Guest Post: How I Overcame My Abuse

For the first of hopefully many Guest Posts, please welcome Twindaddy, writer of humor, honest self-reflection, and stuph™ over at Stuphblog (go take a gander, and while you’re there, click that blog-happy Follow button).

And, before you begin this story, I would like to say thank you to Twindaddy for sharing his journey to freedom. It is one I know will resonate with so many of us. I would also like to thank him for sharing that abuse happens to men too. It’s not a violence against women issue, it’s a violence against people issue. I trust you will be as kind and supportive of him and his story as you are of me and mine.

I’m going to share a story with you.  It’s a story that I, for some reason, have always been too embarrassed share.  I have no idea why either.  I have only told one person about this story prior to this post.  Since it’s a story of overcoming abuse I asked my dear friend Melanie if she’d like for it to be told on her blog, and she graciously accepted.  Thank you, Melanie.

I was once in an abusive relationship, though I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t consider it to be abusive.  I always thought abuse was either physical or verbal. You know, hitting and insults. Then I learned that there was a form of abuse called emotional abuse. According to counselingcenter.illinois.edu, emotional abuse is defined as follows:

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones (Engel, 1992, p. 10).

This happened to me. I didn’t know it happened to me until I was out of the situation, but it happened all the same. You see, my first wife bullied her way into my life. Sure, I was interested at first. She was kind of fun. She made me laugh. So we started seeing each other. As I got to know her, I found out we were quite different and very incompatible. She, however, disagreed.

I tried to break up with her and she became suicidal. I stayed. I tried to leave again. She became suicidal. I stayed. I planned to sneak out while she was gone. She found out somehow and actually attempted suicide. She survived and I gave up all attempts to leave her. I lost myself in her. I was not allowed to be myself because it offended her. She didn’t like my sense of humor. I wasn’t allowed to joke about sex. I wasn’t allowed to say certain words (those of you that know me know that I have a very R-rated vocabulary). I wasn’t allowed to hang out with certain people if she didn’t like them. I wasn’t allowed to have time alone with my friends without her inviting herself along.

When she became extremely angry, she did become physically abusive. She raged something fierce. Guttural screams. Swear words. Insults. Picture frames thrown. Punches thrown. Holes in the wall. Slammed doors. Chaos. So I bottled myself up and made sure I never told her anything that would upset her for two reasons. One, I didn’t feel like dealing with her stunning likeness to the Incredible Hulk. Two, I didn’t want to deal with another suicide attempt.

So I was unhappily shackled in a marriage, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one, for seven years. Nine years total. During that time I could only be myself when she wasn’t around, which wasn’t often. We worked for the same employer the entire time. So not only did I live with this woman, I spent my breaks and lunches with her, too. I couldn’t get away from her.

In early 2006, I started hanging out in Yahoo chat rooms online. It was really my only escape. I couldn’t hang out with real people because my wife would either invite herself along (which ruined any fun that may have been had) or she raged and had a temper tantrum because “you never want to do anything with me.” The latter part was technically true, but really I did everything with her. We did everything together because she wouldn’t let me out of her fucking sight.

So after she went to bed each night I would stay up and go to the chat rooms so I could interact with other humans. Even if it was just through a computer screen, they were still human. And I could be myself without reservation or fear of scorn. Over time there were a group of regulars I fell in with. We were on almost every night. We talked about our children. We made jokes. We had a good time.

There was one particular woman who I liked more than the rest. We would have our own side conversation going most nights in addition to being in the chat room. Over time I developed feelings for her. I would think about her while I was at work. I would wonder what she was doing or think about the conversations we had the night before. I would wonder if she would be online that night. If I would get to talk to her. We shared each other’s problems. She told me about her youngest child, who had multiple health problems. I told her about my horrible marriage.

A strange thing then happened. I fell in love with her. It sounds stupid to me, even now, to admit that I fell in love with someone through words in a Yahoo chat room. That is the reason I’ve never told but one person about this. It is also the reason for my embarrassment. But it happened. One night I boldly confessed my love for her and to my surprise she reciprocated. We loved each other. Feelings I hadn’t felt since I was in high school poured through me. I felt happy. I felt alive. I felt loved.

It was at that moment I realized that I deserved, and could get, so much more than I had settled for. I realized that there was a woman out there who would love me for me. Love me just the way I was. Who would accept me as I am. Her love and belief in me gave me the courage and incentive to do for myself what I hadn’t done in over nine years: to stand up for myself.

