19th February 2021 at 10:27 am #121957
A friend recommended I come here for advice, as she felt out of her depth to know what to advise me.
So (detail removed by Moderator) times I’ve got to the point of developing severe debilitating anxiety and panic attacks over the relationship problems. It’s usually gone on for months until I’ve resolved it with antidepressants and attending therapy to validate my feelings, but always some other relationship crisis happens and it comes back worse. He denies there are any problems and says they were all solved years ago, that I just won’t let things go. This time I felt so bad when the anxiety was worsening that I had to leave and get away. Just being in his presence made me anxious and panicky. I wasn’t eating or sleeping, and unable to function. I was getting flashbacks and nightmares of difficult conversations we’d had. Why can’t I just move on and forgive? What is wrong with me?
Maybe it’s just me – he tells me I’m prone to anxiety, I’m a person with chronic mental illness and extreme sensitivity to hormones and ‘don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not really very good at handling more than one stress at a time in your life’. Also, that I’m an unforgiving person and that’s why I get anxiety. I don’t know. I never had anxiety and depression before this relationship with all its problems.
In all these years with him I’ve never really felt able to be my authentic self. He had severe sexual dysfunction problems on and off for our whole marriage and anything I did to upset or stress him would make it worse. Hence I’ve walked on eggshells all these years. At counselling the responsibility for his problem basically got put entirely on me (by him and the therapist)- It turned out his issues were caused by me sometimes getting upset that the sex didn’t work (it had been (detail removed by Moderator) years married without it ever working by this point and he had this problem all along, so I don’t think I caused it to begin with). Me getting upset was putting pressure on him – fair enough – makes sense. Somehow it was generally my fault, for not having the right technique/position/ for obsessively trying to solve the problem thereby putting pressure on him, for having had (detail removed by Moderator) previous partners before marriage, when he had saved himself for me, for having unrealistic expectations, that we might have sex once a week, when he could only get interested about once a month and even then it didn’t work… ‘Do you really think other couples do it every week? That’s just in movies/TV’ he’d sneer, like there was something wrong with me. Years later I found out he’d been using porn multiple times a week for years during our relationship, yet rejecting me. I got told the solution was that I must not get upset if sex doesn’t work and that this feeling must be genuine (He said he will know if I’m just pretending not to be upset). This went on for years as his ED issues always resurfaced. I basically had to emotionally detach during sex and it became a huge source of anxiety for me as I was so worried I would get upset and let my emotions be seen and thus let him down. He’d deny there was any problem, tell me he didn’t have a problem, that it was all in my head, that I’d brought it back by worrying about it – That I created problems for no reason. I suppressed my emotions about this as much as possible for (detail removed by Moderator) years to protect his ego. Eventually it caused me to suffer anxiety symptoms.
Other things were –
– Minimising or telling me my feelings are wrong and unacceptable if I tried to mention anything I wasn’t happy about in our relationship. Turning it around onto me – how could I say something so hurtful, that cuts him to his core, after all he does for me? Usually this was when I’d been upset about him working too many hours or taking his mother’s side against me.
-Telling me my memory is faulty about things he’s said and done that have upset me.
-Treating me in an unkind way when I was extremely ill for months when pregnant, but later saying I exaggerated what he did and wasn’t remembering correctly because I was too ill. Also the time he treated me badly was because I provoked it – after all he’d been doing for me, I couldn’t do one little thing to help him out. Nobody thought of his feelings.
-Telling me my character flaws and then saying he’d discussed them with my work colleagues or friends and they would back him up on it. Presenting evidence of what an unforgiving person I am based on bullying things that happened to me at work, when in reality I have forgiven people all those things and I don’t hold any grudges. When I said this behaviour of his upset me – saying I’m just overreacting and being far too sensitive and he only told me about this because I really pushed him to. This has only happened since I left home, so to be fair, I do feel like I deserved this sort of treatment. I’ve obviously caused him a huge amount of pain.
-Telling me I will be ill with depression a very long time now and if I don’t go back to him he is worried I will never recover. The first time I had suicidal thoughts was after he told me this.
-Talking to any of my close friends who he knows have been supporting me during our separation (and who he’s never made an effort with before) and putting his side across to them- that he’s done nothing wrong and I am a mentally ill person. He’s so kind and gentle on the surface and a great dad, so then they come back to me asking if I’m sure there’s no chance of reconciliation…
I think I’ve never had a true mental illness, 2 therapists have confirmed this – it’s clearly situational anxiety and depression due to marital difficulties. However, I am really starting to doubt myself and wonder how much of all our problems have been caused by my tendency to anxiety…?
