“Is it me?”

by Annie Kaszina on November 9, 2011

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, once an abusive relationship broke up, all the emotional damage magically disappeared?  Just the way some people wish it would, when they don’t understand – and don’t want to understand – about the reality of emotional abuse.

You and I know it’s not that easy.  There are layers and layers of damage, and negative, limiting beliefs that need healing – and transforming.

This post addresses Marguerite’s question.  Marguerite has travelled some way along her healing journey with courage and thoughtfulness.  And she’s fallen into one of those subtle traps that lie in wait for us: the “Is it me?” trap.

Here’s what she says:

Annie,  Since I have started working on myself with you on my emotional abuse recovery, and really focusing on making small changes in daily habits and on paying more attention to what’s happening emotionally within me, I find I am more thoughtful and deliberate in my thoughts, words and deeds.  That is good. However, what is not so good is that I need a slower pace of life than I had been keeping to manage this new way of being.

Am I just getting older and slower, or is there some correlation between changing behaviors that slows one down or some correlation to having been emotionally abused for so long that leaves one feeling stressed by too much at once?

I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks, Marguerite

Dear Marguerite,

Now, there’s a question.  Let me start my answer as you probably expect I will, by wondering what lies behind the question.

So, Marguerite, we both know that, like every emotionally abused woman under the sun,  you’ve spent your life standing in for the General Manager of the Universe.  You’re a delightful, bright, generous spirited woman, and you’re one of the most accomplished people-pleasers on the planet.

That’s hard work, isn’t it?

In order to be all things to all people, you really do have to move very fast, don’t you?

There are so very many things you have to get done in your day before you can begin to think about your own needs, are there not?

Okay, so we both know I’m embroidering the truth, here.  Let’s try that one again: we both know that, like all emotionally abused women, you have to run through your day like a headless chicken to service, to anything like their satisfaction, all the people who are used to getting a pound of your flesh.

The only way you – or anyone else – can possibly manage that is by putting yourself at the very bottom of the heap, and ignoring all of your needs.

In fact, you’ve been so good at ignoring your own needs, that you hardly even know they exist.

When you started my Quick Start Program, you already knew you had to make changes and, boy, have you made them.  Once again, let me say, how much I admire your courage, honesty, and willingness to go way beyond your comfort zone.

When people have huge emotional realizations – or ‘epiphanies’, if you prefer – it can be overwhelmingly tiring.  It certainly is for me.   When one of the misguided and sabotaging beliefs by which we’ve been living runs aground on new realizations, we experience a significant emotional collision.  It’s not painful, but the mind-shift required is quite considerable.

Often, the best way for that to happen is for mind and body to take some ‘time out’ to process it.

That’s one part of it.

Then there’s the fact that you’re learning a new skill: the skill of taking care of yourself, and treating yourself like you matter.

You were emotionally abused.  Nobody ever taught you how to do that – so it doesn’t come naturally.

Actually, it flies in the teeth of everything you were ever taught. Which could be summed up like this: you were taught to treat yourself badly, and not to matter.

When we have to learn something entirely new to us, from scratch, we have to think the whole thing through slowly and carefully.  You also have to deal with the internal dialogue that goes like this:

“What!!!!  Treat yourself like you matter.  I don’t think so.  You don’t matter.  Who ever told you that you matter?  You’ll get too big for your boots, young lady.  And then nobody will ever like you.” 

No matter that the people who said those things to you didn’t like, or value, you, in the first place.  You believed what they said, and you’re still fighting with yourself over it.  That’s seriously tiring, too.

And so to your question: are you getting old and slow?

Well, Marguerite, I’ll be brutally frank with you, there is no doubt in my mind that you are a month older and slower than you were a month ago.  Or, at least, that’s how it would be if ageing were a linear process… but it’s not.

What I think you’re asking me is this: “Is it me?  Should I just point the finger of negativity, blame, and judgment at myself?  Am I on the scrapheap? Do I need to accept that I’m no longer valuable – if I ever was – and my life is over?”

No, no, no, no! NO! NO! NO! 

You’re having what I call an ‘emotional wobble’.  Up to this point you’ve been living your life on a track – a bit like a greyhound, but with a twist.  Every morning, you wake up, when the starter pistol goes off.  You grab the baggage everybody in your life has dumped –for you – at the starting line, you pick it all up, and then you run furiously round and round the track all day.  At the end of a long hard day of running round in circles, you collapse back into your kennel.