I left my wife. It was a tough battle. I had to fight off her acerbic words. I had to shrug off her tempestuous punches. Her vengeful kicks. I had to dodge flying picture frames. I had to make myself not care that she was devastated. That was the hardest part. Her punches and kicks didn’t hurt. She wasn’t that strong. Her words didn’t faze me. I was determined. Her tears made it hard. The tears of my children made it damn near impossible, but I kept my resolve. I had to do this for me. I hadn’t done anything for myself in almost a decade. I hadn’t done one thing for my happiness for over one-third of my life.

I moved in with my brother. We didn’t have internet immediately so I gave the woman (we’ll call her Julie) my phone number so we had a way to communicate. For the next month we talked almost every night and fell deeper in love. Unfortunately for us, our children prevented things from going further. She lived in Oklahoma and couldn’t move her kids. I lived in Cincinnati and couldn’t move lest I never see my kids. So I told her I had to let her go. I couldn’t keep falling for a woman I had no chance to be with. I needed more from a woman than just words. It was hard. I cried as I told her, as did she,  but knew in my heart it was the right thing to do for both of us.

Months later I emailed her to thank her. Without really even trying, she saved me. She made me realize that I was someone worth loving. That there was happiness out there for me and it could be mine if I decided to take it. She woke me up and showed me the stripped, bare version of me I had become. She gave me the courage to get myself out of a relationship I was afraid to leave. She gave me the courage to conquer my guilt, which was my biggest obstacle. It was guilt that had kept me there. Guilt for her potential suicide. Guilt for her hurt feelings. Guilt for hurting my children if I left. Guilt of a failed marriage.

So wherever you are, Julie, thank you. From the very bottom of my grateful heart, thank you. You helped me believe in me again. You gave me my life back.

I’ve written some things regarding that time of my life on my blog.  Here are links to a few:

Interested in sharing your story, any story of abuse, escape, or recovery? Send an email to me (Melanie) at tending.weeds@gmail.com. This summer I will be featuring Your Stories to keep this blog active with insightful, heartfelt, and informative stories while I play and play and play with my kids.

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55 comments

  1. twindaddy · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Stuphblog and commented:

    Happy Friday, Stuph Maphia™. Please head on over to my dear friend Melanie’s blog, where I’ve shared a very personal story about abuse. While you’re there, click on the almighty follow button so you can follow and support Melanie as she recovers from an abusive marriage and slowly but surely becomes herself again.

  2. Writing that was really brave. I believe sharing this could make a huge difference to someone out there in the world. I’m so sorry you went through that. You’re right, nobody deserves abuse.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      No, nobody deserves it. Nobody should ever have to be afraid of doing what’s right for them.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, Twindaddy. I had an experience like you had with Julie. His name was Bill.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      You can probably never thank him enough, either.

      1. He was a major catalyst for me to get the fuck away from my own abusive relationship. Distance was also a factor, just like your experience.

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          Yup. The distance sucked, but I’m ever so thankful for meeting her. I might not have ever built up the courage or will power to leave if I hadn’t.

          1. By the way, you really can fall for someone through a computer screen. Totally.

            1. twindaddy · · Reply

              Well, I obviously know that now…

                1. twindaddy · · Reply

                  Yup yup.

  4. Twindaddy! How bizarre….I had an oddly similar marriage. I also had the exact same experience online. Until I read this, I thought I was the only person this kind of thing happened to. I also felt embarrassed about sharing the circumstance around how I’d gotten the courage to leave my marriage – I thought people would think I was crazy, people online aren’t “real”. However, despite all the naysayers and their BS about meeting people online never, ever working out – I married the man who, over 6 years, became my best friend through a computer screen.
    Thank you for telling your story. Really. Thank you.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      I am so glad it worked out for you. It’s amazing who you can meet online. I’ve met my best friends online and I would never have imagined that. Ever.

      I’m glad you’re in a healthier marriage now. Being in an abusive marriage just sucks the life completely out of you.

      1. It does. Slowly. Methodically. Until one day you have no idea what you’re doing, or why you’re married to this person or how to get out. When I finally realized that it was abusive I was already 13 years into it. Scary, isn’t it?

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          Yup. I didn’t realize it until after I was gone and was analyzing all the reasons I wanted out.

