I’ve lived in the hell of Domestic Violence. Instead of giving you statistics, I want to share some thoughts and experiences. In this post, I also share ideas on how to proactively prepare for the day you leave. This chart is great to use for teaching tweens/teens and as a reminder for yourself. If children […]Domestic Violence Awareness Month-What I’ve Experienced —
Originally posted on Journey Into A on March 19, 2018.
First and foremost, I cannot stress enough that my ex had nothing to do with breaking me.
The breakup, however, did.
Let’s start with the beginning and get to where I broke….
I wasn’t happy for a while in my relationship, but thought for so long that it could work itself out or there would be some moment where it just fizzled easily apart. Obviously, neither of those options happened, but what did was a wake up call that I had never anticipated.
I was sitting at my work station on a Friday, just doing what I did everyday. Then, bam! Old Alex appeared in my mind. And she was mad. She’s the girl I had left behind almost 4 years prior, strong and independent, badass. She began listing all the things I had sacrificed and would sacrifice in the future. All of it was true.
Now, she wasn’t entirely mean, but she definitely woke me up. I’ll yell ya, she was definitely scolding me. I could see clearer then than I had for a very, very long time… and I was horrified. I couldn’t believe what I had done and who I had let go of. I had lost who I really was… and for what? Nothing. Nothing in the world was worth giving up that person.
On top of that, I had given up many facets of my life that gave me joy and was going to continue to accept less than what I deserved. So I had not only lost myself, but I had stopped doing things I loved doing and would continue to accept less in my future than what I had previously always wanted. It would be sacrifice after sacrifice made by me and only me (hint: he wasn’t doing any of the sacrifices).
So. Obviously we know what happens next.
I got terrified and absolutely panicked after I broke up with him the first time. Yes, it took two times. After the first time, I told him specific things that needed to change. He tried for a few days, but still it was just one or two things on the list (a list of things very, very easy to do, I wouldn’t ask someone to move mountains if I knew it were impossible). A few more weeks go by and I can’t take it anymore. Old Alex was still in my head keeping me on track. I tell him I had to go and stay with my friend, if you read part one of this series you’d know, he said he loved me out loud for the second time, and I left.
Less than a week goes by and I met with him in our apartment and I ended it. He just sat there and shrugged.
It was 100% the right thing to do and I don’t regret it for a second.
Here’s where I broke…
I had thought I was going to marry this person and have kids with this person and be with him forever and always.
Read the last 283 words here.
Originally posted on Feb. 24, 2018 on Journey Into A.
Here we are with the next bit to release…
This one stems from good ol’ Valentine’s Day. Basically Old Faithful for pain.
Valentine’s is one of those days that makes you think about what has happened on all the previous ones, or at least that’s what happens for me. I’ve been hurt on more Valentine’s Days than not. I’m half terrified of the day each year.
Let’s start small. A high school boyfriend avoided me on VD and then called me from Ruby’s Diner that night and invited me to Ruby’s all in the same breath as when he said that I couldn’t possibly make it there in time to order and eat before his mom would pick him up… Lame.
One guy I dated took me to see “He’s Just Not That Into You” and then we sat in his car for over an hour after just listening to Dane Cook. He just turned up the volume or didn’t respond when I’d try to talk. I left the next morning for a week to NY and there was no “I miss you” or anything. That blew.
One year, a boyfriend broke up with me on VD saying that he’d “rather smoke weed than be with [me]”. Now, I had no problems with him smoking weed, but he had told me that he wanted to quit smoking and then would lie and sneak behind my back. All I ever wanted was honesty. He’s also one that used to ridicule my short hair after he dumped me so there’s not much lost in that relationship, but that experience on VD sucked.
Read the last 179 words here.
Originally posted on Feb. 23, 2018 on Journey Into A.
I want someone to look at me the way you once did
I want their hands to brush aside the hair from covering my face like yours once did
I want their arms wrapped tightly around me like yours once did
I want their smile at me to exude and radiate like yours once did
I want to make them laugh like you once did
I want them to say sweet things like you once did
I want to dance happily together like we once did
I don’t want to feel this loneliness when I remember that I could’ve had what I once did
Originally posted on Journey Into A on Feb. 22, 2018.