What you’re starting to do, now, is get up in the morning, look at the baggage and say: “What do I need to carry out of all this lot?”  That takes some thinking about.  Then you ask yourself: “Do I want to run round and round this track all day?”  – I’m guessing you don’t.  You then have to think: “What do I want from today?”

Now, that can be a problem.

Picture yourself, momentarily, as a retiring greyhound.  The main difference between you and a bog standard greyhound is this: you have all the resources you need to rehabilitate yourself, and ensure you have a happy life.

Do you think retired greyhounds spend their time regretting the fact that they’re not racing any more?

Or do you think they delight in having a nice environment, and a good life?

Yes, you’ve had a very painful experience of abuse, and you’re finally starting to process that stress and that pain.  You’re doing that really, really well.  You’ve made massive progress in a very short time.

The journey gets better and better as it goes on.

So, accept your ‘emotional wobble for what it is’, trust that what lies ahead will be very much better than what lies behind you, and be kind to yourself.

Reconnect with your inner child, and your inner teenager, quit punishing yourself with this toxic notion of being too old to enjoy life, and think about discovering the fun in every situation.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Loisel November 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

I am still doing a big emotional wobble 2 years later and its getting worse not better. Lately I have been starting to blame myself as in ” Maybe I should of tried harder maybe I should of done things better maybe I should of been a better ironer. He always bitched about the crease in his pants not being straight enough or done well enough. Now I think the other women in his life are so much better than I was. Whats wrong with me? Crazy thinking I know yet those thoughts are coming more and more and faster and faster. I am trying hard to believe that he does not love me and never did that it was all a fantasy on my part. His behaviour always proved the opposite and I have believed the lie for so long. What you write Annie always hits home for me. My friends would not understand and I have stopped confiding in them about how I am really feeling. Noone can understand it. I do not even understand it. It defies all understanding. I feel done in and losing hope for a decent future even though I am out of it. I am an example of staying too long too many years of it and its like now the abuse I was used to is more comfortable than this new type of hell. I do not understand it? I am fine financially have a beautiful condo, loving family and friends but I am still letting him destroy me. What is wrong with me. I hate being like this and never expected to fall into such a horrid pit!!!!!! I am not even me anymore. I don’t know who me even is now?????? It is torture knowing he is with other women and being so nice to them while I feel like I am dying inside. When I was in the marriage I had hope that when I got out some day my life would get better and now I am out and I have lost all hope. Does any of this make sense or have I truly gone crazy??????? I know I need help and yet I am finding there is just no help that helps??? I know the poor me’s is never going to help but I am feeling so helpless in helping myself. I felt stronger when I was taking the abuse? Oh my God I do not know what to do. I try to put on an ok face when out but cannot stop crying at home. I have several friends who are very sick right now, cancer and facing heart surgery and I try hard to help them and be supportive. The emotional torment my husbands behaviours cause me is never ending. I know now the problme is ME NOT HIM!!!!!!! I am trying to fix me and its not working??????? I want to be a happy upbeat person. Shamefully I was more of that when living with the abuse? Makes no sense does it? I have lost myself. Help please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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penni November 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm

HI Anne, omg, this is my second try to post a response. First of al, I want you to know you are not alone in what you are going through. You describe actually quite perfectly exactly what i am going through too. I too am 2 years “out”, and feel for the most part, even worse off. I even regret having left sometimes. I can relate to literally everything you say..exCpet sadly, having my own place and a loving supportive family. That I cannot relate to at all. I actually had to leave with nowhere to go, and was homeless for a large part fo the past 2 years. Stayed form place to place, but never having time to heal in my own place. I canot literally relate to everything you say. Everything. I keep trying to pull myself out of “this one”..and do for a moment or two, I feel so worried about my furrue too and just dismal about it. I too stayed too long, but literally had nowhere safe to go / my family is very unloving towards me. One reason I acutally ended up with this guy who was good to me for a long time. I too struggle with feelings that concuer with his abuse that it was “me” something just wrong with me, though he never really defined it, becasue i was actually really good to him, and am a good person. I too, thought I would be better by now, not so. I think maybe if I were younger and still had my life ahead of me, I might be doing well, and if I did have a loving supportive family, who knows. I have no answers, just empathy and compassion for you.
peace.

