stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

stayed so long in psychologically abusive relationship

 

It has been a little over 15 months since it occurred to me that I needed to escape.

That staying with a controlling, and psychologically abusive person was harming my kids more in the long run, than the effects of leaving and starting a whole new life would.

That maybe, just maybe, if I had the strength to endure this treatment for so many years, that I could find the strength to leave.

And so I left.. or started the grueling process of leaving.

Over a year later the most common question I’ve been asked, “Why did you stay?”

So for those of you that have never been in a relationship like this one, that sadly so many of us have been, I thought I would try to answer that burning question.

Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

Many assume it is simply the idea of breaking up a family that keeps us in the cycle of abuse. But I am here to say .. no… that is not what made me stay.

Forgive me as my ability to express myself in writing has never been my strong suit.. but here goes.

We stay because we have been controlled and manipulated to believe that we have no other viable options. There are often elements of financial control among a lot of other seemingly simple reasons that keep us in “it”. But they are not simple…not simple at all.

I can only speak on my own behalf here but I suspect that others will be able to relate on some level.

Poor self-worth. Fear. The belief deep down, from years of damage, that we are not worthy of anything better. That we are not strong enough, on our own, to provide for ourselves and/ our kids. Our identity has been slowly taken away, piece by piece until we no longer know who we are, what we want, and most importantly, what we are capable of.

It began for me as small bits of mind control that left me dependent and uncertain.

It got so deeply ingrained into my subconscious mind that I was not good enough or strong enough. These small acts that I endured on a daily basis reaffirmed, in my damaged and vulnerable mind, exactly what my abuser wanted me to feel. Doubtful, scared, and unworthy.

But because each of these small bits of exposure are just that.. small.. especially at first… it became the norm for me. I forgot how to challenge my own thoughts. Forgot how my own beautiful intuition worked. The supposed “red flags” people warned me about. I was made to feel those were endearing ways that my abuser used to show his love. My value slowly changed .. it became based on pleasing my abuser as opposed to rocking the boat.

My own “gut” feeling was slowly reprogrammed to accept that this was love and totally normal.

Each incident, each cycle, that often ended with a “honeymoon” phase of attention, affection, and a brief break from the actual abuse, told me that I must be crazy to feel this was wrong. That he loved me, look at all he is doing to show me his love.

This is all part of the game of control.

The words of affirmation that came in those moments were used to fuck up my instincts. To make me convince myself that I must be wrong. And hence..”gut”, “intuition”, “red flags” were all my own broken thoughts. That there is no way that this could be bad when he clearly loves me soooo much. WRONG!!

Bit by bit the small bits became bigger bits. Looking in, looking back now from a safe and happy place, I can see that. But in those years and years that I endured this, when I thought I was becoming stronger I was actually becoming more and more used to this abuse. It became so normal and routine that it no longer even felt concerning. It was just how love worked.

In fact, if it was slightly muted because maybe he was distracted by a new job or business, it felt weird and uncomfortable for me. So then I would try harder to please and conform and seek the abuse and control that was slowly killing me on the inside because it was how I thought love was meant to be shown.

Abuse became my love language.

Insane right? How could that be? Well, friends, that is how it works. Manipulation and control slowly eat away at your soul until it no longer is your own soul at all.

In a strange twist of events, it finally occurred to me one day when my young child was verbally abusive and disrespectful and I thought to myself “how dare you treat another human, especially your mom, this way. Where do you get off thinking this is okay?”

OMG .. somewhere inside of me the “fight or flight” mode that humans are wired with, but abuse victims are rewired to deactivate, was switched back on. How on earth could I have been so stupid to not see what had been happening all these years until this very moment? And what the actual fuck do I do about it now that I have children, absolutely no financial control, and no self-esteem or self-worth.

I am the lucky one. The one that is surrounded by caring and loving friends and family. The one that finally found the strength to realize that the “how” and “when” didn’t matter anymore. Only the “why” mattered now.  Why I had to get the fuck out is the “why” that I mean.

Some of us are not so lucky.

Some of us may never have an “aha moment” that triggers that fight or flight mode back into action. The programming that is done day after day, year after year, is so damn hard to breakthrough. Some of us are not surrounded by loving and caring friends and family that we know will help us pick up the pieces of our broken lives and put them back together. Some of us are not so lucky, and that type of abuse turns into physical violence, and we feel even more trapped and damaged and afraid.

ALL of us need to remember that we never can tell what goes on behind closed doors. That one simple and kind gesture might be enough to show the “unlucky” one the real, kind, caring love that they deserve and be the switch flipper they need to reactivate fight or flight mode.

To this day I am struggling with uncovering more and more ways that this abuser scarred me. I am easily triggered, it is hard for me to know what real and healthy love and relationships feel like. It has been HARD AS FUCK to remember the fierce, confident, self-assured, smart, in control of her own thoughts, independent, and brave woman that used to live in this body.

So thank you to those that put up with my pushing them away year after year, and thank you to those that never gave up on that woman that was hiding away inside that scared and abused mind, and thank you to those that have pushed me to see my potential, and thank you to those that have shown me what true healthy love should feel like and look like, and thank you to those that remind me that I am worth it, and thank you to those that do not give up on me and my kids because they know we deserve to be surrounded by loving and caring and supportive people, and thank you to those that kick my ass on days that I forget all of this took so much fucking strength that getting through the rest of life should be a breeze in comparison.

I will tell you that it takes more courage and strength to leave and to find that woman again than it did to endure that abuse year after year.  I will also tell you that if any tiny part of this feels like your life, you are fucking worth it, and if I can do it, you can too.

The post Why I Stayed So Long In a Psychologically Abusive Relationship appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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why we can love someone abusive

Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay

why we can love someone abusive

 

Falling in love happens to us; usually, before we really know our partner; It happens to us because we’re at the mercy of unconscious forces, commonly referred to as “chemistry.”