Welcome back to my cleanse! Let’s get going on the next one…
I guess this one would have to be about dating.
During my long term relationship is when all those dating/swipe apps (don’t want to name names, but you can make your assumptions and know you’re right) came out. I came out into a whole new world that I had no idea how to navigate in… and still don’t. I had friends teaching me how to use the apps and telling me what I should do and say and none of it felt very good and obviously hasn’t worked out so far.
I’ve probably deleted and re-downloaded the app about 9 times in the last 3 years. I try it, I go on a few dates, feel like shit, and then I delete it again. It feels like what it was like dating right after graduating from high school- where no one cares about anyone else, but themselves and their desires. Why would I not just keep off it? Well, I’m not exactly comfortable going to a bar or something alone and trying to start up a conversation with a stranger and think that could possibly go well. I don’t want to give up.
Read the last 180 words here.
Originally posted on Journey Into A on Feb. 21, 2018.
Maybe something’s wrong here
Maybe something’s right
But I don’t have you
By my side
My heart is beating faster
My hands are cold as ice
I don’t know if my head will stop pounding
What happened last night
I feel the clouds approaching
Thunder will start roaring
Maybe I will get through it alright
I hear the train’s whistle blowing
Stray cats are moaning
Maybe I will get through this alright
Well you came knocking on my door
The look on your face
tells me so much more
Where did we go wrong here
Where did we go right
Maybe I will get through this alright
After some recent painful nights, I thought up the idea to create a series where I can release some of the things that continue to haunt me. I am trying to change myself, trying to be more positive, and change my way of thinking for the better. This is my way of cleansing myself and making way for beautiful change.
Let’s begin with one of the toughest ones.
I was in a relationship with someone for close to 4 years and he told me “I love you” out loud twice. There were times where I’d ask him to say it and he’d mumble it, but I rarely asked because it made me feel so pathetic even having to ask. The first time he said it on his own was when I tried to break up with him the first time (a month before actually ending it) and then the second time was right before I walked out the door for good.
His reasoning for not being able to say it was that his ex had “fucked with his mind for over a year”. At first, I understood that, but after we moved in together (after a year) and then more years stacked on to us being together, it felt more and more ridiculous and got more and more painful for me. I hate telling people about this whole thing because I still feel like an idiot. Who would put up with that?
I said it almost every day. Sometimes, I’d try to see how long I could go without saying it and I’d only last about 2 days. Why did I try not to say it? Because saying “I love you” to someone and NEVER getting an “I love you” back is so. fucking. painful. After a while, I felt embarrassed at myself each time I would say it.
Oh and we’re not talking about an agreed upon thing here. It’s not something that was ever okay with me and it was brought up many times. Some people have an understanding or whatever and that’s fine, but it’s not fine when it’s not agreed upon by both people.
Read the last 105 words here.
“You did the best you could with what you had at the given time.
That’s all any of us can do.”
Queensryche – Best I Can [Lyrics]
Don’t worry, dear he’ll never find the gun
A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall
A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can
I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can
I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade, no I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can
Back street hoop star you’ve got it good
You were the wonder of the crumbling neighborhood
Now taking bids on the next six digit plan
Showed me that my will survived
The tragedy that came into my life
Giving me hope and the new start that I have
And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grae no, I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can
Step by step I dream the plan
From my chair to walking man
This constant dream is on my mind
Chase the light I see ahead
Luminate the path I tread
I live to be the best I can
Now I’m moving forward and I’m never looking back
Straight ahead, focused on the big attack
On a roll and I’m never slowing down
I won’t be torn between
The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one
And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade I set no, I won’t let it go
To be the best man,
The best man that I can
The best man that I can
The best man that I can
My girlfriend and I of three years broke up a couple weeks ago. And it’s been the hardest thing to do to remain steadfast. I didn’t want to part ways but I did because I couldn’t endure her anxiety that came at the most unexpected of times – out of the blue; out of left field. Like a brick to the back of my head. It pushed me away. It made me not want to engage. And it made me stonewall.
Maybe it was her anxiety. Maybe they were trust issue outbursts. But they always seemed like personal attacks. I always felt so small and subhuman when she was “done with me”.