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Anne November 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Dear Penni,

Thank you for responding to my plea. I am so sorry that you do not have family and that the last 2 years has been so difficult financially . I cannot imagine not being able to even have a place to call home. My heart breaks for you. On all other levels I know exactly what you are feeling.You are feeling what I feel? I was beginning to think I was the only one who could not get over it all. Even with my own place and my children who love me but are busy with their own life its been brutal so I do know how it must be for you. I too am older and losing hope for the future. I am fighting hard to try to reclaim some hope and you must do that too. This is my second abusive marriage. I have known my husband for 30 years but living together for 20 married 15 untill I left 2 years ago. Ither way it seems to be torture and it was not supposed to be this way. Thank you for telling me that you feel the same way makes me feel not so alone in it. I pray you will find a home and some measure of recovery.Believe me I do know what you must be feeling. When I left my first marriage with 2 children in tow I had nothing and nowhere to go. My friends helped me. My minister got us into subsidized housing and we survived. From there I got my RN and then married again to abuser #2. Financially this time I was better able to leave but emotionally it has been 100 times harder as I really loved my second husband with all my heart in a way I never did with the first. First time engaged at 18 and married at 19. All I can say is thanks for responding to me and I wish you well. Peace to you too. That is what we are all looking for and it seems to elude us over and over and over again!!!!!!!!!!!! My prayers are with you. I really feel for you and all you are going through. Obviously we are on the same difficult journey along with so many others. Here on Annies site is the only place where people really know and understand just what all this has done to us!!!!!!! What a struggle it is to survive financially and emotionally!!!

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mary November 9, 2011 at 9:29 am

I too find myself asking,” Did I try hard enough?” after a 19 year emotionally abusive marriage. I have been out for 1 year 3 months. I think this is common, and I sure would like a technique that would help me stop asking myself that question!

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Wendy Morling November 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

I have been in abusive marriage for 15 yrs and a year ago I threatened to leave if my husband’s treatment of me did not improve radically…He knew that I meant what I said and his behaviour has improved tremendously!
But ….he cannot understand why I now cannot be affectionate & loving towards him: beacuse HE HAS CHANGED, HE NOW EXPECTS ME TO CHANGE QUICKLY AS WELL!! I have also questioned myself with this & realized that after years of abuse he has pushed me away from him & snuffed out the love I once felt for him.
After reading Annie’s blog “Is it me” I realize that it is going to take a long time for me to peel off all the layers of negative beliefs about myself and slowly learn to love myself before I can possible love him again.

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Kim November 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Dear Anne L
I feel your pain and was quite shocked as what you have said is like you were speaking for me. I have been separated from my ex for 6 years and I still have days of struggle and heartache. I am currently trying to do the settlement through Lawyers and he has lied and told my children things that just defame me badly and is still the cruel and mean person I married. He basically wants to make sure I have nothing out of the settlement and is quite threatening. He still can push my buttons even though I know logically everything he is doing is just so wrong and only aimed at hurting me, emotionally it is still a tough battle. Only recently have I started to realise I am letting him do it and for the first time this week I actually had the thought that he really is an idiot. He just doesn’t leave me alone as far as his emotional abuse goes. The women he is with now he just dotes on and it is so crippling when I find out what he now does with her compared to what he was like with me. I was so good to him, if fact too good and it hurt my family so much to see me struggling with trying to please a man that could never be pleased. They saw it, I didn’t i was just so besotted with him . I still can’t comprehend how a human being can treat another so badly and feel no shame or remorse I still have not involved myself in a relationship as I feel I still have a lot of issues and self doubt and my confidence is only very slowly being regained. Since our separation I have done really well for myself but don’t accept that it’s because of who I am, I think it is a fluke that I have got where I have. But I will keep up the fight and my reward will be that one day will go by when I don’t think of him and let him control me.
You are not alone and it is a very very sad thing to hear strong beautiful women being tormented even after separation. So, stay strong and you are obviously a wonderful person. Take care……………

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Anne November 10, 2011 at 6:31 am

