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    • #50515
      SunshineRainflower
      Participant

      I feel like I might have written about this before but I feel like I need to write about it again today. I’m struggling with those feelings of sadness and disbelief and confusion that my ex boyfriend, my ‘lovely’ ex boyfriend was also a horrible abuser. It’s the cognitive dissonance, it keeps turning up in waves and disorientates and unsettles me.

      I think I just really, really wanted him to be real you know? I really really liked this man he pretended to be and loved many aspects of the relationship. A lot of things people tell me are red flags were things I actually liked about him, for example how he wanted to spend so much time with me. My previous boyfriend had been long distance and whenever I went to see him I’d have to spend the whole weekend with him and his friends and I always just wanted it to be me and him with the occasional social event. I am highly introverted and enjoy spending most of my time alone, I get very drained if I am around other people so constant group socialising is exhausting and not my cup of tea. I loved how the (abusive) ex didn’t do this, I never even met his friends which I know was another extreme red flag but it was great to spend so much 1-1 time and not have to share him with groups of people constantly.

      The fact that the relationship was so 1-1 also makes it harder to let go of, because it was very intense and just something I shared with him, it has been excruciating having to rip the relationship apart for my safety. I actually liked a lot of things about the relatinship. It’s been incredibly hard and weird going from talking to him 24/7 to going no contact to then talking to the helpline, outreach worker, counsellors, friends, family and forum, everyone but him when part of me misses it just being me and him even though I can see logically I was a victim with stockholm syndrome. It’s sad that being a victim with stockholm syndrome can actually feel nicer, warmer, cosier than facing up to life alone.

      It sounds a bit silly but I really liked being someone’s girlfriend again, feeling pretty and attractive and desired again and driving round in his nice car with him (which is a much fancier car than mine. I’m not even bothered about cars but I guess I did like how comfortable and nice his was). I loved going on day trips with him, when he was being ‘nice’ he would suggest we go to places I really liked and seemed really interested in all my hobbies which again felt amazing after previous boyfriends had been disinterested in much of my life.

      I suppose my abuser picked up on all the ways previous partners had disappointed me and crafted his persona around that so that I’d think he was wonderful, which is exactly what happened. I suppose I will just be sad for a long time that he was fake because I’d love to find a real man who:

      – Wants to spend time with me rather than flaking on me or expecting me to hang out in groups constantly
      – Shares my interests, hobbies and goals and can teach me new things about them and inspire me
      – Has a similar life vision to me and would like to live a quiet life in or near the countryside surrounded by nature and animals with me
      (- Is good in bed rather than disappointing and selfish like most of my exes especially the abusive ones)

      It’s one of the ways abusers are so cruel, the way they create this persona that you fall for which keeps you trapped with them while they abuse you as you wait for that person to return and keeps you missing them for a long time after it ends.

      I keep having little snippets of memories of things he did which at the time I brushed off but now I see as the larger pattern of abuse. Something silly but I’ve just put on some lovely warm socks and I remembered that he sneered at these socks making me feel like they were silly/ugly or whatever. And I am remembering how he once tricked me into walking round this really eerie deserted part of the countryside on my own in winter when it was getting dark and a fog was descending. He told me it would only take a certain amount of time while he did something else and we would meet back at the starting point. It took me almost double the time he said and that included me running part of the way in the wrong clothes and footwear getting blisters on my feet. I ran because I was so scared and if I hadn’t I would have been trapped next to a huge stretch of water in the dark on my own. When I finally got back, freezing and aching and scared, he was all ‘oh I must have underestimated the time it’d take’ and ‘rescued me’ and it was very early on so I 100% believed him and was so relieved to see him, but something he said and hindsight made me pretty sure he set it up on purpose to terrify me, he would have thought it was funny.

      Reading this back has been helpful and has made me think of a few thing I could build into my life:

      – I enjoyed making more of an effort with my appearance so I will continue to do this. When I was younger I always liked to look pretty and feminine and well groomed etc but I had several major depressive episodes which turned me into a bit of a zombie. I am going to make more of an effort again as it really lifts my mood, I’m having my hair done this week and will paint my nails too. Also, more exercise as that helps me look and feel so much better.

      I am still looking for work so have no money but I’m wondering if one of my future goals could be to buy myself a nice car?! I have always just driven my mum’s or brother’s second hand cars and have been so grateful to even have access to them. The car currently really needs a clean so this has reminded me to take it for an internal and external clean to spruce it up and then I will put ‘buy a car’ on my future goals list, something to aim for for my new independent life.

