29th July 2020 at 10:17 am #111171
Hi everybody, just looking for a bit of support really. Today I woke up feeling pretty rubbish. He’s on my mind a lot, and can’t seem to shift it. I’ve been out for (detail removed by moderator) ish and we have children together. The thought that’s in my head is how hard it must be for him, being away from the children as much as he is and knowing that I’m asking for even less time through the courts. If I put myself in his shoes, I would feel utterly dreadful. I would want to hold on to the children as much as possible, and I would feel they were being taken from me. I feel so guilty for doing this to another human being.
This especially because I know he already suffers greatly with depression. This was a defining characteristic of our relationship and the kind of abuse I suffered. Very emotional and psychological, and there was always some kind of drama going on. For our whole relationship I was determined to be his saviour, to be the one person who could help him, and now I’m the one person doing the most damage. People tell me that not all depressed people are abusive, but I don’t think I know what depression without abuse looks like. My father was the same to my mother, and I am realising that my definition of depression allows for abusive behaviour because that person doesn’t know any better.
I don’t think he (this could apply to my ex and my dad) ever purposefully abused, I think he didn’t know any better, he was just trying to cope with the overwhelming depression. So I put all my own feelings aside and made it my mission to be the person who could help. And now it’s all being thrown back at me, how cold and uncaring I was etc. Even though he is throwing some really awful accusations my way, I still see it as a wounded animal trying to defend himself. He is so hurt he doesn’t know how to respond any differently.
What is depression without abuse? I just feel so sorry for him, and that part of me that tried to take care of him for so long is very strong today. I just feel so guilty.
29th July 2020 at 8:20 pm #111193LisaMain Moderator
Sorry to hear about how you have been feeling today. I just wanted to let you know that you have not done anything wrong. You did your best and tried to help him, yet he says these awful things to you, it must be very upsetting to hear. I am sorry to hear that you also witnessed your father behaving like this to your mother.
While depression is a serious mental health condition, it does not cause abuse. Abuse and mental illness can happen at the same time. There are people who have a mental illness and are also abusive to their partners. There are also people who have a mental illness and are healthy and supportive partners.
As your partner has depression and is abusive towards you, it’s important to keep in mind that the mental illness and the abusive behaviours need to be handled separately by the abusive partner. It is the abusive partner’s responsibility to seek out support and create their own
plan for managing their mental illness and be accountable for their abusive behaviour.
Even if your partner does have depression, there is never an excuse for abuse. Abuse is a choice someone makes in order to maintain power and control over a partner.
I hope this helps, take care and let us know how you are,
30th July 2020 at 8:18 pm #111245
Hi Lisa, thank you for your response. I am feeling a bit better today about it. I still find it hard to really tell the difference and the lines definitely blur for me. But today I’m feeling less sorry for him. I can see that I really did try my best, and that if he had done any number of things differently we wouldn’t be where we are today. The yoyo of emotions is hard.. doubt, guilt, regret, anger, sadness, relief… im hoping in time this will settle down. Just taking longer than i maybe expected it to. Xx
30th July 2020 at 8:37 pm #111246Wants To HelpParticipant
As empathic people we are always putting ourselves in the shoes of others and trying to understand their take on things. We don’t like to see people suffer / hurt / upset and we do what we can to try and help them. So many times we go over and above what needs to be done. So it is perfectly natural to try and understand from his perspective how it would feel to lose some contact with his children because you know how devastating that would be for you. However, he will not feel those same feelings or have those same emotions that you would, so although your empathy and concern for him is to be admired, it is actually wasted.
There comes a time when we have to step back and say “I’ve done all that I can.” The rest now has to be up to him. People have to take responsibility for themselves, they have to help themselves. If he has mental capacity he is perfectly capable of helping himself, seeking advice or guidance or support to make changes etc, the truth of the matter is he doesn’t want to – not now anyway, and maybe never. You cannot force that help on him.
