Your Life on the Misery-Go-Round

12 Oct 2012

Life with an emotionally abusive man is rather like being chained to a Misery-Go-Round. 

Is there such a thing? 

You bet there is.  It’s just that nobody has ever put a name to it before.  

I remember a particularly beautiful merry-go-round  that my daughter used to love.  She’d sit on it with a shining face, hating it when the music ended, wanting to go round again, and again… 

It’s not like that when you’re on the emotionally abusive Misery-Go-Round is it?  There’s nothing beautiful about it. There’s no music worth listening to.  If you ever manage to get off, you feel so disoriented from all that going round in circles that you can’t get your balance, and so you get back on as fast as you possibly can. 

There’s a touch of The Eagles’ Hotel California about all this.  Maybe, in theory, you can get off any time you want – although it’s likely to be damaging – but you feel you can never leave.  

Sure, you feel sick, and everything swirls by out of focus – and the world looks very grey and colourless.  But that Misery-Go-Round has become your life. 

You’ve been on that Misery-Go-Round so long that you’ve forgotten there is a life beyond it. 

There is only one “tune” playing constantly.  It’s all about your inadequacies.  It’s sung – or shrieked – by your least favourite singer, the most depressing singer on the planet, Mr Misery-Go-Round. 

And there’s nobody else sitting on that Misery-Go-Round sharing the experience with you, is there?  You’re all alone.  

Your emotionally abusive partner is there operating the Misery-Go-Round.  He barks instructions to you from time to time.  He sets the pace at which it spins round.  But that’s about all.  

It is probably the most intense experience of solitude you’ll ever have.  How could it not be? 

And you can’t quite make sense of the whole thing.  

In your mind, what you see – what you expect – is to be on the Merry-Go-Round that everyone else seems to be on.  

How come you’ve ended up somewhere so different to other people? 

Of course, we could take the time to answer the question.  But would there be much point? 

When you’re on the Misery-Go-Round it’s important to know two things:

  • what it is, and   
  • that there is a way off it, and away from it.  

When you’re bobbing up and down on the Misery-Go-Round there’s something you don’t realize: The Misery-Go-Round is actually housed in a self-contained unit.  What this means is that, while you’re in that Unit, you don’t get to see the outside world, at all.  After a while you get confused;  habit – the habit of misery – plays tricks on your mind.  You end up thinking the Unit that houses the Misery-Go-Round is the outside world. 

(Trust me, it’s not.) 

So, you look at the walls of that Unit as you whirl round and round, and you say to yourself:

“Really, things aren’t that bad.  These grey walls are not that unbearable. The cramped conditions are not that awful.  There is a bit of a smell but, hey, I can live with that.  I know this is all there is, for me.  So, I might as well make the best of it.” 

It is all there is in Abuse World. 

But Abuse World is  NOT the world.   

Any more than a Porta Potty/Porta Loo is the world.  

It’s just some place you’ve got stuck. 

The real world, the one that’s worth living in, lies beyond those prefabricated walls. 

Your partner is motivated to keep you whirling round on his Misery-Go-Round.  Your misery is his bread and butter, so to speak.  

Whether you’ve left, or whether you’re still with him, if your days do NOT begin with a window on happiness, then you’re still stuck on that Misery-Go-Round.  


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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