I feel so upset and depressed and guilty all the time, that I couldn’t do better, be more patient, not have such strong emotions…. Etc
-He also seems to have been telling my work friends and ex work friends that I have run off and left him because I’m mentally ill, and telling them details about the medications I’m on.
-Making himself always the poor victim. Lying about the share of the childcare he is doing – according to him, he’s been left to do everything for the family, because I’ve run off to my mum’s . It simply isn’t true. I am working too and looking after the kids more than half the time.
-Telling me on numerous occasions he walks on eggshells around me and that I’ve always had all the power and control, but not telling me why he feels that, or what I need to change. Telling me it’s OK, these issues are not a big deal to him, so I’ve no need to get so worked up about it all, that he’s prepared to forgive me these flaws because he loves me.
-Persuading me to attend couple’s counselling, refusing to accept he has any part in any of the problems. Saying the counsellor had something wrong with her, because she didn’t take his side.
-Not accepting that I want to stay separated. Telling me I have been too mentally ill to make such decisions and we need to go back to counselling now I’m getting better.
-Guilt tripping me in front of the kids to try to manipulate me to come back and have family days together.
-Using the kids as messengers about how much he loves me and how sad he is that I won’t come back to him.
I feel so down and hurt inside and like a shell of myself before the marriage. Sometimes I don’t even want to live any more because I can’t go on with this feeling of such extreme guilt about it all. I know his behaviours have been bad, but I can always find reasons why he’s done them – I’ve always somehow driven him to it. I feel so guilty for my part in it all going wrong and I don’t know how I can ever feel better now. He won’t move on and keeps messaging me and doing nice elaborate gestures and gifts and things to persuade me to come back and then I just feel more guilty about not making it work!!
Thanks if you made it to the end – sorry it’s so long – it’s a story of many years….
19th February 2021 at 12:38 pm #121969HawthornParticipant
Hi ChangeofPlan and welcome😊
Really well done for both leaving the relationship and reaching out here for support. You are very strong, though I can understand you might be feeling the opposite at the moment.
This man has been emotionally and psychologically abusing you for years. The way he has treated you sexually is also abusive. Educating yourself about abuse is key to your recovery and escaping from the FOG of abuse; the Fear, Obligation and Guilt. The FOG is how abusers trap us and keep us confused about what’s happening. His patterns are classic; DARVO- he Defends, Attacks then Reverses Victim and Offendor making you feel you are the one in the wrong and he is the victim. In every circumstance as abusers never take responsibility for their actions, everything is always our fault. Google the cycle of abuse- he is currently “love bombing” you to try to pull you back into the abuse and manipulating your children to act as “flying monkeys” for him. He is ” gaslighting” you, convincing you you’re crazy when in fact you are having a normal reaction to being abused by your intimate partner. Google the Power and Control wheel, there will be lots of his behaviours you will recognize. Read Living With the Dominator by Pat Craven and Why Does he Do That by Lundy Bancroft.
None of this is your fault. The guilt you feel is a result of the years of brainwashing and conditioning he has subjected you to. Ignore what others might tell you about what a nice guy he is; you lived it, you know the real him. Hold onto your truth. The only way to heal is to set clear boundaries with him and go no contact. There are parenting apps available for communication about the children and you should block him on everything else. No phone calls, no texts no emails. Any other contact is harassment and you will report him to the police. Because it is harassment.
Reach out to womens aid for support and keep building your support network and reaching out here. You will escape this and you will feel better. It does get easier. Sending a big hug xx
19th February 2021 at 1:46 pm #121976
Hi my beautiful angel … changeofplan,
Well done for posting, posting and journaling are a great way for you to unravel and work through your emotions.
Its clear to see that your ex has some major issues and was very abusive and manipulative and while it is good to understand his behaviour, more importantly you now need to get understand and know YOU again
I hear you so many times during your relationship with him crying out for love and support. Please now begin to work on yourself love, you are not mentally ill and you have not been wrong. Your head just got spun by him, which is a classic thing abusers do.
I’d really recommend that you find a grounding meditation to do, I don’t know how much you know about chakras but you need to start supporting and rebalancing your root chakra, maybe again with mediation or yoga.
I’d also strongly recommend you read ‘You can heal your life’ by Louise Hay or download it on audible
You have become out of balanced and shaken up, but daily self love practices, small steps at a time will get you strong and rooted back in your power and clearly knowing your own mind
Sending you love and support
19th February 2021 at 10:15 pm #122001
Hi Hawthorn & Darcy!
