TRIGGER WARNING – Emotional abuse

Physical and sexual abuse are quite clear to an individual as they become older and understand right from wrong and become themselves more sexually aware and experienced.

This is not about either of those two, this is about emotional abuse which often goes unseen and until recently wasn’t really considered to be abuse at all.

I don’t want to get too personal about my marriage because I cannot cope with any more people telling me that my husband is emotionally abusive to me. Perhaps I am in denial, perhaps it’s because I believe that things will turn around and get better as I get stronger and more able to manage. This word has been floating around in the air for some time and every time it gets mentioned I am just taken right back to my first marriage and more recently I have started to go even further back in time to when I was really, really tiny.

This has been really hard and I think that because this current time is the second anniversary of when my ‘breakdown’ started and is the baseline with which the psychiatrist uses to work things out…I am having a particularly difficult time in stopping flashbacks, nightmares, dissociating, urges to self harm and on sunday night I was suicidal, probably the most I have been in some time.

There has always been this feeling inside of me that I wasn’t good enough. That I was lacking somehow. I don’t know why. I always remember doing my very best at things but for some reason always falling short. I remember when I was really very little, maybe 3 going on 4 that my parents marriage was really not stable, not that I knew that term, but there were lots of fights and several times I would get really scared and be summoned to get the ‘little ones’ ready as we were leaving. At these moments I felt very grown up and responsible for taking care of my younger siblings. It was an important thing to do and I did so with great pride. But when things had calmed down and they finished their fight. It was a simple case of we are not going. My mother would take the little ones back to their beds and then just come and tuck me back in. There was never any question about whether I was ok or not. Why is it that I can remember crying myself to sleep so much? I was always in trouble for something, always doing something wrong.

Self-esteem probably starts when we are infants learning how to do the little things. My self-esteem is shit. I have none at all and whilst I can blame my husband, and my first husband and the boyfriend before him etc, etc. Actually, perhaps it stems from being little and being laughed at by your mother. As my brother and sister got older the small digs were different. I remember hearing my mother on the phone to her friend talking about the three of us. She was saying how awful and difficult I was, that I struggled at school and that I was really only good at tidying and using my hands…I used to make cakes and stuff. She would then talk about my brother and sister and it was glowing..good at art, good at singing, funny, sporty, pretty etc. She NEVER talked about me in these terms. Even now I don’t think my mother sees me as anything other than a disappointment.

Perhaps it is from this time that I feel that I am sorely lacking in most areas. I HATE cooking now and HATE tidying up and do them as little as possible! A get back at my mum maybe? I have no self-belief at all, my self-esteem is not existent. I feel that I suck at everything. I am paranoid about everybody. My kids included. I feel that I am not good enough, that I am a failure and that I am going to end up completely on my own one day because I am not worthy of having people around me.

Reflecting back on everything that has ever happened in my life I cannot remember a time when I haven’t experienced some sort of abuse in whatever form. But emotional abuse seems to be the one which I spend most of my time trying to convince myself that it’s all in my head. The other week I was with the home-school link worker who was talking to me about something that one of my children had disclosed to her. It became apparent that she was talking about emotional abuse regarding my marriage. This is something which my children are now picking up on and saying. I told her about my first marriage and said in comparison that it was nothing like that. She very firmly but compassionately told me that it didn’t matter if it was worse or better, anything like this was abuse and that this was emotional abuse. It’s now been said to me by so many different people that I really don’t know what to think or how to feel about it. Am I so used to being put down, shouted at, made to feel stupid and insignificant that I can’t have a relationship with anyone without having such things happen? I get used all the time, I put 100% into any friendship and 9 times out of 10 end up getting badly hurt. It’s like I must have this in my life. What would I do without it?

Even writing it feels like complete bullshit. I don’t want to think of my husband in these terms, I don’t want to think of my mother like this or my siblings. But what other way is there?

I feel weak and pathetic for being walked all over, for letting people do this. I get shouted it and don’t fight back. I just let things go because I hate confrontation. I cannot handle it at all, it makes me so unwell physically and mentally.

Trying to figure out how to live my life, manage my moods, plan for a future and maintain relationships is proving to be so much harder than I could have ever imagined possible. My head doesn’t feel good. I don’t feel depressed, but I don’t feel right either. I don’t know how to explain it. What I do know is that I have no idea how to deal with these things, which way to turn, who to trust, who really gives a shit. I feel really alone a lot of the time. I feel misunderstood, and I am frustrated with how my head works. I really feel like I am fighting everyone, including myself…there is nowhere safe to turn any more.

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