“I have finally cut that man loose!”
“I have finally cut that man loose, Annie. I am happy to say that I’m quite detached from my emotionally abusive husband’s continuing antics and will continue to be true to myself.” writes Mary.
When Mary started working with me, she had reached the end of the line. She had spent years trying to breathe life into a toxic marriage. She had done all the time-honored things – that, sadly, don’t work – like,
- Blaming herself for everything that went wrong.
- Constantly making excuses for him.
- Giving Mr “It’s[-All Your-Fault” endless Last Chances.
- Tellng herself what a Wonderful Man he was really.
- Reminding herself of all the reasons why she needed him in her life.
She had done all of that and more, until she felt like she was losing her last toehold on her sanity. Only then had she decided to divorce him. At that point, of course, he took things to the proverbial next level.
How an emotionally abusive husband approaches divorce
Like all abusive men, Mary’s husband was a Crazy-Maker. Now, he went into overdrive. He played all the mind games he possibly could. He told her they could still have a future together, vowed that – with her help – he could change, made dire predictions about her future without him, pleaded poverty, did his best to poison the children’s minds, manipulated his lawyer, and tried to intimidate hers… You name it, he did it.
No surprise there, then. He behaved in textbook Abusive-Man-Confronts-Divorce mode.
Poor Mary suffered horribly. Exactly as he intended her to.
This was not how she wanted things to go. If they could not live together like reasonable people, then surely they could divorce like reasonable people. Was that really such a lot to ask?
Actually, it was.
Mary was struggling to come to terms with her abusive partner’s real identity. She continued to see him as a higher form of life, rather than the abusive and vindictive Abusive clone that he really is. She still did not realize that all emotionally abusive partners conform to the norms of the Abusive Kingdom. They do not see themselves as in any way subject to the norms of adult, civilized behavior.
Mary’s husband was hell-bent on conforming to the rules of his peer group. That meant liberating his vindictive, attention-seeking, spiteful, tantrum-throwing nasty inner infant.
He was giving a message as clearly as he possibly could, That message – which she, like all emotionally abused failed to recognize was that she could divorce him if she chose. However, she would need enough stamina for the very long, painful haul he would make sure lay ahead. Further, whether or not she did divorce him, he was not prepared to tolerate her detaching from him.
In short, Mary’s husband had gone into Pain-in-the-Butt-on-Steroids mode.
That’s why she started working my program. It was a last resort. Like most emotionally abused women she didn’t expect much good to come of it. It was all about seeing if she could reduce the bad. She wanted out; she didn’t know that over was a real possibility.
Emotionally abusive men all have the Pain-in-the-Butt gene
Emotionally abusive men all have the Pain-in-the-Butt gene*. That isn’t going to change. You can divorce them, but they’ll most probably keep on doing what they do best, on the timescale that is most convenient to them.
You can’t change that.
What you can change – and need to change, if you’re going to enjoy life to the full without them – is the way you respond to their bad behaviour. You need to be able to detach from it, like Mary.
Why you have to cut that man lose
There’s no point wasting any more of your life asking yourself: “Why does he do that? Is he ever going to change? What have I done to deserve this?” or “What is going on in his brain?” An emotionally abusive partner is a man with a plan: an idiotic, childish one, to be precise. But it works for him. His plan is to exercise power and control over you – for as long as you will let him.
When you cut that man loose, he doesn’t get his pay-offs. But, more to the point, when you cut that man loose, you detach yourself emotionally. Then things change. You can look at him in the same way you might at someone else’s toddler playing up – the child is not your problem.
When you can do that, then like Mary, you can enjoy peace of mind – even when he is doing his best,“Look-at-me-I’m-horrible” routine. (Yes, he is horrible. However, you are not his mommy. Hooray!!)
Everybody has to have their claim to fame. If he wants to make obnoxiousness his, who are you to stop him? But, by the same token, who are you to take the blame for his obnoxiousness? You didn’t look at him and say: “I can see this man has a talent for being beautifully, consummately obnoxious, and I want to be the wind beneath his grubby, cantankerous wings?”
Your misfortune is that you mistook him for something he wasn’t. You thought he was much, much better than he truly is.
Entitled to peace of mind
You are entitled to peace of mind. You’re entitled to detachment from his obnoxiousness. However badly he chooses to behave, you’re still entitled to peace of mind. But you do have to make the effort to cut that man lose so that you can claim that peace of mind for yourself. He’s never going to facilitate, meet you half-way… or just plain grow up.
Divorce and emotional detachment are two separate things. It’s perfectly possible to divorce and still not have emotional detachment. Detachment is the key to your happiness and peace of mind. Even if for some rare but compelling reason you can’t divorce, you can still work towards emotional detachment.
One lovely client who truly could not divorce her emotionally abusive husband had some hilarious stories to tell about the way she got him to detach from her! Despite facing impossible circumstances, she has managed to qualify as a highly paid professional and move on.
However difficult your situation may feel, there is always a way through. Detachment will liberate your energy so you can find that way through. Detachment will leave you free to experience the normal, joyful emotions that barely exist inside The Abusive Kingdom. Detachment will empower you to see yourself as you truly are – as opposed to the no-hoper your emotionally abusive husband tells you that you are. Detachment will transform your life.
* An emotionally abusive husband is likely to continue to run his Pain-in-the-butt program long after you leave him. Violent partners may well become even more violent. Never underestimate the potentially life-threatening risk a violent partner represents. What this means is that you have to divorce and detach from men with a capacity for violence very carefully indeed.
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.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
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