      I’ve also remembered that I keep meaning to try more local hobbies to meet like minded people, I feel calmest spending most of my time alone at the moment but I can start building this into my life when I’m ready again.

      Sorry for such a long post, I feel like I’ve provided my own counselling session on here, thanks for listening.

    • #50517
      Tiffany
      Participant

      Take things at your own pace! But all your ideas sound great. I love that so many of the things that you liked in the relationship were things that you can achieve alone or by making like-minded friends. I was amazed by that when I left. I have so much more capacity for self fulfillment than I believed. And I am doing so many of the things I wanted to do with him alone, and enjoying them more than I would have with him.

      Now that I am dating again I am also finding it really useful to think about exactly what I am looking for long term too. I loved that my abuser cooked, and it’s ok to look for that in a future relationship. But I am also looking for someone who values my culture and enjoys exercise and has his own friends and hobbies. And I liked that he found me sexy, even though it was in a shallow, only if I dressed right way. But I have decided that is definitely one I can do on my own. I am working on my body confidence from several directions – managing my illness, increasing my fitness, losing weight, dressing well. And with a lick of makeup and my hair done I can go out and know that I am sexy. I even like the way I look naked, which hasn’t happened since I met my abuser.

      Good luck with the progress. You are such an inspiration. I love seeing you work through things.

    • #50518
      Malachite
      Participant

      I’m so sorry. You must feel as if you’ve lost someone.

      Your goals sound great – dressing up more always lifts my mood. If all my nicer clothes are in the wash and I end up wearing something I’m not keen on I don’t feel anywhere near as good.

      Making you walk alone in the dark in unsuitable clothing sounds extremely cruel. Sounds scary and v v uncomfortable. I’ve read that before and sounds like one of the worst things someone can do to another person. I mean I have Raynaud’s so it’d be physically painful once I get cold/wet enough. I think it’d be painful once anyone gets wet and cold enough though, so it feels like it’s physical as well as emotional abuse, except he can use the excuse he doesn’t hit you and that he “rescued” you at the end.

      I hope you meet someone amazing at your local [insert hobby here] club when you’ve healed. Or you at least meet some supportive, fun, non-abusive friends.

    • #50519
      keepmovingfoward
      Participant

      abusers are good at tailoring themselves to fill in the gaps that were left unsatisfied by exes. my ex (childrens dad) used to repeated come up in conversation, almost like my abuser wanted to be viewed as better than him, but it also twisted my memories and my abuser tried to make the amicable relationship i maintained with him and his partner bitter and sour. which was going against what i believed as being good for the children.

      he isolated me from my family and friends, and came across as being good and supportive for me, we spent almost every waking moment together in the same house or room. it was all consuming, so when i left i left like i’d lost a limb. i agree with you on the stockholm syndrome scenario too. you want to justify protecting them and staying with them even though its becomes more than red flags, its flashing lights and sirens in some cases.

      well done on breaking free and liberating yourself again.

    • #50523
      SunshineRainflower
      Participant

      Thanks for your replies everyone, I wasn’t sure anyone would read this post as it’s a bit long and rambling. Tiffany I like the phrase self fulfilment, that is a good one to remember and focus on. It was good to read that you too also appreciated some of the things your abuser did, I think it can get confusing when we say everything about them was terrible because one of the reasons we are all on this site is that we liked certain things about these men. So yes we can put those things we liked on our Good Man Shopping List (!) and look out for them in future. I also really liked that my abuser cooked and was clean, tidy and domesticated and mourned the loss of this greatly afterwards because I’d never dated ANYONE who did these things and it felt like winning the lottery! I was genuinely devastated to lose him and all of the traits I liked, although I know a lot of them were put on, and he also had started making comments implying that in future I would be expected to clean his house and cook for him (while he was on his phone texting other women of course). So in a way he was using these traits to trick me into dating him as he knew how appealing they’d be. I don’t know many women who don’t want a man who is domesticated, and since so many aren’t abusers know this is often a weak spot for us.

      So I am adding to my list:

      – Can Cook
      – Is domesticated, clean and tidy and does at least 50% of the housework

      I remembering someone saying they made a big list of traits they were looking for in a partner, I had already created one before meeting my abuser (unfortunately he scored highly on it before I realised he was faking a lot of it) but I will update it. I remember when I was online dating how hardly any men fitted even the basic requirements, I want a very high quality partner and I’m not sure there are many around but it’s depressing and even dangerous to settle for less. P.S Thanks for saying I am an inspiration, I feel like I am working through things very slowly but in the right direction at least!