Dear Kim,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my post. Wow I am surprised it is not only me that is so stuck and tortured by how they just move on with thier life and seemingly being good to their new girlfriends??? ( others say he will not be good to her and I hope that is true) Not that I wish another woman harm but it just hurts so much as in why could he not be good to me when I loved him with all my heart and soul. I too find it hard to move on I have so many issues in my head to deal with thats why I say I am sooooooo stuck. Its good to start realizing he is an idiot because he truly is!!!! I know in my head that mine is also and still the love feelings and pain persist. I just keep wondering how long how long can I endure this or can we all endure this pain? It seems neverending. I thought once I got away life would get better and like you I manage just fine in every way but emotionally. I never knew the emotional pain would stay so acute for so long????? I know now I allow him to hurt me over and over again. I need to delete his emails and change my phone number and I just cannot . He is busy with 2 other women now. I don’t think the one knows about the other. Same old!!!! And he still calls or emails me with all this love shit. I know that is what it is but I miss his calls when they do not come and they are less frequent now as he is BUSY!!!! They say time heals all wounds but I am beginning to wonder. You are right it is sad for so many of us to be tormented over someone is not worth our time of day. How can we know that and still be so tortured is what I ask myself daily and do not understand??????? I do not think I could ever trust another man again. They are so nice in the beginning and with mine it was just a big con job. My whole marriage I feel now was a con job. Thats my whole life living with a con artist. I think betrayal and deceipt is worse than being beaten and verbally abused and I have had a heavy dose of both in both marriages I am ashamed to say. Feel so damaged but am fighting hard to get strong and be strong and overcome these horrible circumstances that I realize have been a result of my own stupid choices in life. I followed my heart and it has gotten me into bigger trouble than I ever could of imagined. I wish for healing and peace for you and everyone hear. Its a tragedy of huge proportions. Life is a gift and we should be enjoying it?????????? But how???????????????

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Maria November 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

Oh God, I read your stories and I wonder… is that me writing that? SOoo true about hurting so much when they are moving on and being nice to the new girl, nicer than they were ever to us! In my case, he still play headgames like offering help when I need something, looking at me and saying how much he loves me yet he cant be with me because ‘we just dont mix well together’. He went on a date, and I found out he took her to a nice restaurant (me? to McDs, Wendy’s etc) her to a freaking steakhouse! and he said he thought I had moved on already and thats why he went on dating… It hurts so much! He is not seeing this girl, it was just one date and it didnt work out or so he says. But I just feel so hurt to think that he is being nice to her who is a stranger and so cruel to me, the mother of his child who adores him!! It really makes me mad when I think about how he can treat me like this… I am learning to not trust my feelings because they lie! And all this love I ‘feel’ for him will soon go away… I am trying to do some dating myself but I am not sure that is the answer but I feel like maybe if he sees me with someone else, he will either wake up and change or just stop trying with me!!!

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Anne Loisel November 10, 2011 at 8:16 am

Dear Maria,

They are all so much the same it is mind boggling. Mine is always calling me with all this love also. He says I do not want him so what do I expect him to do while at the same time denying girlfriends but he HAS FRIENDS. I know he sleeps with them, It kills me yet I cannot go back to an abusive man at least that much I know. He too offers to help me with anything. Anything I need I just have to call and he would come. I do not call and it hurts so so bad. As I said above it was all very very bad in the marriage and out of it. I feel for you also as I know how hard it is when they say they love you yet go out with other women. Mine lies about it for 2 years now but I know the truth. But you know what he was going out with others throughout the marriage and I was in such denial. How do I know. 3STD/s over the years. And me stupid me was in such denial.. Even though he was not nice to me I still could not accept the truth in my face. The medical facts in my face. How horrible is that??? I pray for healing somehow for all of us. So many of us going through the same horrible torture!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anne November 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

Annie,

I have a big question for you!!!!! I saw on the Oprah channel the other day her life lesson program about abusive partners. . She says” love does not hurt.” If it hurts it is not love????? Ok my counsellor has also told me it is not love I feel for my ex abusive husband. Pastoral counselling from my churhc has also told me it is not love I feel for this man who still is my husband although we live apart 2 years now.

Annie if it is not love ( and it sure feels like gut wrenching love!) then WHAT ON EARTH IS IT??????????? Is it just a toxic lethal sickness on our part??? I am soooo confused and in such pain over what he is doing —-moving on and enjoying his life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Annie November 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

It’s codependency, Anne. That’s very different to love. When you deeply love someone, you don’t have to hold on to them. You can step back, and let them be free, because real love is selfless. When you’re codependent, you need to hold onto them, because you need something from them – something they’re never going to give you, but that’s another story. Codependency is obsessive, love is not. Voila la difference:-)

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Anne November 12, 2011 at 5:39 am

Thank you Annie for taking the time to answer my question. I have to find a way to climb out of this pit I am in somehow. It is scaring me alot.

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Kathy November 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I have a sign ‘it’s not me’. Thank you for reminding me to look at it.
I so easily and naturally discount what this ‘work’ requires. I have never heard anyone describe it the way you have here. It’s just what I needed today and I won’t forget it either.
Thanks.

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Anna Synick November 11, 2011 at 3:26 am

It’s ‘good’ (for lack of a better word) to read so many of the same stories and experiences, makes me feel less alone.