Don’t judge yourself for loving someone who doesn’t treat you with care and respect, because by the time the relationship turns abusive, you’re attached and want to maintain your connection and love. There may have been hints of abuse at the beginning that were overlooked because abusers are good at seduction and wait until they know we’re hooked before showing their true colors.

By then, our love is cemented and doesn’t die easily. It’s possible and even probable to know we’re unsafe and still love an abuser. Research shows that even victims of violence on average experience seven incidents before permanently leaving their abusive partner.

It can feel humiliating to stay in an abusive relationship. Those who don’t understand ask why we love someone abusive and why we stay. We don’t have good answers. But there are valid reasons. Our motivations are outside our awareness and control because we’re wired to attach for survival. These instincts control our feelings and behavior.

Why We Love Someone Abusive

Denial of Abuse to Survive

If we weren’t treated with respect in our family and have low self-esteem, we will tend to deny the abuse. We won’t expect to be treated better than how were controlled, demeaned, or punished by a parent. Denial doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s happening. Instead, we minimize or rationalize it and/or its impact.

We may not realize it’s actually abuse. Research shows we deny for survival to stay attached and procreate for survival of the species. Facts and feelings that would normally undermine love are minimized or twisted so that we overlook them or blame ourselves in order to keep loving. By appeasing our partner and connecting to love, we stop hurting. Love is rekindled and we feel safe again.

Projection, Idealization, and Repetition Compulsion

When we fall in love, if we haven’t worked through trauma from our childhood, we’re more susceptible to idealizing our partner when dating. It’s likely that we will seek out someone who reminds us of a parent with whom we have unfinished business, not necessary of our opposite-sex parent.

We might be attracted to someone who has aspects of both parents. Our unconscious is trying to mend our past by reliving it in the hopes that we’ll master the situation and receive the love we didn’t get as a child. This helps us overlook signs that would be predictive of trouble.

The Cycle of Abuse

After an abusive episode, often there’s a honeymoon period. This is part of the Cycle of Abuse. The abuser may seek connection and act romantic, apologetic, or remorseful. Regardless, we’re relieved that there’s peace for now. We believe promises that it will never happen again, because we want to and because we’re wired to attach. The breach of the emotional bond feels worse than the abuse. We yearn to feel connected again.

Often the abuser professes to love us. We want to believe it and feel reassured about the relationship, hopeful, and lovable. Our denial provides an illusion of safety. This is called the “Merry-Go-Round” of denial that happens in alcoholic relationships after a bout of drinking followed by promises of sobriety.

Low Self-Esteem

Due to low self-esteem, we believe the abuser’s belittling, blame, and criticisms, which further lessen our self-esteem and confidence in our own perceptions. They intentionally do this for power and control. We’re brainwashed into thinking we have to change in order to make the relationship work.

We blame ourselves and try harder to meet the abuser’s demands. We may interpret sexual overtures, crumbs of kindness, or just absence of abuse as signs of love or hope that the relationship will improve. Thus, as trust in ourselves declines, our idealization and love for an abuser remain intact. We may even doubt that we could find anything better.

Empathy for the Abuser

Many of us have empathy for the abuser, but not for ourselves. We are unaware of our needs and would feel ashamed asking for them. This makes us susceptible to manipulation if an abuser plays the victim, exaggerates guilt, shows remorse, blames us, or talks about a troubled past (they usually have one). Our empathy feeds our denial system by supplying justification, rationalization, and minimization of the pain we endure.

Most victims hide the abuse from friends and relatives to protect the abuser, both out of empathy and shame about being abused. Secrecy is a mistake and gives the abuser more power.

Positive Aspects

Undoubtedly the abuser and the relationship have positive aspects that we enjoy or miss, especially the early romance and good times. We recall or look forward to their recurrence if we stay. We imagine if only he or she would control his or her anger, or agree to get help, or just change one thing, everything would be better. This is our denial.

Often abusers are also good providers, offer a social life, or have special talents. Narcissists can be exceedingly interesting and charming.  Many spouses claim that they enjoy the narcissist’s company and lifestyle despite the abuse. People with a borderline personality can light up your life with excitement . . . when they’re in a good mood. Sociopaths can pretend to be whatever you want . . . for their own purposes. You won’t realize what they’re up to for some time.

Intermittent Reinforcement and Trauma Bonding

When we receive occasional and unpredictable positive and negative intermittent reinforcement, we keep looking for the positive. It keeps us addictively hooked. Partners may be emotionally unavailable or have an avoidant attachment style. They may periodically want closeness. After a wonderful, intimate evening, they pull away, shut down, or are abusive. When we don’t hear from the person, we become anxious and keep seeking closeness. We mislabel our pain and longing as love.

Especially people with a personality disorder might intentionally do this to manipulate and control us with rejection or withholding. Then they randomly fulfill our needs. We become addicted to seeking a positive response.

Over time, periods of withdrawal are longer, but we’re trained to stay, walk on eggshells, and wait and hope for connection. This is called “trauma bonding” due to repeated cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates emotional bonds that resist change.

It explains why abusive relationships are the most difficult to leave, and we become codependent on the abuser. We may completely lose ourselves trying to please and not displease the abuser. Bits of kindness or closeness feel all the more poignant (like make-up sex) because we’re been starved and are relieved to feel loved. This feeds the Cycle of Abuse.

Abusers will turn on the charm if you threaten to leave, but it’s just another temporary ploy to reassert control. Expect to go through withdrawal after you leave. You may still miss and love the abuser.

When we feel completely under the control of the abuser and can’t escape from physical injury, we can develop “Stockholm Syndrome,” a term applied to captives. Any act of kindness or even absence of violence feels like a sign of friendship and being cared for. The abuser seems less threatening. We imagine we’re friends and can love the abuser, believing we’re in this together.