I tried and I tried to continue the relationship, but it was harder and harder each time. I didn’t want the relationship to end because somehow, I found what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. Each time the outbursts happened I felt myself pushed farther away, becoming more distant. I always felt insulted and indignant. I felt subhuman, tiny, and shamed.
I know she suffered from multiple forms of abuse in her past relationships and so I always thought it was my fault. My depression. My Specter. I always accounted for her anxiety and PTSD. But looking back, I felt I didn’t do anything wrong. The shituations all felt like I was being personally attacked. I know there are always two sides to any story, but there are some times when reality “is what it is”.
I remember one time when my university sent me a text alert that school was closed because of inclement weather. Then the standard followup prerecorded phone call came to let me know the same. We were watching a movie and I picked up to listen to the message and look at the text. I remember being accosted because I didn’t show her my phone. I don’t know if that was anxiety but I felt violated and like my trust in her plummeted.
Yes, I am sad. I also feel bad that I wasn’t courageous enough to continue to be strong for her if in fact these outbursts were part of her anxiety. She was a good woman. She was what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. I just couldn’t do it when my own Specter was digging his nails into my back at the same time and with the valley I’ve been in for the past year. I need to work on myself…bad.
I’m lonely even with my family, friends, and my daughter.
What to do.
My soul has left and with it,
The Albums and the Tags.
The memories put in boxes,
And thrown out in the trash.
paint chips fall onto the ground.
A weathered waste, at the end of town.
I pack up and I leave.
I love you, my friend.
I wanted to make sure you were safe and doing alright.
For survivors of mental illness, they say journaling is a way to help you heal.
Here’s my effort at catharsis…
My girlfriend of nearly three years, and I, just parted ways. We’ve broken up several times before, and each time have gotten back together. This time is permanent though <<insert audience laughter here>> because of how things have progressed. Here are my thoughts through the process:
- Remember why the breakup happened in the first place. There was a breaking point for me. A straw. A tipping point that once reached, ensured that things were not going to continue from that point on. It was a recurring theme that (I felt) I didn’t deserve to endure, and I couldn’t endure in the future and for the rest of the relationship. Remembering this tipping point became my first anchor point.
- Make a list of anchor points. This was the first thing I did. I made a list. I know that there are going to be days when I’m sad and want the relationship back. I also realize that that is not a healthy choice, so to help me remain resolute, I wrote a list of things that would keep steadfast. Especially on the weekend. Out of respect to her I won’t list them here, but these are largely negative things that have pushed me away over time. When you’re sad your mind wanders back to the good times you both had, or all the things you miss about that person. Keeping a list of anchor points helps me keep things in perspective. Don’t fume over the bad things and don’t forget the good things, just be real with yourself.
- Disconnect from their social media world. I find that when I have a break with someone, I need to cut ALL ties. Cold turkey. I don’t want them coming up in my news feed. I don’t want to see that they’ve liked my posts. I don’t want to see their Pins or comments come up on my wall. It makes me anxious and makes my adrenaline race. It makes me start to miss those things I mentioned above. There are also apps that block their texts from coming in, and you can delete their numbers from your Contacts list, but I haven’t done that. I’m the type of person that can’t “just be friends”. To me, that’s a crock of she-ite. Maybe we can in the future, but not at this time. It’s too painful. It’s too real. And it’s too raw to be your friend. It’s too tempting to want to go back to something that is so raw and familiar. To resist the temptation, I don’t put myself in the situation in the first place, and have done what I could to avoid it.
- Get out. I’m an introvert and like my alone time. This can become unhealthy since I also live with major depression. I have to be careful that alone time doesn’t turn into isolation. I know that I need to step out of my comfort zone and start doing things, especially on the weekends when I don’t have my daughter. Those are the worst. Make plans – in fact make a Plan B in case Plan A falls through. All too many times I’ve found myself sitting at home crying with the lights off and the shades dropped because I didn’t have a backup plan. It just turns into a deep dark pit from there. One of the things I am going to try to do is join a gym down the street and get back into shape. Being out of shape has brought me down mentally and exercising again and losing some weight will be good for both my mental and physical health. Another great way to get out is to join a Meetup singles group, though I’m not sure if this applies to readers outside the US.
