1st June 2021 at 9:34 pm #126536
I’ve only just joined the forum, but am looking for some support please.
I met my partner about (detail removed by moderator) into the relationship we bought a house together with a mortgage. Soon after buying the house with him I wished I hadn’t. He became miserable , moody and bad tempered.He has a dominating personality.He has always been mean with money even though he earns a lot more then me. He has never been violent.
He doesn’t like my family or friends. He doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t speak to most of his family.He can be nice at times and does a lot of the housework ,but expects a medal for it.
I have tried to leave him on several ocassions, but I never get away for long.
We don’t have any children, I have a full-time job, and a friend with an empty rental house has offered me a place to stay for a while. Despite this, and beong miserable with him, I can’t seem to get away.
I am now (detail removed by moderator) and feel like life is just passing me by, and if I don’t do something about it soon I will be here forever.
My friends are losing patience with me for still being here. If I hadn’t bought the house with him I would have left years ago, but it makes me feel trapped.
I have a history of abusive realtionships and co-dependency.
I feel that compared to a lot of the posts on here my situation may seem quite mild, but I am just as trapped as anyone else.
It would be lovely to get some help and support here thanks
1st June 2021 at 11:43 pm #126539
Hello Blueskies3, I hope you receive some encouragement from being on the forum. It sounds as if part of you wants to leave the relationship and part isn’t quite ready or sure? I found myself wondering what you feel is keeping you there? Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to someone neutral like a therapist or people at Womens’ Aid so that you can work out what your options are. Our friends can want what they think is best for us but it is only the person caught up in the actual situation who knows what they are dealing with. I know I had a lot of mixed feelings and had to face the reality of losing my home, most of my belongings and needing to work into my 70s. But now that I’m out of the marriage it has been worth all of those losses, because I have peace of mind and my own life. Life is too precious to waste if you have a choice. Wishing you well. Xx
2nd June 2021 at 7:14 am #126542beachhutParticipant
I can relate in many ways to your story, but as Silverbirch mentions you must try to find out what is keeping you there. I owned a property with my partner at the time, and left with very little just a few belongings that he allowed a friend to collect for me and ended up staying at a friends. The prospect of leaving was daunting and setting up again by myself filled me with dread, but many months down the line, I have my own front door can come and go as I wish and am trying to make a new life for myself. I will not say it was easy and there are still bad days but I believe it will get better.
If you have the opportunity and somewhere to go then please consider your options carefully, it could be the start of a new, better life for you.
Keep posting. Take care of you, beachhutXx
2nd June 2021 at 1:24 pm #126562
Thanks for your support.
I don’t know why I stay. I do have somewhere safe to go to, I’ve even moved some of my belongings into my friends empty house. I suppose I have never liked being alone, and for a while I was always hoping I would meet someone else and that would make it easier to leave. But for the first time in my life I am not looking for another relationship – I have had enough !
He does not want me to go, but he won’t change. I have friends and interests. I’m scared of burning my bridges, but as a consequence I’m just sat on the fence , unhappy and stressed, and slowly making myself ill with it all.
I left him previously then went back. I have never told my family I have gone back to him as I’m too embarrassed, which adds even more deceit and lies to the life I’m living. I must be the most indecisive person in the world !
2nd June 2021 at 1:56 pm #126563
When you wrote about your fear of burning your bridges, I had a thought. Part of what might make it more difficult when any of us faces change is that our minds are hard wired to seek the negative/what may be difficult or challenging and less inclined to reflect on the positive or what is possible. Therefore we often only change the status quo when a situation is absolutely intolerable. This has developed in evolutionary terms in order to help us plan for difficulty and to protect us, but you can see that it also keeps us stuck. So it might be interesting for you to fast forward to imagining looking back at the end of your life. What might you regret? What might you wish you had tried? What might you be glad you did? You are the only one who knows. What we do know is that there are no guarantees. But I wouldn’t change the decision I made to finally leave and I only wish I had done it earlier and wasted less precious time. I can see that I was held in that marriage by deep and lifelong conditioning, reinforced by his domestic terrorism. Now, I deal with everyday life on my own and my confidence and self esteem have returned. I have the love of friends and family and my life has changed beyond recognition. I feel peace and happiness and I do not live in fear. I wish you well as you take time to consider your options xx
2nd June 2021 at 2:06 pm #126564ISOPeaceParticipant
Hi there, I relate to the feeling that your situation doesn’t seem as severe as others but you still feel totally stuck. While for me the emotional abuse was bad, I wasn’t in fear of physical violence so I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel able to leave. This might be a long one…. I often find myself making sense of my own situation when I reply to posts and I hope it helps others.
We all minimise our experience of abuse because it helps us survive it. You might find after leaving that you see more clearly how bad it is and are amazed that you coped as well as you did. In any case, there will always be people in worse situations than you, but that doesn’t take anything away from the impact that the abuse is having on you.