  5. I’ve seen hints on your blog, but I’d like to ask upfront, has she managed to move on with her life too?
    Thank you Julie for helping Twin get out of there.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      Yes. She’s on her third marriage now, but from what I gather not much as changed. She and her current husband evidently yell at each other constantly and the twins don’t like it. I’ve tried to broach the subject with her about the twins discomfort, but as you can imagine that didn’t go over very well.

  6. So many parts of this story seem overly familiar. I am proud of you, glad for you, and happy to know the you that you are right now!

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, Hasty! I’m sorry any of this seems familiar to you.

  7. Twindaddy: you almost told my story, except it was my first husband who was abusive in ways similar to your wife.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      I’m glad you got out of there, AR. It’s a horrible situation to be involved in. I’m glad you’ve moved on and are happier now.

  8. You found a safe place to be you and that is awesome. Have you fallen in love since?

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      A couple of times.

      1. Good for you. Looking forward to following your blog

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          Thanks for the follow!

  9. Funny how complete strangers can affect our lives so much. I’m happy for you that you got out of that relationship.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      Yes, it was quite unexpected to find someone who would impact me in such a way online. I would have never guessed.

  10. Wow I’m so glad you posted and very sorry this woman put you through that. I’m glad you got out, what courage that took but you did it. I’m sure you’ll inspire others to do the same!

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      I hope so. That’s really the only reason to share stories such as these.

      1. and it give you a voice. 🙂

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          Perhaps. I’m more worried about helping others than having my own voice.

  11. Do you know what happened to Julie? Do you still keep in touch?

  12. TwinDaddy, this is my very favorite of all your stories. It’s a story of love, of redemption, of (evenually) putting on your own mask before you help someone else. It’s a story of survival. And I am happy for you.

    And Julie — I hope you have found happiness too.

    Really, I love this story. I will smile for the rest of the night.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      Yay! I’m glad you liked it!

      1. It’s so heartfelt, so well written. And of course the fact that you are no longer in that horrible situation is pretty damn good, too.

        Your writing really has grown too , you know.

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          I think it has, too. Thanks for saying so. I’m still not half ass good as most of the people I follow, but I’m more pleased with the way I write now as opposed to when I started blogging.

          1. You’re just different from the people you follow. That’s the secret to having confidence in your writing — to accept that different people have different styles and that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

            It takes all kinds.

            But seriously, you are more relaxed and in tune with your readers. More comfortable with being yourself, too.

            1. twindaddy · · Reply

              Yes, I am much more comfortable sharing now than I used to be. I’ve also found a style and voice that I’m comfortable with, which took a long time to find.

              1. I’m pretty sure you’re you out there. Before you were just showing that stormtrooper mask!

                1. twindaddy · · Reply

                  Yeah, I was. I let little bits through, but not much.

  13. 1jaded1 · · Reply

    Powerful to the core. I’m so glad Julie helped you get out.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      Me, too.

  14. I’ve been there, and I feel for you. I’m so happy you had someone to help you and show you the way. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Hugs.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      No, its not. Its hard as hell.

      1. It isn’t. I’m here. It has taken many people to try and help me get as far as I have so far. And I thank you guys for that.

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          I know you’re here. I’m actually passed that. The woman that just left me shattered in a million pieces actually helped me through most of that. The rest of it I worked through via blogging. It’s been 7 years now, so I’m pretty much healed. I don’t think about it often…if at all. But I do feel like I should talk about it just to raise awareness about it.

          1. I understand that. We all need that.

  15. […] Guest Post: How I Overcame My Abuse (deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com) […]

  16. […] My post on Deliberate Donkey […]

  17. […] to a collaborative blog whose end goal is to remove the stigma attached to mental illness. I spoke of my abusive marriage on Deliberate Donkey to help Melanie and other victims of abuse by adding my story to those of many […]

  18. It sucks when you figure out that you are in a situation such as this. Whenever someone tries to make us responsible for their feelings it’s abusive. We are only responsible for ourselves. Sadly, I relate far better than I care to admit. 🙂 Great share.

    1. twindaddy · · Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that you can relate to this. Sadly, I know a lot of people who have tried to guilt me into assuming responsibility for their feelings and I’m just now getting to where I’m recognizing it and putting my foot down. I, sadly, just had to flex that muscle last night…

      1. good for you! glad to hear it. 🙂

        1. twindaddy · · Reply

          I’d rather not have to do it at all.

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