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Monday, March 3, 2014

Why did this happen to me?

Welcome to my first post of Mental Health March.

To be honest, I haven't had the time or energy to properly devote to something so near and dear to my heart, mental health.

Mental health issues take on many forms.


In my family, I mostly lived with depression, alcoholism and suicide. Sadly, those are the things I've seen in my life and the things I can speak of.

Insecurity is at the root of most of those issues, as it is in the following...abuse.

I have been editing this post for over a month. These are not my words. They are the words of someone who wishes to remain anonymous. This was not something easy for me to read, or edit on her behalf.  I have only changed wording, time lines and some scenarios to maintain her privacy. I am honored that she trusted me with something so personal.

As is my goal with every "Mental Health March" post, if it helps even one person - I am grateful.

I now give you...

Why did this happen to me?

I am not a stupid woman.
I am a college graduate, with high honors.
I come from a good family.
I did not grow up poor.
My parents are still married.
I am a successful business person.
I am accomplished.
I am smart.
I don't know how I got here or how I got out.  All I know is that I'm out. Thank God I am out.

When we first met, he was sweet.  Smart.  He graduated from the same school as I.  We met at a party and became fast friends.  I enjoyed his company and he seemed to enjoy mine.  The next thing I knew we were spending more and more time together.  We were in love.

I didn't recognize the signs.  I didn't understand why he suddenly didn't like any of my friends. We were all always together. They were his friends too. Something must have happened. Perhaps he didn't want to hurt me by letting me know what transpired. I respected his wishes. I stayed away. He was always so protective of me.


Then I realized that it was just the two of us.  It was always just the two of us. We didn't socialize with anyone I knew. Only his friends.

When we would go out to his company parties, I was no longer allowed to have a cocktail.  If I tried to order one, he would either down grade my order from a T&T to a wine spritzer.  Only one.  I've never been a big drinker.  Just at social events.  I didn't understand, but I respected his request.  Maybe there was an underlying issue that he didn't want to discuss with me. Was I acting in a way I hadn't noticed? He must be right, I must have been embarrassing him.

He also always ordered for me.  I was no longer allowed to have dessert.  It was going to my hips.  Maybe a nice salad would be better - and water.  Plenty of water.  The next thing I knew I went from a healthy size 8 to a scant size 0.  Yes, there really IS a size zero.

He was, after all, just looking out for me.

After we married, the bi-weekly dinner at my parent's house stopped.  My time with my family was also monitored. I often heard him tell my mom, on the phone, that I was not at home. I was sometimes upset by that, but realized he wanted me to be the center of his world. He loved me so much and wanted as much of me as I had to offer. I could talk to my mom another time - when he wasn't home. He wanted my time.

Things seemed to take a turn after I got my first big promotion. I'd worked really hard. He enjoyed the large salary I was bringing home, when it was less than his.  As soon as my salary and job title became what they were - he changed.  Everything changed.

He didn't like my work clothes.  They were too revealing.  That's why I got my promotion.  My boss was staring at my tits.  He was sure of it, so he generously offered to take me shopping, after he sliced every outfit I owned with the sheers from the kitchen drawer. He bought me a whole new wardrobe, which he chose.  Most of my clothes were too big on me anyway.  It was time for a change. That's what I told myself.

I wasn't much of a cook. I already knew this. I must have gotten it from my mother. He generously set time aside for me to go to cooking classes with his mother, at her house. I also got laundry folding classes and coupon clipping and grocery shopping lessons. I didn't find this too odd. I was a newly wed. I wanted my husband to be happy.

My mom was worried. She told me so. I dismissed it thinking she was being overly protective.

One day he came home from work to tell me that he'd accepted a job promotion in another state. I was devastated. I didn't see my friends or family as it was. It would be nearly impossible now. I supported my husband and celebrated his promotion. I smiled through and thought it an adventure. I gave notice at my job and began applying for positions in our new state.

Before we moved, my mother in law and I went shopping for a frame for our wedding photo.  I was so excited.  I absolutely LOVED the magnificent oak frame I picked for our photo.  It would match our bedroom perfectly.  On the day it arrived, I carefully unwrapped it and hung it right over our marital bed.

That was the beginning of the end.

When he came home, he noticed that the picture I had hanging over the bed was moved. Apparently it was a favorite. I didn't know. He also HATED the oak frame I'd picked. It was an awful, cheap looking, cheezy frame. I had awful taste and how dare I have his mother pay for such garbage.