This occurs in intimate relationships that are less perilous due to the power of chemistry, physical attraction, and sexual bonding. We’re loyal to a fault. We want to protect the abuser whom we’re attached to rather than ourselves. We feel guilty talking to outsiders, leaving the relationship, or calling the police. Outsiders who try to help feel threatening.

For example, counselors and Twelve-Step Programs may be viewed as interlopers who “want to brainwash and separate us.” This reinforces the toxic bond and isolates us from help . . . what the abuser wants!

Steps You Can Take

If you feel trapped in a relationship or can’t get over your ex:

  • Seek support and professional help. Attend CoDA meetings.
  • Get information and challenge your denial.
  • Report violence and take steps to protect yourself from violence and emotional abuse.
  • When you miss the abuser or are longing for attention, in your mind substitute the parent whom you’re projecting on your partner. Write about and grieve that relationship.
  • Be more loving to yourself. Meet your needs.
  • Learn to set boundaries.

©Darlene Lancer 2019

The post Why We Can Love Someone Abusive And Why We Stay appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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order of protection

4 Things You Need To Know About An Order Of Protection

order of protection

 

Otherwise known as a restraining order, an order of protection is a legal document that limits the contact one individual can have with another. The laws pertaining to restraining orders are different in each state. In the state of New York, an order of protection is an order from the court that tells a person the amount of contact he or she can have with another person. It also states what he or she is not allowed to do to the other person.

The amount of contact allowed will depend on the case. In some cases, there will be some contact permitted, while in others, no contact will be allowed at all. An order of protection is meant to limit the behavior of the person who may threaten or harm to another individual.

Both family courts and criminal courts possess the power to institute an order of protection. Your divorce lawyer can assist you in this legal process.

How Is an Order of Protection Obtained?

Start by contacting your divorce lawyer, so they can help differentiate which orders of protection will work best for your specific circumstance. You will need a professional attorney to back you up in court.

An order of protection in a criminal court will be issued against this person who has committed a crime. Should they commit this crime, contact the police immediately. The terms and conditions of the order of protection will be determined in the Criminal Court.

To get an order of protection through a Family Court, you must have a particular relationship with the individual whom you are issuing an order against. Specifically, here are the relationships we mean:

  • Spouses (either current or former).
  • A family member who is blood-related or related by marriage.
  • Individuals who have had children together.
  • Having a current or former intimate relationship (this is more than a casual relationship, but does not have to be sexual. The court will determine the state of the relationship when given the details).

Make sure that before filing a case in court, you contact a legal professional that has your best interests in mind.

How Long is The Order of Protection Valid?

Initially, you may receive a temporary order of protection. When the case comes to an end, the court may issue a final order of protection. This may last anywhere from one year to several years depending on the case.

What Can I Do if an Order of Protection is Violated?

Violating an order of protection is against the law. Violation is considered a crime and should be reported to the police. You should contact your divorce lawyer in Plainview right away if your order of protection has been violated.

Can The Details of an Order of Protection Be Changed?

The court who issued the order of protection can make changes according to the details of the case. The court may add or limit child visitations. The court may also change the wording in the order such as changing “refrain from” to “stay away” or vice versa. The order can also be extended if needed.

Who Can Help?

Legal professionals can help you in filing for an order of protection. With the help of a top-quality attorney that specializes in family and matrimonial litigation, you can have all bases covered. You should not have to live your life in fear or discomfort with the looming thought that you’ll have to deal with a particular individual. So do not feel ashamed to reach out for help because you do have options. With the help of a divorce lawyer, you can ensure that you are getting as much space as you need.

The post 4 Things You Need To Know About An Order Of Protection appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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domestic violence and children

Domestic Violence And Children: What Is The Impact?

domestic violence and children

 

Domestic Violence should never be taken lightly. While the severity may range, it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the situation. The way victims choose to respond varies as well. Some victims wait before seeking help, others may immediately look for guidance, and unfortunately, some may never even report the incident(s). It’s important to let those victims know though that there is support out there.

By allowing an abusive relationship to continue, you could be putting yourself and your family in an even worse position. When victims opt to not ask for help, it not only puts them in a bad situation but their children as well. We don’t always acknowledge how children tend to be indirect victims when it comes to domestic violence. Even if the kids aren’t the target for physical or abusive behavior in the home, they can still suffer socially and psychologically.

If you or someone you know is suffering through domestic violence with kids at home, it’s important to know there are people ready to help. Taking legal action can only benefit you and your kids when it comes to escaping the cruelties of domestic violence in the home.

Domestic Violence and Children Who Witness It

While victims of domestic violence take the brunt of the abuse, kids living in the home will suffer also. This is why getting in touch with a divorce lawyer is extremely important. While it may not always be physical, just being present during a negative situation can lead to problems in the future. The effect of observing domestic violence has on kids ranges. If your kids are living in a home with domestic violence, they may end up with some of the following issues:

  • They could develop their own violent tendencies
    • To others or even themselves
  • Experience feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Displaying delinquent behavior
    • Such as aggression towards their peers and family members
  • Struggle developing social skills
  • Stunted development of their motor and cognitive skills
  • Delays in speech development

While it may not be apparent to your child what’s actually going on, it will eventually begin to impact them negatively. Which will lead them to struggle in their adult lives. Issues the involve feeling safe or even forming relationships may arise as they grow up. They could also end up in abusive relationships themselves, due to the secrets and hush tendencies they witnessed in their homes throughout their adolescence.

The age difference:

Keep in mind that the negative effects we previously discussed may not always occur, depending on the age of your child. The stage of life your child is experiencing or witnessing abuse can lead to different issues or needs. For example, an infant who is present during an episode of domestic violence may experience attachment issues. This could lead to excessive crying as well as eating and sleeping difficulties.