- Go on a date when you’re ready. Get to know other people. Spread your wings. You don’t have to jump right into another relationship (in fact you shouldn’t) but there’s nothing wrong with getting back out there and getting to know people, and building relationships. Go on dating sights and meet people. At this point it’s about survival and staying busy, not finding your soul mate.
I’m not going to go into much detail here, again, out of respect.
- We both live with mental illness. Maybe a relationship where both partners survive with mental illnesses can work out. On the other hand, maybe it’s not a wise choice in the first place. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that we both have demons we live with. I also know that we both needed LOTS of patience and empathy to date each other – we didn’t necessarily have those two things all the time. WE can’t rely on others to fix quell those demons, we have to do that on our own. The other person isn’t going to fix us. We have to be able to manage who we are within the relationship.
- Trust issues. You shouldn’t have to suffer for someone’s (trust) issues from a prior relationship. If that person feels the need to go through your texts and social media IMs and you haven’t done something deserving of that (let’s be honest here), then there are trust issues that need to be resolved outside of the relationship. To project that onto someone else is emotional abuse and unfair.
- Others. In hind sight, there are many signs that you can probably now see that should have been red flags: multiple marriages, anger issues, physical and emotional and verbal abuse…the list could go on for each of us. It’s important in our closure that we notice these things (and write them down if necessary) and try our best to avoid them in our future.
Do you have any suggestions on how best to move on, or red flags that you’ve experienced in your relationships? Would you be willing to share them with the rest of us?
A couple months ago I published a blog post called “Brok3n & Betray3d”. It was about how my girlfriend told me she cheated on me and how that affected my emotional state over the next few days.
It is not there anymore because I took it down.
I believe it was published “wrongly”. Or at least before I knew the whole story.
I am here today to ask for a chance to rectify that event.
* * *
After the situation had passed and things were cleared up, we got back together for a short while only to fall apart again. Not because she told me she cheated on me. Just because that is how life goes.
After we talked about the situation, she informed me of the details that I wish I had known prior to my posting what I did, and reacting the way I did. I wish I had handled things more calmly. More maturely.
We were apart for the day. I had my daughter for the weekend and she had gone to our local St. Patrick’s Day parade. During that time, she had gone to the bar where the parade ended. Her ex-boyfriend was there and he kissed her. She didn’t return the advance and ended up pushing him away and told him to stop. Another girl who was there kissed her and she did the same thing.
I believe her.
She said she felt like she cheated on me because she was out without me.
I believe her.
As a result of my actions, she was shunned by those closest to us, both offline and in real life. For this I am dreadfully sorry. I cannot imagine being in her place.
Though we are not together today, I would appreciate it you would remember what she was to me by reading the series of poems I wrote about her PTSD and anxiety, as well as the short story I wrote in her honor, Love and the Maiden.
Thank you friends.
Just a quick poem that came to mind tonight.
To my friends who will call because they’re worried, I am fine. I promise. Mom, Chelise, Mistaken…I really am.
…Just a little bout with Specter.
But he ain’t gonna win.
I know other people needed to hear this so they know they are not alone.
Thank you for sharing.
Sometimes I miss my daughter
Sometimes I miss her bad
Sometimes I hate the loneliness
I wish I never had
Sometimes I like to be alone
Sometimes I wish I weren’t
Sometimes I wish someone would hold me
And take away the hurt
Sometimes I’m fine and focused
Sometimes I rarely am
Sometimes I shut the windows
And cry as loud I can
Sometimes I’m grey, the Specter
Sometimes I can’t bear the ill
Sometimes I think I’ll make it
Sometimes I doubt I will
On the hinterlands of the dismal grey wasteland of Relationship, at the base of Cold Mountain, loomed a dark grey fortress known as Desolation.
Its colossal walls were miles high and meters thick.
The top of the wall was a foreboding omen to those who dared approach from across the tundra. Craggy stalagmites protruded at odd angles like dragons teeth and witches claws. Bones littered the parapet where vultures had dropped the leftover carcasses of their prey.
