I needed to read. If it wasn’t for my decision to start my weight loss journey, I wouldn’t have been put in the path of all of the amazing, smart positive beautiful people that helped to show me there was a better, happier way to live. That I was worth it. That I did matter. That I am someone special. Beachbody to me, is so much more than exercise and some colorful containers. They helped save me from a path of darkness.

The happier and more confident I became, I started seeing a change in my ex-husband. He would publicly say he was proud of my accomplishments, but privately ignore me. He made sure everyone on Facebook knew he was the best husband supporting me – but privately he would try and sabotage all my hard work. He would make everything about him. I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, I was always working; I am always off doing something with Beachbody. Why aren’t I dropping everything to be at his beck and call. He is sick, he needs help, he needs money for this and that. I tried to assure him – I was getting healthy for both of us, but that wasn’t enough. The happier and healthier I got the colder and more distant he got. I was so utterly alone, yet I was married, with kids. I would go to sleep at night next to him, and be sad and depressed because it was like I was alone in that bed. After everything I had been through, everything I had fought for, everything I did to get myself on a healthy track - I realized I can’t live like this. I deserved better. I deserved more. The kids deserved more. Marriage counseling failed, talking failed, begging, pleading and crying failed. He had shut me out, reached out to females for comfort, and treated me and our family with disrespect for the last time. You know what his answer was to me telling him I needed more from him because I am at my breaking point? “Ok, well your mind is made up; I won’t try and change it”. And that was that. 10 years, 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a plethora of ups and downs, in a 5 minute conversation he was perfectly fine with it being over. I knew at that point – there was no going back. He knew he no longer had control over me; it was time for his next victim.

I won’t bore you with every single detail, as my story is long enough.You get the idea. I was married to a Narcissistic Sociopath. All of us choose to change our behaviors, based on feedback – positive or negative, and the situations you find yourself in. I made a choice to love myself enough to no longer allow negativity, anger, and deception to be a part of my and my son’s life.

Please feel free to share my story. If someone else is out there, feeling as awful as I did - I want them to know they are not alone. #YouDidntGetHit 

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

~ Maya Angelou