From my own experience I would be cautious about looking for what’s keeping you there. It might be that there are practical steps you can take to resolve things that are keeping you stuck, like legal advice. But in my experience, our brains are very good at making us think we’re worried about some detail when we’re actually too terrified to face the real issue.
I spent a very long time trying to figure out what was wrong with me and what I could fix/change to make me feel ready to leave. I had been seeing a therapist throughout, who reassured me that I would leave when I as ready and told me that I would always find an excuse not to leave until I was ready to leave. She was right. When I eventually did leave, I was able to see that getting out was far more important than the things I was worrying about. Even the big things like worrying about him taking the kids away and trying to get full custody were not reasons to stay. Staying meant inevitable suffering for me and the kids. Leaving might mean new difficulties, but there was no chance of freedom if I didn’t leave.
Before I got to the stage where I could put those worries aside, I believed I needed to fix myself because I was weak and any normal person would have left long ago. This belief kept me trapped. I believed I needed to be a stronger person to leave but how could I get stronger when I was constantly torn down by abuse? If I allowed myself to be abused because I was weak and now I felt even weaker, what hope was there?
Then someone on this forum recommended I read up on abuse and trauma bonding and at last everything made sense. I learnt how abusers exploit qualities like empathy and manipulate over time so that you don’t see what’s happening. Trauma bonding explains why you feel stuck despite having the physical ability to leave. Trauma bonding is a totally normal response to abuse and keeps you stuck in the ‘freeze’ of fight/flight/freeze. I always thought I felt trapped in ‘freeze’ and finally I knew why. I felt huge relief to know that there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with me. I wasn’t stuck because I was weak and destined to be abused for the rest of my life.
From your post it sounds like you might think you’re in this situation because you’re co-dependent. I thought the same about me. I was really surprised to learn that abuse experts advise caution when thinking about co-dependency in the context of abuse. Typically co-dependency is used to explain why someone is in an abusive relationship. But the reality is that abuse can happen to people who aren’t co-dependent and co-dependency is never the cause of the abuse. The cause is always the abuser wanting to control their partner. Focussing on co-dependency puts the attention on the victim as the cause of the situation (e.g. she’s co-dependent so she can’t leave him until she changes) rather than acknowledging that the abuser is deliberately making you feel like you’re not strong enough to leave. When I learnt that I was not causing the abuse and it was all about his need for control, it helped me see through the spell of the abuse.
I sometimes wonder whether I would have seen this sooner with a different therapist. My therapist doesn’t specialise in abuse and didn’t talk about trauma bonding. Her approach is to help clients find their own solutions to feel more empowered and because tend to seek about information/advice in when we’re ready to take it in. She does understand how abuse works though and hasn’t ever said any of the terrible things I’ve heard about from therapists who don’t understand abuse.
Since leaving I realise that you don’t have to feel strong to leave. I didn’t suddenly feel like a strong person, I just felt strong enough. Our abusers convince us that we’re weak and useless in order to keep control of us. To survive abuse you have to be strong, so even if you don’t feel it, you are stronger than you know.
It may be that for you there are practical steps you can take to make leaving seem more realistic. But if you find yourself putting off sorting them out and/or it’s a much more general sense of feeling frozen, it’s probably the trauma bond keeping you stuck. I would recommend googling it and reading Why does he do that? by Lundy Bancroft.
Sadly, like most people, your friends don’t understand your situation. They most likely feel bad that they can’t help you and that’s really uncomfortable for them. I was lucky that most of my friends didn’t get too impatient with me, but I know they couldn’t understand why I was still there. Maybe if you make it clear to them that you don’t expect them to give you any solutions but it’s helpful if you can share how you’re feeling sometimes. You could even explain that you’ve found out that your situation is very typical and it normally takes a long time to leave. You will find reaching out on this forum really helpful, because people on here understand and with so many people on here, you can never be a burden.
Sending lots of love and strength xxxx
2nd June 2021 at 9:52 pm #126596
Thank you all so much for your lovely responses and support.
I’m going to google Lundy Bancroft’s article as you suggested.
It’s a short one now as I’m shattered after a lot of issues at work at the moment as well.
I think getting older makes leaving harder as well. When I was in my (detail removed by moderator) I left my ex-husband so easily compared to the situation I’m in now.He owned the house so I just moved out, also , I wasn’t scared of him which made it all so much easier.