I temporarily feel quite confident that it was not me, but I know I’m in a short up phase which no doubt will still be followed by a few downs.

For the last week I’ve been away, on my own, first time in decades to do such a thing. I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope mentally being on my own in a strange place where I’d know nobody, especially as I’ve been terribly emotional. Anyway, I wanted to get away from where I live and where all of the ugly breakup stuff has happened and is still ongoing.

Luckily in Australia you can still really get away from people, so I spent the week climbing mountains on my own (which I was told I was incapable of doing), I found all the obscure walks and drove there without problem (which I was told I was incapable of too) and I crossed rivers and literally spent hours walking through bush, 5 days long. Never got lost (again something which I was told I would do).

I didn’t see a soul. And I cried my heart out, every day again, even though I secretly felt surprised and pleased with my own physical abilities at least and the surroundings were simply stunning. But I cried over my lost years. I cried over how wrong everything has gone. I cried because I’m so scared to be alone for the rest of my life and who would want someone as broken as me. I cried because I wondered why it took me so long to realise what happened to me, and why didn’t I see it earlier. Today is my first day back. Unpleasant things are already happening again. But I feel a little better equipped to deal with it, and will make the most of this phase to move ahead. I would have stayed away for months if I could have.

I hope this may be helpful to someone out there.

Anna

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Anne November 11, 2011 at 4:36 am

Anna,

Wow you are one brave lady!!!!You are much stronger than you think you are !!!!! To take a trip like that alone makes you very courageous and strong in my books. I cry for alot of the same reasons you do plus I miss my abusive ex so much ( insane as that sounds). I wander around crying also but I just wander around my house!!!!!!! No comparison!!!! I admire your courage and strength. I know you will come out a winner in the end. I do not know your ex at all of course but I think you are 100 times stronger than he is. I am sure of it!!!! I do not have the physical stamina to do what you did but I sure do admire it!!!!! I wish you peace and healing from your ongoing ordeal!!!!!

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EMartinez November 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

To all you ladies that are still on this journey of healing…..my heart goes out to all of you. I to came out of a a 20 year abusive relationship/marriage. It’s been two years since my divorce and I’ve taken great strides. I’m doing great things for myself but at times the future seems vague. Am I ever gonna have a healthy relationship with someone? I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I want better and I know now, I deserve better. Ok, don’t try this at home unless you are absolutely by yourself or with a friend that can hold you accountable and love you enough to stand by your side and watch you get some freedom. if you don’t have anyone like that in your life right now, do it on your own. It has been the only thing that completely has given me a new vision and erased pretty much all the lies I’ve believed about myself because of the lies I was fed by someone who didn’t care about me (my ex-husband).
Ready?……Take a big sofa pillow, get yourself a foam kid’s bat, tie a VHS tape with a rope to the pillow and if you can play a recorder with all the lies you were fed about you……beat it to death, get angry and beat it to death. Let all that anger and bitterness you’re holding in and beat the VHS with all the voices of lies that were programmed in your head that were fed day in and day out. If you prefer to do it outside do it where no one knows you, they may think you’re crazy but it’s the crazy lies you’re beating out of your mind. Beat it until your energy is gone, and scream out liar, stop it! Whatever words you wanted to shout out to your abuser but never had the opportunity to do so in all those years……ladies, when I did that, the crazy voices stopped! It’s been almost two weeks and I can say….the lies have stopped! I have been able to completely put boundaries around myself and keep my ex out of my life. I don’t respond to anything he has to say. Not voicemails, emails, texts….I’ve blocked my email address, changed my phone number and I don’t read anything he sends me at work. Even if he tries to use our son as an excuse to engage me……I don’t respond. I avoid him like the plague. It’s what I have to do right now for me to heal. However long it takes me, he cannot be in my life. If you’re not dealing with that, thank God that you’re not. Yes, I’m still dealing with a little insecurity but it’s a day by day process of getting to know what you want out of life, who you are but more importantly, that GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH! YOU ARE VALUABLE! AND YOU MATTER TO JESUS AND GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER!!! Walk in that truth daily because it is the only truth that will set you FREE!!! I long to hear back from you if you dare to try this and meanwhile I’ll pray that God will free you from your torment of lies. I will never capitalize lies……because it has no place in our minds, hearts or our lives. GOD so deserves all of us and in turn, HE will give us our life back! Love you all dear sisters.
EMartinez

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Mel November 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

YES…this is all very familiar stuff, I fight with my myself everyday, to stop myself from going to see my ex (it has been nearly 3 months and this is the longest I have ever stayed away from him) as he only lives around the corner. BUT…I know he can be really nice…BUT…he can also be very,very nasty….SO…its best to stay away and have no contact at all…CAUSE HE IS NEVER GONNA CHANGE !!! And I dont like living on egg shells wondering what sort of mood he is going to be in today and putting my three kids through this hell also. I know I will get through this, done it before and I WILL DO IT AGAIN.