Vigilant gargoyles with ripped wings gazed out onto the horizon. They perched themselves every 100 yards, digging their talons into the chipped rock of the facade. The commander of the citadel called on their allegiance by name – Defensiveness, Frustration, Exasperation, and Malice. With glowing white eyes, they penetrated the darkness, letting out shrieks of alarm should life approach out of the black.
The commander himself was the sole inhabitant of the fortress. A horseman who sat deep within the cold, grey rock of Cold Mountain.
He had built the fortress himself after subduing and slaying his enemies – both innocent and those wretches accused of treason against the crown. He displayed their crucified and impaled bodies outside the wall as a warning to his enemies. They flooded the plain as far as the eye could see until the tundra faded into the fog of war. He hung their decapitated heads and tortured bodies from the walls. Signs of failed attempts to gain entrance into his realm.
Sitting in his murky throne room, Isolation – a place of slate and rock, he slumped on his throne of dark cracked granite and twisted oak. The cold iron crown of Pride, atop his swarthy, creased brow.
Over the course of the hundreds of relationships throughout his time as a foot soldier and knight, he strategically and tactically built this place stone upon stone.
An impregnable keep from his witching enemy, Hurt.
He built it to protect him from Hurt and the outside world. A sanctuary where he would be safe and not have to fear about facing his nemesis, along with his chieftains, Regret and Resentment.
It was his last bastion of safety.
He never left. And he never had visitors…the last visitor he had was years ago. It was easier this way.
He remained in isolation without friends. Yet unimpeded by with burden of the outside wasteland of Relationship. Unprovoked by Hurt, the horseman maintained a rigid perimeter to be traversed in order to gain access to the outside world.
It both prevented entry and exit.
One moonless night, the harpies atop the walls wailed and shrieked.
The horseman rose to his feet and stepped to the parapet of his throne room. Gripping his lance and torch, he glanced out into the wasteland.
Hurt was approaching on his steed and along with his chieftains.
Stonewall made his way to the rampart and silenced the guardians atop the wall.
“What is it you want my nemesis?” he shouted.
“I only wish to have a moment of your time my brother,” Hurt volleyed back.
“You have no business here, fool! Turn back and come this way no more! Before I command my beasts to lurch down from these walls and tear your skin off and feast on your bones and entrails.”
“YOU FOOL!” Hurt roared. “Do you think you can withstand my forces? I shall return with legions of my hordes and we shall gain entrance, tear down your walls, and feast at your table as you die.”
“These walls are impregnable and you would be fool to think you can circumvent them and cause harm. If you advance you shall receive no quarter.”
Suddenly, Defensiveness spread its torn wings and dove towards the invaders. Hurt raised his lance and caught the harpy in the throat, instantly dropping it to the ground as it choked on its own blood.
Upon seeing his guardian die, the horseman raised his fist and plunged it towards the ground, signalling Frustration to awaken from its stone shell and harass the invaders. With lances pointed at it, Frustration circled and when spotting his victim, he swooped down and ensnared Regret in his dagger-like claws. Sweeping back to the top of the wall, the harpy dropped his victim, impaling him along the rows of fierce spikes.
Frustration dove again.
Hurt threw out the net and caught the gargoyle in mid-flight, dragging it to the ground. And in one slash, decapitated the beast with his war cleaver.
The horseman summoned Exasperation and the beast dove to the ground below. In one movement, the seasoned guardian grabbed Resentment by his throat and soared back to his nest. By the time he had reached his perch, his victim’s life had been drained. Dropping the carcass, it lunged again towards its victims.
Hurt pulled his bow and an arrow from his quiver and drew on the advancing harpy. And at the precise moment, let his arrow fly, embedding it straight between the beast’s eyes.
No sooner had the guardian’s lifeless body crashed to the ground, then Malice gained flight and pursued Hurt.
As Hurt turned to reach for his sword, the harpy sank its claws into the enemy’s back and tore out his vertebrae, leaving his body collapsed on the ground.
As the raptor rose into the air Stonewall followed it with his eyes. He watched it until it landed on its pedestal and took its original stone form.
The war hardened horseman shifted his gaze to the plain below, pike still clutched in his fist. He had fought off Hurt and his commanders another day.