Whereas a preschool-aged child may experience different effects after being present during episodes of domestic violence. At this stage of the child’s life, they are in need of protection and stability, which normally would be provided by their parent. Unfortunately though, when they live in a home where domestic violence is common, these needs become disrupted causing further emotional and physical outbursts.

Contact a lawyer:

In most cases of domestic abuse, there are legitimate grounds for divorce, especially if there are children are involved. As long as the victim(s) are actively reporting the incidents, they’ll have the right to leave the violent offender. By contacting a lawyer, you’ll obtain full custody of your children or child.

If you, or someone you know, is a married victim of domestic violence, with children there is a team of attorneys ready to help. A qualified professional can help you take action towards ending the abuse going on in your home by initiating the divorce process in a safe manner.

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domestic abuse victim

How Should Domestic Abuse Victims Handle Divorce?

domestic abuse victim

 

Domestic abuse typically occurs behind closed doors. If you have experienced continued emotional or physical abuse from your partner, do not remain silent any longer. It’s time for you to experience a sense of calmness and security; it’s time for a divorce.

If you are a domestic abuse victim seeking a divorce, you will need a compassionate yet professional lawyer by your side, every step of the way. They can help protect your rights as well as help you feel safe in your life even after the divorce has been settled.

Different types of abuse:

Abuse has been defined as a pattern of behavior displayed by one person in an effort to gain and maintain control over another. Take note that when we say a pattern of behavior, we mean that this is something that is occurring more than once. While it is easy to assume physical or violent behaviors when talking about abuse, it is important to know there are many different ways your partner can be abusing you.

You may not even realize that you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship if you only consider physical or violent behavior as abuse.

Below we’re going to discuss some of the behaviors your partner may be exhibiting that fall under the term abuse:

  • Physical Abuse – This can include punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, physically restraining someone against their will, driving recklessly with your partner in the car, or in general making someone feel physically unsafe.
  • Sexual Abuse – While sexual abuse can be physical, it can also be non-physical as well. This can include rape, forced sexual acts, withholding sex, using sex as a weapon or even to pass judgment or assign value. Not only can sexual abuse have an effect on your body, but it can take a huge toll on your emotions and mental state.
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse – These types of abuse may be harder to spot, but using words against your partner can cause severe emotional damage that can take a long time to recover from. This can include spreading lies, calling someone stupid or ugly, or even talking down to your partner.
  • Mental Psychological – In this case, your partner is likely abusing you through actions or words that have been attacking your sense of mental health and wellbeing.
  • Financial/Economic – Abusers will find any way possible to maintain their control, this can include controlling your households budgeting, not allowing you to have access to accounts, withholding spending money, preventing you from having a job or earning your own money.
  • Cultural/Identity – You partner may be using your identity or cultural beliefs as a way to cause you to suffer or control you. This can include not allowing you to follow dietary customs, preventing you from dressing accordingly to your beliefs, using racial slurs, threating to out them to their friends and family.

How Should Domestic Abuse Victims Handle Divorce?

Where do I start?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you need to find the courage within yourself to advocate for your own rights and happiness. The first thing to ask yourself is if you feel physically safe in the environment in which you live. If you live with your spouse and feel threatened by potential violence from your spouse, you must seek safety before anything else. You may wish to call the police. It is only after you feel safe that you should look into legal matters.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Once you are in a safe environment, it is best to begin your search for a lawyer as soon as possible. Seeking assistance quickly regarding divorce can help you battle legal matters and gain freedom in your life. You’ll be able to sort through the following topics:

  • Child Custody – It is likely that if someone is abusing their partner, they will potentially abuse their child sometime in their life. A lawyer can make sure both you and your child/children are protected from the abuser.
  • Division of Marital Property – In some cases, the behavior of the abuser can impact the outcome of how the property is divided, giving the victim the larger share.
  • Order of Protection – A lawyer can help you file for an order of protection against your abuser. It will state that your abuser cannot have contact with you. Having an order of protection can help you feel safe during and after the divorce process.

Seek Assistance:

Do not feel trapped in an unhealthy, abusive marriage. Muster up the courage to find a lawyer who supports you throughout the entire legal process in order to end your unhappiness and worry. Going through the court system can be an effective way to end your marriage as well as feeling like someone has your back during this time. Find the strength to save yourself from domestic violence and live the life you want.

It’s time to take action. If you or someone you know is caught up in an abusive relationship, know there is a way out. Asking for help shouldn’t be something you are afraid of. Get in touch with a legal team who cares about you, and your well being.

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58 signs you may be codependent

Codependent Relationships: 58 Signs You May Be Codependent

58 signs you may be codependent

 

Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, abusive behavior, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

According to Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, “As professionals began to understand codependency better, more groups of people seem to have it. Adult children of alcoholics, people in relationships with emotionally disturbed people, people in relationships with irresponsible people and people in relationships with abusive people.”

Basically, a codependent is a person who gives more in a relationship than they get and holds onto the hope that their partner will change. Codependents enable, make excuses and make the relationship problems worse due to their inability to care more for themselves than they do their relationship partner or, the relationship.

Divorce court dockets are filled with people wondering what they could have done differently to save their marriages. If you are codependent, there is always something you can do to make things better, regardless of how darn bad a marriage gets. Are you codependent?

Below are 62 Signs You May Be a Codependent:

1. You know you are codependent when your therapists tell you to take back your life and you think, “I have to get a life first!”

2. You know you are codependent when you honestly think you can change your abuser and that someday your abuser will come through for you. All you have to do is hang in there!

3. You know you are codependent when things are going well but you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

4. You know you are codependent when you jump through hoops and you aren’t even in the circus.

5. You know you are codependent when “I’m a Slave For You” is your favorite Britney Spears song.

6. You know you are codependent when you starve at an all-you-can-eat buffet because your partner can’t find anything they want to eat.

