8th October 2017 at 1:53 pm #48494TiffanyParticipant
Something that has been running round and round my head recently is that people are reaction to me so differently to that which I was conditioned to expect during the abuse. I am struggling to accept that I am not actually annoying enough to provoke anger in the people around me. My ex used to smother me for talking too much, and I can’t get over the fact that my boss at work doesn’t mind me talking. He was stressed for the first time since I started working with him and I was very aware that I was absolutely walking on eggshells around him for no reason. But he really didn’t mind me asking questions even though he was stressed. And when I noticed that he had done a couple of things exceptionally well and said so he seemed genuinely pleased. This is normal human behaviour. But the fact that it shocks me so much makes me realize that on some level I think I brought about the abuse. I know academically that it was his fault. But I thought, I think, that he was responsible for not controlling his anger at things he found annoying. And that the things I did were genuine causes for anger, just that his response was disproportionate. But I think I may be starting to realise that I am not actually that irritating. Has anyone else experienced this? Was it mind blowing for you too?
8th October 2017 at 2:10 pm #48495SerenityParticipant
My ex used to give me such- what I saw as- pitying looks when I was talking to or animated with people. I began to feel paranoid: was I annoying, ridiculous, embarrassing, and just couldn’t see it?
I began to hide myself under a bushel when out in public with him, scared that I might get the ‘look’ which would confirm to me that I was embarrassing myself.
However, after he left – and began threatening me- I really needed to talk and laugh with people, so I came out of my shell, out of desperation! And I got such positive responses. People told me I was friendly, funny, and good with people; they told me that I had really come into my own since he’d left. They said they’d noticed how nervous I had been to express myself when he was there.
I’ve realised that it wasn’t that I was embarrassing myself: it was that he didn’t want me to be confident or popular. We wanted me to lack confidence, so I would continue to put up with his abuse, and wouldn’t leave him. Making me think there was something wrong with me, that people saw me in a negative light, was a way of keeping me, and keeping me ‘beneath’ him too.
I’ve realised he was pathologically jealous- though he never admitted it. If people were nice to me or reacted in a positive way towards me, it angered him. The nasty looks were pure jealousy and rage that I dared to think anything of myself.
Also, these abusers think that our reason for being should be to hold a mirror up to them, affirming all the time how wonderful, powerful and clever they are. If we dare to think anything of ourselves, we are going against our very role, in their eyes! They see us as extensions of themselves, something to be used for their benefit only. They can’t comprehend that we are individuals with our own personalities, ideas, strengths and talents, or that we have freedom of speech. They try to censor us all the time.
I’m sure you aren’t annoying. I’m sure you are animated, interesting and intelligent company. Your ex was just saying those things to keep you doubting yourself, so you wouldn’t have the confidence to leave. Abusers want to limit us, to keep us in a box. Sooner or later we get too big for the box( which shrinks all the time, as their abuse increases), and we are desperate to break out.
Be yourself! x
8th October 2017 at 2:13 pm #48496JanedoeissadParticipant
I realise this frequently and I’m still with him. I often get told I talk rubbish but so many people have told me I explain things so clearly and in a way they understand. Thank god they have or I would be convinced I ramble and am incoherent.
My work is my saviour. It is where I get told frequently I have good ideas and do great things. Without that my self esteem would be non existent.
I would start telling yourself that this boss of your is a stranger and really has no reason to be nice to you but he is, therefore would that not suggest you are a good and interesting person.
I don’t know you really but you come across as a very well educated, friendly person. Who is kind and considerate.
Embrace what your boss is saying as your ex was a liar. x
8th October 2017 at 6:18 pm #48501SunshineRainflowerParticipant
I know how you feel, I think I’m often quite anxious and worried because I’ve had years with people who often gave me those condescending disapproving looks, including a controlling, critical mother and an old school friend who always had to be in charge of everyone and everything and would make awful disapproving looks and comments if she didn’t get her own way. The last time I saw this frenemy she made an awful comment about how she was having her children young as ‘they are more likely to have a disability when you have them older’ knowing full well that me and my other friend were both single at the time and would therefore be having kids older if we had them at all. I always believed that I was a bit stupid, a failure, incapable and every day I have to remind myself that I’m an intelligent, educated and capable person but it’s a daily battle after years of put downs, scorn and manipulation from certain others.
They condition us to act a certain way by their behaviour, including those awful looks they do. My ex started to glare at me if I sang, which he must have hated because it brought me joy, other people have always said I sing well and I used to be in a choir. He also glared at me with the most awful aggressive wide eyed stare when I explained that I didn’t like a certain tv programme because it is horribly sexist. The message everytime with these people is ‘shut up and stop expressing yourself.’
I think we have to unlearn all of their conditioning and take baby steps to learn how to be ourselves again. It’s scary to be ourselves when we’ve been treated so badly for just being a normal human. I’m often very apologetic and worried about annoying people. We are a work in progress. xx
9th October 2017 at 10:27 am #48520TiffanyParticipant
Serenity, jealousy makes so much sense as a part of my ex’s motivation. I was by academic standards smarter. He hated this and claimed the reason I had better grades than him were variously that he hadn’t received the support that he should have, he was discriminated against, and he studied a harder topic. I didn’t really care either way but gosh, look at all the red flags waving in hindsight. Then I was highly employable and he wasn’t. So obviously I spent years trailing about following his career and he spent years trying to persuade me that I was incapable of work (while still taking money off me every month despite generally earning at least twice what I did). He did of course turn out to be much more intelligent at manipulation than me, but I think I will let him keep that title.
It really bugs me that he still has so much room in my head. I am working on reducing it but like you said SunshineRainflower it’s a work in progress. Can you join a choir when you are in your new house? Singing is so good for you and if you are good at it too it would be a great element for your fresh start!
Jane, work has been my saviour too. My colleagues at my last job basically got me out. They let me see how bad his behaviour was and the impact it was having on me. They were there when I moved out and helped to fill my life when I left. When I had to leave that job to move back in with my parents I didn’t think I could possibly get a job with such nice people. I was wrong. Although I don’t enjoy my current job as much as my old one, and it is physically much tougher my colleagues are once again wonderful, and it turns out to be a wonderful place for me to face and overcome minor triggers, like being around stressed men and making mistakes that everyone can see. Turns out that as long as you fix them nobody cares and as I said, my stressed male boss remains pretty nice even when stressed. He doesn’t even tell me off when I make mistakes. Just says to be more careful next time. The chances of him yelling at me seem slim and the chances of him wanting to choke or smother me seem pretty much impossible. As he is around the age of my ex and quiet (which my ex claimed he was, although he wasn’t really except when he was sulking/manipulating me) and still isn’t bothered by character traits of mine that my ex claimed drove him to abuse me I am consciously learning to be more myself again. It’s hard, but it is going to be so good for me.
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