Today, June 1, is bittersweet. On this day, in 1985, I married, the person I believed I would spend the rest of my life with. In April 2012, I separated from him then filed for divorce in June. In January 2013, on my 50th birthday, the divorce was final. As of today, I have been single for 1 year and 5 months.
A couple months ago, I heard, from a reliable family member, my ex had found another, gotten engaged and was set to remarry. I replied, ‘I am happy for him.’ Yet, I felt like I had been stabbed again, this time in the wounds I thought had scarred over and healed. I also felt deep revenge, was mad as hell and jealous. I mean why does he, the arrogant, lying, cheating son a bitch deserve love? Why does he deserve joy with someone else when he has not stopped his antics of control? Why does he deserve any good at all in his life after the shit he pulled when he was with me and continues to pull with his sons? Why does he???
I do admit I think I am ‘over’ him, since we do not see or talk to each other anymore. However, in the moments when we do have contact, my resentment and hatred of him grows stronger. Especially since he has NEVER once, in all the years we were together or during the divorce proceedings admitted or taken responsibility for his part in the demise of the marriage. Even during the marriage, I rarely heard him apologize, for anything!! Instead, he lied to cover up so as not to taint his ‘perfect’ image or he twisted the story around to put blame on me or his sons. There were times I thought I was actually going crazy when he told me one story, then a few hours or days later would deny it, telling me something else entirely! To this day, although I don’t have definite proof, I believe he was having an affair.
Now you may say, you knew what he was like when you dated him. Not really…you see, the person he portrayed when we dated was totally different from the one he became after we married. Looking back, it seemed he was on his ‘best behavior’ during the mating ritual and once he snatched me up for good, his real side emerged. And as the years went by, not only did his behavior become worse but so did mine.
Recently, on my regular jaunt to the library, I picked up a book by Patricia Evans called Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out. Throughout the marriage, I suspected my ex was verbally abusive but instead, I was in denial, as I never thought the person who claimed love would ever do such a thing. Well, reading this book confirmed my suspicions. However, the most shocking part was realizing not only was my ex a verbal abuser, but I was also.
Hard to admit, but when the light bulb shines blindingly bright, there is no ignoring what it reveals. I will say it again, I shamefully admit…I was a verbal abuser. Let me back track, for one moment, to reveal the characteristics of a verbal abuser.
- Blames mate for his/her reactions
- Unsympathetic to mate’s feelings
- Demanding and argumentative
- Controlling nature
- Silent and very private at times
- A ‘nice’ person to others
- Competitive with mate
- Overt or very subtle brainwashing
- Very critical nature
- Manipulative nature
- Confronts and hurtful
- Name calling
- Does not express feelings
- Your day is dictated by their attitude
Just writing this list makes me very uncomfortable as all the negative emotions I felt, resurfaced with each characteristic. My ex displayed all of these most of the time, while I displayed half of these which I began doing gradually, then ended up exhibiting almost all the time towards the end of the marriage. So the question becomes…why do people verbally abuse others? The answer…to maintain control.
The following is no way an excuse for either of our behaviors, but an explanation as to how both of us became verbal abusers. My ex’s mother was EXTREMELY controlling. She never took ‘no’ for an answer, ‘disowned’ family members if they did not do what she wanted, constantly criticized, and caused rifts among her children when she revealed things they had shared with her in confidence. I will say, one of the benefits of divorce was never having to see her again! Due to her controlling ways, I believe my ex was afraid of losing her love so he never took the reins, and stood up for himself. As a result, he became the spitting image of his mother. Do I think he realized it? Probably not. As every time, I brought up his behavior or reiterated his words, he would look at me with a blank stare and reply, ‘I didn’t do/say that.’
And because of his bashing, controlling, manipulative ways, I began to feel out of control which is what started my spiral toward verbally abusing my children. My youngest recently told me he still dreams about me screaming at him, how much he wanted to hit me and wishes he could have hit me when I was whaling on him with my words. I profusely apologized, telling him I understand and wish he could have hit me as well. I also told him I regret not leaving the marriage sooner so he and his brother did not have to deal with the shit they did. He replied, ‘You know mom, even though I still dream about those times, I still respect you.’ He later told me, I was one of the people he loved the most. God, my heart ached knowing the pain I had inflicted. It is not easy, in hind sight, to pick apart the person I was; to admit to being abusive; and to know I made a choice to stay instead of believing in myself, facing the fear, and getting out of a situation that was toxic to not only myself but also my children. But, I can’t go back and I would not want to.
Today, June 1, 2014 I would have celebrated 29 years of marriage, if things had been different. Nevertheless, looking back, I do have regrets, and even though I have apologized to my sons and been granted forgiveness, those regrets occasionally resurface as reminders of who I was, how a person should not be treated and who I have become. The journey has been challenging, to say the least, but I am proud of the ‘survivor’ I am today, because of my desire to change, to move forward, to face challenges instead of fearing them and admit to the atrocities I have engaged in.
I am also glad I was married, if only for the fact I have two wonderful sons who are moving forward, learning to live with love, and happy with who they are. As for the feelings towards my ex? I do wish him well because that is the right thing to do. However, I really want to tell him to go to hell and that is the truth.
(Verbal abuse is only one way a partner gains control. Another one is domestic abuse. For any abuse you may be experiencing, here is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24 hours a day, anywhere in the U.S.-
1-800-799-7233. No one deserves ANY abuse of ANY kind. So seek help with a professional or call the number listed. Please save yourself instead of becoming a statistic.)