7. You know you are codependent when someone asks you, “What do you think?” and you are baffled because you haven’t given it much thought.

8. You know you are codependent when it is your birthday party and you go out of your way to see if everyone is enjoying themselves.

9. You know you are codependent when your motto is “whatever it takes”.

10. You know you are codependent when you get a sex change because your partner decides, suddenly, that they are gay. You go above and beyond to keep a lover happy!

11. You know you are codependent when your least favorite song is Mary J. Blige’s song, “No More Drama”.

12. You know you are codependent when you develop spondylitis because of the sack of guilt on your back.

13. You know you are codependent when your favorite childhood game was “SORRY”.

14. You know you are codependent when you love the cologne “Obsession”.

15. You know you are codependent when you have just come out of major surgery with the operation taking longer than expected and you feel guilty that your partner had to wait additional time.

16. You know you are codependent when you have 200 channels to pick from but you hand the remote to your partner.

17. You know you are codependent when you are told you are indecisive. You initially deny this then you say, “I am not indecisive…am I?”

18. You know you are codependent when you are from a warm climate yet you live in a place with a freezing weather 9 months out of the year because your partner has a weird fixation with sledding.

19. You know you are codependent when you apply for a job and the interviewer says, “Tell me a little about yourself” and you proceed to tell them about your partner’s love of hunting, skiing, and baseball.

20. You know you are codependent when you deny the first dance with your wife at your wedding reception because your mother is pouting in the corner because no one is paying her any attention.

21. You know you are codependent when you train intensely for a marathon and on the day of the event, you don’t run it because your partner is having a moment.

22. You know you are codependent when you apply for a “catering” job and your potential boss ask you if you have any experience and you reply, “Plenty”.

You know you are codependent when you hate country music but love the song, “Stand by Your Man”.

24. You know you are codependent when you think “Pleasant dreams” is an oxymoron.

25. You know you are codependent when your favorite Led Zeppelin song is “Ramble On”.

26. You know you are codependent when you could relate to the Secret Service for “taking a bullet” for protecting your guy. The only difference is they get paid for it.

27. You know you are codependent when you respect Paul Simon but don’t get it when he sings about “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”.

28. You know you are codependent when your dad doesn’t give you any credit. He runs down your new fella saying he is not ambitious enough yet you are dating Pete Cashmore.

29. You know you are codependent when you apologize to your therapist for “talking too much” yet you are paying him/her for the privilege of talking.

30. You know you are codependent when you love the Beatles song, “We Can Work it Out”. It is your relationship anthem!

31. You know you are codependent when your therapist tells you to love yourself unconditionally and you come up with, “what else you got”?

32. You know you are codependent when you compare talking about yourself to The Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz” losing the plot when Dorothy threw water on her.

33. You know you are codependent when you are attracted to irresponsible, rude bad boys who put you in your place and 20 years later you are still taking it.

34. You know you are codependent when your therapist develops writer’s cramp when you start listing all the things you hate about yourself.

35. You know you are codependent when you are raised in a “no talk of feelings” type of family and you tell your partner that your parents did the “best they could”.

36. You know you are codependent when stalking laws were written with you in mind. Get out from behind that bush!

37. You know you are codependent when the school bully takes your lunch money every day for a year but you forgive him because he has had a tough time of it at home.

38. You know you are codependent when your partner gives you flowers every time he cheats on you and now you have enough flowers to open up your own garden center. And, he is still cheating.

39. You know you are codependent when your drill instructor calls you a “no good, walking the dog, lowlife scumbag who doesn’t have what it takes” and you are impressed with his insight.

40. You know you are codependent when you easily forgive your parents because let’s not forget they had it so bad when they were growing up BUT you can’t give yourself a break on anything.

41. You know you are codependent when your favorite CD is Janet Jackson’s “Control”.

42. You know you are codependent when you have more issues than DC Comics.

43. You know you are codependent when you give great advice but you don’t practice what you preach.

44. You know you are codependent when you want to see your favorite group Santana in concert. You choose not to go when you see the name of the concert is, “An Intimate Evening With Santana” because you don’t do intimacy.

45. You know you are codependent when you seek out people who are emotionally unavailable. The irony is they think you are too emotional.

46. You know you are codependent when you work out to “If I Can’t Have You I Don’t Want Nobody, Baby” by Yvonne Elliman.

47. You know you are codependent when you can relate to a puppet because someone is always pulling your strings.

48. You know you are codependent when the people you admire are looked down on by other people.

49. You know you are codependent when your mother talks shit about you, yet you go out of your way to get her something nice for Mother’s day because deep down she, “really cares.”

50. You know you are codependent when you always reward your abusers for bad behavior.

51. You know you are codependent when you live by the expression “he isn’t so bad once you get to know him.”

52. You know you are codependent when you receive praise and scratch it off like a dog with fleas.

53. You know you are codependent when your mom tells you that you are weak for needing help and you think she has a point.

54. You know you are codependent when you don’t realize you have the strength to rid yourself of your abuser.

55. You know you are codependent when the title of the song “Sacrifice” by Elton John describes you.

56. You know you are codependent when you hang out at bars and attract all the damaged women who need to be rescued and, you think you got lucky.

57. You know you are codependent when you don’t do yourself any favors.

58. You know you are codependent when, after reading this list, you still can’t acknowledge your codependency.

The post Codependent Relationships: 58 Signs You May Be Codependent appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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the narcissistic parent

The 10 Commandments Of The Narcissistic Parent

the narcissistic parent

 

My son walked into the room and handed me the phone. “Dad can’t talk right now; he just poured a bowl of cereal and doesn’t want it to get soggy.” My ex, who hadn’t talked to his son in twelve days, was more concerned about his cereal becoming soggy than a few moments of communication with his child. That is what it is like to co-parent with a narcissist.