Thank you so much for your kind words, support and suggestions. I actually feel like a big weight has been lifted off me today, having had this validation from you both. Other people have suggested to me that some of his behaviours have been emotionally abusive, but I think because they were my family, I still found it hard to accept and thought maybe they were too biased in opinion, being my family. It’s also so confusing because there were a lot of nice and fun times, especially years ago and so I keep wondering whether it was really frequent or serious enough to be abusive. I know the relationship has made me ill, but I do also wonder if a lot of that comes from within me and the sort of person I am, and being too sensitive. Thank you for all those suggested resources. I am definitely going to look them up and do some reading this weekend. I hope I can get through this. I know other people and a lot of the ladies on here have been through much worse, but I feel I’m somehow not designed for this and I am not strong enough to get through it. I’m glad I have the kids to help motivate me to keep going, otherwise I don’t know where I’d end up and in what state. Thanks to your kind words and support, I had a much more positive day today! I feel slightly less crazy…
20th February 2021 at 9:17 am #122017
Good morning my darling, changeofplan….
Please don’t minimise what you are feeling or compare it to others abuse. There are many forms/variants of abuse and what you are feeling is totally valid.
Someone told me a long long time ago … ‘if in doubt, there is not doubt’
This is exactly you, you wouldn’t be posting on here and feeling the things you are if you didn’t know somewhere very deep down inside you this life you are living is not right…. let that part of you rise to the surface and drive you forward.
In terms of your health your body is now screaming at you … if you don’t listen to the whispers, they start to shout at you.
You have not listened to the mental voices telling you in your head this situation is not right so now your body is presenting you with physical signs, they will not improve until your situation changes
Start connecting your physical body to your mind, you’ll soon recognise that when you are around him or feel fearful etc your physical signs will worsen
Stay strong my angel and stay in touch
21st February 2021 at 11:12 am #122104
Thanks Darcy, yes I totally agree that I ignored my own inner voice and feelings for too long and eventually ended up with my body screaming at me in the form of an anxiety disorder. I guess because I’ve always felt or been told that my feelings were wrong and unjustified and out of proportion, I’ve just felt the right/moral thing to do was to try to suppress them. I also feel that because the way I behaved early in the relationship was immature and wrong (getting too upset about relationship problems and not coping), that all subsequent behaviours of his were provoked and deserved by me, so my part in the solution was to accept them as a reasonable response from him to my behaviour. My behaviour was basically getting too upset over a problem of his that he could not really help, but that affected us both. I couldn’t help getting upset and wanting to fix it, but that was really damaging to his confidence. :(. Also, most of the really bad stuff only happened after I left, so I feel I brought all that on myself. I just wish I’d picked a different person, I could have had an easier relationship with!! I’m not sure how I can ever feel better about myself as a person now. I’ve never failed this badly at something so important before 🙁
21st February 2021 at 11:33 am #122106
Wow, you are so hard on yourself my darling.
Please start to forgive yourself and stop blaming yourself.
Yes if we knew better we would have done better, the important thing now is for you to learn from this and move on.
I sense from your posts that the first job in your recovery is YOU.
You need to start working on your self love and filling up that wonderful heart of yours with love, joy and happiness.
I put it on the other post but would really recommend you reading Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life or googling any of her work like doing affirmations … I think there is even an app. Also another book to read that isn’t to long is The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson. If you wanted to look into how trapped emotions turn into physical pain I would recommend The Emotion Code by Bradley Nelson or The Energy Codes by Dr. Sue Morter.
Getting grounded and rooted will help with the anxiety, yoga or meditation work will help with this.
Please start investing in your self love, this will help to build you strong from the inside so you can set your self worth and boundaries moving forward. There is a beautiful life waiting for you out there.
Stay in touch… and let me know if you would like anymore tips on how to do this… I don’t want to ramble on to much!
24th February 2021 at 9:39 am #122284LottieblueParticipant
Firstly, I want to say very well done for finding your way here and for expressing everything so well. This is the beginning of your journey to recovery. Many of us on here will relate very closely to the way you are feeling, and particularly feeling “like a shell”.
The first thing I would recommend to you, very strongly, is to find a Freedom Programme to join. Google it. There used to be geographical constraints but not any more as they are all online. I look forward to these sessions every week as they are so supportive and liberating.
I have also recently found the most amazing podcast called loveandabuse.com. I think you could find this really helpful.
I wish you strength, and love. Keep coming back here. I couldn’t have come as far as I have without the support of everyone here – I still have a way to go, but I know that if I reach out for strength I will get it here.
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