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Maria November 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

I am going to try that pillow thing and hope it works! I have soooo many things I would love to tell him that I just dont because I dont want to hurt his feelings yet he has no problem telling me whats wrong with me.
You see, I am moving on MOnday so Mr Nice offered to help with the move but I am going to PAY somone to help me rather than using his help! I know its what he uses to get back into my apartment and into my thoughts. He doesnt try to sleep with me or anything but plays the ‘we just cant be together game’ to confuse my mind.
I want to be done with this game and move on! I do get scare of being alone but I am alone now anyway… I did sign up for Annie’s class and although I was only on one phone call so far out of the 3 she truly has make me understand that he will NEVER EVER change because I do not matter to him.

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Helen January 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Ladies! Responding late to this…must have somehow missed this article and the responses to it. Until I can afford some books (finances in the ditch) and because I’m not confident of the quality of counseling available around here (or anywhere for that matter), I’m doing my own counseling. The blind leading the blind? Maybe…but I’m going to say, not. (I lost my main friends and some of my family when I previously went back–with my daughter–to my abuser, so I’m not going to compound my situation by groveling to people who truly don’t care. One of them, an in-law, pronounced me a “lost cause.”)

Thanks Annie for this article and to ALL the ladies who responded. Good Stuff! I too am having wobbles but am making progress in between. The only problem I’ve found with No Contact is that you can’t have your say back to their messages, e-mails and stalking. (I haven’t responded to any messages, e-mails or letters for over three months, maybe four.) He must be finding someone to occupy more of his time lately because the stalking is less and the police spoke with him about not contacting me, so nothing for a couple weeks now.

Because I have a teenager and a sensitive little dog at home, I don’t want to be too loud, but the car is a great place to have your say at your ex. One day I yelled so loudly and so long that I pulled muscles in my upper chest and lost my voice for a week afterwards! (Other than that it felt damn good.) I do have an old bat in the basement…. Also, when I’m ready, I have plans to light a “Burn in Hell” bonfire of mementos and my therapeutic writings. My guy was overly “romantic” and “sentimental” at times but didn’t go in much for treating me or my daughter as human beings the rest of the time. (Any other Helens out there who want to buy a star named after them? Yeah, I know, I’m an ungrateful bitch! Wasn’t always.)

I also do some walking and hiking–sometimes for hours–although nothing like Anna in Australia–WOW!!!

Annie, I took note of your codependency remarks to Anne and the rest of us and consider that aspect. I do seem to remember reading somewhere about something called “trauma bonding.” Does that only apply in hostage situations or could a version of that come into play in our experiences? As troubling as it is, it does seem that there is a hole or emptiness left when the abuser is gone because of how much time and thoughts were occupied (more like used up) by him and his issues. Although I increasingly fill that time with constructive activities and caring about myself, I still sometimes feel lost and adrift. (Unemployment is part of the problem.) As I’ve posted elsewhere, I am relying on your “small step” approach, prayer and encouragement from the bible. I have to be realistic with myself on doing what needs doing while at the same time being forgiving and patient! Yeah, wobble wobble.

I quit smoking cigarettes almost three years ago and, interestingly, I get “sensations” now similar to then, so there is an addictive aspect to the relationship with my ex. Quitting cigarettes, plus seeing what a complete scary jerk my ex was being, really helped me stick to the No Contact and refuse to be hooked into any further interaction. Somehow I still feel drawn to the man at times, but I will not ever act on it. It’s just my primitive brain trying to convince my intelligent brain that I “need” something (cigs, big bad man-boy) for my very survival. Thankfully I know it isn’t true!

Anne, I wish we could all take up a collection and send you to Australia for a couple of weeks. Maybe one of those wise old aborigines would take you on Walkabout and set you straight. If you can afford it and have the time, pick a place you want to visit and go cold turkey on that useless piece of shit (excuse my French) you’re hooked on!! If you can afford it, take me along!! 😀

Someday I’m going to send a short comment…well…that’s not a promise.

Signed…Helen Goddess Amazon (my new name)

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