In fact, there is very little co-parenting that occurs, most of your time is spent attempting to undo the damage a narcissist can do to his children. The narcissistic parent isn’t capable of “normal” paternal instincts. They view their children as objects meant to fulfill the narcissist’s needs, instead of the other way around.

A couple of years ago I found the list below on a blog that is no longer online. I’ve not read a more appropriate description of how the narcissistic parents. If you are divorced from a narcissist, I suggest you print out The 10 Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent and tape it to your frig. You will be referencing it often!

The Ten Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent:

  • I am who I tell you I am.
  • You will tell me things I want to hear or you will not be heard.
  • You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken.
  • Love is conditional upon the aforementioned.
  • Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death.
  • There is only one road in and out of here.
  • Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys.
  • Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die.
  • Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good.
  • Narcissism is a myth.

Let’s go over each briefly. Allow me to add my own two cents to what Jay wrote based on real-life experience.

I am who I tell you I am:

Our children learned this about their father the hard way. I don’t suppose there is an easy way! Their father would say one thing, do another and when they questioned his behavior, he would become highly offended. He thinks of himself as a loving, involved father even though he goes years without contact with his children.

In his mind, he is loving and involved but doesn’t see or talk to his children because they have the audacity to point out to him that “loving and involved” fathers behave in a loving and involved manner. Since his children are people who know he is not who he tells them he is, he chooses to surround himself with people who will believe he is who he tells them he is.

Confusing huh? Imagine being a child and attempting to intellectualize and rationalize such behavior from a parent.

You will tell me things I want to hear, or you will not be heard:

Refer to the example above. Our children didn’t tell their father he was a loving and involved parent, so he know refuses to hear anything they have to say. He ignores text messages, doesn’t respond to emails. He is completely out of touch because they failed to tell him what he wanted to hear.

You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken:

This is the one that does the most damage. The narcissistic parent places no value on his children’s feelings. When we don’t value other people’s feelings our actions can do irreparable damage to those people. Our son was upset over something his father wrote him in an email. He responded and told his father, “Dad, when you say things like that, it hurts my feelings.”

His father responded and told our son, “I am not responsible for your feelings.” And then he went on to explain to the child just how unreasonable it was for his son to expect him to care about his feelings. You can’t tell a child in one voice, “I love you” and then tell them “If your feelings got hurt it is your fault” in the next and expect that child to not be emotionally damaged.

Love is conditional upon the aforementioned:

Yes, if a child refuses to feel the way the narcissistic parent needs them to feel, love, attention, caring, concern, all will be withheld. The bad news for the narcissist, children eventually adjust and move on.

That old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” works against the narcissist. I can, thankfully say that as adults our children rarely think about or mention their father. When you withdraw your love from someone they will eventually “let go” of their love for you.

Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death:

The narcissist alludes to intimacy without becoming fully engaged in intimacyTrue intimacy with another person means allowing yourself to become vulnerable, emotionally dependent.

Vulnerability and dependency are the kiss of death to the narcissist. Your child will love the narcissistic parent; the narcissistic parent is only able to love what the child can do for him.

There is only one road in and out of here:

And, it is a bumpy road! The road out is far more difficult to navigate.

Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys:

My ex replaced our children with a step-daughter. She reveres him, she extols his wonderfulness. She is much like his children were before the divorce. She will forever be the recipient of his goodness, until she questions a behavior or, disagrees with a belief. When that happens, she will learn how bumpy that road out can get.

Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die:

When my ex and I divorced in his mind I was dead. I was no longer an object that was of any use to him so any needs, feelings or desires I had become of no consequence to him. Since I was no longer important to him, he felt our children should view me through his eyes…I was someone who didn’t matter.

He could not co-parent with me; doing so would mean acknowledging me as an individual outside himself. To him I am not an autonomous human being, I’m something he tired of and discarded. The fact that our children love me and refused to also abandon their relationship with me plays an important role in his inability to continue to have a relationship with them.

Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good:

When we divorced our children were 14 and 7 years old. The older child was quick to call his father out for hurtful behavior. The younger child made excuses and did whatever he could to keep his father happy. All the younger child cared about was spending time with his Dad. Due to that he detached himself from the emotional pain and focused on pleasing his father.

Our older child individuated, became separate from his brother and had to be done away with emotionally. Our older son is now 33 years old. His father has rarely acknowledged him since the divorce. He came to his high school graduation after 4 years of never attending a parent/teacher meeting, extracurricular activity, regular visitation and refusing to enter into counseling. That is the only time since our divorce that he has shown interest in our older child.

His child was “hunted down” and “slaughtered” emotionally.

Narcissism is a myth:

I believe that a narcissist knows they are different. They realize they are unable to form normal emotional attachments with others. Admitting to that difference would mean becoming vulnerable to the opinions of others. It is for that reason that most narcissists will deny their disorder.

The narcissist is awesome, just ask him. Awesome people don’t have personality disorders dontcha know? For the narcissist, any relationship problems are about YOU, certainly not about them and their awesome selves.

I tell clients who are co-parenting with a narcissist to keep their expectations low. Don’t expect the narcissist to tackle parenting with the same parental instincts they have.

And, never believe that you can “get through” to the narcissist and hold them accountable. Focus on your parental duties, be diligent in cleaning up the emotional messes the narcissist leaves behind and get your children into therapy. They are going to need it!

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When Sex Abuse Victims Aren

What Happens When Sex Abuse Victims Aren’t Supported And Nurtured?

When Sex Abuse Victims Aren't Supported And Nurtured

 

Three weeks ago, I wanted your decision to call off the engagement, to be about me-about something I did or didn’t do.  Three weeks ago, I began the inner dialogue of playing the ‘what if’ game:  “What if I had sent a more loving text?”; “What if I had sat closer to him at soccer practice?”; “What if I had planned a romantic weekend instead of buying Valentine’s Day gifts?”