He hit me over the head with that picture after he ripped it off the wall.

I won't go further into my world of horror - because this was not the last incident I'd endured. It was the first to make me aware that all of the prior "accidents" weren't so accidental. The abuse came fast and furious after that point - and I was alone. I was in another state. Away from my family, my friends, my life, my job - I had NOTHING but him. He knew it and I knew it. I had nothing. I became nothing.

I quickly snowballed into a shadow of my former self. My strong and assertive became meek and submissive. I was afraid. I felt ugly. I felt ashamed.

Today, I am out.  I was able to get out - but not without a plan.  You can get out.

I don't use the word abuse lightly. As Jenn has told me when I gave her this post, the word abuse has  become one of the new "buzz words" - I should be very careful on how I write this.  It's true. So many powerful words have been thrown around so much they've lost their power. I can relate.

Abuse is not - he / she hurt my feelings.  Abuse where someone is somehow able to key in on a single insecurity or weakness, and somehow twist it to a point where you are no longer in control of your own life.  Where you are being physically, mentally or emotionally injured.

It's more than "hurt feelings."


Abuse takes on many forms.  It's not just a "couples thing.  It can come in friendship relationships, work relationships, child abuse, elder abuse.

It's about control.


You should always be /feel in control of your own life - unless you are not of sound mind and / or body and genuinely need to rely on another. Even in that situation - you get a say.

You get to feel whole and like a genuine person. You get to be you.

This type of abuse isn't limited to women.  It can happen to anyone in a vulnerable state - making children and the elderly the easiest target for an abuser.

What to look out for:

An abuser doesn't come to you looking mean and scary.  An abuser usually swoops in at your weakest moment looking to be your hero or best friend. Male or female, it doesn't matter. They are smart / manipulative. They start off kind and sweet, offering you help or gifts. They want to be there for you when you are weak. Your weakness is their power, they thing they key in on. During your weakness, they are your healer. Your shoulder to cry on. The person you can rely on. It is in that weakness and vulnerability that they find their control and are able to manipulate you like clay into whatever they want.

Most abusers are insecure individuals looking to feel or appear important.  Knocking down someone stronger than them is a feather in their cap.

An abuser will first try to separate / divide you from what you are most comfortable with; your friends, your family, your job, your hobbies, under the guise that it's all about you and/or how much they want to be with you.  They are trying to "protect" you. It starts out subtly until you realize you haven't seen or spoken to any one else in months.

You lose yourself and everything you ever knew.

You can get out. I got out. If you can learn the things that you need to do to to keep him/her for getting angry and hurting you, you can learn an escape plan. If you are strong enough to stay, you are strong enough to leave.

Talk to someone you love and trust. Get out!

No one should have the power to control you or your life beside you.

Don't let anyone else dim your light.

~Anonymous

Thank you, Anonymous, for your words and your generous contribution to Mental Health March. I am not sure if anyone realizes how big a part insecurity plays in mental health issues or the damage it can do in another's life.

There isn't much I can add to this other than to say that if you are a victim of abuse or neglect, or know someone who is, please reach out.

Safe Horizon is just one organization that can offer you help and direction:  1.800.621.HOPE (4673)

National Domestic Help Hotline:  1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
National Center on Elder Abuse:  1-855-500-3537 (ELDR)

If you are in a bad situation, I urge you to take these words seriously.  You are amazing and important.

Thank you again, anonymous, for baring yourself here in my blog.

Thank the rest of you for supporting my blog!

~Jenn

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5 comments:

  1. Wow. That's all I can say. Awesome post

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  2. I'm so glad you were brave enough to write this post and share it. And to include so clearly the steps which occur on the way down the path to being isolated and abused. I hope it makes all the difference some day, as someone recognises a mirror of their own life, and stops things in their tracks before it gets too bad.

    HUGE kudos to you for this. And I'm glad you escaped :)

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  3. This is a tremendous post. I am so glad to see that you got free of the situation. Like Lizzi, I think that the way you describe how your husband gradually took more and more control will very useful to anyone who might be in the early stages of a relationship like this. I hope it was also helpful for you to write it. I recently wrote about a time I was held hostage and during the writing I realised the guy who committed that crime had used manipulation and power to get me into the situation he wanted. It's not at all easy to see when you are in it.

    Thanks for a great post!

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    Replies
    1. I have genuinely tried to respond to this twice. I am so happy you are also out! Thank you so much for reading & responding. I wish you love & peace <3

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