Focus your energy and emotions now on you and your children, put your efforts in to a difference you know that you can make. Have a film afternoon with a DVD with your children with pop corn, or a picnic in the garden or something that you know they will enjoy and you make fun. I’m sure you will have many ideas of what you can do with them, but I suspect you have left him so that your children’s lives (as well as yours) will be happier and brighter, so look forward and not back. Depression or not, he’s a grown man with options and decisions to make his life better if he chooses to do so.
3rd August 2020 at 6:02 pm #111516
Thank you Wants To Help. What you say makes a lot of sense, and you’re right, I did leave so that myself and my children could have a more relaxed and just generally happier time. And we do, the only down side really being that I now have to spend x days a week away from them. They are very unsettled when they come home, and settle just in time for the week to start again. I feel sorry for them that they are going through this rollercoaster – must be very confusing for them as they are still so young. I worry a lot about what his time with them is like, and they often come out with things that worry me, like calling each other a bully or a stupid boy, or that they need to sit in their own wee if they’ve had an accident because they’re a bad boy.
Anyway, that’s sort of digressing. My bout of feeling sorry for him did pass, and I’m currently more along the vibe of either feeling angry at him for all of this, or seeing that I really did try all that I could and it was never my responsibility anyway. Long story short, feeling much better today, but it really is such a rollercoaster of emotion.
31st July 2020 at 7:18 pm #111311CamelParticipant
How wonderful it would be if your partner spent as much time worrying about how you felt! The fact that he can’t is evidence of his abuse, not his depression. Personally I’ve known a few people who’ve suffered from clinical depression and in all cases they worked d**n hard to put on a front and behave normally. Normal isn’t making your partner or your children feel like sh*t, just because you do.
Every decision you’ve made has been for the good of all of you, including your ex. You can’t fix him and neither should the rest of you suffer because of him.
Counsellors train to help individuals cope with depression and other mental issues. Even if you were trained you’d be too close to offer any help. Believe in yourself. You’ve tried your best but it was never going to work.
As for access to the children, if you separate depression from abuse you’ll be sure you’re making the right decisions. If your ex behaved better he wouldn’t find himself where he is now. If he genuinely cared about his kid’s mental health (and yours) he would have sought out professional help at the start. The fact that he hasn’t says volumes about his laziness and his indifference.
Please, stop worrying about him and invest all your energy in creating a brighter future for you and your children. x
3rd August 2020 at 6:08 pm #111517
Wow, thank you Camel. Just what I needed to hear. The bit that really stood out for me was
If he genuinely cared about his kid’s mental health (and yours) he would have sought out professional help at the start. The fact that he hasn’t says volumes about his laziness and his indifference.
This was a years long argument between us – maybe for the entirety of our relationship. I just can’t believe I hung on to those first few magical months for so long, as if a few months of time with someone is enough to hang on to hoping that that person will come back again. Can’t help but feel a little bit foolish, but also now (hopefully) wiser because of it. I think I will always struggle a bit to spot the line between depression and abuse, but it is something I will work on to ensure I don’t fall in to the same trap again.
3rd August 2020 at 7:58 pm #111530CamelParticipant
You could substitute depression with any number of equally groundless explanations.
A cheating ex.
An abusive parent.
What they all have in common is they’re his problems, not yours. His to acknowledge. His to fix. Not his to throw on the table like a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
12th August 2020 at 4:22 pm #111967lionessinthedarkParticipant
Just wanted to say that I just read through all of this and it felt very reassuring. Definitely some food for thought for myself. I keep going back to feeling sorry for him, even though it’s been a long time since I left. The way abusers make us doubt ourselves and leave damage in the way we think is crazy… I would have never imagined how intense it can be before it happened to me. Since we have a shared son there is still contact and I am forever wondering if I am too nice, if he is trying to manipulate me, if I am making up things, if he’s just being nice to make me trust him again and eventually use it against me. What a b****y mind****.
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