Three weeks ago, I was drowning in self-doubt and self-blame. I thought about all of my flaws: my middle-aged after three children body, my short-temper, my overly analytical mind.

Three weeks ago I needed something tangible, something I could isolate- an exact moment when I destroyed the relationship. This discovery would empower me: it would give me control.  If I had this tidbit, then I would not be a victim again. I would protect myself.  I would use this as a reminder to what I had learned so many times: never be vulnerable; always be vigilant.

My vigilance was complete and steady until recently. 

I fully blame the media for my change in heart. I was inundated with another v-word- vulnerability.  Vulnerability was all the buzz when it came to unlocking the secrets to finding and keeping love.

Studies were conducted, articles and books were written, T.V. shows and documentaries were made. All of these purported the same message: Vulnerability is key to a true connection.  But, I am a hard sell.  It wasn’t until I went to see a long-awaited film that I gave this notion some real thought.

In late October, on a really bad date, I went to see the film A Star Is Born. I was absolutely stunned by the performances both actors gave. It wasn’t just the vocals or the acting- although both were superb-rather, it was the lesson they learned.

The characters, both struggling with their own demons, together find their way out of hell by letting down their guard and trusting the other. The scenes where Ally and Jackson allowed themselves to be vulnerable were both uncomfortable and beautiful to me.  I wanted to be Ally—not just because of her voice and marriage to Jackson- I longed to know what it was like to trust someone enough to be completely vulnerable.

When Sex Abuse Victims Aren’t Supported And Nurtured

Vulnerability is often learned at the hand of trauma.

I have learned this more times than I will ever admit. Sometimes it is extreme like sexual and physical abuse and sometimes it is a matter of being demeaned, humiliated, ignored.  And unlike adults, children are not allowed or not encouraged to feel how they feel. They bury the feelings of betrayal, confusion, anger, and rejection. Or if they are allowed to feel some of the emotions, it is not under the care of a professional or a trusted adult.

What makes childhood abuse so detrimental to future relationships is the victim learning the hard way that you cannot trust those who were supposed to have protected you.  It is the memory of recalling what it was like to be in a situation in which you have no control and no one would answer your calls for aid.  It is the anger that comes with knowing that telling about the abuse will make things worse and leave even more people broken and hurt.

Children learn quickly.  The subtext that they pick up on really quickly is this:  society blames victims- especially women.

When a woman is raped, how often does she feel the scrutiny of outfits and interactions? When a woman is abused by her partner, what gossip does she hear about her inabilities and insanity? When a woman is mentally terrorized, how often does she see another rewarded for her tenacity to go through the hell?

The blame game impacts every young woman-those who have experienced abuse and those who have not.

It is extremely common for trauma victims to blame themselves because they are looking for a defense mechanism against the most awful feeling in the world: powerlessness. It is also extremely common for all humans to want to understand. Children who have known trauma, don’t often get to address these issues.

When a caretaker or parent doesn’t ensure that these feelings are addressed, the child will find a resolution: self-blame.  The repercussions will certainly continue if the victim (If we) never come to know that it wasn’t our fault; it wasn’t our choice; it wasn’t what we deserved.

What I deserve (d) was the ability to be vulnerable, to have parents and caring adults protect me from the evil that targeted me.  I deserved to be believed, supported, and nurtured when these same adults failed to protect me. I didn’t deserve to have my pain buried, to have my self-esteem diminished, to have my self-love lessened. I deserved complete and unfaltering love.

I believe in healing.  I believe that trauma is only a part of who we are.  I believe we have to stop re-traumatizing ourselves.  I believe we have to stop repeating the cycle of pain.  I believe that we can see ourselves as brave warriors and not victims.  And I most definitely still believe in love.

The post What Happens When Sex Abuse Victims Aren’t Supported And Nurtured? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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gaslighting

Gaslighting: How To Recognize It And Protect Yourself

gaslighting

 

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. It is defined as a way to manipulate someone to make them question their own sanity.  As you can imagine it is a particularly dangerous form of domestic abuse. This article explains a little about its history and what it can look like in relationships. It also gives some ways to stand up it.

Still, from the beginning, I want to stress that If you are being psychologically abused with gaslighting I believe ultimately you will need to leave. If you are in a situation where you can’t leave yet or there are children involved and you must have some interaction, these tips might help you keep your sanity when he is trying to distort is.

Where the word gaslighting comes from

Gaslight is the name of a play that was made into a movie in the 1940s. In its most famous version, Ingrid Bergman played the heroine. I will try not to give the whole story away because I think everyone should see the movie, but I will touch on parts of it to illustrate how gaslighting works.

The basic plot of the story is that a young woman’s husband is systematically making her feel like she is going insane as part of a plot to steal her gems. The title comes from how the gas lamps would dim when he is pretending to be out of the house but secretly in the attic.

When she tells him about the lights, he says she is seeing things and tries to get others to believe she is mentally ill. Other times he takes things from her and then tells her she loses things. Over time, she begins to think she is going crazy. He tells others around her that she is sick, ensuring that she has no outside reality check.

During the course of the movie, we watch her deteriorate, starting to be easily frightened, avoiding going out, and eventually becoming what he tells her she is. The woman doesn’t recognize what is happening until a detective from the Scotland Yard, who had been following the husband, tells her what he was doing.

Most of us will not be helped by Scotland Yard so we will have to learn to be our own detectives. The first step in protecting yourself from gaslighting is to recognize what it can look like.

How do you know if you are being gaslighted?