But at what expense he wondered.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a length of time, you’ve certainly read the posts dedicated to my girlfriend and her PTSD.
I have a problem in our relationship which I haven’t talked about.
It’s a problem with me.
It’s not a mental illness, though it can be much more toxic.
It’s not cheating.
It’s not drugs.
And she’s taken care of the alcohol part when she dumped a newly bought fifth of 80 proof vodka into my kitchen sink.
My issue is stonewalling. And it’s a dangerous obstruction to a healthy relationship.
If you’re familiar with the writing of John Gottman, you know that this is one of the Four Horsemen that destroys relationships.
The Four Horsemen being the riders named Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.
I actually have another that I struggle with, and that is defensiveness. But for now I’ll just focus on the Fourth Horseman.
What is Stonewalling?
Gottman explains stonewalling as
disengaging…not just refusing to give forms of acknowledgement, but flat out looking away or down without uttering a sound. The stonewaller acts as though he couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, if he even hears it.
Thought it has a place in politics, the definition of stonewalling is a verb that means to “delay or block (a request, process, or person) by refusing to answer questions or by giving evasive replies”.
Gottman’s definition is a little more extreme because he insinuates that the stonewaller doesn’t even give verbal or visual cues that they are paying attention.
When Do I Stonewall?
I am usually a good listener until I feel that I am being attacked or unjustly accused. This is one of the hardest things for my Type 1 personality to hear because my own inner critic (the superego) berates me incessantly all day.
It is then that I switch to a self-righteous mode of defensiveness, choosing not to listen to the other person’s words, but defending my innocence while shooting down the other person’s misconstrued version of a laughable reality.
What that means is that if I feel I am being attacked unjustly, or I feel my girlfriend’s voice is a couple clicks harsher, I get defensive.
Because I don’t feel like I deserve it.
Harsh tone = accusations. That’s the way my brain thinks-
“I can control my tone of voice and maintain my composure when I talk to her, she should be able to do the same with me. It’s common sense.Why don’t people understand that my way is the right way?!?!?!?!”
This is not good.
It is not healthy.
It is bigotry.
It is detrimental because it is a step short of shutting down and stonewalling.
Once I am exasperated with hearing the repeated “accusations” like I’m a little child I reach a point where I just shut down.
If I were to make a breadcrumb of this cycle it might look like this-
My girlfriend and I are talking about a problem > I feel her tone of voice change > A panic alarm is triggered in my brain > I get defensive and start to become aggravated > I hear repeated “attacks” and become more defensive > I reach a point where I feel I can no longer keep my composure and talk calmly > I disengage > I stonewall
If this were an actual computer breadcrumb, I would be able to go back to any of the previous “links” easy peasy. No problemo.
Not so in reality.
In fact I find that once I go to the next “crumb” in the trail, the door to the previous one closes.
And the handle is on the other side of the door.
Why Do I Stonewall?
I stonewall because it’s safe, I guess.
If I’m really being honest, I do it out of lack of emotional control. Or rather, not being able to command my emotions and put them in their place.
I know that once I reach the point of defensiveness, that’s my Rubicon – my point of no return, and at that point I realize stonewalling is next.
It’s the hardest thing in the world for me to pull back and gain control of my emotions and feelings, and I know I need to master this in my growth as a man.
It only happens with the Spirit’s help.
I need to call on Him more to get me through these times.
Do you have a particular “horseman” in YOUR relationship? Would you care to share in the Comments section? Thank you for taking your time to read this post.
My Angel, Oh My Angel
I spoke with my angel as she cried today.
Her heart was ripped in half.
Her relationship with her mom had tumbled.
And hope was at best a laugh.
“My mom made me, feel like a fool.”
I can’t take this anymore.
It hurts too much, it pains my soul.
It breaks me to the floor.
“And when hope comes back to fill my mind,
I want to run away.
She’s broke my trust, that’s it, I’m done.
I quit, that’s what I say.”
And to my friend I listened, her heart was ripped in half.
Her gentle, fragile soul was spent, hope was but a laugh.
I hugged her through the mobile line, as kindly as I could.
And loved her, held her, heard her,
standing by her through bad and good.