Apologies for the dry spell.
Today I am strangely thankful for what I’ve been through over the last 5 years. That’s not to say that I’m glad my children had to be part of something so detrimental or that I’d choose again to walk life’s path with a man with an abusive personality if time was reversed. All I mean, is that as the seasons pass and the hours heal, I look back at how far I’ve come, the things I’ve achieved since and what constructive changes I have made to myself as a result of what happened.
My abusive ex-partner drove me, quite literally, into the pits of hell. He took my security and my safety and instead of being our family guardian, protecting us from the earths evil, he gradually became the thing most likely to harm us. What I could never get my head around is that he never acknowledged this to himself, despite the fear-riddled faces and bruises staring him straight in the face. He always had an over-masculine front and I’d frequently hear him say things like ‘if anyone ever hurt you or the kids, I’d kill them,’ like a hero in denial totally convinced he’d never been abusive and had nothing to be responsible or accountable for.
His domination drove away my self-esteem, making me believe I wasn’t good enough as a partner, as a mother or in fact as a human being. His comments, obviously very carefully targeted, made me question my capabilities as a bright, independent mother of two. If the children were poorly behaved, he blamed me. He always said I was too soft and didn’t give them any consequences and as a result I was responsible when they refused to share toys, got out of their beds at night time, or wouldn’t sit still when we were out for dinner. On top of being a terrible mother, I was a terrible partner too. I never made him feel loved, or welcome in his own home. I was frigid, also. He often said I knocked HIS confidence when I would refuse to parade naked in front of him at his request despite often spending the hours beforehand swearing at me and calling me names.
He drove away my faith, pilfered my serenity and kept me unnoticed and demotivated for success. In spite of this, a year after leaving and learning to live freely again, that man, that cruel, selfish man has literally driven me to success. I’m not the type of person to seek revenge in the traditional sense, but after receiving no real justice (or restorititive justice-all the same) from the criminal courts, my only possible response was to deliver my own retribution in the form of my success.
I understand that success is a very broad term and that it has many forms but right now for me it means that I am happy and at peace with myself. More importantly, it means that my children are happy, healthy and that their futures have a good prognosis. I feel an excitement about life and the challenges that my little family face together. That is how I measure my success now and I am well aware that these feelings should not require an abusive relationship as a prerequisite. All I’m saying here is that my circumstances have made these feelings even more pronounced and special. As an extra bonus, I’m doing everything that I wanted to be doing and I’m continually setting myself more goals and achieving them. The one thing I wanted to do more than anything, but lacked the confidence and the freedom, was to write. With my ex partner continually looking over my shoulder, any form of communication was definitely a no no, using a computer was deemed suspicious and spending time doing something unrelated to him would simply have caused friction and most probably violence. Paradoxically, being a survivor of domestic violence has actually given me inspiration to write, it’s also given me the subject matter. Writing about my experiences and sharing with others has helped me to make sense of what has happened and also helped me to draw perspective. What brings me more joy, is that my situation and my blog has also acquired me a few more wonderful friends.
My abusive relationship was a hard lesson (and subsequent first class qualification) in resilience. Resiliance is a skill composed of other skills like adaptability, dogged determination, reflection, patience and strength and I feel like I’m oozing it from literally every pore in my body. I’m incredibly aware of the fact that I stayed in that toxic relationship far longer than I wanted to, however I am proud of the fact that at no point did that man succeed in brainwashing me enough to make me lose sight of appropriate and moral limits and boundaries. Being in an abusive relationship is so mentally draining that the abused person often doesn’t get the opportunity or autonomy to think clearly about what is happening in their life. Because of this it is very easy for an abuse victim to become spattered with their abusers opinion or viewpoint. After a spout of violence my abusive ex partner would often try and convince me that this level of aggression was normal in relationships and that many of his friends and colleagues often talked about attacking their partners (or being attacked) as a means of drumming up passion. He would regularly swamp me with his versions of abusive events in an attempt to erase my own memories and alter my perspective on what happened. His bad language, shouty voice, unpredictable moods and misogyny became normality in our household, but at no point did he ever convince me that ANY of this was conventional or right. I have my own solid upbringing to thank for this. Thirty years of learning what love and affection looks and feels like within a family was not going to be undone and relearnt from the teachings of one obviously, dysfunctional man. No way. He could quite easily physically break me as he sometimes did, but my mind was mostly immovable. The more he tried, the more resilient I became-all his actions ever did was make certain in my mind that I needed to leave him and further consolidate the safe and respectable boundaries of behaviour I had been taught as a child. Those are the boundaries I am establishing in my own children right now, well aware that some damage may already have been done. The strength of mind I developed in that time is literally carrying me though to this day; helping me to get through the legalised continuation of abuse that is the Family Courts. I’m over a year into the process, he still has no contact.
In one sense, my abusive ex is actually my inspiration. Being a child of domestic violence he had a tough upbringing and military service left him with PTSD. This might be a reason for his behaviour, but it will never wash as an excuse. When a bad thing happens, its important to use the experience it gives you to make positive changes in your life and not allow it to consume you or justify negative behaviour.
I left a bad situation still a good person. I’m as gentle and complacent as I ever was and I will always choose to be that way. I can still forgive. I can move on and I still have trust and faith in human beings. Even men. His actions will never ever define me.
I love these song lyrics, reminds me of human strength and the ability to overcome heartbreak.
You will not break me, I’m still fighting for peace.
I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade it might be too sharp,
I’m like a rubber band but if you pull too hard,
I might snap and I move fast,
You wont see me fall apart,
‘Cos I’ve got an elastic heart