      Malachite I think I may have raynaud’s too, someone said I must have it the other day as I couldn’t feel my finger tips and they go white when I get really cold. I am going to look for some super warm gloves this year! Do you do anything to control it? It scares me losing feeling in my finger tips like that. Yes it was awful when he sent me on that walk, it was evil of him because he knew I’d be trapped and would have to walk all the way around. At the time I thought he was this lovely new man I was dating. Very sinister. I will wait much longer before trusting anyone again. I don’t feel too hopeful about meeting anyone at a hobby because I’ve been trying things for years and never meet any single men my age there so always returned to dating online but it would be wonderful if I did because I really don’t like online dating and mostly seem to meet awful men on it including my abuser.

      Keepmovingforward it sounds like you had that same ‘you and me’ intensity in your relationship too, it can feel very cosy and indulgent but then becomes toxic and poisonous as we discovered. I suppose a bit like a drug addiction. I guess a balance is needed, someone who has lots of time for us but who aso has hobbies and interests and a life of their own. I really need a fellow introverted man who likes a similar type of lifestyle to me. I hope you have managed to repair any damage he caused with your children’s dad, they really have no qualms about destroying people’s lives with no remorse.

    • #50546
      Tiffany
      Participant

      Love the phrase ‘Good man shopping list’. I quite like the idea that it is like shopping. I am a very calculated shopper who doesn’t buy stuff unless they really want something. And if it turns out to have bad reviews I can persuade myself I don’t want it. And if it is defective I will return it (or bin it). This seems like a good basis for looking at men, right? Life is still pretty full without them. It would be nice to have one, but only if he is fully functional, works for your lifestyle and is aesthetically pleasing…

    • #50549
      SunshineRainflower
      Participant

      Haha Tiffany your post has really made me laugh, yes indeed the item must be aesthically pleasing, fully functional and in full working order with not too high price a pay. I think we paid much too high a price for the domestic skills of our exes, sort of like a car with lots of gadgets that are nice but ultimately not worth it.

      I’d like one who is good value, or even with no price to pay at all, clean, domesticated, availability is extremely important too (must not already belong to another woman), and mileage is also very important – mustn’t have been round the block too many times already with anyone he could find. He must genuinely be of good quality, rather than shiny and fancy but ultimately cheap, poorly made and disappointing – false advertising. It seems abusers are all false advertisers and are excellent at appearing to be quality men when they are in fact all rotten apples.

      I would LOVE it if ex girlfriends could write reviews so that future partners could consider them based on that, it would be eye opening but I imagine such a system would be open to abuse by misogynistic trolls who would write false reviews about all women making it useless. Interestingly I have just seen that an MP is proposing a bill for domestic abuse offenders to be made to sign a register so that if they get in a new relationship then the police warn the new partner. I am beyond delighted about it and hope it goes ahead.

    • #50569
      Tiffany
      Participant

      Loving that second paragraph SunshineRainflower! I am less fussed about milage, couldn’t agree more on the fancy gadgets though. I would far rather have a reliable basic model than an all singing all dancing variety that crashes at the slightest hint of rain…

      Sadly I think a reviews system would also be highly vulnerable to vindictive exes and bullies. It would be fun though. This is mine for my second boyfriend. Lovely, but not for me. Returned as required more commitment than I had available. Comes with a host of romantic extras – please note these cannot be switched off! Otherwise a solid and reliable model. Kind, ethical and good with children and elderly relatives. May malfunction slightly and offend friends if alcohol consumption is left unchecked.

    • #50576
      SunshineRainflower
      Participant

      Lol at ‘reliable basic model,’ very true! In terms of mileage I am thinking of how my ex was probably sleeping with half the town, rather than age, just to clarify. I like your (non abusive) ex boyfriend review. My non-abusive ex boyfriend review would be:

      “A very good, reliable, trustworthy model that will be with you for years to come, if not forever. Kind, warm, honest, thoughtful, trustworthy and generous. Returned due to unworkable sense of humour and lifestyle clashes. This model is from the ‘class clown’ school of thought, loves big groups, loud parties and crude jokes. Sings too loudly and out of tune. Can be domesticated but will not do housework unprompted, can’t cook and will sulk about having to do anything house-related at all. Hates country walks and breakfasts – will disappoint on weekend countryside retreats. Functioning but no extras included. If you are a city, party and group loving girl this one could be for you.”

    • #50580
      Tiffany
      Participant

      SunshineRainflower, I love your review. “Unworkable sense of humour”. Classic.

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