3rd June 2021 at 10:19 am #126609ISOPeaceParticipant
I think what you’ve said highlights how leaving an abusive relationship is not the same as leaving a normal relationship. I’ve heard it said that you don’t leave, you escape. Perhaps age makes a difference, but I think the biggest difference is the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) that abuse creates. It is hard, there’s no doubt about that. But that is no reflection on your inner strength or worthiness. You will leave when you’re ready. I really believe that every time you try to leave, you move a tiny bit forward, even if it doesn’t feel like it. It takes on average 7 attempts to leave, so don’t assume that because you’ve not managed before you never will. Keep posting on here for support and reach out to women’s aid. xxxx
4th June 2021 at 10:47 pm #126676
Hi Blueskies3, I was really struck by what you wrote about wondering if being older makes leaving more difficult. I remember thinking like that too. I felt vulnerable and it seemed like a very big step to be heading into the world alone. But gradually I realised that there were people and agencies I could ask for help. I also realised that being with him as I grew older and perhaps less physically able would be a very difficult situation and my predicament would be worse than before. So ultimately it felt as if the choice made itself – to take the risk of leaving and seeking a better life, or remain in the certainty of more of the same or worse. I hope you find some space from your other stressors over the weekend and can rest and recharge a bit? Take care xx
4th June 2021 at 8:26 am #126644
Yes that’s agood way of putting it – you don’t leave you escape.
He’s behaving at the moment as he must think I’m about to try and leave again. My head’s all over the place at the moment , as I’ve other stresses going on as well so I can’t think straight. Yet another good excuse to do nothing…..and the offer of the friends empty house won’t last forever as she will be selling it at some point.
Thanking you all again for your support x
5th June 2021 at 7:07 am #126680
Thanks again, it’s so nice to have people to chat to who understand, and don’t make me feel weak for still being here.
I’ve taken a step to get rid of one of my stressors this week, and am planning to try and declutter some of my belongings this weekend, so hopefully when I do go my things will be streamlined.If I can do practical things it akes me feel a bit better ! xx
5th June 2021 at 7:23 am #126681beachhutParticipant
I do hope you are feeling a little better today and more able to cope, it is a very hard situation that you find yourself in and outside stresses make it even harder, I find that just giving yourself small tasks to do, one at a time does not overload you and when you do get a job done the feeling that you have made a positive step helps with your move forward.
Please do not be angry with yourself if you just decide to do nothing much over the weekend but take care of yourself, the stress of the situation takes it toll and you do need time to recharge.
I do hope you have a peaceful weekend, we are all here for you and each other.
Take care of you, beachhutXx 🌻
5th June 2021 at 11:31 am #126696
Hello Blueskies3, I smiled when I read your post as I am a big fan of decluttering. I used to do it a lot in the years with my ex and each time it helped me get closer to being ready to leave. It is a way of clearing space for new life to emerge. As Mari Kondo says, we ask ourselves ‘does it spark joy?’when deciding whether to keep or let go of an item. Maybe if we applied that to our relationships we might get a different perspective on our questions. Sending love and encouragement, Silverbirch xx
5th June 2021 at 7:31 pm #126712
Hi, That’s an excellent point about Mari Kondo ! Very true!
I’ve managed to do a bit of decluttering today but not as much as I’d have liked to, but at least I’ve done something which has made me feel slightly better.
Thanks again for all your support, have a nice evening xx
6th June 2021 at 6:09 am #126720
Good morning Blueskies3. Glad it made you smile! Even one drawer or shelf is a step. Each step adds up. You can find out a lot about yourself when you declutter. What you find hard to let go of. What you want to hold on to. There’s no rush. Sending encouragement! Xx
6th June 2021 at 1:56 pm #126740
Thanks again for your support, you’ve just motivated me to throw some books out-they are heavy items when moving! xx
6th June 2021 at 9:21 pm #126755
I am smiling Blueskies3. I still have a lot of books but editing them was one of the big steps. Books and clothes. Travelling light these days :). Sending a smile xx
6th June 2021 at 10:43 pm #126758WaterspriteParticipant
YES silver birch travelling light is liberating – not much stuff here we flit but hey we ran into safety freedom peace truth – beats stuff any day. Baby steps blue skies – you are on your way blue skies are ahead xx
6th June 2021 at 11:33 pm #126761
Thanking you all for your great support – I feel I still have a long way to go,but hopefully will get there. Freedom,peace and truth—-priceless x
7th June 2021 at 6:52 am #126767
Watersprite – safety,freedom, peace, truth …. yes! I remember the first time I noticed that I wasn’t feeling a sensation I’d lived with for decades, a tightness in my chest. I realised I wasn’t living in fear and my system didn’t need to be on permanent alert. I smiled and I felt real happiness and joy. I knew that life was opening up for me. X
7th June 2021 at 7:23 am #126771
Hi, Yes I can relate to permanantly living with that physical feeling, it becomes the norm. I dread to think of the internal damage it must be doing.x
7th June 2021 at 9:57 pm #126838
Living under chronic stress caused me significant physical illness – that was the tipping point for me. I knew if I stayed I wouldn’t survive. I think we try to adjust psychologically and emotionally, but the body tells us clearly what is happening and eventually we have to listen. Xx
8th June 2021 at 6:28 am #126844
Yes, I already have a condition which I think has been brought on by the stress of all this.xx
8th June 2021 at 1:34 pm #126869
My GPS were always very supportive over the years – I think having doctors who are aware of domestic abuse and it’s impact on health is a great help. X
8th June 2021 at 7:38 pm #126885
Thanks, I hadn’t thought aboout the GP for support, but that may be useful. xx
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