Mr. Love-A-Lot made me feel loved for many months of our relationship. And I wanted to believe that somewhere inside of him he wanted to love me. Yet, I now see that it is just a fallacy, a dream to make myself feel better. Again, I do live by the belief that “only the love is real” (A Course in Miracles). But that can be true on the spiritual plain yet on the human plain, I see with deep regret, pain and humility that his love was a means to an end. He didn’t really know how to love me at all. It isn’t personal. He just doesn’t know how.
I knew in March when he started to pull away and make unrealistic demands that something was wrong. Yet, I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe if I just made him feel safer, better, more secure, more loved..then all would be okay. When I left, I knew I could do nothing to save our relationship. When I shut the door behind me, I felt exceedingly calm and peaceful. I felt it was ending well.
I didn’t see how I was in denial about what had been happening since until I called a friend of mine to say hello and found out she and her husband were in the midst of a divorce. Days later, I was knocking on her door to comfort, to support, to entertain, to love her just a little during this trying time. And then she started talking. I realized it was the words I had been saying in the midst of my break-up with Mr. Love-A-Lot. She was me.
As clear as day I could see she was being emotionally abused. I also knew that I had told Mr. Love-A-Lot many times that he was emotionally abusing me and attempting to manipulate me. That usually settled him down for a time until his Wheel of Fear couldn’t take it anymore…he would come out swinging. Not physically but emotionally and mentally. I was shocked.
Shocked at how she (I) was trying to find ways to blame herself (myself) for the demise of her marriage (my relationship). Shocked at how she (I) thought she (I) had become ugly and was undesirable. Shocked at how she (I) was compromising herself (myself) to please him in the middle of his emotional abuse and manipulative behavior after the damage was done. She (I) didn’t see how she was taking responsibility for everything to make it easy for him (and hard for her) just to avoid dealing with his ever present anger. She wasn’t realizing how she was putting herself down over and over again. The same thing he was doing. They both blamed her. And none of it was true.
I saw myself….and I was shocked that I was still, in some ways, trying to figure it out in my mind what went wrong. How could I have prevented it? What could I have done? Did I do everything I could do? If I just lost weight? Made more money? Then perhaps we could have what we had before…before he started showing this side of himself. I was doing exactly what my friend was doing. We were trying to figure them out so we could figure out what happened. But that isn’t how to heal from it. It isn’t the answer. It is just another way we are now abusing ourselves….
I mean, if someone loves you, really loves you from an authentic deep place…they won’t decide to love you based on your weight. And if they are a mature and healthy adult they won’t blame the other partner 90% or more of the time for the demise of the relationship. And if a person could see clearly and truly live by the words ‘my needs equal your needs’ then when someone was trying to manipulate, you would see it. At least if you really were willing to trust yourself above all else.
Because that is how emotional abuse works. They want you to doubt yourself. They want you to trust their opinion more than your own. They want you to believe in them, want them, need them more than they do you. They want you to question yourself over and over so you don’t have the time or energy to question them. That way the power is in their hands.
Mr. Love-A-Lot must be feeling pretty powerless. It didn’t work with me, at least for long, at least not now. Sure, when it started in March ever so slowly until May when it started peaking…like I said, I wanted to make it work. He hadn’t showed those colors to me before but in truth, he did it with others. He always blamed everyone else if things didn’t go his way. I saw it. I said something. He would nod his head but it didn’t change.
Emotional abuse tactics:
1. The abuser feels entitled. In other words, the world owes him.
Mr. Love-A-Lot would always tell me how he trusts everyone and he always gets screwed. That can’t be true of course. I told him that it was his discernment not his trust in others that was the problem.
2. The abuser has difficulty saying thank you or I’m sorry.
In fact, Mr. Love-A-Lot was great at saying thank you if I made him a cup of tea but never said thank you when I bought furniture for the house or the fact that I moved to the mountains because of him. That’s what they want…you to change your behavior for them. He would only say he was sorry if I asked. And he would only say it once with no explanation or care.
3. The abuser wants you to believe they are good at something you aren’t. Therefore, you need them. Mr. Love-A-Lot would say it over and over again how I was bad with money and he was good with it. Therefore, who was supposed to be handling it according to him?
4. The abuser may not show his colors for months. Mr. Love-A-Lot wanted me to feel safe before he acted out his abuse. That way, when it starts, you don’t believe it is happening. This doubt is his ally.
5. The abuser takes credit for everything good which in turn, you are to blame for everything bad. This isn’t necessarily black and white. Think of it more as a theme.
6. The abuser wants you to feel crazy. Therefore, you become powerless and appear to be inconsistent and unreliable making his case against you iron clad.
7. They advertise their pain and anguish to anyone who will listen. So again, you appear to be the one causing it all and the abuser appears to be the innocent bystander.
Get close. Pull back. Blame. Defend. Attack. Put the other party on the defensive. Tactics of emotional abuse. How do you feel? You doubt yourself, worry, try harder, tell yourself this isn’t how he/she was before so what happened. You start looking for the why. There is no why beyond control. He/She wants control and now is the time they have chosen to get it.
Mr. Love-A-Lot will not let me see his daughter, who called me Mommy for the last year, on his parental time. Another crazy irrational control tactic. And he says, as he consciously makes this decision, that it is best for his daughter. We both know that is a lie…
I wonder what message he is giving her? Women are to be controlled? Manipulated? Not to be trusted? You can tell people you love them but if they don’t do as you say you get rid of them, ruthlessly? He told me as I left that he never had a nice break-up before. The fact that we were still talking the day I left surprised him. Now I know why. And now I know why he began to be cruel as soon as I walked out the door….