It is not easy. It is designed to be unnoticed. Fortunately, we all have an inner voice that tells us when something is not right. In the movie, she hears the inner voice the first time he tells her she loses things, but she quickly overrides this voice. She trusts him. She thinks he loves her and she is willing to believe she makes mistakes. So, she accepts the lie.  That is the key to gaslighting.

Here are some examples of what gaslighting might look like off screen.

Covert gaslighting

You get stuck in traffic and are late to meet him.

“Sorry I am late.”

“Oh, don’t worry.  You are always a little late. I have learned to expect your magical sense of time.”

You are confused. You aren’t always late. You make it a point to be on time. But you start to wonder if you are late more often than you realized and maybe you do have no sense of time.

Aggressive gaslighting

He invites you to go to an event with his friends and you greet them happily. Later he says, “I was surprised when you flirted with my friends.”

You weren’t flirting with his friends but now you wonder. ‘Was I wrong to say hello with a hug?’ Maybe I do touch people too much. Again, you question yourself.

Supportive gaslighting

You excitedly tell him about your new job.

He says, “I am so happy for you. I know how much you disliked giving presentations at your last job.”

Again, you are confused. You like public speaking and actually will miss it.  Now you wonder why he said that. Are you more nervous about the presentations than you realized?

As you can see gaslighting can look very benign, even kind and supportive. This is part of how you can be tricked into believing it. Bit by bit, you start to question who you are. If it goes on long enough you can begin, like the woman in Gaslight, to believe his version of who you are.

This is the essence of crazy making. Being conditioned to believe something that isn’t true. It is important to note he doesn’t believe this picture of you either. One of the most disturbing realizations about gaslighting is that his lies about you are made on purpose.

Protecting yourself from gaslighting

Ultimately, I think this is a situation where you have to leave but until that is possible, you can take some steps to protect your sanity.

Get an outside perspective. In the movie, he isolated her from people to prevent others from dispelling his illusion about her. The lie loses its power when you no longer believe it.  This is why if you suspect this is happening to you, it is imperative to get outside help- a counselor, a friend, a family member who can remind you of who you are. If you are self-employed or work at home, consider getting a job with coworkers. This can be a valuable reality check.

Speak your truth. Every time he tells you what you are doing, being, thinking, ask yourself if you agree. If your first thought is no then say ‘No, that is not true, I usually am on time, I was not flirting, I like public speaking’ etc.  There is no need to argue. You are not trying to convince him. Remember, he knows that what he is saying about you is not true. You are reminding yourself of who you are and at the same time drawing a very important boundary. I am the one who defines who I am.

Listen to your inner voice. When I first suspected I was being abused I called a hotline and immediately apologized about calling them because my husband was not hitting me. I said I just feel like I am being abused. She said, “If you feel like you are being abused you are being abused.” From these words, I began my journey to recovery. There was nothing I could see or prove to myself or others. I only knew that it felt wrong. And that is all I needed to know.

In the movie, the woman finally does stand up to him when she realizes what he was doing and still he tries to manipulate her to the end.  Abusers are getting something out of the abuse so they rarely just stop it. Standing up for yourself and your reality is something you do to maintain your sanity as you begin the processes of leaving.

You might spin your wheels as you try to figure out why he does this. In the movie, he was after jewels, but for most of us, there is no logical reason. To control us? To have power? To protect his own reality? I am not sure we will ever know but it doesn’t matter. The goal here is not to change him. It is to protect yourself. And the stakes are high. He might not be stealing jewels but gaslighting can steal your very sense of who you are.

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domestic abuse victim

Domestic Abuse Victim? Where To Find Help

domestic abuse victim

 

There is help if you are a victim of domestic violence!

“Look at this food you have fixed for me! Do you call this dinner? I wouldn’t even feed this to a dog!” he screams as he swings his lengthy arm across the table knocking the food onto the floor.

Quickly she kneels to the floor. Her eyes dare not to look at him for she knows what will happen. She picks up the broken plates with her shaking hands and holds back the tears until she is alone.

Suddenly, a blow to the back of her head causes her to fall unconscious to the floor. The room is dark. There are faint cries in the background. It is her youngest son. She knows she must get up. If she does not, she fears his anger will be redirected to her son. She struggles to open her eyes, but she cannot. She tries to move her arms, but they will not move. She wants to cry out to her son to comfort him, but the words will not come. Slowly her son’s cries become more distant and then…nothing.

Every three minute a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend.

More women die from domestic violence than heart failure. Most abusive men have grown up in an abusive household.

Domestic violence happens every day. You are not alone. There is help out there.

Choosing to escape a violent relationship is scary. There are so many reasons you think of to stay. He might change or is just having a bad day. Maybe I should have done something better. Maybe it is all my fault. No one deserves to be abused in any form whether it is verbal or physical. And, statistics show that without help, an abuser will not stop and will only become more violent.

So you may be wondering how you will live. I do not know if I can afford it on my own. There are many sources out there willing to help you to get back on your feet in a safe environment.

Where will I go where he will not find me? He swore if I ever leave him he will kill me. You do not have to live in fear. There are many resources online, and you can find a local number to a crisis center in your phone book.

The first thing you need to do is to realize you are a domestic abuse victim.

Once you have done that then you need to make a plan.

When you get a chance to be alone, you can call the domestic violence helpline. They will offer you suggestions on what to do next. If you are in immediate danger call 911. If he is only in jail for a few hours then pack a bag and run to a shelter.

If that is not an option and you have the time to plan your escape then here are some suggestions to help you when you are ready. Pack a suitcase and hide it in a bus station or a friend’s house. Get a cell phone. A pre-paid cell has no contract, so there will not be any bill sent to your home. If you can stash a little money back if it means you have to tell him that you spent more at the store than you did.

Find a friend that you can trust. Whether it be a family friend or someone from the crisis center. Let them know of your plan and let them help you to make your getaway.

There are many support groups and advocate agencies out there. It is up to you to make the first step.

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